Tag Archive | Happiness

Seize the Day

Very often we only focus on bucket lists or introspective matters when we or someone we love is diagnosed with a serious disease.

Suddenly, in these crisis moments with the prospect of not having much time to live, time becomes more valuable and choices more mindfully guided.

However, as we know, none of us are promised tomorrow no matter what our health status may be.

Therefore, though this reality can be sobering fact to dwell upon, it is also a wakeup call to living fully now, and not wasting time on inconsequential endeavors.

Below is an excerpt from the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware, which reminds us to seize the day and avoid the pain of regrets!

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2.  I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But, as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. As a result, many developed illnesses related to the bitterness and resentment they carried.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, and choose honestly. Choose happiness.

 

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Don’t Let Anyone Burst Your Bubble

“Giving information to another person that will more than likely disappoint them; to ruin someone’s happy moment; to destroy someone’s expectations.” Author Unknown

I’m sure we have all experienced those times when we are feeling great and having a wonderful time, and then someone says something that could easily deflate our mood.

Recently, I was laughing and having a great time at a festive function, when out of the blue one the participants starting discussing something very negative and depressing.

Sometimes people will do this if they aren’t feeling happy, and will try to lessen the levity in order to feel more comfortable. Or, they might feel left out of a conversation and want some attention without even realizing it.

In other cases, people may believe they are protecting us from disappointment by providing undesirable commentary on potential career, relationship or other exciting opportunities.

Saturday Night Live Skit

Though these and similar behaviors can be challenging to deal with, we all have triggers that unconsciously influence our behavior beyond our conscious intentions.

This is great news, because knowing this will help us understand that we are only responsible for our own behavior, thoughts and feelings and aren’t responsible for the triggers inside of someone else or their reactions.

We can only observe, investigate and increase our awareness of what goes on inside of us, and choose better responses, rather than reacting in the usual way, such as taking others comments so personally.

Fortunately, we don’t have to allow the unhappiness, words or actions of another to negatively influence our experiences, but can enjoy ourselves in spite of them. What a freedom!

What helps you deal with Debbie Downer portrayed in the video link above, or keeps you from becoming one yourself?

 

 

Retain Your Joy

keep calmMany situations can tempt us to allow our joy to be taken from us, such as an unkind comment or betrayal in a friendship.

Certainly, these scenarios can be confusing, and upsetting, which takes some time to process. However, what adds to the pain is feeling bad about ourselves or blaming ourselves for why others are acting in certain ways.

While no one is perfect, and we can unintentionally exacerbate a perplexing situation, we are not the cause of another persons choice in behavior. We all have a choice on how we respond to life, and in our relationships.

This includes the choice to not believe any negative thoughts we have about ourselves which can steal our joy as well.

Often, it is a blessing when challenges or discomfort occurs because it lets us know it may be time to move on, or stand up for ourselves or learn how to handle emotions in a less personally damaging way.

Staying positive preserves our happy spirit, contains our personal power, and boosts our energy needed to take the necessary actions we need to take.

We are stronger than we think, and have a bigger impact than we know. If we become discouraged or frustrated for too long, than we won’t make the positive impact we are called to make both individually, and in our world.

So, keeping our joy is not about denying that pain exists or being inauthentic in our responses. It is about not allowing ourselves to lose hope, or pleasure, and keeping focused on what is good and possible.

What helps you keep your joy?

 

 

 

Be Happy

 

Since 1994, Robert Holden, Ph.D., has been running an eight-week happiness program entitled, Be Happy. Additionally, he created an eight-day mini-version of that program which I have abbreviated below. It was designed to be completed over eight consecutive days, with at least 15 minutes devoted to each exercise.

Not only is the information very beneficial but the video I’ve included should get you smiling as well.

Day 1:  Defining True Happiness

What is your definition of a happy life? Are you living it? If you think happiness is outside you, you will turn happiness into a search, a pursuit or a destination; whereas if you know happiness is inside you, then happiness becomes a compass, a guide and an enabler that helps you to live a rich life.

Exercise 1:

There is a world of difference between searching for happiness and following your joy. Reflect on the question, ‘When am I at my happiest?’ Identify what inspires you, nourishes you and fans the flames of joy within. Being clear about this will help you to be true to yourself, to be honest, to make better choices and to have the courage to say a big YES to what really matters most to you in life. Say YES to joy today.

Day 2:  The Happiness Contract 

As a child, you experience happiness as being natural and easy. Happiness is your original energy. Playfulness is your true nature. Joy is your spiritual DNA. In the years that follow, you become filled with learned ideas and false beliefs that limit your daily allowance of joy. Some examples of this conditioned thinking is, “too much happiness is selfish,” and “it’s not okay for me to be happy if others are not.”

Exercise 2:

Complete the following sentence 10 times: “One way I limit my own happiness is…” and fill in the blank. Don’t think too much. Let your answers flow. Afterward, examine your answers carefully, looking for any learned rules that you can let go of. Happiness is free—there are no conditions.

Day 3:  I Choose Happiness

Most of your choices are “to-do” choices, like taking a shower, getting dressed or fixing breakfast. There is another category of choices which are your “to be” choices, like being present, being loving and being happy. From 0 to 10, how happy have you decided to be today?

Exercise 3:

Some people chase happiness, and other people choose happiness. Set a positive intention right now to let today be even more enjoyable than you thought it was going to be. Now, turn your positive intention into action by doing three things that make your heart glow.

Day 4:  Beware Unhealthy Sacrifice

To be happy, you have to know the difference between healthy sacrifice and unhealthy sacrifice. Healthy sacrifice is giving up something that is not helpful, authentic or smart.  Unhealthy sacrifice is when you sacrifice your happiness, health or your integrity for something or someone else.

Exercise 4:

One way to undo unhealthy sacrifice is to focus on receiving. Today, try to be more open than usual, to let life support you and to let people give to you. Being a good receiver is what helps you to give yourself fully without giving yourself away.

Day 5:  Putting Yourself First

Life can get busy. If you don’t stop, you become estranged from the real you. You probably promise yourself that you will catch up with yourself soon, but how soon is soon? By not stopping, you get lost and you end up being a corporate version of yourself. The longing to be more authentic is what saves you. You cannot be inauthentic and happy. Committing to happiness is the key to living an authentic life.

Exercise 5:

You cannot neglect yourself and find happiness. Tune in to your well-being. Ask yourself, “What are my needs right now?” “What messages is my body giving me?” “How does my heart feel?” and “What is my wisdom telling me?” Maybe it’s time for you to ask for help. Life gets better when you treat yourself better.

Day 6:  Your Inner Smile

“Most of the time, I don’t have very much fun, and the rest of the time I have no fun at all,” quipped Woody Allen. Sometimes life can get so demanding that you end up setting your sights on getting through the day rather than genuinely enjoying it. You run on autopilot. You are reactive rather than creative. The heavy tiredness you feel in your body is a sure sign there is a better way.

Exercise 6:

Happiness studies show consistently that most people who score higher levels of happiness do not experience markedly better life circumstances. So why are they so happy? Well, one answer is they know how to enjoy their life. The word “enjoy” means to bring joy to something. Find your inner smile by reminding yourself of what energizes you, what you love and what inspires you. Remember to enjoy the miracle of existence today.

Day 7:  Practicing Forgiveness

Sometimes to be happy in the present moment, you have to be willing to give up all hopes for a better past. Forgiveness is the key to releasing the past and recommitting to your life now. It’s impossible to carry wounds and be happy. You can’t be a victim and be joyful. You can’t keep neglecting yourself and feel whole. Forgiveness helps you to find your heart again, to be true to yourself and to let go of the past and be free.

Exercise 7:

Practice self-forgiveness for all the times you have treated yourself in loveless and careless ways. Self-forgiveness is the key to loving yourself. It is impossible to love others and not love yourself. Also, the more you love yourself, the easier you make it for others to love you too. Forgiveness is the key to love and happiness.

Day 8:  Being Grateful

Gratitude is often referred to as the shortest shortcut to happiness. It helps you to remember what is important in your life and helps you to be more receptive.

Exercise 8:

Make a list of at least eight blessings, breakthroughs and benefits you have experienced. The more you practice gratitude, the more things you find to be grateful for. The gift of gratitude is that it helps you to participate more fully in your own life and to notice what is already here. In the final analysis, the only thing that is really missing in your life is more of the real you. 

Action Step:

Share a smile.