“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
~Dalai Lama XIV
- Do what you love
- Love what you do
- Don’t worry about what other people think
- Follow your heart
- Work hard
This list can go on and on of examples of what many of us have heard for most of our lives when someone tells us how to be happy.
Many people associate their self-worth and their identity with where they work, or what they “do.” They believe that people see them as WHAT they do for a living. Is what you DO for a job what you ARE? Not at all. A job doesn’t define that.
Our values and personalities and underlying beliefs about what is “ok” may influence us to choose a career path – and those identities develop over time – but it isn’t THE identity of us.
A college graduate with no professional career experience may feel that lack of identity because he is not sure of what he wants to do, and what does everyone ask? What are you doing when you graduate? Where are you going to work? What are you going to BE?
If you don’t design your life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
HAPPY PEOPLE HAVE SIMILAR TRAITS
Let's look at some traits that most happy people have:
Humility and Non-Judgment
Happy people have a deep understanding that every single person brings something different to the table. Celebrate the differences. Don’t judge.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
Appreciate people. Expressing gratitude is a way of honoring every person and what they offer.
Happy people don’t change when things get good, or bad. Be humble and gracious when things are going your way, and be humble and kind when things are not going your way.
I heard Anne Lammot in an interview say that grace is a “Come-a-you-are -party.”
Be Yourself. Period. End of Story.
Shit changes. True Story. Happy people accept this. (Fact.)
Happy people cooperate with others.
“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Don't Make Decisions Based on Fear
Happy people do not make decisions based on fear. If you make decisions because you are afraid, you are running instead of moving toward something wonderful. It’s ok to have fears, just don’t let them rule your decision making. There is also the case of avoidance of failure – which means that you don’t make the decision you know you need to make because you are afraid of failure. If you never try it, you can’t fail! Don’t avoid decisions you know would make you happy.
“Joy is always a surprise, and always a decision”
HOW CAN YOU GET AND STAY HAPPY?
1. Clearly define happiness for yourself
What do you love? What do you need to let go? Don’t hope for happiness or wait for joy, decide to make it happen. You can keep a journal of what makes you happy – concentrate on making a list of what makes you happy, and focus on making that list happen. (By the way? Happiness is NOT STUFF.)
2. Find pleasure in the little things
LITTLE things – not losing 50 pounds, getting a promotion, getting married, having babies – the LITTLE things – a flower growing in an unlikely place, a good parking spot, the sun, a good meal. I am a true believer that the appreciation of many little happy things compound and add up.
3. Enjoy the ordinary
Remember that we are more likely to have an average day than an extraordinary one. Focus on today and see the positive and good things in it.
4. Believe in your self-worth
Live responsibly. It will make you feel happy. And don’t forget to observe happiness in others. Appreciate that you are worthy of being happy, and appreciate others too.
Take continuous action for self-improvement. Commit to learning something new, or dig deeper into something you know well. Read books, take classes, learn to LOVE to grow. Treat yourself like a friend. No more negative talk. Treat yourself kindly, and how you would treat a friend. Be gracious.
5. Graciously impact others
Do something to brighten someone else's day. Your happiness is part of the more substantial collective happiness. Understand that fact. You can’t be happy in your private bubble. Share. Donate (money, time, things.)
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
6. Live in a constant state of gratitude
Appreciate people and opportunities that come your way. Be mindful and thankful.
“Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.”
7. Be organized
Studies have shown that being organized affects your mood and stress levels (in positive ways!), which is directly related to being happy in your life. Try planning your day the night before to get a jump-start on an organized day. You can be more strategic by planning your day the night before – find a quote you want to read (and reread) the next day, make a list of your appointments, and things you want to do, and prioritize what is most important for the following day. Sometimes all you need is that Most Important Task written down in front of you to remind you of what is as we just said, Most Important.
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What do we know for sure? Happiness is a personal choice.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”