If you are like most of us on the planet, you are searching for happiness in your life. Where do you believe we find happiness: fame, riches, power? Do you know someone that has these things and is not happy? Or conversely has none of these things and is supremely happy? I believe that each of us has it within our power to be happy. How is it done? Here are a few simple rules which I find make a difference:
1. Increase your gratitude: Increasing your feelings of gratitude can impact your happiness and so much more. When I am frustrated or upset, I am thinking about what is wrong in my life. Since we get what we focus on, dwelling on frustrations will only erode our happiness. The next time you are experiencing frustration that robs you of happiness, I invite you to focus on an event in your life that brings you intense feelings of gratitude. It could be the birth of a child or an act of kindness that was proffered on your behalf, etc. Our minds cannot focus on negative and positive feelings at the same time. If your gratitude feelings are strong enough, they will quickly chase away your frustrations and negative feelings.
2. Do something for someone else: For many, the pursuit of happiness is a self-centered process. However, when you take a moment to stop thinking about how events and people impact you and think about how you impact others, you will be much closer to your goal. Helping someone else will allow you to take your focus off your own challenges. It will energize you, give you a sense of value and contribution. Focusing on others who may have needs greater than your own will also increase your gratitude for what you have. You don’t have to look far for opportunities to help someone else. Nor do you have to go to great lengths to make a difference. Take time to notice someone in need. Listen, console, give of your time and labor, write a note or letter, give a gift, etc.
3. Look for the good: Look for the good in every situation. No matter how bleak things may seem, there is always good that may come. I know from personal experience that when something I perceive is negative happens to me, I have a choice. I can feel self pity and become depressed, or I can use my creative energy to focus on what good may come. I found that that as I look back on events that were challenging, I invariably gained experienced or developed talents that I might not have had, but for the challenging experience. Looking for the good puts our creative energy to work for us in our pursuit of happiness.
4. Surround yourself with good: Be very careful about what you put into your mind. make sure what you read, watch and listen to reinforces your happiness. Our minds are the most powerful computers in the universe. They search and find whatever we program them to find. This means everything we put into our minds will take us further or closer to our goal of happiness. Surround yourself with good people who will hold you accountable to your goals and will let you know when are off course. Make sure you read good books, listen to good music and watch only media that reinforces good.
5. Find life balance: I know many people who feel great fulfillment in their work, so they neglect other areas of their life. The best way to find happiness is to find balance in many areas of life including: financial; emotional; spiritual; physical; relational; recreational, and intellectual. You may find that all of these pursuits are interrelated. I personally find my self out of balance often. However, when I take the time to work on life balance, I feel greater happiness.
6. Exercise: This is a part of life balance. Exercise releases chemicals that can help us feel great and think more clearly. Remember life balance. Some feel that since exercise makes them feel good, more is better. An excessive focus on any pursuit may take us further from our goal.
7. Develop your talents: Learn something new. improving your abilities brings a sense of satisfaction and increases your ability to help yourself and others.
8. Avoid criticizing others: Along with looking for the good, avoid criticizing others. We find what we look for. More importantly, how we treat others has a way of coming back to us. Call it karma, law of the harvest, universe or what you will. Thinking good of others will do much to bring those good thoughts back to us.
9. Let go of the past: While it is true that we have control over out thoughts, we can’t always control what happens to us. When something bad happens, it is hard to think of the good. Holding on to negative feelings about something or somebody will only rob us of reaching our goal of happiness. We have the power to give meaning to thoughts. They can only control us if we give them power to do so. Letting go of the past requires us reframe our thoughts. For some, this process may be difficult and require professional assistance. Being willing to get help if you need it is a good thing and will help you get one step closer to being happy.
10. Live by a morale code: Some people believe anything goes when pursuing happiness. When you choose to be disciplined in following a moral code, you are closer to finding happiness. A friend of mine shared his experience with this principle with me. When his children were young, he and his wife set boundaries of behavior. They had friends that took a different approach with their children. They chose to let their children behave without boundaries or restrictions. This couple would criticize my friend for being strict with their children. My friend and his wife were more interested in being parents than friends. As the children grew older the results of the two approaches was clear. The children of my friend loved their parents and respected them. They had a strong rewarding relationship. Their friends children did not respect their parents. They were self centered and spoiled.
It is not the events or situations of our lives that determine happiness. Rather, it is our own behavior and thought process. I am sure there are many more ways to be happy than I have listed above. I would love to hear from you. What have you found that makes you happy?