What is your last memory of being really happy? Joyful? Laughing until your stomach hurt?
My guess is it had nothing to do with possessions.
It may have been a family celebration. A graduation. A healthy diagnosis. Some good news after an accident. Watching your loved one shine.
If we are waiting to be happy until we pay off the house or meet the right person or get a better job or lose ten pounds, we will be waiting for a very long time.
As novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
The happiness has always been with us. It’s there in the darkness and sadness and mundane days. It’s there when everything is crumbling down around us. We just have to switch our perspective and look through a gratitude lens. Remember what we do have. Cherish all that we should be thankful for.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
The life that is waiting for us is the one that will make us happy. If we let it. The only person who can let that happiness in is the one looking back from the mirror.
This is the way it’s done. This is the way society says it should happen.
It starts when we’re young. Choose these courses. Take this degree. Start this job. Buy this property.
And then one day we realize that we weren’t really sure about any of those decisions and we’re not truly happy, but we’re stuck. With bills and commitments and things we started that we feel we need to finish. Continue reading
Oprah said it years ago. And author Rachel Hollis reminded me this week. About gratitude. Daily gratitude. And how it is a game-changer.
So as my kids prepare for the last day of school before summer, I am starting my own mini gratitude movement. Continue reading
There are negative and positive ions all around us. And in fact, the negative ions are better for us. They are found in the woods and by waterfalls. Positive ions are not great for us. They are found in clothes dryers, phones, computers and air pollution.
But the positive and negative will always be there. We need positive and negative charges to make electricity. We can go for a walk in nature, but if we want to communicate our inspiration from that walk, it will most likely be done on a computer. Negative ions and positive ions together again. Continue reading
I’ve been a mom now for 15 years. We’ve laughed, cried, screamed, sang, travelled, walked, chased, swam and ran. We’ve moved four times, competed in international Irish dance competitions, rented cabins, watched stars, studied for tests, played hockey, gone fishing, and read books. Continue reading
Martha Beck, sociologist and life coach, said, “Relinquishing the delusional hope that we can or must be flawless — allows us to seek happiness in the only place it can be found: our real, messy, imperfect experience.” Continue reading
In Sean Achor’s new book, Big Potential, he talks about how success and happiness are not individual sports but team efforts. He mentions an American biologist, Professor Hugh Smith, who was travelling through a Southeast Asian jungle in 1935. Suddenly, surrounded by night sky, the professor saw a mangrove tree along the river completely light up and then go dark. And it happened again a few seconds later. Next all the trees along the river embankment lit up and went dark together. After his initial shock wore off, he realized that the trees were covered in lightning bugs who were flashing their light in unison. Continue reading
I’m reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. If you haven’t watched his TED Talk, it’s a must. He reminds us through years of research he did while at Harvard that happiness comes before success. Not the other way around.
So many of us think we will be happy when we meet that special someone, graduate, get a job, earn a promotion, buy a house, have children or lose weight. But research shows that if we are happier where we are, we will end up getting to where we need to be at a much quicker pace. Continue reading
Happiness is what we all strive for. But we can’t look for it outside of ourselves. If we hitch our happiness wagon to someone else’s star, disappointment is imminent.
As self-improvement guru Dale Carnegie once said, “Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.”
The good news is that is something we have control over. Do we feel grateful for what we have? Passionate about what we’re doing? Hopeful about the future? If not, what action can we personally take to make those feelings a reality? As William Arthur Ward once said, “Happiness is an inside job.”
Author Eckhart Tolle talked about separating who you are from your thoughts about who you are. We all have stories in our head about what our childhood was like and what we are good at and what we deserve. They are not necessarily facts. They are descriptions that may or may not be accurate. We might say to ourselves, “She didn’t like me because she said this or didn’t say that.” In actuality, that person might have been having a daily struggle and you weren’t even on their radar. It had nothing to do with you. But our thoughts can create a forest fire out of one match. Burning up any hopes of happiness.
Instead of letting these loose thoughts run rampant in our mind, we can focus on what is right in front of us. Our loved ones. The birds in the trees. The sun on our face. Our favourite lunch. An interesting conversation.
This is the key to happiness. When we own our journey and don’t listen to the stories in our head that tell us all the reasons things are going wrong we can focus on all the things that are going right. And who wouldn’t be happy about that?