How to live happily.
Is it possible to live happily?
Of course it is. Okay, so you may not be ecstatically happy every single minute of your life but it can be helpful if you think of the 'down' times as only being there as something against which you measure the 'up' times.
So boredom, the occasional glooms, even unwanted trauma can be used, not just as experience to learn from, but also as a contrast against which you can weigh up the happiness quotient of the good times. In fact such a comparison can add something to the happy times, all it takes is awareness.
Awareness is simply realising how you are feeling … and also remembering that just as happiness is not constant, then neither are the gloomy times.
I made the video above to outline a few of the things that I have learnt throughout my rather eventful life. Although it is neither a definitive nor exhaustive list ... and it will not resonate with everyone. I can only hope that it moves a few people to think a little more deeply about their own life. If it does then it will have been worthwhile.
So, perhaps we should simply think of these guidelines as a starting point?
Guidelines for a happy life ... expanded upon.
- Accept that you are not perfect ...
in looks, behaviour, career. The key word here is ‘accept'. You are human, you will foul up from time to time. Beat yourself up by all means ... but quickly. Then move on and learn from your mistake. If you find you make the same mistake again then you will obviously need some reinforcing of the message and make no mistake, God, the Universe or wherever else you believe these trials to have come from will always send you the lessons you need to learn.
- Realise that failure is another word for lesson ...
If you are too timid to try things you will never make the mistake that affords you a learning experience and your world will stay small, safe and, most probably, deadly boring. Accept these lessons gracefully but above all realise that such 'failures' do not mean you have failed in all things.
- Give freely of your time to others, it can repay in unexpected ways.
This is a tricky one when time is the most precious possession many of us will ever have. But here's the thing ... making time for others can have heartwarming repercussions, usually just when you were not expecting anything.
- Know the difference between love and infatuation, choose wisely.
This too is often difficult to get right. One of these provides a lifetime of companionship and support, the other satisfies only a fleeting need. Take your time to get it right. Love will wait for you, infatuation will fade away with time. And never mistake sexual attraction for real love … love is not a pop music video.
- Be kind ... there is little to gain from criticism.
Only the seriously lacking in confidence seek to boost it at another's expense by belittling them. If you need to criticise, ask yourself 'why?' And be honest with the answer you give yourself … it will repay you in the long run.
- Taking credit for another's work corrodes your soul ...
If it's a compliment from the boss mistakenly attributing someone else's work to you, do not allow it. Stealing the hard work of others is not just stealing kudos, it is self-delusion writ large. If the work is not yours you will always know it and there can be no satisfaction or pleasure in such knowledge. Honesty says much more about you as a person and can only ever earn you respect … your own as well as other people’s.
- Strive to live with honour, it gives peace of mind.
You may not always succeed in this but if you have honestly tried at least you have a little balm for your mind. A peaceful mind is a possession to treasure and personal honour makes it possible.
- Do good - a kind action can repay out of all proportion to its cost.
It doesn't have to be a grand gesture, even a simple action can promote feelings of kindness and reciprocation in the hearts of others. Make it a regular policy to commit random acts of kindness.
- Guard against a sense of entitlement, you are only entitled to life.
You have been given the priceless gift of life, what you make of it is up to you. Do not expect to be given everything … or even anything … else. Having been born is enough, seize your life with gratitude.
- Avoid vanity ... looks are fleeting and you too will one day be old.
Vanity is only excusable in the very young and even they must take care to cultivate more depth of character as time passes. Vanity in old age leads to discontent and misery for those whose lives have always followed such a shallow path.
- Expect to work hard ... there are few shortcuts to earning a living.
We cannot all expect to inherit a fortune. For most of us working hard is how we survive. Be aware of the tricksters. If we can avoid being either greedy or desperate we can avoid being exploited or robbed. Remember there is rarely such a thing as a free lunch so avoid naivety without allowing yourself to wallow in cynicism. It is a fine balance but remember cynics can miss much by being too suspicious of others.
- Allow your emotions but temper anger and make sure it is just.
Emotions are the thoughts of your soul. Listen to your soul, for hiding or suppressing its messages means that it never has its say and this can lead to mental distress. This does not mean you should throw yourself on the floor and drum your heels every time things go wrong. It simply means that you should state your feelings clearly and without force. Even the emotion of anger will accept this stricture just as long as it is openly heard and understood. And if, on quick reflection, you know your anger is unjustified you can still express it safely ... but on the cushions ... not the cat.
- Try to do your best in everything ... and enjoy your life.
What can I say? You are alive and life is a miracle, always an unfolding adventure. All you can do is to do ... and be ... the best you can. You have a right to your happiness ... 'an it harm none' (Wiccan rede) … but be aware it is up to you to make yourself happy. Try hard not to burden others with that responsibility.
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