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Lessons of Happiness from My Mother

Updated on August 25, 2013

My first life coach

Author's mother: the late Myrla Presto
Author's mother: the late Myrla Presto | Source

Long before self-help books and how-to magazine articles became the tools of survival in this highly stressful complicated world, my mother spoon-fed me with unsolicited advice on men, dating etiquette, dealing with difficult people, and a legion of other things about life that I took for granted in my youth. It was my mother, my first life coach I should say, who taught me that the secret to true happiness is really no secret at all…just a matter of good old fashioned values and a positive take on life.

Well, here are just some of her insights about capturing that figurative elusive butterfly. As we get older and learn the ways of the world, we sometimes forget that the very solutions to our unhappiness lie in the long forgotten words of a wise woman.

Happiness is Not Manna from Heaven

It’s funny how my mother used to drive me mad with her nagging only to realize the verity of her all-knowing wisdom much later in life through the words of the experts. There is acreage of advice on the net tackling this graceful art of positivity, most of which echoes my mother’s belief that happiness stems from the way we see the world rather than from the material wealth or comfort that are given us. This, coming from a highly religious woman who would tell me to pray every day, was just something incredible. While she preached about eventually being rewarded by God for one’s goodness, she would chide me for my constant pessimism and cynicism, telling me to broaden my mind instead of angrily waiting around for happiness to plummet from the heavens.

On vacation in Gold Coast, Australia
On vacation in Gold Coast, Australia | Source

Practice Compassion

“Put yourself in someone else’s shoes before forming judgment or acting out on a decision.” That had always been the bottom line of my mother’s lectures. Life is just too short to keep a one-track mind about so many things. Without compassion, we are self-centered creatures who are more concerned about how others have offended us rather than how our actions have affected them. Mother believed that the more we try to nurse our wounded pride, the unhappier we become. By harboring a deep understanding of the world and the people around us, we become less angry and more forgiving. Essentially, compassion is one important ingredient of happiness that is also a precursor to kindness…

Be Kind

With the absence of compassion, it is easy to find mirth in the folly of others. For Mother, true happiness stems from the grace we extend to people through our words and deeds. A sincere compliment or helpful gesture no matter how insignificant it may seem at first can do a lot to impact positive change in someone else. My mother exemplified kindness through her tactfulness, generosity, sympathy, and propensity to help someone in need. There is no happiness like knowing that you have contributed to a person’s betterment. According to studies, people gain happiness from watching others contribute to charity.


Do Not Compare

“Keep your eyes on your own work” proctors would bark sharply during exams as wandering eyes of uncertainty would find its way into someone else’s answers. In my mother’s words, when we become distracted by other people’s good fortunes, we lose our focus and are consequently derailed from fulfilling our missions. Comparing our current state of affairs to someone else’s more favorable disposition will not do much to improve our already lowly situation.


Happiness Tips from My Friends

There is really no one way to be happy in the face of difficult challenges. Different people find different ways to feel good despite the stress and the heartaches. Here, Facebook friends share some tips on how they keep it together through the worst of times.


With my job, I find that doing a bit of gardening, making soap or listening to relaxation music (sound of the rainforest) help me de-stress.

--Mary Boylett

Let your hair down and cultivate friendship…

Looking really good, going out, and having fun!

---Christina Amansec

Hanging out and talking to my closest friends.

--Jonna Sison

Positive Mind-setting…

I do things that simply make me feel good like watching The Secret, motivational videos, and TEDTalk. Worrying doesn't help so, it is not an option.

--Caryl Estrosas

Thinking positively and surrounding myself with people who can help me by being honest and supportive. By avoiding people who are negative and being careful who I trust with certain issues.

--Jane Diaz

Spiritual Nourishment…

Pray a lot, meditate, be with and talk to the right people who can give me spiritual boosts, read the bible, and attend church service.

Caryl Estrosas

Simple random things…

Pursuing and learning new things, the completion of a task, a scary movie on a stormy night, long walks on an overcast afternoon, and the end of a hard workout.

---Alex Presto

Embrace the Imperfection

Life is not perfect, and we can only do so much to make things work our way. The more that we try to do things in vain, the more our frustration builds up until it finally reaches boiling point. There is really no point, my mother used to tell me, in pinpointing someone’s shortcomings as it does nothing to appease our dissatisfaction. Learning to let go of the things that are beyond our control and accepting the imperfections of reality relieve us of the burden that keep us from moving forward.


Like I said once in my blog post about “Things to Eliminate from Life before Starting Over,” as baggage stunts progress, forgiveness is the key. Forgiveness unloads you of excess weight namely anger, resentment, and guilt. I have learned from my mom that to forgive is not necessarily to forget, but rather to let go of any sense of being wronged, again, by practicing compassion. This may be easier said than done, but once you have mastered the art of forgiveness, you will feel as light as feather.

Practice Gratitude

“Thank” and “you” put together can mean the whole world to another person. Expressing gratitude for the simplest gesture of kindness and the littlest things that give us pleasure means giving love to them. According to Rhonda Byrne’s book “Secret: The Power of Love,” whatever you give, you receive as well. Also, gratitude teaches you to be humble as you recognize the role of others in your life.


Someone once told me that my mother had a beautiful laugh. I have always taken that particular quality of hers for granted. Now looking back at that time, I realize how the sound of her laughter stands out among the rest like tinkling ice cubes or lilting flute music. Despite her tendencies to worry a lot, my mother knew how to stop, appreciate the beauty of her surroundings, and live for the moment. Despite her struggles with anxieties, I also saw her efforts to infuse positivity in the things she did and rub off some happiness in the people whose lives she had touched.

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Tina Amansec is a free-spirited traveler and language teacher in GeorgiaCaryl Estrosas is a freelance writer and advocate of positive thinkingAuthor's brother Alex Presto is an operations manager based in Singapore who has found his ultimate passion in the Martial Arts.
Tina Amansec is a free-spirited traveler and language teacher in Georgia
Tina Amansec is a free-spirited traveler and language teacher in Georgia | Source
Caryl Estrosas is a freelance writer and advocate of positive thinking
Caryl Estrosas is a freelance writer and advocate of positive thinking | Source
Author's brother Alex Presto is an operations manager based in Singapore who has found his ultimate passion in the Martial Arts.
Author's brother Alex Presto is an operations manager based in Singapore who has found his ultimate passion in the Martial Arts. | Source

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