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HOW TO BECOME HAPPIER
by Dee Dee Boniecki
(If you enjoy this publication, please consider emailing its weblink
www.BecomeHappier.Freevar.com to others. Thank you!)
a more fulfilling, joyful, wonderful life is within each and every person’s
reach. You must simply want
to be happier, choose to be happier, and then learn how to be
happier. Happiness is optional –
one has the free will to accept or reject it. And it’s a fact there are
people who actually prefer to be miserable. However, since you're reading this
guide, you're obviously a person who wants to be as happy as possible.
(After all, who can be too happy?) By
following the nine principles below, you can experience an amazing
transformation of your life. To
start right now, simply read on …
#1: LOVE YOURSELF
most critical component of happiness is loving a nd accepting
nd accepting yourself.Self-love lays the foundation for other components of happiness, such as love and acceptance of others (i.e., it's easier to love others when you love yourself). To love yourself, it's necessary to accept yourself exactly as you are, with all your strengths and great qualities as well as your weaknesses and flaws. Loving yourself for who you are can be difficult at first, but it’s very important to do this. You can begin by embracing the fact that you’re not intended to be a perfect person – you’re merely a human being, and no human is perfect. Therefore, you’ll never be perfect, and you don't need to be. Your imperfections are part of your make-up, they're part of who you are, and they contribute to your special-ness and unique-ness as an individual. You’re unlike anyone else on this planet because of your unique set of characteristics. You are very, very special.
you have difficulty loving yourself despite your imperfections, it might help to
realize that any deficit is also a strength. For example, a person with a very
relaxed, easygoing and laid-back personality could be considered lazy,
unmotivated and non-productive by some people. However, the same person’s
easygoing nature results in a calmer, more peaceful life, and enhances the peace
of those around him or her. Another
example would be an easily-stressed person who worries a lot. Excessive worry is
generally negative, but it can have the positive result of motivating a person
to effectively plan for the future and prevent unfortunate consequences. There
are countless other examples of "weaknesses" which are also strengths.
Thus, to become more accepting of one's flaw or weakness, one can try to
perceive how that characteristic is also a strength and a gift.
might also be easier if you can gain an understanding of why you are the way you
are. Additionally, understanding the source of a particular problem can help you
overcome it. For example, some people have an Oral Fixation with food because,
as a baby, a pacifier was put in their mouth when they were feeling distressed.
Now, as an adult, they might have carried forward the practice and continue to
pacify themself by putting something in their mouth when they feel
uncomfortable, stressed or worried. If they become aware of this, they can try
chewing gum instead of eating excessive snacks in order to satisfy the urge to
put something in their mouth. Thus,
understanding the source of a problem can sometimes help resolve the problem.
and understanding your flaws does not mean you should not try to improve
yourself and overcome your deficits. This
is especially true if you tend to have self-destructive behaviors such as
cigarette smoking, drug addiction, food abuse, alcoholism or excessive risk
taking. If you love yourself (and it’s extremely important to love yourself),
then you will take care of yourself, protect yourself, and not harm yourself. If
you tend to have self-sabotaging behaviors, then it’s particularly important
to use the strategies for developing self-love which are recommended below. You
deserve happiness and the best that life has to offer, and you deserve it as
much as anyone else does.
following exercise can help you grow your self-love if needed: Begin by listing as
many of your positive qualities as you can. If you can’t quickly list at least
eight positive qualities, then you probably don’t love yourself sufficiently.
In this case, you’ll need to have your friends and/or family members help you
to make a list. (If a friend or loved one is unable to list your positive
qualities, then they are probably not in the habit of noticing the best
qualities of other people, or they may simply have difficulty verbalizing and
expressing their thoughts and/or appreciation of others.
In this case, consult with more than one person.) After you have come up
with a long list of your many great qualities, begin reciting them to yourself
regularly. Continue doing this until you begin to appreciate yourself and can
easily recite your strengths without reading from the list.
additional exercise is to write an analysis of how each of your flaws and
weaknesses is also a strength. Writing these down is ideal because writing is
such an effective way to process thoughts and achieve understanding. You might
supplement this exercise by pondering why you are the way you are and why you
have the flaws and weaknesses you have. Once you understand the source of your
problems and hang-ups, it’s a bit easier to be compassionate and sympathetic
towards yourself (while not pitying yourself). This understanding can also help
you to resolve or overcome those problems.
Reconsider this earlier example: if you became aware that the reason you
overeat is because you want to pacify yourself by putting something in your
mouth, then you might be able to fix the problem by substituting sugar-free gum
for excessive snacks.
if you’re simply unable to change those traits that you find undesirable, then
just embrace yourself for the incredible person you are. Don't beat yourself up;
give yourself plenty of breaks. Right
now, start taking it easier on yourself and appreciating your numerous terrific
#2: LOVE OTHERS
second most critical component of happiness is to love others (and the more the
better!) Not only do we need to
accept and love ourselves as we are -- we need to accept and love others for who
they are. To achieve this, one can follow
the same process described for Principle #1. The first step is to stop expecting
others to be perfect (just as you have now accepted that you don’t need
to be perfect). Because we’re all merely human, we all have flaws and
weaknesses in addition to our many wonderful qualities. Therefore, it's
essential to forgive the shortcomings of others. No person actually has the
right to judge another anyway (many believe that if the right to judge lies
anywhere, it would be with God). We're
unable to live in another person’s skin and mind, so we can’t begin to
understand the effect of their life experiences, genetics, health and mental
processes on their behaviors. Therefore, it’s unfair to judge other people. We
simply don’t have their firsthand knowledge and understanding of their
particular life circumstances, experiences and resulting perspective.
a trait considered to be a flaw by you is very likely to also be a strength of
that individual. If you are troubled by what you perceive to be someone’s
flaw, you might try to figure out how that characteristic is also a strength of
that person. With practice, you’ll be able to do this easily. You may even
start to appreciate qualities that previously agitated you.
also necessary to abandon our preconceptions and criteria for how others should
be. Others should be exactly the way they are, not the way we
would like them to be. Of
course, that individual can change if they want to.
But that is their choice, not yours.
If you simply cannot tolerate or accept someone for the way they are,
then it's your option to avoid them or significantly reduce your interaction.
prerogative is difficult to accept if someone you love is harming themself
through self-destructive behavior such as alcoholism, drug addiction, excessive
risk taking, etc. Nonetheless, only
that individual has the prerogative to choose not to engage in those activities.
We do not have the right to make life choices for other people. We can merely
decide whether or not to remain involved with them. If someone else's choices are negatively affecting your
happiness and/or welfare, and they are not taking actions (such as consistently
attending AA or NA meetings) to reform their behavior, then you need to very
seriously consider discontinuing (or at least minimizing) the relationship.
particularly important to avoid or completely remove yourself from the
environment of abusive people. Unfortunately,
our beautiful world does have some people who physically, psychologically,
emotionally or sexually abuse other living beings. These people are enmeshed in
emotional pain, and they attempt to transfer their distress to others by hurting
them. One needs to protect
themselves from being victimized by such abuse. One can attempt communicating the problem to the offender;
occasionally communication and effort put forth by the offender will resolve the
problem. If the offender is willing
to have professional counseling, then sometimes counseling can resolve the
if communication or counseling do not work, then you probably need to
discontinue the relationship if at all possible.
In fact, even during the
attempted resolution via communication or counseling, you should seriously
consider removing yourself from the abuser's environment until the behavior has
been completely reformed.
It's simply important for you to protect yourself from repeated harm,
severe emotional hurt, depleted self-esteem, etc.
If you love yourself (which is crucial to your happiness), then your
first obligation is to your own welfare and happiness, not someone else’s.
that psychological and emotional abuse are much more common than physical or
sexual abuse. Psychological and
emotional abuse are quite harmful and should not be dismissed or discounted.
Psychological abuse consists of “mental torture”, such as threatening
to hurt someone, threatening to keep a spouse away from his or her children if
divorce occurs, harming a person’s pet, etcetera. Emotional abuse consists of
insults, mean words, degradation, “pushing another person’s buttons,”
etcetera. Just as there is no
reason to endure physical or sexual abuse, there is no reason to endure
psychological or emotional abuse.
from the necessary precautions to protect yourself from harmful people and
detrimental situations, it’s essential that you love others; a person can't truly be happy
without plenty of love in their life. Does
this mean you must have living relatives to love? No (though of course it's
fortunate to have living family members to love and be loved by).
Do you need to have a romantic partner? No (while it is indeed wonderful
to be paired with the right partner). One
can fill the need to love through numerous sources.
Friends can be a particularly wonderful source of love and caring; it's
an excellent practice to develop and maintain numerous friendships.
Love can also be intensely shared with (and felt from) one's pets.
Few people are likely to argue that they feel intense love given by their
dog or cat or other animal capable of emotion.
On a less intense level, love and caring can also be shared with
co-workers, customers, members of a church congregation or other affiliation,
and even anonymous strangers when your paths cross. It's even possible to feel
love for one's plants -- just ask any passionate gardener, or a person who has
lovingly nurtured the same plants for many years.
All living beings deserve love, kindness and compassion. Your happiness
will grow from sharing your love with them.
the more you give love, the more love and happiness you will feel, it follows
that if you love everyone, you can achieve ultimate happiness. In order
to feel love for all people (regardless of race, culture, religion or other
diversities), one must appreciate the tremendous value inherent in each and
every individual. Although everyone has flaws, one would need to appreciate and
focus on the best characteristics of others, not the worst. And one would need
to recognize that each and every person makes a critical contribution to our
world. We can be very grateful that people are unique and choose to make their
contributions in various ways. If we were all alike - with the same talents,
personalities, ethnicities, cultures, religions and values - the world would be
boring, uniform and stunted. Fortunately, people are different, and our
civilization is more accomplished, evolved, artistic and interesting because of
diversity. If everyone chose to
accept others, practice tolerance, enable understanding, and actually appreciate
the differences between all of us on this planet, we would actually experience world
peace and love for all -- which unfortunately has not yet been experienced
in our recorded history. But it could be -- we do have the free will to make
that choice. It simply requires
that we all work together, decide to love eachother, forgive any differences or
past hurts, and accept eachother (including respect for others’ chosen
religions, values, forms of government, etc).
are many ways to increase the presence of love.
Love is tangible as well as intangible because love is experienced
and is the result of expression. Love
exists wherever loving actions occur; it can be felt and seen through the
actions and goodwill of others. It can be seen on the side of a highway where a
motorist has stopped to help another in trouble. It can be seen in a nursing
home where volunteers come visit the elderly and infirm. Love can be felt in a
caring embrace. It can be heard in the caring, concerned, kind words of others.
It can be seen in a smile. It can
be read on a greeting card sent by a caring and thoughtful person.
Love can be felt when a dog licks someone's face. Love can be seen on a
cold sidewalk when a pedestrian gives his sweater to a homeless man. Love can be
seen in a garden that has been tended with care and nurturing. Love can be seen
on the interstate as drivers allow others to merge into traffic. It can be seen
at a door being held open for another. It is evidenced by donations to
organizations that relieve starvation and/or suffering of people in severely
impoverished countries (or even in your own community).
Love can be seen everywhere, if you make a point of noticing it. And you
can easily experience this love through your own simple, daily acts of kindness.
are countless ways that you can spread such acts of kindness. You can choose to smile at others (this is a terrific way to
easily spread joy in our world). You can speak kind, encouraging words to
someone who needs to hear them. You can give your mate a back rub, and bring him
or her an iced tea or warm mug of tea when they’re exhausted or
stressed. You can kiss and hug. You
can send flowers to your mother to let her know she is appreciated.
You can send a funny card or email to a friend. You can walk your dog,
and water your rose bush. You can straighten up the public restroom stall for
the next person. You can help a stranger. Any
action which shares and gives to other living beings will spread love.
And, since love is the most powerful way to increase your happiness, it
follows that the more love you express (and thereby feel), the happier you'll
that the above examples are all acts of giving
to others in some way. Giving
is one of the primary ways to feel and experience love.
If you are not regularly experiencing the great pleasure and satisfaction
received from acts of giving, it's possible that you have learned a value system
that has not taught you this, or perhaps your personal life experiences have
turned you away from being able to freely give to others.
If this is the case -- start trying it!
You'll be amazed at the transformation of your life when you begin to
frequently, generously and openly share and give to others.
Notice how wonderful you feel when you give a mere $5 bill to a homeless
person. That feeling of gratification, fulfillment, human connection,
and happiness is greater than anything you
could purchase for $5! You might
not feel it at first…but keep on doing it!
Before long, you will consider it to be a gift to yourself when you give
to others. An opportunity to give
is an opportunity to experience joy. The
act of giving is a gift to the
giver; giving is indeed its own reward.
are people in your life who have transgressed you. They have wronged or cheated
you. They may have even seriously
harmed or violated you. If you haven't done so already, then you must forgive
them. Forgiveness, and letting go
of anger, is absolutely essential to happiness.
people are reluctant to forgive because they assume it will be necessary to
continue a relationship with the offender upon granting forgiveness. This is not
the case. You can forgive another while choosing not to further expose yourself
to that individual. You don’t even have to verbally communicate with that
person or say the words “I forgive you.” You simply must let go of all anger
towards that individual so that you can feel inner peace.
also can be difficult to forgive someone when you feel entitled to your
anger. (This is particularly likely if the offender has never apologized or been
penalized for their actions.) You
are certainly entitled to be angry when someone has hurt you. However, if you
continue to carry anger and don’t let it go, it will eat you up inside.
Carrying anger is carrying pain. The anger continues to harm you long after the
violation has passed. And being angry with another person does not hurt the
other person – it only hurts you. By being angry, you might think you’re
obtaining some type of revenge against the offender. But this is untrue.
You’re only hurting yourself. And you’ve already been hurt – you don’t
deserve to continue to feel pain, just as you didn’t deserve to be hurt in the
first place. So you must let go of the pain and anger. You must forgive the
person who has hurt you. You must accept the fact that the person was flawed (as
we are all flawed) and made a damaging mistake or mistakes. You must acknowledge
that the wrongful act has passed, and you must let go of it.
there’s a point which was made under Principle #2 that needs to be reiterated:
although we should forgive others, and accept that others Are Who They
Are, we should not subject ourselves to abuse from other people. You need to
protect yourself and, in many cases, remove yourself from the environment of
anyone who physically, sexually, emotionally or psychologically harms you.
We should also consider discontinuing involvement with a person whose
actions negatively affect our welfare (such as individuals who are addicted to
drugs, or who expose you to danger, or whose irresponsibility wreaks havoc on
your life and finances, etc.) Your
primary obligation is to yourself and your own welfare, not someone else’s.
That is a principle of self-love, and self-love is critical to long-term
happiness. If your religious
beliefs include prayer, then you are welcome to pray for that person’s
redemption. But then go on with your life, out of harm’s way, having let go of
any anger resulting from your misfortune.
another important note regarding forgiveness: It's just as crucial to let go
of anger at yourself and to forgive yourself for your past mistakes as it is to
forgive others. You deserve love and forgiveness just as everyone else does.
section will now be concluded with this final point about anger:
Some things simply aren't worth
getting angry and distraught over. Examine
the situation and ask yourself whether it's a Big Enough Deal to actually merit
your feeling distressed, frustrated, or angry (which are very unpleasant
emotions to experience). If it's
Small Stuff, then just instantly let it go -- there's no reason to experience
unnecessary aggravation. However,
if it's Big Stuff, then go ahead and feel the emotion, address it, work through
it, and then you can heal and let it go. Anger
can be dysfunctional and unhealthy if it's poorly handled -- but it can be a
very healthy, purposeful, helpful and healing emotion if it's handled
appropriately and constructively. Therefore,
learn to acknowledge your anger and take the appropriate course of action
(addressing the problem, counting to 10, communicating to another, etc -- but never
hurting another individual), and then let the anger go. Don’t hold onto it. Don’t
carry it around inside you like a cancer. Let it go as soon as you’re possibly
able to. You can’t carry grudges and anger and feel happy. You must free
yourself from emotional hurt and pain.
#4: DAILY PURPOSE
feel fulfilled in our lives on a daily basis, we must feel Daily Purpose. Daily
Purpose provides us with a reason for our existence; thus, it creates meaning
for our lives. When a person no longer feels that he or she makes a contribution
on this planet, they can lose their sense of significance and sometimes become
depressed. Therefore, it's very important to have a Daily Purpose.
Purpose can be achieved by somehow contributing towards the welfare of society,
your family, another being, or even just your own well-being. For some of us,
this contribution is met through a job. A job adds structure to our day and
gives us someplace to go and something to do which is constructive and
contributes an essential function in society. Through a job, one might find
Daily Purpose by providing services or necessities to others, or simply by
receiving a paycheck to help support their families, charities, or achieve their
course, one can find Daily Purpose without employment. Homemakers can find Daily
Purpose in maintaining their home and/or caring for their children. Many
retirees find Daily Purpose by helping take care of loved ones or by
volunteering for worthwhile causes. Students find Daily Purpose in working
towards a degree to improve their future employment opportunities or societal
contribution. And there are other ways to achieve Daily Purpose. The means or
manner is not important; what matters is that the person feels they are making
some type of positive contribution towards a worthwhile end.
days are simply enjoyed by relaxing or having fun rather than tending to chores
or work. But leisure days, while also essential to happiness, do not fulfill our
need for Daily Purpose. Instead, these days help fill our need for rest,
pleasure and enjoyment (discussed as Principle #5), which is separate from Daily
Purpose. Rather, Daily Purpose helps provide a sense of meaning to our daily
who have lost their zeal for living may be lacking a Daily Purpose. They may
feel their life is without meaning, and they may feel worthless because they are
not making a contribution. If this ever happens to you, start doing something
right away to help fulfill a Daily Purpose. In the short term, volunteering for
a worthwhile cause or helping others can accomplish this. In some way or
another, one must find a Daily Purpose in order to feel that life is meaningful
people believe that the ultimate Daily Purpose is a Higher Purpose. These
individuals believe that God wants them to fulfill a particular contribution,
and by listening to God's guidance from within them, and then acting on that
guidance, they can contribute to a Greater Good. Carrying out a higher purpose
can also provide a tremendous sense of personal fulfillment.
However, if a person never finds or follows a higher purpose, they can
still achieve a sense of fulfillment through their Daily Purpose.
#5: ENJOYMENT AND PLEASURE
and pleasure are the icing on the cake of life.
Experiencing sufficient fun and pleasure is essential to happiness.
Therefore, Daily Purpose and chores need to be balanced with leisure time
and fun. Life
is meant to be savored and celebrated! Try
to make the most of your opportunities to experience joy and the many delights,
gifts and wonders that life has to offer.
order to incorporate enough joy and pleasure in one's life, one should make it a
high priority to engage in some enjoyable activities each and every day.
Even the busiest single parent should find at
least 30 minutes each day to indulge in something they find pleasurable --
even if it merely involves a walk in a nearby park, reading a novel during
lunch, or watching a favorite TV program at night. How you enjoy yourself
depends on your personality. Some of the activities which are pleasurable or fun
to some people, but not to others, include: strolling in a park, watching TV and
movies, traveling, reading, talking to friends, going out to eat, horseback
riding, fishing, playing a musical instrument, sex or masturbation, drawing,
crafts, woodworking, joy-riding on a motorcycle, swimming, playing basketball,
baking… the list goes on and on. Find some activities that you enjoy and then
arrange your schedule to take advantage of those pleasurable activities. Your level of happiness will increase, and your life will be
one does not experience sufficient fun and pleasure, they are likely to lose
their enthusiasm and passion for life (similar to the loss of zeal when one
lacks a Daily Purpose). When this
occurs, one can develop apathy (and even severe depression in the worst of
cases). On the other end of the
spectrum, there are people who embrace and celebrate life.
They feel joyous every day because they take advantage of the best that
life has to offer (which is rarely materialistic in nature). As long as they
also have Daily Purpose, love themselves, and love others (through giving and
sharing), they’re likely to be among the happiest people on earth. However,
it's important to realize that pleasure is not equivalent to happiness; it's
just an essential element. Those who occupy their time mostly with
pleasure-oriented activities are dysfunctionally trying to substitute pleasure
for true happiness. These individuals may be using pleasure for escapism, much
like drugs, alcohol and other addictions are used. While it is important to balance one's life with pleasure, a
life that subsists as a constant party is actually a life of escapism.
many people, the accumulation of "Stuff" is mistaken for the
attainment of happiness. Stuff can provide some pleasure, and, as mentioned before, pleasure is
essential to happiness -- though not equivalent to happiness. But when
people attempt to substitute true happiness with Stuff, they are invariably
disappointed. In fact, if people focus too much on materialistic goals, their
happiness will actually be inhibited. This is because materialistic goals
can distract people from things that would truly make them happy, such as Daily
Purpose, their potential Higher Purpose, and giving and sharing with others
(which fills one’s life with love). When a society becomes excessively
materialistic, the result is a lot of unhappy people driving expensive
prestigious cars that could have financed food for the homeless or healthcare
for the poor (a contribution that could have actually brought some happiness to
the continually disappointed consumers). In America, a focus on materialism has
been undoubtedly aggravated by a constant bombardment of advertising aimed to
convince the public that buying Stuff will make them happier. Even the American
government has advocated a rather extreme level of consumption because it is
known to stimulate the economy. Thus, there are many people who have been
socialized to believe that their level of happiness is directly correlated with
the quantity and quality of their Stuff. In addition to resulting in a lot of
misled and dissatisfied people, this value system hinders charity towards the
poor and the disadvantaged.
the focus of a person's life is overly materialistic, they'll experience a
feeling of emptiness. They may try
to quench this emptiness by buying more Stuff. In fact, some people use shopping
like a drug that induces a short-term high. But this “fix” is only
temporary; no matter how much Stuff they buy, it won't continue to make them
happy once the fix has worn off. That's because they're trying to replace inner
peace and contentment with a material item, which simply won't work. Yes, it's a
fact that one can derive pleasure from driving a fancy car or living in a large,
beautiful home. And there’s nothing innately wrong with buying a prestigious
car or a lovely home – as long as one shares an appropriate amount of their
wealth with those who are less fortunate. And it’s true that we have the right
to spend our incomes the way we choose. But if a person tries to find happiness
by continually accumulating Stuff, they’ll be continually disappointed because
their materialistic focus will detract them from those priorities that could
truly bring happiness.
people are caught in the Stuff Trap because they believe their self worth is
dependent on their net worth. This perception is a combination of low self-esteem,
insecurity, an excessive desire to impress others, and, again, exposure to advertising media aimed to convince
people that they will be more likeable, desireable, attractive, etcetera, if
they purchase products. Some people become so engrossed with the concept of
“whoever dies with the most Stuff wins” that their monetary wealth and
assets become their sole source of self-esteem. This is such a waste of the
tremendous value inherent in one’s heart, as opposed to the value of their
bank account. Thus, if a person holds the dysfunctional belief that their
self-worth is dependent on their possessions, they should try to overcome this
fallacy by developing self-love. By accepting oneself and appreciating oneself,
a person might conquer their inclination to substitute Stuff for self-love.
reason that some people believe obtaining Stuff will make them happier is
because the process of having goals and working towards them does, indeed,
increase happiness. The process of goalsetting (see Principle #9, "Looking
Forward") is one of the components of happiness. It’s essential for our
sense of fulfillment to have goals and to work towards them. Additionally, the
ability to look forward to a better life helps us to cope when times are
difficult. It helps us to desire
the next sunrise and to recognize that one's circumstances will improve in the
future. However, those goals don't have to result in more Stuff. Goals that
contribute to the betterment of the world will be far more satisfying than
materialistic goals (because goals for a higher good involve love -- sharing and
giving). Furthermore, by focusing time and energy on reaching materialistic
goals, people are likely to neglect the essential elements of happiness. We all
know people who have lots and lots of great Stuff, but, unfortunately, their
time and money is spent maintaining their Stuff instead of pleasurable
activities, leisure, Daily Purpose, visiting with family and friends, giving to
others, and improving their world.
we have now thoroughly examined the negative consequences of materialism and the
positive consequences of incorporating joy and pleasure into your life. So go
have some fun!
happiest people are those who appreciate things. They appreciate their
lifestyle, their possessions, and their loved ones. They also appreciate the
simple pleasures which life has to offer--a flower garden, a beautiful view, a
refreshing breeze, a call from a friend, a delicious dessert, a passionate kiss.
They don't take anything for granted -- they are always thankful for the many
blessings they have.
people are never satisfied with what they have. Hopefully, for your sake, you're
not one of those people. If you are, you need to begin turning around your
attitude. If you think life usually stinks and hasn’t given you a fair share,
then just imagine how you would feel if everyone you care about and everything
you own were taken away from you. Now imagine how you would feel if, after
losing everyone and everything, all were returned. Then would you appreciate
what you have?
matter what your situation is - no matter how bad your fortune has been - it
could always be worse. Therefore, you can always feel thankful that
things aren’t worse than they are. Are you stuck in a traffic jam and will
consequently miss your plane? Well, if you'd gotten on the road thirty minutes
earlier, you might have lost your life in the accident obstructing traffic
ahead. Are you poor and unemployed but blessed with sight, hearing, and
functional limbs? Then you have greater fortune than any millionaire who must
deal with a crippling disability. (Of course, physically challenged individuals
can be as happy as anyone else – we all have much to be grateful for. But if
you were to ask a severely disabled or ill person whether they would prefer to
be healthy or have money, you can bet they would prefer to have their health.)
should count our blessings, not our disadvantages. We can develop a sense of
appreciation for everything that is positive. We can choose to focus on the best
outlook rather than the worst. We can begin appreciating all that we have,
rather than regretting what we don't have. We can start noticing the marvelous
qualities of others rather than their flaws. If you have not already adopted
these habits, then acquiring a new, positive perspective and sense of gratitude
will grace your life and significantly increase your level of happiness.
can also use humor to appreciate the lighter side of life. Humor is a delightful
form of fun and pleasure. Humor and laughter can be shared with others in a
loving way, or one can just enjoy a silent chuckle. Humor can often be used to
see the comical and amusing side of stressful or difficult circumstances. By
using humor to cope, we can have a more uplifting and positive perspective on
life’s occasional difficult challenges. Additionally….one
should enjoy humor just for the sake of laughter, for laughter is one of life's
greatest simple pleasures.
abilities to go with the flow of life and to put aside your worries are
essential to achieving a peaceful, content, anxiety-free life. Living in the
present is absolutely crucial to happiness. Living in the present means your
thoughts don't dwell on regrets of the past or worries about the future (and
events that haven’t yet happened and may never happen). It's pointless to
dwell in the past; the past is over and you can’t change what has already
transpired. It's just as pointless to worry about what the future will bring
because there's no possible way to predict the future. What Will Be will be --
there's nothing you can do about it. Of course, you can and should take care of
day-to-day responsibilities, and you should continue to work on your goals to
achieve greater life fulfillment or a better future. But don't waste energy on
things you don't have any control over at this point in time.
is a very negative emotion, and it’s usually best to avoid it. Worrying
doesn't accomplish anything more than hindering your peace of mind. Yes, you
must tend to your duties because you’re responsible for your own welfare. But
worrying will simply drain your positive energy and functionality. So just
decide to “go with the flow” and keep your head focused on the present.
people avoid worrying by trusting God (or their Higher Power) to make everything
turn out okay. This trust is a wonderful gift.
It’s the author’s belief that one absolutely can trust in God
to help you. But trusting God
does not free a person from their obligation to take care of themself and their
commitments. Yes, God can provide us with tremendous help, wisdom and power from
within us (if we choose to listen to God’s inner guidance). But God does not
DO things for us. Each and every adult person is responsible for his or her own
welfare - no one else is. (Note: This concept is not referring to social welfare;
it’s certainly necessary for people and society to help those who are
are some examples to illustrate the need for personal responsibility: (1) If a
person wants their children to be safe while they’re away, they shouldn’t
“trust God” that the children will be fine; they should leave the children
in the care of a responsible adult. (2) If a person's car is having mechanical
problems before a long trip, they should not "trust God" that they
won't get stranded on a highway. Rather,
they should have their car repaired before taking the trip, and consider
carrying a cell phone for emergencies. (3) If a woman does not presently want to
get pregnant, then she should exercise effective birth control such as using a
contraceptive or abstinence. She can’t “trust God” to take a birth control
pill for her or employ alternatives on her behalf. She must personally take that
pill or undertake other reliable actions. One
can think of many other situations in our day-to-day lives where God cannot DO a
particular action for us – it’s up to us.
It’s the author’s belief that God
will definitely guide us and help us to overcome hardships and challenges.
It’s also the author’s belief that God guides us so that we can turn
"lemons into lemonade” for any hardship or tragedy that occurs, so that the best possible
outcome will result. However, God
does not DO what we are responsible for doing ourselves. Each of us has responsibility for our own welfare and for the
consequences within our control.
it’s essential to be able to trust others (those who are honest individuals
and can be safely trusted), you cannot rely on others for your happiness. You,
and only you, are responsible for your happiness.
most people do not seek their happiness from within; they expect it to be
provided by something or someone else. Some
think their happiness is reliant on specific circumstances or situations.
And some believe the acquisition and accumulation of certain possessions
will bring them happiness. However,
there is no possession, no "perfect" situation or circumstance, and no
particular individual who can deliver your happiness.
A new car, a new house, a new job, a new body, a new hairline, a mate, a
child -- none can truly make you happy. Happiness
is internal, and it depends on your decision to be happy regardless of external circumstances.
one expects another individual to meet their needs and to make them happy, the
situation is called co-dependency. Co-dependency is extremely common. And it's
not necessarily dysfunctional because it's acceptable to want someone else to
fill some of your needs for you. For example, in a marriage, you can expect to
receive emotional support from your spouse. And a mother can expect to fill a
biological need to nurture through raising children. However, when co-dependency
is excessive, and when a person expects many of their needs or much of
their fulfillment to be met by another, then it has become dysfunctional,
unhealthy and harmful to both the co-dependent person as well as their
“caretaker” (the person who is expected to take care of the co-dependent’s
the caretaker is also co-dependent because they feel compelled to take care of
the other and be responsible for meeting their needs (and that individual is not
their minor child). A co-dependent
caretaker will frequently put the other person's needs and wants ahead of their
own. A healthy person who loves and respects themself will not do this.
It's dysfunctional to feel a need to take care of another person (who is
an adult) or feel responsible for their happiness.
important to recognize co-dependent relationships because overcoming
co-dependency is essential for achieving happiness. Co-dependent relationships
can most commonly be found within marriages/partnerships and families, but they
are also found within other relationships. The following paragraphs will
describe some indicators of co-dependency so that it can be recognized and dealt
marriages/partnerships, co-dependency is present if an individual expects their
spouse/partner to provide and be responsible for their happiness and other
needs. However, no spouse should be
held responsible for taking care of their partner (a grown adult) nor be held
accountable for their happiness. Each spouse is responsible for providing an
equitable, loving and emotionally supportive (but not emotionally dependent or
unreasonably supportive) relationship, and this responsibility is a reciprocal
one. A healthy marriage/partnership is based on love, not on need.
common co-dependency occurs with adult children who hold their parents
accountable for their happiness and/or financial sustenance. Parents are
responsible for loving their children and providing a safe and nurturing
environment when their offspring are young. But once a person becomes an adult,
they're responsible for themselves. Adults
have all the faculties and abilities for self-care.
The only limitation to this could be a serious disability, in which case,
of course, they will need some assistance with daily life tasks. However, there
are many resources available to relieve family members from carrying all
responsibility for the care of a debilitated loved one.
also possible for a parent to be co-dependent on their children, in which case
the parent expects their children to deliver their happiness.
Some parents "live" through the lives of their children and
attain their only sense of self-worth and accomplishment through their role as a
parent. Some parents expect their
grown kids to be financially responsible for them. However, all adults are responsible for their own financial
welfare. For those whose handicap
prevents their self-reliance, there are government disability payments, social
security, medicare, food stamps, other government programs, and various
charitable organizations to provide aid. When
parents age and develop health problems, their kids should
(if possible) provide some help with personal care, errands, emotional support,
and perhaps even a little financial assistance.
However, if the parent's neediness and expectations are excessive, and
the child strives to meet those unreasonable expectations, then a very unfair,
co-dependent situation exists.
can also exist outside of family relationships. For example, it can be seen in
the workplace, at church, or in the dependency that people will sometimes
develop for their government or a particular leader. At the workplace, you’ll
see co-dependent behavior among workaholics who seek to obtain self-esteem or
fulfill most of their emotional needs from their employment. At church, you’ll
see co-dependent behavior among those who virtually enclose their entire life
within their church activities or religious association, because they expect
religion to deliver their happiness. On a national level, you’ll see
co-dependent behavior among people who follow their leaders “right or wrong”
and do not question or protest their leaders’ or government’s immoral
actions. When this behavior occurs among the majority, a dangerous climate of
nationalism is created. Historically, when countries have become too
nationalistic, they have engaged in persecution of (and sometimes violent attacks
and wars against) other peoples, other governments, other religions, and other
co-dependency -- whether it is on a spouse, a child, a parent, an employer, a
church, a government or leader, or any other source -- can have very damaging
consequences, both on a personal level and a societal level.
now to conclude this chapter: To find happiness, we can't seek it from another.
We can't expect someone else to be our primary caretaker, or to deliver our
happiness or be responsible for it. We can only fully rely on ourself for our
well-being and happiness -- because happiness can only be truly found within.
#9: LOOKING FORWARD
feel happy, one must be able to Look Forward.
This practice is a tool for coping when the going gets rough.
It makes us desire another sunrise and gives us the strength to face
another day when times are hard. As
human beings, we will certainly experience suffering. Terrible, tragic things
will definitely happen to us because tragedy and suffering are a part of life. However, by acknowledging "this too will pass" and
looking forward to the time when a problem or misfortune is resolved (in other
words, by having hope), we can make it through the worst of times.
very helpful to always remember that, while life definitely has some hardships,
misfortunes and even horrible tragedies, life offers far
more blessings, wonders and beauty. Perhaps
there actually is a Higher Purpose that results from misfortune:
If we didn’t have hard times, then we couldn’t truly appreciate and
relish the good times. If there was no death, would we appreciate living? Would
we still thrive with vitality if life had no limit? If we were always healthy,
would we appreciate the miracle and functionality of our physical abilities? If
we never experienced challenges, would we grow stronger as people? If we never
felt pain or heartbreak, would we feel compassion for others? Perhaps suffering
is essential in order to fully experience and appreciate the gift of life.
addition to Looking Forward as a tool to cope with current problems and
challenges, Looking Forward involves the process of goalsetting. Goalsetting
consists of making a plan to change or improve aspects of our life that do not
satisfy us. For example, if you live in a very noisy apartment building and
desire a quieter abode, then you might set the goal of moving to a different
residence. By having this goal, and taking steps toward accomplishing it, you
can have a brighter outlook on your present situation - it won’t last forever,
as you are taking steps to change and improve your residence. Goalsetting
provides hope and consolation that your present circumstances will eventually
improve. Hope helps us get through the inevitable hard times, and to appreciate
the rainbow after the storm.
that you have read the preceding pages of this guide, you have come to
understand (or may have already known) that happiness is entirely a state of
mind. It is dependent only on your perceptions of the world, your attitude, and
your responses to what happens to you. For example, if someone is mean to you,
your response could be distress, anger and begrudgement. Or, you could choose
not to be upset at all and simply attribute the mean behavior to that
individual’s human flaw. Thus, how you respond to a situation can determine
whether or not you experience happiness at that particular point in time.
will, however, be some pain and hardships during your life, and there is no way
of preventing tragedies and hard times. During these times, it definitely is
necessary to fully experience and honor your sadness, anger, or grief. But once
you have sufficiently addressed your emotions, then you must allow yourself to
move on and forward, and to benefit from the lessons learned from the
experience. And, by having a proper attitude and response (along with a sense of
hope and trust, known to many as faith), you can overcome your hardships and
tragedies much more successfully. You can, in time, conquer your adversities.
And you can actually benefit from the experience by becoming a stronger, more
powerful person. You can allow the challenge and adversity that you encountered
to strengthen rather than weaken you.
to summarize the ideas set forth in this guide: Happiness is not dependent on what happens to you in your
life. It is not dependent on your particular situation or circumstances. It
relies on how you perceive your situation or circumstances, and how you
then choose to respond. And since happiness is a mental state, it is
entirely within you -- which gives you complete power and control over it.
Happiness is not contingent
on external conditions, circumstances or other people. It is not based on what
you own, how much money you have, who you are married to, or who your parents
are. It is dependent on YOU making the conscious choice to be happy, and then
applying the principles of happiness to your life.
From this point forward, may you choose to live a life filled with peace, love and happiness. And may you spread that peace, love and happiness to many others.
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