Happiness is such an ethereal word - hard to capture, hard to define and perhaps even harder to practice on a daily basis. I mean to say, how many times have you gotten out of bed in the morning dreading what the day had in store for you? Not at all surprisingly, on those particular days; guess what? The day presented you with all the misgivings that you thought it would.
Probably, without even realizing it, you created your own self-fulfilling prophecy - that's awesome! Why is it awesome to have a shitty day? Well, simply, if you can create for yourself the exact same shitty day that you thought lay in store for you - well newsflash people - you can turn that around one hundred and eighty degrees and create for yourself, the perfect, happy day.
Now before you start jumping up and down and thinking this man must be in some drug heightened nirvana to suggest that happiness is that simple; let me assure you that the only thing I am high on is - LIFE! Take it from one who knows, and one who spent most of his life in a self-induced coma of misery and self-pity - it really doesn't have to be that way. My own son would regularly refer to me as; "that grumpy old man". I haven't actually seen my son, in person, for four years now as we live in different countries, but I'm excited to see what he thinks of the changes in his "grumpy old man", when we finally do get back together (hopefully this coming Christmas). I'm hoping he'll be shocked, amazed and thrilled.
My point - If I can embrace this life, then anyone can.
I'm certain we can all come up with oodles of justifications why we should be unhappy; "our job sucks, our spouse doesn't understand us, I never have enough money, my kids are a pain and so on and so on; ad infinitum. But...what in God's green earth is the benefit to us and to everyone around us from choosing to be unhappy? It is the most pointless of decisions that we make, and regularly make; yet so many of us continue on blissfully every day making this incredibly odd decision to not be happy. As my mentor and guru, Andy Shaw would say in his no-nonsense way;
"That's just insanity!" It reminds me of a very famous quotation by one of my favorite thinkers; the original Henry Ford. He said; “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
Being unhappy has brought you what exactly? More unhappiness! Right? So isn't it time you tried something new? Try happiness instead and marvel at the quick turnaround in every aspect of your life. Your state of happiness or otherwise directly impacts on EVERY area of your life.
First of all start thinking about being happy - what is it that makes you happy? It's different for everyone, so what works for me to bring me to my "happy place", won't necessarily work for you. That's one of the beauties of our uniqueness; we all have our different perspectives on life and "Viva la difference!" It might be something as simple as sitting in the garden reading a good book, or walking on the beach in the moonlight with your partner, or skydiving or just about anything that puts you at peace; that puts you in that land where nothing can hurt you or upset you. As I intimated, I like to call that "my happy place". For me personally, it is actually sitting on a beach listening to the sound of the waves lapping against the shore.
This "happy place" is incredibly important, because it is where you need to go when circumstances threaten to overwhelm you and send you spiraling down into the abyss of pity, sadness or misery. Whenever I feel stressed, upset, or about to lose my cool with someone, I mentally walk away - if possible I close my eyes and transport myself to "my happy place". I swear that a couple of minutes visualizing the scene that never fails to fill me with peace and happiness is almost always enough to avoid the looming confrontation, or the silly arguments that start inside my head. Rather than get upset, I CHOOSE to turn away and refresh myself with happiness. It's works...and the great thing is you can build up a bank of these happy experiences that you can call on at any time. You're only limited by your imagination.
It's a really simple philosophy - if I can't actually change it myself, I won't let it influence my mood. If I can change it, then I'll do something about it. What springs to mind immediately as I write this is the prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr and adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous. It really is the smartest piece of advice you could ever take on board to lead a happy life:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference."
A very simple rule to live by and one that will grant you peace of mind.
Embrace the "can do", reject the "too hard"; and your spirit will soar to the heavens, dragging everyone else, kicking and screaming, along behind you. Be the one that people look at, marvel and say; "Wow, doesn't he/she have it all! What a together person."
You really can be that person, you know. All you have to do is to learn to love yourself unconditionally and realize that you are a unique, talented individual whose contribution to this world is valid and valuable. You have everything inside of you that you need to be an awesome, fulfilled and most of all happy human being.
Similarly it is hard to be down, sad and miserable when our friends are full of joy, bubbly and expressive. We get dragged along with them on their exciting journey. I said last week that we, as individuals, emotionally are the average of our five closest friends; so chose those five closest friends wisely.
Now, I'm not suggesting you jettison all your dear friends or relatives just because they can be a bit grumpy at times; but try and deal with their moods and attitudes differently. When they complain about something, look for the positive in that situation (there always is one - even if it might be hard to find sometimes) and point that out to them. If they need advice - then sure, advise them; if they need a shoulder to cry on - by all means provide that shoulder (that's what friends do); if they just need to talk, to get their problems off their chest - then absolutely just listen to them.
BUT here is what NOT to do; do not take their problems, concerns and anger onto your shoulders. They are not your problems; you don't have to allow yourself to become emotionally involved in your friend's issues. You do what you need to do and then move on. Do not dwell on their problems and do not buy into their sadness and their pain. The absolute best thing you can do in that situation is to offer positive solutions - solutions just like these, that work for you.
When you wake up in the morning; don't immediately jump out of bed, put on the coffee, prepare your things for work or school, or begin planning your day and imagining the difficult things you need to prepare for. When you wake up in the morning - don't do anything!
Just lie there in bed, with your eyes closed, if need be, to stop your partner from kicking you out of bed and telling you to get the coffee brewing. Just lie there and for five, ten, or even fifteen minutes just picture your day the exact way you want it to go. Visualize that important meeting you have with a client. See the client shake hands and accept the deal; picture your teacher congratulating you on that great paper you submitted; see the table where you will sit and enjoy your lunch and coffee during your break; imagine the joy on your kid's faces when you walk into the house that evening. It doesn't matter what the day ahead holds for you - even if it is just a routine day, picture the little things; your co-worker complimenting you on your outfit; getting a good parking spot; finishing those letters you've been putting off.
The whole point of this exercise is to "create" the day you desire for yourself - the day that will make you happy, content and at peace with everyone. In the last couple of minutes before you do leap into action; just visit your "happy place", revel in the memories of the moment. By the time you are ready to jump into the shower and begin this day, your mind will already be in the place it needs to be for this day to be successful, happy and purposeful. Do it every day and then every day your creations will occur. It's that simple.
I want to give you a really good example of what I mean here. This blog, that I lovingly compile every week is a perfect example. I have no idea how many people actually read it (I do know how many people visit my site, but I don't know how many actually stay and read anything). Now that should upset and worry me, under conventional thinking. I mean, what is the point of writing and sweating my thoughts onto paper, if nobody actually cares enough to want to read them.
BUT truly it doesn't matter to me. I write this blog first and foremost because it is my passion - it's what makes me happy - It is one of my happy places that I love to visit. I don't need the validation of others to make this exercise worthwhile for me. Of course, I'm human and I love it when someone takes the time to tell me that I touched them, or I made a difference (and a couple have, which is amazing) but the bottom line is, if the only person that ever read this was me, I'd still be happy. I want to make a difference in my own small way; but my worth and my happiness is not dependent on the validation of other people, or their opinions of what I do.
BECAUSE I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY! GIVE IT A TRY - IT'S AWESOME!
Till next week
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
Have a great life and spread the love!
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