For many of us, happiness is like a unicorn, something exquistly beautiful that is just beyond our reach.
Whether it is more money, a more supportive family, a healthier body, or fill in the blank with your personal desire, many of us have this idea that happiness is just around the corner.
While it is true that people who live below the poverty line report less happiness and more stress, for the rest of us the research does not bare out that winning the lottery will change our lifelong happiness line – though for the first few days you just maybe in a state of bliss. So let’s talk about what we do know:
1. Happiness is a lot like being physically fit, you have control over it. It may surprise you to learn that happiness is not just something that randomly happens, for those who report the highest levels of happiness (which happen to the be the Amish and Tibetan Monks) happiness comes from the way you orient yourself to life. Both of these populations share a strong belief system in which life is seen as a loving expression of their respective God. This belief leads to a tremendous personal responsibility to create a loving, compassionate, and forgiving world – after all if you are going to manifest God, you have to act like God yourself. Tip one: Act like a loving, compassionate, forgiving god.
2. Managing our focus is the another way we can create happiness. When we force ourselves to look for what is right in the world, we will find it. The same is true when we look for things that are not right. Both exist. In my radio interview with Heather Toppen on Creating Gratitude and Creating Change, she shares how starting a daily gratitude journal on Facebook helped her laser focus and, in a way, completely changed her life. For example, she learned to appreciate the sunshine coming streaming through her window and not focus on the dust on the table or chipping paint on the door jam. Tip two: focus on and celebrate what you have.
3. Junk in/junk out. We cannot depend on our media to deliver happiness to us. Any cursory look at the news will show a propensity for focusing on doom and gloom. Murder, mayhem, markets crashing, etc… dominate our headlines. It may shock you to know that great things are happening too. Governments are taking care of their citizens, people are taking care of each other, people’s minds are being opened through education, individuals like Elizabeth Dearborn-Davis and Ryan Allis are doing amazing things with their lives.(You can hear radio interviews with both of them here) If these examples are covered at all, the story is often buried. Think about how incredibly powerful we would feel as individuals, as a community, as a nation, and as a world if all we saw was what great progress people like us are making. I think it would change over core view of ourselves and of our potential. Tip three: be the most positive person you know, build others up with your words and thoughts.
Like with anything, practice makes perfect. If, for every negative word or thought out, we spend the same amount of time building up another we reach a neutral balance. If for every negative word or thought out, we spend twice as much time being loving, supportive, and compassionate, we move into the space of where true happiness lies.