“All change results from a change in meaning.” Margaret Wheatley
They almost all make the whole thing ‘way too difficult, or simplistic, or even radical. “Follow my plan and you’ll be walking on a cloud by sundown.” Yeah, right. Three hundred pages to wade through and at the end, “Now, what did I just read? What am I supposed to do? Too many rules. This is too frustrating!”
Actually, creating happiness is not all that difficult, simplistic, or radical. It’s common sense, really. Read this little group of suggestions for yourself and see if you don’t agree that it’s not only possible, it’s highly probable that by applying even a portion of them, you’ll find yourself feeling a heck of a lot better. And all in only 740 or so words. Good deal, eh?
(Here’s the place where I tell you, like the rest of them do, that you have to put these suggestions into practice or they won’t do you any good. We lose some folks here because they think they might actually have to lift a finger. So, wait a second…. OK, we’ve lost the lookee-loos. Now you serious readers can get on with your practice.)
The first rule: Begin
- If you’re not exercising, start. Do what you can, make it workable, make it easy. Just start. (Talk to your doctor if necessary.)
- Do mental exercise each day as well. Read, write, draw, teach. Something. Soap operas don’t count.
- Eat right. As Michael Pollan wrote in an essay entitled Unhappy Meals (New York Times Magazine, January 28, 2007), “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I haven’t found a better diet plan. Remember: Good bowels, good mood. (Again, before making drastic changes in your eating patterns, you may want to get advice from your doctor.)
- Stimulate yourself artistically. Go to a museum, the galleries, or an artist’s or musician’s studio. Some will let you watch and listen. Find the ones that will. It’s worth it. Believe me.
- Don’t let a day go by without doing a good turn. If you open your mind and heart, opportunities will present themselves without your needing to seek them out. They always return to you in some fashion. You can take that to the bank (sometimes literally!).
- Take a coffee/tea/cola break with a friend. Or, you can do something I like to do. Here in my city, we have a lot of interesting little neighborhoods. There are always new coffee shops opening up and I try to take a day or so each week to discover a new one. I have met some of the most fascinating people that way.
- Treat yourself to your favorite “whatever” more often. You’re worth it.
- Spend some time in quiet contemplation. You don’t have to be religious to just sit and recognize the miracle in which you find yourself.
You know, if you could pluck a wealthy landowner or businessperson from out of, say, 1885 and show him your house, he would freak out. Let him see your refrigerator, your range, your dishwasher. Turn on your TV, your stereo, your computer. Turn on your faucets, your lamps, your radio, for God’s sake. After regaining his composure, he would most likely look at you and say, “What a miracle! You are so very blessed. Even with all my money, I have nothing like this.” And he’d be right.
Happiness is not a quest; it’s not even a journey. It’s recognition. You live in the midst of a miracle. In fact you are the miracle in the midst of a miracle. Miracles are not necessarily supernatural or even dramatic. They are everywhere all the time. The moment that sinks in, you are different. And happiness will never again be an issue.
“You have avoided most of the boulders that have been hurled at you or you wouldn’t still be here. And, interestingly, you’ve hurled most of them.” RKM