“…I turned my awareness to what was good in my life. I began thinking about all the attributes I wanted as part of my personality. I began taking as good care of my physical health as was possible. All gently, all without pushing myself or blaming myself or any of that. For example, I wanted more to be grateful for in life, so I just started thinking about all the blessings that already existed in my life. I gave thanks, I gave joy, I gave kindness…all out into the world and inward to my soul and everywhere to my Creator.
I became softer, calmer, more generous myself. And the more of all good things I gave away, the more would return to me. When in need, my needs were met. When I saw need, I was able to help, and that ability increases every year. And the more I give, the more the Creator sees my heart and gives me to give. Not foolishly, not to people with greed, but to places where it will help the most.”
Admittedly, I have found that in day to day life, things flow much easier when I am taking note on a very regular basis of all I have to be thankful for. I certainly do have my days where I become – for lack of a better word – disgruntled.
There have been days where I was so fed up with the state of the world, and with how numb people seemed to be at what was happening all around us, that I wanted to climb any nearby mountain and scream and kick and flail and cry and holler and on and on and on. But of course, I’m a big girl now. I would never do that. At least, not without a proper bottle of fine Merlot in me first. So ultimately, not any time soon. Here are some of my thoughts on Happiness and the Human Condition:
Most people think they would be happy if they had more “stuff” or more money. A better car or a better house sounds pretty good to most people. However, more money and “things” don’t necessarily make you happier.
Having a car might make it easier to be happy if it means you don’t have to walk everywhere. All the better if said car is electric, or even a hybrid – showing support for the health of our environment. Having more money can make it easier to be happy if you currently can’t pay all your bills. So these things can remove some of the obstacles to being happy, but they don’t really provide happiness.
There are four things that are quite likely to allow happiness to flow, and they don’t cost a thing!
- Someone to love. Everyone needs someone to love. In this, I do not mean necessarily a spouse, partner or lover. It could be an indoor garden, one houseplant, or a pet. If you don’t think you have someone to love, go find someone. The world is full of people and animals that feel unloved so it shouldn’t take you too long to find a volunteer. Perhaps even try volunteering at your local animal shelter. We all need someone to cherish and care for. Fortunately, the people and animals we genuinely love tend to love us back.
- Something to do. There are plenty of wealthy yet miserable people because they don’t spend their time doing something that they love. Life is about doing and experiencing things. We live in a day and age where technology runs the world stage. Tap back into your natural self. Get outdoors, take a stroll, go for a hike, take a trip to the river, beach, or even your local swimming pool. If you spend even a good portion of your day doing stuff you love to do, it’s pretty difficult to be unhappy.
Find ways to spend your time in activities that are meaningful to you. What changes do you want to see made in the world? As Gandhi is quoted to have said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Make a list and start incorporating those things into your life on a daily basis. If you can find work that you’re passionate about, so much the better for you!
- Something to look forward to. If the only thing you have to look forward to is more of the same, possibly even boring routine, it’s difficult to be happy. Ultimately, we all could use something to look forward to in the near future, something to drive direction into our thoughts and actions that are occurring in the present moment.
Make a list of a few of those things you had always planned on “getting around to … someday”. Then pick one day a week upon which you will try these new things. Let’s say, Monday evenings between 6 and 9pm (for example). Slot one new thing in your calendar each week, different than the last. Aim to complete this project for one month at first, then if things are going smoothly, follow up with another month. Think about something you’d really like to do or see. Maybe it could be something as simple as a yoga class. If you love going to yoga on Thursday nights, it can make your Mondays a little easier when you know that yoga is coming up on the agenda.
- Using downtime joyfully. Perhaps your biggest challenge is dealing with downtime. Particularly for busy parents who are left with an empty household when children are all in school, or a spouse is back to work full time, or suddenly you find yourself – for whatever reason – working fewer hours. Without a solid plan (I hesitate to use the words “scheduled free time”, but that is sort of what this is, initially) one may be left feeling as though they are flailing a bit. When you’re bored, lonely, anxious, or sad and don’t have something to do, it’s easy to resort to less than ideal behaviors.
These behaviors not only accomplish nothing positive, but they can also make your life more challenging.
This would include things like watching TV, surfing the internet, eating when you aren’t hungry, shopping for stuff you don’t truly need or want, drinking, drugs, serial dating, and more. These behaviors do nothing to solve the underlying issue and can create more difficulties. Make no mistake about the impact of electronic devices upon the human body and psyche, also. A friend of mine and her husband placed themselves on a “Media Cleanse” for a week, and they feel it is one of the best things they have done for both their health and their love lives. (I shared an article about the effects of electro-pollution on children here.)
• Coping with negative feelings effectively makes life much easier. Read something worthwhile, go for a jog, meet up with a friend and do something fun, make a new friend, or work on a hobby. Substitute your negative habits with new, more beneficial habits that bring you closer to the good life you imagine for you and your family. Repeat to yourself all that you have to be grateful for.
• Learn to take a moment and pause before you go on autopilot. If you’re going for the fridge and you’re not hungry, simply STOP. Ask yourself why you’re doing this and what other action you could take, or what other activity would fulfill this need, or potential sense of void. Repeat to yourself all that you have to be grateful for.