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The Art of Happiness

Updated on February 25, 2011

44 Keys to Happiness

There are a lot of keys to happiness. Maybe 100, maybe 1,000 - or maybe just the 44 mentioned here. The number is different for each individual. To seek happiness is the most worthy of all treasure hunts. Each of the following actions contains a key. When you incorporate these actions into your life, you unlock a cryptic piece of the happiness puzzle. When you start collecting enough of these keys, a wonderful thing happens. You start unlocking the secrets to genuine, deep and lasting happiness.

If you try a few of these tips below or if you already do them and you're not happy, then try more in combination. The recipe for happiness is a package of many actions. Not just a few. It WILL work. No one has all the secrets, but we've got some good indications - these are tried and tested methods on how to be happy.

And best of all, to be happy doesn't require money. It's very accessible to be happy and healthy without a lot of money. All it requires is a willingness to get to know yourself and where need be, to change. All it requires is YOU.

How to be Happy, Healthy and Stay Young and Mind

Some of the suggestions below are common sense (such as a healthy diet) - and we've all heard it SO many times before I haven't listed these ideas in order of importance. Because there is no order of importance. They're all essential pieces of the cryptic how to-be-happy puzzle. Who's to say what action is more important than the next in the quest of being content of heart, soul and mind? So I've jumbled them all up. Feel free to let me know of any more actions that you can think of that should be added to this list. What keeps you young, what keeps you happy? Share with those who need a little help in this department (and don't we all?).

On the opposite side, it is also just as important to identify what has aged you in your heart. What makes you sad? What causes you pain in your life? This says much and gives you essential clues. If something has aged you inside or made you unhappy and you can identify it, then maybe now is the time to start dealing with it differently. Sad feelings may never go away, but we can manage them to the best of our ability. Following are some of the keys to a happy life.

Meditate on a Regular Basis

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I don't mean chant OM and book yourself into a spiritual retreat. Meditation basically means this: go to a quiet place and for a minimum of 20 minutes, close your eyes and shush the usual barrage of thoughts that run through our heads. When we deliberately quiet our brain, we are able to allow higher and more important thoughts that reside between the noise of our usual thought process to filter through. When we still and quiet our mind, what's important will rise to the surface.

If you meditate (even occasionally) do you feel it contributes to a calm and happy state?

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Be Proactive

Everyone has problems. I mean EVERYONE. That's a part of life. But when you are confronted with a problem, be it your own or someone else who's coming to you with a problem, listen to them (or yourself) but after the problem has been identified, think of a solution. What little steps can you take to overcome this problem, or alleviate it, or even better, turn it around, transmute it's energy and turn the experience into a strength?

Having problems is not the issue - they're as common as insects. It's what you're going to do about it. Use creativity. Think outside the limiting square our brain was taught to think in and use your imagination! If you can't find a solution yourself, then research the internet, or buy or borrow a self-help book and read it. First be aware that there is a problem, second, identify what the problem is to the best of your ability (reflection and quiet thinking time may help here), then figure it out. Ask yourself, "okay, so what am I going to do about it?" There is ALWAYS a way. Problems are covers for strengths that haven't been realised yet. Problems are crappily-wrapped opportunities.

Be Kind and Gentle

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To yourself, to animals, to the environment, to people you know and to complete strangers.

Be Welcoming to Everyone

Often people are only comfortable with other people with a similar mindset, same belief system or who look similar in appearance as they do. That's human nature left to run riot and it originates from our ill-structured global society. But give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Don't shut anyone of your particular circle or from interacting with you because they are not the same as you. There would be many other things that you have in common, and something brought you together to interact for a reason.

Chances are there are things you can each learn from each other if you put aside your prejudice based on your surface differences. Surprise yourself. It is the trait of a good leader (and we ALL should strive to become our own leaders) to welcome everyone. Don't be like you're back in primary school. No one likes to be shut out. Welcome everyone with a kind smile and warm words and cultivate tolerence. Underneath our clothes, our peircings, our skin color, our jobs, our habits and our religious beliefs, we are all the same race and we all have the same range of feelings.

Explore and Travel

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You don't need money to do this. I don't mean go overseas - just see your own backyard first, perhaps your local park, or your city, your state, and maybe one day your country! Armchair travel if physical ailments stop you from being mobile - this is one area when TV can actually be of benefit.

If you're in a financial situation where you can't afford to travel far (like many of us), then go close to home - catch a bus or train to your local beach or park. If you don't have a car or public transport, then go for a walk somewhere you haven't been before or to a natural setting you haven't taken notice of before. The difference is this time, you're going as an explorer. Take a picnic. If you live in a nursing home where NOTHING happens, make it happen! Organise for everyone to put in some pennies, hire a bus and get out to your local park, beach, river - anywhere! If you've got no pennies, then grow some herbs and sell them once a month at a nursing home farmer's market you've created. And how do you explore? Get curious. Collect rocks, nuts that fall from trees, seashells, ANYTHING from nature for you to bring back and make something with. Make some wind chimes or make a mobile and hang it out the front of your house as a memento of your trip.

The Harder Choice is Usually the Right One

Not having that cigarette, being kind when you want to snap, not eating that peice of cake when you have diabetes, not drinking tonight - whatever the HARDER choice is in the situation you are in - is usually the right one. Enjoy the feeling of empowerment when you make the right choice. You're the only one who can do it, and you're the first person who's going to get the positive or negative results that come from your action.

A Healthy Diet

We've all heard this a thousand times before. You can start eating yummy things which will keep your brain sharp, your arteries clear, your heart strong and your organs, cells and skin in great shape.

If you are predisposed to illness or have any disease or ailment, research!!! I can't stress this enough - you CAN find foods that will reverse whatever ailment you have - foods that regenerate the cells affected by your ailment. It's not magic or a miracle, it's just (sometimes unexplained) high science. Health and ailment-curing properties in foods and herbs are there to be found. There are also foods that will propegate and enable a disease to worsen. It's up to you. You are your own best doctor so if you suffer from any ailment, get to work on research. Stop it's progression and start reversing it today.

PS Although the harder choice is the right one, it's like "Dammit! Why does life have to be this way? Why can't it be the easy choice?" Because nothing of great worth comes without similar effort. Being selfish is easy. Being unhealthy is easy. No rewards come attached to anything that requires no effort. Oh the conundrums of life are mind boggling. I'm still trying to work it out but because of the worth of the answer, well, you get the picture...

Grow a Garden

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There is much fun and lessons to be learnt in growing a garden. And you get to eat yummy fruits, herbs and vegetables for free. But it's the lessons in the process of growing a garden that contains a key to happiness. The actions of planting and nurturing something from a tiny seed until it's grown to fruition is a very rewarding process. It gets you closer to understanding the cycle of life. And it brings you close to nature again which many of us have lost in today's society. Growing and nurturing plants also leads to a bigger respect for our planet and what is happening to it. You might kill some plants in the process, but you get better at it and you learn a bit more on how not to do it again. Don't use pesticides, give some of your produce away when it's grown and enjoy the fruits of your new (or old!) hobby.

If you have a garden, do you feel it contributes to your happiness?

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Review and Refine Your Habits

It's healthy to acknowledge that we all have good and bad habits. Bad habits should be identified, then slowly worked on. Start by being aware of them. Reflect on why they are bad for you, why you do them, then make a plan to do them less. Whether it's something physically detrimental (such as smoking, too much drinking, bad diet, etc) or socially damaging to you and others (prejudice, non tolerance, etc) - they can all be changed. We're all human and have many traits, good and bad, but the key is to raise the vibrations of our actions. We can overcome (with big results) anything we choose to and part of the higher plan of life, is to minimize our negative traits and amplify our positive ones.

Reflect Often

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This is very different from DWELLING on the past and having regrets about it. Dwelling on the past is futile and damaging. The past is the past and can't be changed, so understand it was a personal experience, try to learn as much as you can from it and leave it there in the past where it belongs.

To reflect on something is different than dwelling on the past. Reflect often for the purpose of learning about what happened and what you went through - how you managed it, what lessons you learnt and how (if possible) to prevent it from occurring again. What can you do differently next time if a similar situation occurs again? Could you manage it better? If you only got negativity from this experience, then think about it from another angle. Every experience - good or bad or downright tragic and sad - can't be undone, so take from it what you can and let it shape you into somebody different and more knowledgeable than you were before it happened. Perhaps you can be there for others who went through similar and don't know what to do with the experience. Perhaps you can grow stronger, with more insight as to why things happen. Maybe you'll just inspire others to go on. Sometimes, especially in times of tragedy, there can be no immediate answer to this - sometimes you have no idea why you're going through what you're going through until perhaps years later when reflection can enable some form of meaning to come from it.

Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make Every Situation WIN WIN

There don't have to be winners and losers in the game of life. People don't have to be trodden on to get your way. Every outcome can have a win win result. And you'll gain a whole lot of respect in the process of finding the diplomatic solution to results that everyone sees as win win.

Be Humble

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Whether this means being able to admit when you're wrong (even to yourself), being able to say sorry, or simply being able to ask for help or accept help and guidance from someone who's been through a certain experience before, always strive to cultivate humility. Don't think you have all the answers or let ego get in the way. The most admirable thing to do - and the most beneficial - is to see humility in action. The bigger person admits they always have more to learn, rather than egocentrical stubborness that says 'I'm always right, or I know better'. A lot can be learnt from listening to people who've been there before and who can offer a different perspective or lessons from their own mistakes. Sitting on a high horse is not a very fun or productive place to be.

Realize We're Not Perfect

I'm sure we'd all like to be perfect, but the fact of the matter is, we're not. We're all infallible to errs of judgement. We can learn much by our so-called 'mistakes' and 'failures'. This is the most effective area where we can grow - through situations we deem ourselves (or society has labeled us) to have 'failed'. There is no better way to get to the point we consider happiness and success than by falling away from our plans sometimes. After all, we're human. Just get back on up and learn from it. When we manage the experience of straying off the path with reflection and insight as to why it happened, we can get back up stronger, more insightful and educated than we could ever have before. So-called 'mistakes' and 'failures' are just another crappy-looking present from life. Underneath the wrapping, the gift of the lesson and the experience can be priceless.

Stand Up and Speak Up for What You Believe In

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Whether it's your interest to protect animals from cruelty, save the forests, speak up for gay rights or human rights, stand up and speak up! Situations have a better chance of changing if you get involved. Don't think that someone else will do it. There may be many disappointments in the process of trying to change the way society functions, but if it's of a higher order and of positive benefit, eventually change WILL come. Look at what happened in Egypt. Through people power, they have removed a dictator from ruling their country and taken back control of their deteriorating lives which a few months ago was unimaginable. Nothing EVER changes unless enough people stand up and make it so. Plus you'll meet a lot of cool people who share your beliefs along the way and further broaden your enlightened circle.

Accept the Physical Things You Can't Change About Yourself

Many things we can change about ourselves, our habits our beliefs, our personality traits. Some things we can't change - such as how tall we are, how small we are, whether we have freckles or not or whether we're losing our hair. And you know what? The things we can't change are the things that really don't matter. The way our society is structured puts value in the superficial - TV, magazines and the internet all display images that we may measure ourselves up to be. But this isn't real nor is it worthy. They're mostly airbrushed anyway or their physical beauty is a freak of nature and who really wants someone to be attracted to us just because of what we look like.

This is a tricky one to get past but the key lies in finding other things to make you happy. Stop looking in the mirror so much or measuring up your worth because of what you look like or don't look like. Stop buying magazines or browsing celebrity websites and start getting interested in the real keys to happiness. As you fill up your worth in other, more rewarding and REAL areas, the obsession on what you look like becomes less and less important. And that's the most attractive thing of all - loving yourself for who you really are. Not having insecurities about what you are or what you're not. No use in wasting valuable energy trying to change something that can't be changed about your appearance - it's superficial, it's a waste of time and it's yet another trap of our ill-structured society.

Be Aware of the Methods of Production for What You Purchase

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If you eat meat or buy eggs, choose free range where possible. Strive not to buy supermarket products that test on animals when there are alternatives. Refrain from purchasing goods that come from irresponsible production methods. Just because you can buy products from the supermarket and don't see what goes on behind the scenes, take the time to learn. Don't be responsible for promoting industries that endorse cruelty and sadness or the destruction of our environment. This goes against the aim for a happy world and a happy life. Another key to happiness is hidden in this simple action and you'll feel good about yourself that you're not contributing to a sad society. Educate yourself and make wise and ethical choices.

Be Honest

This ones a toughie. I'm not sure who can say they've not told a tiny white fib during the week. We usually do it to protect other's feelings while thinking we're doing no harm. The harm is simple dishonesty. Practice truthfulness with HUGE doses of tact when needed to soften any pains of hearing the truth. If the honest word does have a little sting, it helps to wedge it in between two compliments. People may not like what they hear all the time, but they'll trust you and they'll respect you for it.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

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Whether it's picking up a bit of rubbish on the ground, saying thank you to the bus driver, helping someone in need or rescuing a sick or injured animal, most of the time, it's easier NOT to do these things. But try stepping outside your comfort zone - amazing things happen when you do. In a beautiful world, what would a person's actions be? Be the change you want to see. It won't go unnoticed - at the very least, YOU will know. You'll feel empowered because you're changing for the better and you'll love yourself more. You're also likely to inspire others with your actions. The little ripples of positive actions flow through to affect many things around it.

Give Rather Than Receive

This could also be referred to as being selfless rather than selfish. Give something instead of taking. Whether it's giving someone your time, a thoughtful gift, an offer to do the dishes or cook dinner, you are making someone happy. And it shows you are considering them. To make someone smile when you didn't have to and make them happy, is a high action. Give a kind word. Give someone a pat on the back or a hug to someone who needs it, or an ear to listen to. Give someone an honest compliment. Pick a friend or a relative a free flower on your walk home. To give usually doesn't cost anything - it just requires a little thought and consideration to make someone happy. A tiny positive action goes a long way.

The Kindness of Strangers - A True Story...

Annie Beecham was driving to Moogerah Dam in a convoy of cars some years back. After a friend went through the toll on the Logan motorway, Beecham approached with her change at the ready only to be told by the collector that her friend had already paid for her. "I thought how sweet that was. It made me feel good inside and I thought of how even something small can mean a lot," Beecham says.

So Beecham started doing the same for other people, for complete strangers. To date, Beecham reckons she has paid motorway tolls for at least a dozen cars. "You feel you've made someone's day a little brighter," she explains. In fact, Brisbane toll collectors are continually impressed by motorists' generosity. "We regularly get people paying for the person behind," admits Marilyn Wilson, a toll collector for four years. Adds her colleague, Lorraine Hope, "It happens from all sorts of people from all walks of life. When I was working on the Gateway Bridge one lady paid the $2.20 each for herself and the following four cars. One of those drivers was returning from a funeral and burst into tears at the gesture."

Toll collector Yvonne Wooderson has noticed how the donations increase over Christmas and Easter. And as she breaks the good news to motorists getting a free toll courtesy of a stranger up ahead, she suggests, "Maybe you can do the same good turn for someone else sometime."

www.readersdigest.com.au

Help Others to Help Themselves

Always help someone when they need genuine assistance. However, if someone (say a friend) is continually needy and they can do things for themselves but is in a pattern-forming habit of 'poor me' syndrome whereby they prefer to suck the life out of others, then Stop. Start helping them in a different way. Understand they have a problem, listen to them, but then ask them: What's the solution they propose? What's their plan? What are they going to do about it? Put the power back in their hands and help them to be proactive. The best friend that you can be is by helping them find the solution themselves and then encouraging them that they can do it. Support them. Empower them with knowledge. They (and anyone) can overcome this issue that is bothering them so much rather than simply looking for sympathy all of the time. That's just a bandaid result while the injury still remains.

What is Happiness?

This means different things to different people. To me it is a feeling of contentedness and a sense of fulfillment with your life. It is a strong form of peace. To be mostly free of pain and illness, to feel safe, to feel you're on the right path in life with your ethics, and being able to figure out how to get stronger when you didn't make the 'right' choices.

Keep Curiosity Alive

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Always keep questioning. Keep curiosity alive by keeping alive the desire to always wonder how things work. Why are things the way the are? What can be changed about it to make it better?

Start Being Your Own Leader

We each have the ability to empower ourselves with knowledge, and with the experience from things we have been through. We don't have to look to someone else or some other body to lead us. We should strive to be our own leaders. Always look to others - not to be led, but for guidance. Seek out those who empower us with the knowledge that we need to become effective leaders for our own selves. Be wary of anyone and anything that indicates they have all the right answers and everyone else should listen to them (churches can do this, as can governments and individuals). Seek out those groups, individuals, websites or books that give you guidance and who empower YOU with knowledge. What a wonderful place we would live in if we were all empowered with wisdom to lead our own lives to the best of our ability rather than continually being led. Guidance is always on hand when we get a little lost and there will always be enough information and knowledge around to get us through any patches of life when we're stuck. You know your life the best, so you are the best person qualified to be your own leader.

Notice the Beauty in Nature

The more you do this, the easier it becomes and what a beautiful free gift it is. There is absolute mastery in the way nature is created. An easy way to start appreciating is to look at the sky during a sunrise or sunset. It is THE BEST painting on earth right before your eyes and it's changing minute by minute. Look at some trees closely (and preferably by yourself) - the bigger the tree, the easier it is to begin seeing it's majestic structure. This gets you to start thinking more about life, and where these wonderful things came from. That in itself encourages a lifetime of questions, and in seeking ever-refining answers.

Do a 1000+ Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

It's fun and frustrating at times but puzzles are cool stuff. Again, this keeps your brain exercised and well oiled and it'll probably take you a month, but when you get to the end, you'll feel awesome. Anyone else around you will probably join in because puzzles are contagious. Ha. You did it. If the picture is a good one, maybe frame it and put it on the wall.

Realise That Painful Experiences Happen to Everyone

Whether your husband just left you for a younger woman, your dog died, your house got broken into and irreplaceable sentimental things stolen, or your son or daughter, mother, father, brother, sister - any loved one - dies suddenly or after a long illness, whether you watch the news and see heartbreak in it's various guises all over the world, you get diagnosed with a terminal illness, or your area has just been flooded and people have lost their homes. Sad and terrible things happen to most of us during the course of our lives - sometimes many times. Sometimes it happens to us young, sometimes when we are older. Here are the facts: The incident can't be undone but you can manage it from here on in a 1000 different ways. You are NOT alone. Chances are there are other people going through the same heart-wrenching emotions somewhere across the globe.

This is what will likely happen: The incident will occur. You will be in shock for an amount of time that is variable. Just as people are all different, so to is the time it takes to get through various stages of processing tragedy. Then numbness will set in and question of why and the unfairness of it all will likely occur. Then slowly, time will pass, feeling will come back and it's 'where to from here'? Priorities can change, a feeling of dispair and emptiness can set in and you may not feel like going on or know what to do. Self healing techniques help, such as buying or borrowing a book on on your situation or with a similar story to what you went through to see how others cope. Perhaps see a therapist or counsellor (you may get 3 bad ones before you find the right one. You will know when you've found one to genuinely help with what you're going through). You realise (from your own experience) that it is a part of life for tragedies and immensely sad and challenging situations to occur. Then you take stock. What can I do from here? Try and ask yourself: Because I've been through this, what can I now do that I couldn't do without this incident occuring? From helping others, to becoming stronger through tragedy, there are many options. Don't curl up and let it overtake you. You are NEVER alone and you can turn this painful experience into something you couldn't have done before. Make yourself grow from it and inspire others with your strength. It may take years after the incident. That's okay. There is no rush but the experience did happen, so try and go forward in the more beneficial way possible. And have a cry when you need to. It's essential at times and helps process feelings and grief.

Consider Getting a Pet

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Give a beautiful home to an animal on death row. Save it's life and give it love. It will return the love 100-fold. Even a mouse, chicken or rabbit will show you love back. But remember, if it's a dog or cat, train your pet. If it develops traits such as jumping all over you with mud each time you go out into the backyard, that's your fault and don't punish your pet for actions that you created yourself - that's not fair. It is up to you as it's trainer to give it habits it will have for life. Animals don't know what's right and what's inacceptable most of the time, they need to be trained. And never with a heavy hand, only ever with your disapproving tone. They love you and want to please you so this is the most effective (and kind and gentle) training method. That's what works.

Always Keep Learning

Be a sponge for learning. Learn about everything you can. When something is in front of you, get curious and learn more. Through books, asking people questions or looking it up on the internet. Understand as much as you can about subjects that interest you and try to learn something new every day.

The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.

Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Stay Active

Well as active as you can. For some people it's jogging, for some (including me) it's simply stretching. If you drive everywhere, then park a little further away, get out of the car and walk. The body is a vehicle, and it must be maintained in the best condition possible for longevity. In the same way as the brain, when you exercise something, it stops it from deteriorating and it makes it stronger.

Enjoy Spending Time By Yourself

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When you start doing some of these actions, you start to understand yourself, getting to love yourself and really enjoying spending time by yourself. Start thinking about the meaning of life and ask questions to your higher self that you want answered. Become aware of the way that you are, love and appreciate you for you and delve deeper into who you are. Hang out with yourself and do something worthwhile and enjoyable. You'll soon start to become your own best friend. After all, the only person who is going to go all the way through this life with you..is you.

Start Doing Things Differently

Walk a different way to work. Instead of cooking what you usually cook this week, write down the names of 10 countries on paper such as Japanese, Italian, Greek, Korean, etc, and put them in a big bowl and pick one out. Whatever country you pick out, that's what you're cooking - check the internet for some yummy recipes from any country. Rearrange a room. Break the rut of mundane habit. This gets your mind out of the habit of stagnation and starts to ignite the magic of creativity. Instead of just reading a catalogue or magazine, after you're done, cut out certain words and make funny sentences and stick them on your fridge for others (or yourself) to giggle at. With every action that has become habit, start to think - how can I do this a little differently?

The Beauty of Simplicity

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The more complicated life gets with work, earning, saving, buying new electronics, shopping for the latest fashions, booking holidays, upgrading your perfectly okay car, the more the essense of what really matters loses focus. All you really need to be happy is the right frame of mind, a degree of health, a roof over your head, creativity, social connections, the ability to learn and being comfortable with yourself and your ethical choices. You don't need much money for that. In our technological age where we have gadgets that do everything we forget: People with simple lives who don't live in the western world are much of the time happier than we are. Why? Their value for happiness resides in the simple things.

Happiness doen't come as a bonus with your new ipod, iphone, large screen TV, computer games, the latest fashions, or a flashy car. It comes from within. All you'll get from your purchases is a temporary high, possible convenience and that's it. The simple beauty of a flower or breathing fresh air, or a quiet sunset or the appreciation for lack of war or violence is too often lost in our consumerist society.

Do a Crossword Regularly

Even if it's only once a week. It's exercise for your brain. Use it or lose it. It keeps your brain sharp, you'll learn some new words and feel empowered - it doesn't matter if you don't finish it, just do as much as you can!

Switch the TV Off

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There are SO many other things to do that offer more benefit than sitting on the couch being continually fed 'entertainment' by the TV. Television basically starves the imagination which is a key to a happy life. The imagination is responsible for all sorts of wonderful things such as art and solutions to problems. It is essential to exercise your imagination rather than starve it with television.

Television also bombards you with crap from people's problems, empty programs and provided entertainment that fill your hours and days. News that goes over and over the negative aspects of our world. Don't be afraid to have a news-blackout. If some aspect of news is THAT important, you'll get word of it. Watch the news once a week or buy a newspaper once a week. Remember also, the television is not an actual representation of the truth that goes on in the world. It is what they want you to see only. Television is addictive, it is poison and if you watch enough of it, it WILL disable your imagination.

Television is good for the occasional movie, armchair travel, educational programs, how-to-do programs (cooking, gardening, making things), and not a whole lot else.

Be Careful of Negative Data Input Into your Brain

If you think about negative stuff, stop yourself from doing it. Distract yourself. Do something else - do whatever it takes to break that thought pattern. Then go back a bit. Start being VERY careful about what data you input into your brain. From movies, books you read, conversations you partake in - this is all data that is inputted into your brain. It then floats around in your subconscious, comes to you in your dreams, tries to infiltrate your thought patterns and has influence on the decisions you make. This data is in your head. If data is negative, don't allow it in your head to begin with - or stop it as soon as it starts to manifest itself. Here's a tip - don't subject your personality and your psyche to overly violent movies, animal or human cruelty. If you watch it to learn from it, there is benefit in that. But if you watch it because it interests you, don't put your future self through that. Be very careful about what data you allow into your brain - I cannot stress this enough. It WILL shape the future you.

Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.

Helen Keller

Laugh Often

Laughter keeps you young of heart. It keeps you light. Laugh at jokes, funny things said in the company of others, a funny movie but most of all learn to laugh at yourself. There is humor to be found in many things. Don't ask scientists about this one but it's well known that laughter, happiness and a positive frame of mind can also cure ailments - a happy thought process can heal and counteract free radicals that cause disease and illness. Just as thinking unhealthy thoughts can make you sick.

Nurture Your Inner Child

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Splash through a puddle, build a treehouse, build something with lego, play hide and seek, have a game of marbles, be inquisitive, delight in small things and ponder why, enjoy thunderstorms and wild weather, clap your hands and dance when no one is looking or sing a song in your house. Colour in, scribble, fingerpaint or do a cartwheel. Be a kid once in a while and have fun doing it.

Enjoy the Feeling of Personal Empowerment

When you finally give up smoking, or change your diet, or get ontop of anything of a personal nature through willpower, the feeling that comes from this is second to none. It's the feeling of personal empowerment. You changed something difficult and the results are not just in the new actions you choose (not having that cigarette, being kind where you never used to, going for that jog again, going to yoga, not having that drink) but the feeling that you actually did it, is magical. You proved to yourself that you can do it. You are not a slave to ANYTHING if you choose not to be! You have free will of choice and although it wasn't easy, you did it. Relish in that feeling and pat yourself on the back.

Cultivate Empathy

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Put yourself in another's shoes. Realise the effect that you are having on others with your judgements of them and you actions towards them. You can never live another person's life, or understand the environment they grew up in, but you can try. You can use insight. Understand that they are different and see how your actions will affect them and yourself, both negatively and positively. Aim for your actions to affect everyone positively.

It spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in a small way.

Edith Wharton

Find Time For YOU

Dont' find time to work more, or time to clean up again, or to watch more TV. Finding more time for yourself means putting those things OFF so you can spend some quality time with yourself, doing some positive things on this list. This is the only way you'll be able to have a greater positive impact on what you do afterwards, with your work, your children, your family, etc. You will interact better when you spend some time on YOU. You can't help others if you can't help yourself first. And if you need to work more for the money - try and revise how much money you need - eat out less, buy less, consume less. If you are always busy cleaning because you feel it's important and needs to be done (again), well it'll still be there to be cleaned tomorrow. Find time to spend on yourself. This is not a selfish exercise, but a selfless one. It makes you into a better person and that translates into everything that you do.

Don't Worry About What Others Think About You

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People may judge you because you're different, or because they're jealous of some aspect about you. Or perhaps they make take some action that you do at face value (without realizing why you're doing it) and judge you because of this. There are many reasons why people may think things or say things about you that are not accurate. But the fact of the matter is, you can't control what other people think. But you can control your actions and the way you deal with it. Just worry about yourself. Make sure you make the right choices (or try to!) and always try to deal with each situation to the best of your ability. That's all you can do. Don't get caught up and worry about what you can't control. Your actions will shine through.

The Power of Change

It is always more comfortable to stay in a familar place. But if we don't change we stagnate. We learn something new every day and if we did things the same as we always did, we are not changing. The way we look at things and respond to things sometimes needs to be different. Just like water. If it doesn't flow and move, it stagnates and eventually attracts mosquitoes and slime which inhibit the growth of flowers on the edge. All great things come from the ability to change.

You only hurt yourself when you're not expanding and growing. Many people can't stand the thought of aging, but it's the crystallized thought patterns and inflexible mind-sets that age people before their time.

You can break through and challenge your crystallized patterns and mind-sets. That's what evolution and the expansion of love are really about.

Sara Paddison, The Hidden Power of the Heart

Be Social

Whether you already have a group of friends or not, it's fun and healthy to hang out with people who's company you enjoy. You might just have a good light-hearted time, or you may learn things from each other - preferably a bit of both! If you don't have a social circle, that's okay. Just start by embracing new hobbies and interests and before you know it, you will find your new friends or they will come to you. You'll be like a magnet for each other. That's an another awesome aspect of the magic of life. When the time is right (and you can make the time right by your actions) the right people will be drawn to you one way or another. By chance at your local pub, or perhaps by signing up to like-minded hobby groups in your area that you're interested in. The way it happens are many, but the result is the same.

Create Something Regularly

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Get out some paints, pencils or crayons and a blank sheet of paper and just draw. Make something that didn't exist yesterday. Write a poem and wheatpaste it onto your wall (or somebody else's wall!), cook a new recipe, go for a walk and pick some flowers and make a flower arrangement with sticks, leaves, and flowers. Rip up some old clothes and make something new out of them, break a string of beads and make a new and different one, build something. Anything really, that is borne from your imagination. What you made doesn't exist anywhere else in the world! It's entirely original and it never existed before now. It doesn't matter what the quality is - the point is, you made something. That's creativity.

Find Hobbies You Enjoy

This is different from using creativity in everything you do. Finding a hobby means you put aside time to do it, you learn more about it and gradually get better doing it. It's an exercise in using the imagination again but most of all it's fun. Here are some ideas - just start doing what interests you.

1) Start reasearching and learning about the magical healing properties of native plants. Grow them and test them

2) Build dog houses and sell them or give them away

3) Painting

4) Drawing

5) Cooking more in the kitchen, inventing new recipes

6) Reading

7) Crosswords

8) Learn the piano

9) Doing jigsaw puzzles

10) Learning and playing guitar

11) Learn the art of massage

12) Rock collecting

13) Studying the stars and astronomy

14) Refurbishing furniture - pick up cheap bits from op shops

15) Make your own coloured paper or cards (instructions on the internet)

16) Make candles, perfumes or your own skin care range

17) The power of essential oils

18) Self healing techniques

19) Knitting, sewing, crocheting

20) Playing tennis or golf

21) Bo staff techniques (light the staff on fire when you get good at it!)

22) Learn a language

23) Learn how to juggle. Start with rolled up socks. Then switch to balls or clubs, then when you've mastered two, then three, try four or five. When you're getting good, use clubs and light them on fire! Wow yourself :)

24) Grow a garden

25) Start riding a bike

26) Paper mache

27) Make music (it's pretty easy and fun)

28 Mosaic art

29) Pottery

30) Creative writing

I could list a thousand hobbies, but you get the picture. Do something fun, learn more about it and use your imagination - the more you do it, the better you'll get at it.

Learn More

Each of these tips on being happy are worthy of exploration in their own right. If some aspect interests you, learn more through internet research, conversations, books (there's probably 100 excellent books written on each subject) or thinking about it further. Hopefully you'll look into some of these subjects and try them out. You've got nothing to lose and much to gain.

Two Books That Can Change Your Life

If you need a little help to do things better (and we ALL do) the internet is always a good place to search further. Books are also a great help. Here are two of the most impactful books on changing the way you live and changing the way you see the world for the better (in the biggest sense of the term).

Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World
Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World

This bestselling author and renowned wellness expert actually grew up on chicken-fried steak and cheesy grits, and loved nothing more than BBQ ribs and vanilla milkshakes. Not until her thirties did she embrace the lifestyle of a veganist - someone who eats a plant-based diet not just for their own personal well-being, but for the whole web of benefits it brings to our ecosystem and beyond.

Kathy's shift toward this new life was gradual - she leaned into it - but the impact was profound. Now Kathy shows us how to lean into the veganist life. Effortless weight loss, reversal of disease, environmental responsibility, spiritual awakening - these are just a few of the ten profound changes that can be achieved through a gentle switch in food choices.

Filled with compelling facts, stories of people who have improved their weight and health conditions as a result of making the switch, and Q&As with the leading medical researchers, Veganist concludes with a step-by-step practical guide to becoming a veganist easily and gradually. It is an accessible, optimistic, and illuminating book that will change the way you eat forever. No less delicious, still hearty and satisfying - just better for you and for all.

 

Become the Person You'd LIKE to Be

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Write down as an affirmation or a mission statement the traits of the person you'd like to be. Then think about it and every action you take following the awareness, make it fit in with your affirmation and your goals. Plan the desired outcome first, then fill in the steps on how to get there. Make sure your response to every incident and every action from then on, fits in with reaching this goal. Most worthwhile things are always planned first - a design for a house, a recipe before it's cooked, a sketch before the painting...Plan the outcome first, then fill in the steps to reach the result. It'd be a miracle if a work of art was created by chance without thinking about it first. It's always better to create miracles, rather than just sitting around waiting for one because you might be waiting forever.

If there is a key to happiness you can think of that's not listed here, please let me know. Share with others what contributes to your happiness. If you want to say anything about this lens, here's the place. If you need any help with your own personal happiness which you are trying to find and don't know where to go from here, let me know your situation and I'll do my best to empower you to help yourself. We're all here to help each other.

I hope you do something from here on - something that is different, better and higher than you did before. We can make this world into a wonderful place if we each do our own bit to create our own special world first. Happiness is there for all of us. The hidden keys are everywhere but they won't be dropped into our lap - life makes us earn them and they're there for us all to seek out and find.

Comments are very welcome

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    • profile image

      nifwlseirff 4 years ago

      An incredible, inspiring and motivational lens - fantastic! I'm happy that the EU has banned battery farmed eggs, making free-range and non-caged the default choices. More could be done for animal health and happiness, but it's a great first step.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 5 years ago

      You have so much wisdom written here. Your encouraging manner certainly made me happier. Thank you. "Squid Angel blessed."

    • LadyJasmine LM profile image

      LadyJasmine LM 6 years ago

      Just so you know I enjoyed your lens, so I blessed it and featured it here: https://hubpages.com/education/back-to-school-bles

    • viscri8 profile image

      viscri8 6 years ago

      This is a good lens, worked on with seriosity and conviction.. It is unfortunate that it can not help everybody. Keep well.

    • sidther lm profile image

      sidther lm 6 years ago

      Lensrolled and featured! Great Lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      very beautiful!

    • BlackHeart1 profile image

      BlackHeart1 6 years ago

      You made it!! you submited this lens for the top Culture & Society Lens section and you made it to the top 5 ... Be sure to go check this page: http://www.squidoo.com/top-5-culture-society on the first of the month to see what your position in the top 5 is and tell your friends and visitors about it too

      Oh but it's not over !!! CONGRATULATION you also made it to the top 5 lens overall section too check it out here http://www.squidoo.com/top-5-lens-overall on the first too

    • profile image

      alyssa87 6 years ago

      hats off!!! great great great job, thanks a lot for giving us such awesome lens. Well done.

    • BeaGabrielle1 profile image

      BeaGabrielle1 6 years ago

      A lot of people will definitely appreciate the things you shared in this lens. Squidliked and FB liked.

    • alkapuri profile image

      alkapuri 6 years ago

      great lens.

    • profile image

      Positivevibestechnician 6 years ago

      this is a great lens should get LOD

    • BlueStarling profile image

      BlueStarling 6 years ago

      Wonderful advice, terrific lens!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      This is a fabulous lens, truly well done.

      Barb

    • I-sparkle profile image

      I-sparkle 6 years ago

      Most exceptional lens in every way. I am nominating it for LotD.

    • aerome profile image

      aerome 6 years ago

      Purple star worthy! Very nice work!

    • krish218 profile image

      krish218 6 years ago

      Hi! Just loved your lens! Its really very well written and beautiful pictures. Great job!