|Riding bikes at the beach makes me happy, and it's free.|
Confession: I am a happiness junkie. For many years, I suffered with anxiety , PTSD, and depression, so in trying to dig myself out of the hole, I read countless books on happiness, written by the world’s best thinkers: The Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, and even pop-culture happiness books, like The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Through all of those books, these are the messages that have stuck with me, rules, that when I’ve followed them have proved to be absolutely true. Here is what I know will make me happy:
FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If you want love, be loving. First to your self then to others.
If you want gratitude, be gracious. First to your self then to others.
If you want recognition, acknowledge your self and others for the strides you’ve made.
If you want to be valued, be valuable.
If you want to be understood, seek to understand others.
If you want success, be happy for others’ successes. Note: Never be jealous of others’ good fortune. Instead see their victories as what is possible for you and for everyone, and be grateful to them for showing YOU what can be done
If you want kindness, be kind. First to your self then to others.
I remember once I had finished loading groceries into my trunk, and as I went to return my shopping cart to the front of the store, an older woman watching me said, “You are a good person” I smiled and thanked her as I walked away, but in that moment I was teary-eyed. I know she was making a comment about my returning the cart, but those simple words were so healing to me, and just what I needed to hear that day. This was years ago and I have never forgotten it. Just a few small, kind words can stay with someone forever. So please, say a few kind words…to yourself, and to others, every day.
MAKE GOOD CHOICES:
Ask yourself before you make a choice, will it make me happy? Will it bring happiness to those around me? If not, then please, don’t do it.
DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY:
Make a list of the things that make you happy. Go on…do it. Don’t stop writing until you can’t think of anything else. Post it where you can see it every day.
Now do at least one of those things every day. Put it in your calendar if you have to. Reach out to a friend to keep you accountable to it. But do the things that make you happy.
DON’T DO WHAT MAKES YOU UNHAPPY:
There are certain self-destructive behaviors we all participate in: binge eating, drinking to excess, gossiping, judging others, negative self-talk…
We do them because they bring a fleeting moment of satisfaction, but never do they bring happiness to us, nor to others. In fact, they ultimately bring deep unhappiness. The next time you get the urge to do one of these self-defeating behaviors, STOP- and replace it with one of the things from your happiness list.
LIVE IN TRUTH:
I will end this with my favorite quote from Mahatma Ghandi:
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Living in truth is living in harmony. Be true to yourself. Be true to who you are. Speak the truth- always. Live your truth.
To sum it up - GIVE what ever it is that you want to receive. Be good to yourself and to others, steer clear of negativity, live in truth, and I promise, you will feel happy.
*For more inspiration- read The Power of Positive, which includes my essay, "Chutes and Ladders" --a story about the power of perseverance and overcoming adversity told through the eyes of my (then) four-year old child, Evan.