Yoko Ono once said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “The quest for happiness is the chief source of unhappiness…” (or words to that effect.)
Perhaps Yoko was right….because people do struggle to be happy. …or they think they are struggling toward happiness. Much of the time, they are actually just making themselves miserable. Being happy, is not all that difficult. It shouldn’t be a struggle . The struggle comes from the ego, and from trying to move in the wrong direction….perhaps a direction that someone else believes the person should go, or a direction that is dictated by society rather than by one’s own heart.
Be quiet. Listen to your heart. Do what it says. This will make you happy.
We have all witnessed those who appear to be perpetually happy – those who can bounce back after a trauma and get on with their lives, letting negativity roll off their shoulders easily. While they do feel sadness when it is appropriate, they do not allow sadness to overtake their lives. I think I fall to the right of the middle. I’m not happy all of the time, but I am happy the majority of the time. As I age, I learn more and more about what it takes to be happy, and, for the most part, I am!
I have observed that truly happy people all seem to have certain characteristics in common.
Here are some of them:
1. An appreciation for life
Truly happy people wake up thankful that they are alive each morning. I used to not do this, but I do now. They have a childlike sense of wonder toward their lives and are able to focus upon the beauty of all of life’s aspects. These are people who try to make the most of each day, and who don’t take anything for granted. Yes, they do take life seriously. They just don’t sweat the small stuff.
I spend a lot of time with 3 yr. old, Ingrid these days. She teaches me a lot about the wonders of life….snails, flowers, clouds, things that are funny…. She has made me stop and observe the small things once again. Seeing things through her eyes really helps me have a new appreciation for life.
2. Make wise relationship/friend choices
Happy individuals surround themselves with other happy, positive people, friends who share their same values and goals. They wisely choose friends who share similar ethics, friends and partners who help them feel good about themselves.
I used to have a thing about trying to make people who didn’t like me, love and accept me. I think a lot of people share this trait. They feel that if only they can win over that one disapproving person, they will be validated. Thankfully, I let go of that a long time ago, and now focus on people….friends and family….who DO love and accept me. The others? Well…more power to ’em. They don’t have to like me. It’s ok. I am much, much happier because of this. Shedding a rejection complex can do much to propel one toward true happiness! I have more great friends and loving family members than I can count on all my fingers and toes. That is how life should be!
Ok, yuck….This is a terrible photo of me, but the shot brings back very fond memories of a show I was in at a Bay Area gallery. These are all artist friends who I love dearly and miss a whole lot. Everyone was so supportive that night. It was a happy occasion.
3. Kindness, benevolence and consideration
When people are truly happy, they can more readily accept others for who they are, rather than trying to change them, and they can touch the people with whom they come into contact, with a kind and generous spirit. They offer to help when they are able, and don’t spend time concocting conditions put into place to change the other person. Happy people attempt to brighten the days of everyone with whom they come into contact. They don’t obsess about personal slights. It is easier to be kind than not kind. Period.
4. Always open to learning
Happy people are smart enough to know that there is always something new to learn. Even someone who has “mastered” something, if wise, will continue to try to learn more about it and not let his or her ego take over. Boasting is so unbecoming!
Happy people attempt new things and show an interest in finding out more about the world and themselves, including the things that they already know. They explore other cultures and try to view the world from multiple perspectives. They are not afraid to take up new hobbies and interests, visit new places, try new things.
This type of exploration does not have to be anything huge. For example, one day, I might decide to learn a new song on the piano or practice my guitar. The next time, I might teach myself how to fold an origami crane or work on a new mosaic. Right now….I’m learning to belly dance! I just try to make a point of learning or doing something new, each and every day.
5. Solve problems creatively
Truly happy individuals refrain from wallowing in self-pity and learn creative solutions for their problems. Just as soon as a challenge comes upon them, they get busy finding a solution without allowing the setbacks to affect them adversely. Happy people view each new obstacle as an opportunity to make a positive change. They make the most out of any situation. They do not WALLOW.
6. Love life
Happy people do what they love….and love what they do. That is how they spend their time. They are not lost in dreams of what could have been…or what might be one day. They live in the here and now and they engage in activities that they love.
This is my friend, Genie Webster. She and I have a lot in common, in that we both like to try new things and always have something exciting going on. Right now, Genie is working on a one woman musical show near Cleveland…either her second or third. She takes belly dancing lessons, meditates and plays her music virtually every weekend. I create art, study my own music, write and try to go someplace new to explore every week. I, too, have taken belly dancing lessons, yoga…whatever appeals to me at the time. Life changes, and I like to change with it!
Happy people take time to stop and smell the roses. They don’t view life as a “chore” nor look at each day as something to “get through”. Truly happy people know how to live in the present moment. They know how to cherish every minute that they are alive. They live neither in the past nor in the future. They have a playful attitude about life and ENJOY themselves to the max!
8. Chuckle…giggle….laugh out loud!
Happy people know how to laugh at themselves….and they laugh a lot! They seem to be able to find humor in most situations and are the first to admit that no one is perfect. They are always looking for the bright side of life and enjoy a good belly laugh as often as possible.
9. Easily forgiving
Holding a grudge has the amazing and surprising effect of hurting the person who is holding the grudge more than it hurts the person toward whom the grudge is focused. Happy folks know how to forgive others for their own peace of mind. When they make mistakes, they own up to them and learn from them. They forgive themselves and others, and then move ahead.
10. With Gratitude
Happy people are graceful….as in full of grace….loving, forgiving…willing to see the good in others and in themselves.
They are grateful for what they have and they know how to count their blessings; All of them – even the things that seem trivial.
Be grateful for your home, your work and most importantly your family and friends. Take the time to tell them that you are happy they are in your life. This is one area at which I am very confident. I KNOW I have a lot to be thankful for. My family. My friends. My good life, in general. I am so grateful for it all!
11. Invest heavily in loving relationships
Happy people always make sure that their loved ones know they are loved…. even in times of conflict. Nurturing and growing one’s relationships with family and friends pays off in the long run. Happy people are supportive! Go ahead and send that card, or pop a little gift into the mail. Pick up the phone just to say, “I love you!” It’s all good….and when someone gives to you, reciprocate!
12. Keep promises
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…honesty is the always best policy. When you make a pledge, whether in a relationship or on the job, do what you say you’re going to do. Be loyal and reliable. Be a solid foundation for yourself and for those around you.
Every action taken by happy people is based on honesty. Truly happy people are honest with themselves and with their loved ones. When they give their word, they follow through on it.
Happy people meditate. Meditation gives the brain a rest and helps people find inner peace. EVERYONE should meditate!
Happy people do not obsess about others. (Fluffy??) They concentrate on creating their lives just as they want them. They take care of themselves and their families. They are not overly concerned with the words and deeds of others. They do not get caught up in gossip and they do not unfairly judge.
Happy people attempt to look on the bright side of any situation and to make the best of what life deals them.
16. Love Unconditionally
Happy people do not place limitations on love. They never say things like, “If you REALLY loved me, you would………” They simply love. Unconditionally.
17. Happiness is being proactive!
Accept that which can not be changed. Happy people do not waste a lot of energy on circumstances beyond their control. Sure, one can work toward affecting change….but it also helps to be content with what life has given you.
18. Caring for oneself
Happy people take good care of their minds, bodies and health. they get regular medical check ups. Eat healthful foods and they work out. They make a point of getting enough rest. They drink lots of water. (I drink lemon water) They exercise their minds by continually energizing them with interesting challenges.
Happy folks do not try to be people they are not. No one likes a phony. Happy people determine who they are on in the inside, and are true to that being. They cultivate their own personal preferences. They are confident in who they are. They do the best they can and do not second guess themselves. They do not put on shows for others to impress them.
20. Happy people are responsible!
Happy people know and understand that they are 100% responsible for their own lives. The place where someone is in life is not the fault of the ex husband. It is not the fault of the former girlfriend. It is not their parents’ fault. Happy people take responsibility for their own attitudes, feelings, thoughts, actions and words. They are the ones who are first to admit when they have made a mistake and they do what they can with what they have, to make their lives exactly what they want them to be.
Sending love to everyone today.
Oh….and don’t worry. Be happy! 😉