5 SECRETS OF BECOMING A HAPPIER YOU
By: J. Marlando
Happiness is difficult to measure because it is clearly a subjective state and in constant flux. One statistic tells us that 53% of Americans are happy but was that on the day the statistic was taken or did yesterday’s laughter become today’s tears? We are certainly happy when we get something we want, see someone we care about or achieve some goal. Yet, one of the major obstacles of happiness is never having all that we would have. That’s because there is always someone who has more than we do and we think more about them than we do about all those who have less than we have. That’s human nature I suppose.
In this regard, we do things to gift ourselves with happiness like buying something that we’ve been wanting, having a day of golf or tennis or spending some time at the beach; we get married, get divorced, eat too much, drink too much and do all kinds of thing to make ourselves feel good and so “happy” in the moment. Well, as we’ve already said, we’re human and while we have our virtues we also have our frailties and faults. Nobody’s perfect, right…but this too is often another unhappy-maker. That is, we tend to mirror our flaws much more than our perfections. You know, we wish our noses were shorter or longer, our hair straighter or curlier; we’d like to be fatter or thinner, taller or shorter. In some instances we end up like Woody Allen who said, “My one regret in life is that I’m not someone else.”
As funny as Woody is, there’s always some truth behind his humor. For one thing, when we are children the significant others in our lives are forever pointing out that we could have/should have done better. As a result we grow up believing that we are never our best and that keeps us from feeling very good about ourselves. Well, you have to feel good about you before you can feel good about the world.
Rule one: Remember, no matter what you do, you can ONLY do your best at the moment you are doing it! In fact, it is impossible to do less than your best. It is true of course that in the next instant or in the next round you might do better but in the moment you are always doing all you can. So toss the myth that you could have done better by the wayside and leave it there…forever.
Another thing that keeps us from being very happy is that we all have our regrets—things we’ve done that we wish we hadn’t and things we didn’t do that we wish we had. Well, regret in many ways is like closing the barn door after the horse has run away. What is done is done and anyway, there are no human beings on the planet who haven’t done things that they regret.
Rule two: Find yourself a comfortable place to sit alone. Lean back and think back on everything you feel regret or guilt for in your life. Say “I forgive you and I love you” to yourself for every transgression that gives you pain. Do this once daily until you truly experience self-forgiveness. If you have the courage to do this seriously, your world will soon enough become brighter, freer and yes, happier.
Another reason you’re kept from a lot of happiness is all the misinformation poured into your head about right and wrong. As a good, decent human being you certainly want to do what is right but you don’t always make the grade. Well, just remember that most things that we are indoctrinated to deem right and wrong arrive from social mores; silly cultural idiosyncrasies that are constantly changing in any case. Remember it was once deemed disgraceful for a lady to permit her ankle to be seen. What would those ladies think about those lovelies in their scanty costumes on Dancing with the Stars today? This is but one example of how absurd our notions of right and wrong can be.
Rule three: Toss out all your concepts of right and wrong and begin deciding instead what is kind and what is cruel today. Remember that right and wrong have a thousand faces but kindness only one. Simply be kind along your path and see what happens.
Far too many human beings have been raised to experience guilt and shame and sometimes for nothing more than their humanness. It is important to your happiness to grasp that sex and sin are NOT synonymous and that suffering is NOT the road to salvation.
Rule four: I once interviewed the famous writer/surgeon Bernie Siegel and he said this: God does not judge you. God loves you it is your parents, preachers and teachers who judge you. Remember this…always!
A real unhappy-maker is that a lot of people spend their lives minding other people and/or trying to live up to their expectations. You do NOT have to be what other people told you that you are. Be fully and wholly yourself as that’s the only way you will really have a joyful, unencumbered life.
Rule five: Every morning start your day by going to the mirror and saying to your image—you are loving and lovable. Once you make this your habit, happiness naturally follows.
The way to true and consistent happiness never arrives from outside you but only from the inside. This is one reason why self-forgiveness and self-love are so very vital. And incidentally, self-love does not mean self-centeredness or egocentric but simple having self-acceptance, self- approval as you journey through your life. Self-forgiveness and self-love are also essential to have as you walk your path amidst others, because you simply cannot give what you do not have.