How to be Happy
I've begun to notice a hot topic lately – Happiness. There seem to be a myriad of books, articles, top ten lists, blogs and entire educational websites handing us the key to the golden palace, complete with rainbows and yes, maybe even unicorns.
Here's what I am learning. There is no magic bullet or wand to you can wave to be happy. You don't live your life miserable, decide it's time to make a few changes and wake up with Snow White out your window humming a little tune complete with bluebirds and chipmunks. (Although at times, after my morning latte, I witness that very scene!)
Happiness is a skill, like any other, that requires practice – every day. I'm pretty sure Jeter didn't walk into the ball park and hit a home run the first time he picked up a bat. But eventually, after many years of practice, home runs became routine for him. Just like brushing his teeth – okay maybe not that routine, but he's a master technician and athlete.
Happiness is not always the easy choice. But like most things, it always reaps the greatest reward.
Based on a very unscientific study of my own life, here are a few things I've found that contribute to my choice to be HAPPY, even when things turn sour:
- Express Gratitude.
- Give hugs.
- Receive hugs.
- Play with dogs or other pets of choice.
- Surrender control. (This is a HUGE one for me.)
- Practice meditation, prayer, chanting, or some other form of devotion that helps you connect to something bigger than yourself. (This helps with #5.)
- Keep alcohol to a minimum. (Alcohol is a depressant, no matter how you may feel at first!)
- Move. Exercise. (No need to overdo it - which may very well have the opposite effect on happiness as I often discuss.)
- Sing. (The louder the better.)
- Dance. (Even if you look like Elaine on Seinfeld.)
- Laugh. (See my article on Joy!)
- Kiss. (Or at least touch – there is no substitution for human contact.)
- Indulge every now and then. (Don't mind if I do – I'm having some So Delicious Coconut Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream as I type this!)
- Turn off all electronics before going to bed.
- Practice self-reflection. (Ask why you react/behave/speak the way you do.)
- Forgive – including yourself. (This one can be tough. Really tough. Especially helpful after #16.)
- Write. Not for public consumption but for you. Keeping your thoughts bottled up inside can perpetuate negative patterns. This will also help with #16.
- Spend time with friends. This for me is huge as I often have to travel to see those dearest to me. Always worth the plane ticket. The joy I receive is invaluable.
- Spend time by yourself. Get to know you and what makes you tick.
Be an athlete for happiness. Exercise that muscle every day. Soon enough it will become strong and habitual and you'll be hitting happiness home-runs!