Secrets to Happiness
People say that you can get too much of a good thing. That’s true I suppose if we’re talking about indulging in chocolate mud cake, but most of us want more good times and more happiness don’t you think?
My husband Andrew and I travelled to a medical conference recently where a Buddhist monk spoke on “The secret to happiness.” We found his comments intriguing. He said that he had spent his entire life trying not to care about happiness, but despite all his efforts, he often felt sad and dissatisfied with his life. He finally raised this dilemma with an elderly monk who advised him, “The secret to happiness is becoming content with your unhappiness.” That sounds surprisingly akin to the old Aussie saying “Grin and bear it.” No doubt a lot of people across the globe have got through life by doing just that. Most of us though would question, “Is that all? Isn’t there a deeper, greater joy than just acceptance of unhappiness?’ And without any disrespect to those who think differently, my answer is a resounding “YES!”
I have just read an exhaustive list of all kinds of ideas and tips on improving our happiness. Most of them fall naturally into five groups. So here is a quick collection of tips that have been proven to increase joy.
Perspective: You are what you think.
- If you allow yourself to think negative things about other people and yourself, you will feel negative.
- Look for the good in others and yourself - it gets easier with practice.
- Say thank you as much as you can - thankfulness produced joy.
- Be encouraging. Tell your family and friends what you value and enjoy about them.
- Listen to music that’s positive and lifts you. Be optimistic.
- See the funny side of things - laugh. It’s better to giggle than grouch!
Self concept: You are the one person you can never get away from, so you may as well like yourself.
- Work on your self esteem. The better you feel about yourself the better you’ll feel about the world
- Learn to forgive yourself when you make a mistake. Don’t harass yourself about spilt milk.
- Decide to be a friendly person. Smile and affirm other people as often as you genuinely can.
- Make a list of your strengths and talents and then don’t be afraid to use them.
- This is the most powerful one if you let it in: Recognise what makes you valuable. It’s not your looks, performances, abilities, intelligence etc that make you of worth. People who don’t have these attributes are valuable too. All people are of immense value simply because they exist. God made us to be his children and no-one can take that off us!
Time: Spend time doing things that build your life, not just that need doing.
- Some of the best time you’ll ever spend, is the time spent working out what you really want.
- If you value family and friends, plan to spend more time together strengthening those relationships.
- Make time for rest, exercise and interests that you love. All work and no play =boredom and regret.
- Money doesn’t bring happiness so don’t put work before home life. The surveys agree.
Care for others: It really is more blessed to give than receive.
- Listed amongst the happiest of people are those who give and care for others.
- Joy is contagious, as you bring joy to other people’s lives you will be blessed too.
- Become a volunteer, kids can do this too. Visit a nursing home. Learn to be a P.C. instructor J
- Sponsor a child. Our family has two sponsor kids. Their photos beam at us from the fridge each day. Saving a life feels awesome!
Be holistic: Learn to develop your Spiritual life.
- As people, we aren’t just physical beings. We have social, emotional and spiritual needs too.
- Being spiritual can be as simple as talking to God while you’re riding your horse or doing homework.
- You can start by saying something like, “If you are there God then show me.”
- Talk to friends you regard as ‘spiritually healthy’ and balanced. They will be delighted to help you on your spiritual journey.
- Real joy comes from who we are not what we do, or what we own.
Wishing you so much of a good thing that it hurts,
Karen welcomes you questions and comments. You can email her at email@example.com
Previous columns are available in the publications section of this website.