"The tongue is like a razor; you can do good or cut someone with your words" ~Author unknown.
Contrary to the esteemed Dr Freud's theory that the primary human drives are to seek pleasure and to avoid pain, I believe what we want most is to find happiness and to find meaning or purpose. We want to know that we have lived fully and experienced joy with a deep feeling of contentment. Country singer, Tim McGraw's song comes to mind: "To Live Like You are Dying". Happiness is about the moments in our lives and the meaning or purpose is about our sense of connection.
In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy writes that "happy families are all alike; but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way". That seems to ring true when you speak with happy people - they each have certain things in common in terms of how they live their life. The secrets to happiness if you will. But simply knowing the secrets doesn't quite do it. We all know that we're supposed to eat well, exercise and not smoke, etc. But that doesn't keep us from our vices. The people who live these happy lives not only know the secrets but apply them daily! We have to decide that we're going to happy and that's that!
The First Secret: BE TRUE TO YOURSELF!
The greatest tragedy in life is to spend your whole life fishing only to discover that it was not fish you were after ~Henry David Thoreau
To live with intention, we need to continually and regularly ask three critical life questions:
•1. Am I following by heart and being true to myself?
•2. Is my life focused on the things that really matter to me?
•3. Am I being the person I want to be in the world or am I living someone else's expectatations?
The Second Secret: LEAVE NO REGRETS!!
The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
~Harriet Beecher Stowe
Regret is possibly the one thing we all fear the most; that we might look back on our lives and wish we had done things differently. To leave no regrets we must live with courage, moving toward what we want rather than away from what we fear. To leave no regrets we must overcome the inevitable disappointments that life hands us. We cannot ever be guaranteed of success but we can guarantee failure merely by choosing not to try at all! Always ask yourself: Fear or Faith?
Get into the habit of asking yourself at the end of each week:
•1. Did I act out of fear this week? How do I want to be more courageous next week?
•2. How am I responding to the setbacks in my life right now? Am I stepping forward or retreating?
•3. What might I do differently right now if I were living from the perspective of an old person on the porch looking back at my life?
The Third Secret: BECOME LOVE!
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion
~The Dalai Lama
Choose to see others with kindness. It is like a courtship. When you first get together with someone, you focus almost entirely on the things you like about the other person. But over time, people tend to focus more and more on the things which irritate them about the other person rather than what they like. If people would just turn that ratio around, most marriages and families would be so much better. When I hear of couples not getting along, on the brink of separation, I ask them to write down the Top Ten things they were attracted to in the beginning. I then ask them if they can add to the list, what else did they discover was wonderful about their partner? If they can focus on the good, the not-so-good usually fades away. Do good if you can, but always do no harm! Try to lift them up in some way. By what we say and do we can either make someone day or ruin it. The tongue is like a razor; you can do good or cut someone with your words.
More to think about each week:
•1. Did I make room for friends, family and relationships this week? Did I allow things to be more important than people?
•2. Was I kind and loving this week to the people closest to me? How can I improve upon this?
•3. Did I act as if each stranger was someone for whom l I could make a difference?
•4. Am I planting flowers or weeds in my self-conscious mind this week? Did I engage in negative self-talk or did I lift my spirit?
THE FOURTH SECRET: LIVE THE MOMENT!
Life lived for tomorrow will always be just a day away from being realized ~Leo Buscaglia
If life goes by quickly, then one of the secrets to happiness is to get more out of the time we have, to find a way that each moment and each day become great gifts. Don't focus on the past or the future but experience each moment with gratitude and purpose. We have power in each moment to contentment and happiness. Every day is a gift. ("To Live Like You were Dying" !) Happiness is all in your head. Here are some more things to think about:
•1. Did I really enjoy myself this week? Was I in the moment or did I just show up?
•2. Did I take every pleasure available to me or did I just run through the week?
•3. What am I grateful for this week? Did I find myself saying "I would be happy if only . . ."?
•4. Did I live in the present or did I let tomorrow or yesterday steal the day's happiness?
THE FIFTH SECRET: GIVE MORE THAN YOU TAKE!
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ask what life expects of you not what you expect from life. Did you know that we have a great deal of control over what we give, but almost none over what we get. Each day we have the power to give without limit, to leave the world better in some way. Giving connects us to something larger. And in the act of doing so, happiness finds us!
The last questions I want you to think about each week:
•1. Did I make the world a better place in some small way?
•2. Did I remind myself this week that I am making a difference, even if I don't see it?
•3. Was I focused myself or my contribution to the world this week?
•4. Can I stop judging the life I've lived and get on with what life I may still have left to live?
Keep your vision and keep focused. Trust in yourself and keep going toward your goal; you will get there, you might not know how, but you will!
I believe in you,
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