How to be happy

29 Apr

Let’s be clear. I’m not a therapist. I’ve never even seen a therapist. I’m not about to provide a magic formula for happiness. So if that’s what you were looking for, sorry about that!

What I can share is some thoughts I’ve had recently on my own experiences with happiness. You can be the judge of whether these experiences are helpful. Or at the very least, you can have a giggle or two. OK, now we have that out of the way, let’s go.

Pay attention to the now. Get up every morning with a firm resolve to make the most of this day. There’s nothing easier than looking backward with regret or looking ahead with anxiety to ruin a perfectly good today. Not to mention, it will probably ruin breakfast. And that would be bad.

Be thankful. I know this sounds kind of corny, but it works. There is a deep and peaceful satisfaction that comes from thinking about what you have, and recognizing the value in everything, big or small. I’ve found it has also freed me from worrying about what others have, or counting the things I don’t have. It’s also made me shop less, which is probably a good thing.

Delight in the small stuff. I know, I know – major cliché alert. But it’s working for me, and as I mentioned at the beginning, this is about my experiences. If you don’t like it, Google something else. At the moment, I’m finding great delight in a family of squirrels that has taken up residence in the old BBQ on my patio. Initially, in the middle of winter, there was just one. I called him Frank. Apparently, Frank turned out to be a girl, who now has two off-spring who have begun to show themselves over the past several weeks. It’s pretty cool to watch them hanging out in the sun, taking their first steps into the world. And yes, before you ask, I realise this has implications for my summer BBQ options. Yes, I will probably have to move them on at some point. But for now, who cares?

Try new stuff. I have no idea if there are official psychological or physiological links between trying new things and happiness.

South Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

But it works for me. My latest new thing was hiking in Arches National Park, Utah with a good friend over Easter. No, I’m not a big outdoors person. Given a nice sunny day, I’d probably rather sit on a patio and read than do something super-active. But that’s kind of the point. I already know how to read and pretty much mastered sitting at the age of 3 months. I didn’t know if I could do a 5 km round trip hike to Delicate Arch, especially since the first 2.5 km were all uphill! But I did it, and man was it amazing! The view is gorgeous, the arch spectacular, and the feeling of accomplishment and exertion is priceless. So even if you can’t go hiking in Utah, try something new. A different drink at Starbucks, a new route to work, a different shelf at the library. You never know what might happen.

OK, there you have it. I’m sure you could find a completely different list out there, or probably come up with one of your own. Good for you. Whether you agree or not is not the point. The point is that you can choose to be happy. Even when crap is happening all around you, there are always choices to be made.

One final note. This post was inspired by my friend Tayo, a fellow classmate and awesome human being. You can read his post on being happy here.

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