A Simple Guide to Happiness
Happiness Starts with You
Be hungry for the best life has to offer
"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. ~A.A. Milne
When I know that I am going to be eating a gourmet meal, I make sure that I am hungry so I will really enjoy it. When people fall in love, many will tell you that the courtship was one of the happiest times of the relationship. Like Pooh, we need a goal to be happy and the more we anticipate and work towards a worthy goal, the more happiness follows. When I read what others write or see what draws people to an article, I think: "Maybe I should choose those kinds of topics and write like that." After trying to go in that direction, I find what everyone who craves happiness ultimately realizes---Your life flows from your own passion and in living it your own way even if you are the only one who can hear the beat of that different drum.
Be aware of what is important and eliminate the rest
The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. ~Epictetus
Before you pursue your life goals, be sure what really matters to you. One of the best ways to know what is important to you is to get rid of a lot of material things you can do without. While some things have sentimental value, most things can be replaced. If you wouldn't have to replace it if it were gone or if someone else would get a lot more use out of it, you probably don't need it. If it has been stored for two years or more, you definitely need to get rid of it.
Try to see the activities that occupy your time and energy in the same way. Maybe you don't need to be doing a lot of them. Try delegating, sharing, eliminating or just plain saying no to free up your time. A few minutes at the beginning of your day to meditate or sort out your thoughts can also help you eliminate a lot of wasted time.
Someone has said that simplicity is the secret to life and while it may not be the secret, it is a good place to start. Getting rid of the clutter and activities that merely take up time can be enormously freeing. To reach the sky you have to let go of the earth and ask any bird, the lighter your load, the longer you can stay there.
He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
Approach life with openness, humility and assurance
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less ~ C.S. Lewis
At my company a young man was hired because he listed emptying the garbage as one of his duties at a previous job. He had a jaw defect that hindered his speech but was consistently cheerful and proved to be one of the most diligent and capable employees. After surgery, his looks and speech dramatically improved and he is now rising steadily at Disney, "The Happiest Place on Earth." If you have true self esteem and confidence, you don't have to prove anything to anyone. Your happiness does not depend on what others think about you or how you are treated. The self actualized person does not need to get defensive or angry because their worth is not made up of what others believe about them, but is made up of what they know about themselves and the calm assurance from within. I can be happy even when someone is angry with me without a cause since I know it is not about me but it springs from something they are going through. I can even try to understand what feelings are behind the attack and speak to that without feeling hurt or defensive.
There is no limit to the good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit. ~General George C. Marshall
There is something in humility which strangely exalts the heart.~Saint Augustine
Be merciful when you have every right to lower the boom
If you're going to insult me, you're going to have to say it in such a way that I can't possibly take it as a compliment.~"Uncle Bud" Robinson
One of the finest gifts we can ever bestow is giving others the benefit of the doubt. When you have been cut off in traffic or almost hit by someone or were delayed by a bad driver or been honked at, insulted, taken advantage of or otherwise treated badly the temptation is to angrily get back at those who threaten to ruin your day. I have a suggestion: Don't.
Let me give you two of my own experiences. I used to hate it when someone started talking about extremely gross things at the table when I was eating. To make matters worse, it seemed to happen more often because I was so upset. One day I decided to turn the tables. When it happened again I said "Wait, let me get a bite ready." Then as they were saying the gross thing, I would eat the bite I had held up, waiting, and say "Mmmmmmm!" Somehow, the reverse pleasant sensation completely shut out the irritation and introduced humor into an otherwise resentful and awkward situation.
The other situation involved the traffic rage I have described above. One day a particularly obnoxious driver cut quickly in front of me, went into the left hand lane so that he could turn left, cutting others off as he did so. I started to get angry and give the universal hand gesture of appreciation, when I remembered myself once being almost as rude when I nearly missed a turn-off. I said to myself with a chuckle, "There goes someone after my own heart." Now whenever any driver, no matter how rude, does something that would have otherwise ruined my mood, I say the "...someone after my own heart" thing and laugh it off.
In both of these cases, I passed on the opportunity to put people in their place, choosing instead a more friendly response and ended up with a positive attitude and a better day. That doesn't mean I don't still have times when I want to bite someone's head off, but that would only leave them and myself unhappy, Taking the high road can often change the offender's behavior, but even if it doesn't, others will notice and be encouraged.
Before you put someone in their place, you should put yourself in theirs.~David Denotairs
Be compassionate and feel the pain of others
Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone. ~Joni Mitchell
As odd as it sounds, the way to happiness is often through an experience of grief. Those who have felt sadness can more fully appreciate the presence of joy. Learning to empathize with those around you or learning to feel sorrow for the plight of many in the world is like exercising the heart. Nothing is more joyful than a heart released from a period of pain or sorrow. Don't be afraid of opening up your heart because you may be hurt. Most of us have been. That is how we grow, how we learn what love is, what cruelty is. Once we learn, we can choose to love, to be kind, to feel the happiness that life can bring.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked...
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.~Kahlil Gibran
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