The Habit of Happiness

We can get into a habit of almost anything.  In fact there have been many books written about how to create habits, from drinking water, to being organized to exercising (which I am still working on). But most people over look one critical habit:  The habit of happiness. Most are under the impression that happiness just happens.  It’s magic, one day you are miserable and then one day 0 poof! – you turn happy.  In reality it doesn’t happen that way.

Many also think that once they achieve or gain “X”, that they will be happy.  It could be a new job or promotion or relationship, or car, or whatever…but the bottom line is while those things may make you happy for a little while, that doesn’t last either.  And if you were not satisfied before, you will not be after either.

The truth is that happiness is a lot of work.  It isn’t magic, it is purposefully working at it every day, setting your intentions and following through with actions.  That is the only way to take the illusion of happiness into reality.  But…how do we do that?

First, know that you can change your circumstance if you are not happy.  It truly doesn’t matter where you start, it is where you want to be and how hard you are willing to work at it.  You are not a tree, you can move and grow.  You can change your position any time you. Like.  That is the magic about life, you can write your own story.  The change will not be instant, it will take time.  But eventually it will change.

Helping others will also bring a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.  Maybe it is getting your mind off your own problems, or realizing that in comparison, your issues may not be as bad as others.  Maybe it is the endorphins that are released into the body, maybe it is Karma I don’t know.  But helping others will boost your happiness as well.

Also fostering meaningful connections helps to.  Do this by being very intentional with how you second your time.  Wonder why they say those who spend more time on social media are more depressed and less satisfied?  Because they agree not really connecting with anyone.  They are seeing life through filters…which is not real.  There is no substantial sharing.  Gossip, small talk, complaining and negative conversations tend to drain you of your energy.

It may sound basic, but getting enough sleep and enough exercise is key to happiness as well.  We don’t function well if we are tired. And our bodies won’t feel good if we are sedentary.  Get off the couch, put the phone down, and go for a run or walk.  The exercise will help you sleep better too.

Be aware of the company you keep. If you have those who are constantly miserable, have drama or are always involving you in unnecessary dramas, then run, run like the wind!  These people are vampires and can suck the happiness right out of a room. Do not waste your precious time and energy on what doesn’t serve you. Instead, surround yourself with those who are positive and supportive.  I don’t mean “yes” people, I mean people who spend there time working to better themselves and their lives s well. People who will support you. In your dreams by being honest and those who are willing to help.

But to me the most important factor in being happy is paying close attention to how your life feels right now, and how you want it to feel.  IF you want to be fulfilled, then do and go after only that which makes you feel that way.  If you want a life filled with laughter, then be around what makes you laugh.  Don’t attached happiness to a list, simply follow what feels good, what makes you laugh.  And if it doesn’t make you feel the way you want your life to feel?  Then get rid of it.  That includes people.

I have learned that life is too short to waste of that which does not make you happy.  Knw that you have the power to make your life whatever you want it to be.  You may have to change your way t=of thinking, but happiness can be a habit too.

Go Deep or Go Home

The older I get it becomes more and more apparent that you must enjoy what is in front of you. This life is fleeting, is make it spectacular. Make it meaningful.  Make it profound.  Don’t just settle for small talk, get into the nitty gritty and really connect.  Appreciate all the little moments as gifts, because they are.

The past week I have learned that a dear friend has three types of cancer. Another passed away suddenly and left behind the love of her life devastated. When events like this happen, they inevitably make you look at your own life and what you want.

I’ve come from a place of such heartbreak and loss, that I want to deeply enjoy every moment that I have. I don’t just want connections, I want deep connections, and deep friendships, and deep conversations, and a deep life. I want to have the things that mean the most close to me. I want to be immersed in all the moments in this life, because you never know what might happen.

I think this is because when you get hurt and are in pain, that pain carves out deep spaces within you.  And what satisfied you before isn’t enough afterward. Your capacity for joy, love and beauty is much more, so it takes more to fill you. You love deeper, feel deeper, experience life on a deeper level, because you are a more profound individual. I think, that what makes the pain worth it is that the joy far surpasses the pain.  And that is as it must be.

But in this day and age of Kardashians, and Instagram filters makimg you look beautiful and happy even when you’re not, and where outward appearances are everything, how do you get that? When everything is shallow and what is below the surface doesn’t seem to matter?

I think it has to do with intentions. You have to set your intentions to seek out what is meaningful, to find more than just a small talk, to see what’s behind someone’s eyes. You have to be brave enough to ask the purposeful questions and be willing to listen to the relevant answers.   Everyone is craving better more meaningful connections, so if you approach others with that intention, they will respond in kind.

You also have to search for people who have the same depth and breadth as you in life. You must seek out those who have the same level of commitment to loyalty, honor, and integrity. Because trust me, if you settle for those who don’t have the same level of commitment, those people will hurt you. It is as much about self-preservation, as it is about living a good life. And once you find them, your people, then you begin to live life on a more profound level.

Our satisfaction, fulfillment and impact depend on the intentions that we set.  We cannot have significant connections if we are not willing to go below the surface – to be curious about life, and people, and things.

And those are my intentions. It is not so much Carpe Diem and it is Carpe Deeper.  For me it is not about seizing the day as it is seizing the opportunity to enjoy each small moment. It doesn’t have to be loud or conspicuous, or loaded up selfies on social media.  It can be as quiet as enjoying a good night’s sleep, and then a delicious cup of coffee on the front porch the next morning.  It can be seeing the beauty in the smiling eyes of a child.  It can be seeing the miracle of birds and flowers. It can be a thousand different things in a million different ways, but being aware and committed enough to get to the most substantial meaning out of each experience. So never be afraid to go deeper.