Linda: There is a strong element of choice in our level of happiness. Indeed we do decide to be happy, but that’s only for starters. Then we are challenged to CULTIVATE happiness by actively pursuing the practices that give rise to it. The very same practices that assist in the process of bringing our happiness level up are identical to those that improve our relationships. We can get started by rating our level of happiness on a scale of 0 to 10. If we want to bring our well-being quotient up, consider taking on the following practices:
- Gratitude: Cultivate the attitude of gratitude. At the end of each day, say aloud or write in your journal that for which you are grateful.
- Physical Exercise: Ride bike, walk, climb, swim or go to the weight room. They all lift mood and prompt positive emotions. When you have enough endorphins they create euphoria. Runner’s high is real.
- Family: Spend time connecting with family.
- Friends: Cultivate a strong network of support. If your blood relatives are not available for whatever reasons, find your family of choice. Have many confidants. It is the best predictor of happiness.
- Support: In times of difficulty and challenge, reach out to ask for help and allow others to support you, rather than struggling on alone. Interdependence is healthy dependency.
- Get Complete: Get complete with issues from the past that make you heavy and drag you down.
- Forgiveness: Heal all of your relationships. Let go of all grudges towards those who have hurt you and particularly for yourself. Notice how grudges make you heavy and unhappy when you hold on to these hurts. Forgive yourselves if you are not ready to forgive.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Be Here Now says Ram Dass, The Power of Now says, Ekart Tolle. Meditation centers and focuses the mind. It helps to be present at the moment, not the past or the future, and to practice non-judgmental awareness. Journaling can be the written form of mindfulness. It is a powerful practice for focusing on the mind.
- Needs: Know what your needs are and see to it that they get met.
- Play: Find fun playmates and play with them frequently, thereby reclaiming the magic and wonder of childhood. Re-own the innocence of the joyful child that lives in each of us results in looking at the world through childlike eyes, with awe and radical amazement.
- Generosity: It feels so good to give. Contribute in the form of volunteer work, good deeds, and random acts of kindness. Give gifts, acknowledgment, your undivided attention, and committed listening.
- Strengths: Develop your potential, by identifying your signature strengths. As you take pride in them, you will feel the self-esteem that accompanies them.
- Risk: Taking risks allows you to grow in courage. Happy people do not settle for comfort and security. They are willing to experience disappointment, failure, disapproval, embarrassment and even humiliation to have big successes.
- Redefine success: Stay away from the prevailing view of money, status, power, and influence to one where real success is the number of in-depth, loving relationships.
- Self-care: Practice compassionate self-care, also known as healthy selfishness.
- Worry: Give up worry, both on the job and in your personal life. Worry is in the future. Those fearful things may never occur. Stay present in the moment, living with a deep trust that things will work out.
- Kindness: Practice kindness to others and yourself.
- Savor: Savoring helps you to feel more deeply in the present moment. It also includes looking forward to something wonderful and reflecting on something lovely that happened in the past.
- Pleasure: Scour to find if there is any place in you that believes that it is self-indulgent to enjoy pleasure and work with those limiting beliefs.
- Presence: Show up to be here now where life is going on.
- Values and goals: Be aware of your values and goals and operate according to them.
- Body: Listen to the messages that come from the body for rest and relaxation, and be willing to respect those wise messages. Power lounging is slowing down to rest and be quiet so that we can have an overview of your life to see where adjustments need to be made. It is a no-results orientation, no distractions from technology including computers, cell phones, TV, and telephones. It can be done alone or with another.
- Integrity: When you live with honesty and authenticity, you are not too concerned with social conventions, and then you live from your own inner truth. This requires looking at and owning your own shadow, both dark and golden.
- Passions: Pursue your passions to keep your soul tank filled. Know what your soul food is that nourishes us deep in your soul and give yourself plentiful helpings. Examples are dancing, singing, yoga, playing an instrument, playing with kids or grandkids, solitude, listening to music, power lounging, being in nature, creative expression, painting, writing, beading sculpting, women’s group, and men’s group.
- Spirituality: Put the emphasis on the spiritual rather than the material.
- Beauty: Own and express your creative artist.
- Openness: Living with a flexible attitude (no hardening of the attitudes) promotes learning and growth. Openness allows for novelty and adventure, which is enlivening.
- Optimism: If necessary make the conversion from pessimism to optimism. Choose to consciously and consistently change your thinking.
- Intention: Use the power of intention.
- Purpose: Listen for the callings to know what your purpose is. Knowing what has the greatest meaning in our lives helps us get busy giving the gifts that only we can give.
Of the above practices, you will see that some are strong and well developed, while others need attention. Congratulate yourself on those that are well established, and then zero in on those that need more attention. They are the areas that constitute your growing edge and that will boost your happiness. When you take on the pursuit of happiness in a specific way, you are likely to see your score go up from your efforts. Enjoy the journey.
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