There is little doubt that we would all like to be happy but is happiness our ultimate goal? I don’t think it should be our ultimate goal. I think it should be our daily goal.
Learning to be happy, content and at peace with ourselves on a daily basis as we journey to our goals, is the art of happiness.
Learn to live in the moment. If we always wait for things to get better thinking we will be happy then, is like the carrot and the donkey, the donkey never quite gets the carrot no matter how hard it strives to do so, the goal keeps moving. This does not mean that we can’t have or believe in a larger purpose or meaning in life. Having this can bring a feeling of purpose that provides a feeling of self, self-worth and a sense of being.
One of the keys to happiness is developing the ability to be able to accept what can’t be changed and change what can be.
Accepting responsibility for choices starts with understanding where our choices lie. This idea is wonderfully framed by the timeless wisdom of the ancient Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Growing older and the loss of independence challenges us all. Learning to accept what which cannot be changed and adapting to our situation and circumstances is key to being and maintaining happiness as we age. Researchers from Deakin University in Australia found that facing the realities of living with assistance and losing a degree of independence helps seniors live longer and feel far happier. Their study, which was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies last year, compared feelings of life satisfaction and perceived control of older adults living with assistance and those living in the community. Their analysis revealed that the ability to accept the inevitable (as well as maintain low-level control) in an assisted living setting was a significant predictor of life satisfaction. The researchers concluded, “In order to protect the well-being of older individuals, adaptation involves both a sense of control and the active acceptance of what cannot be changed.”
Author Bronnie Ware worked in palliative care. She found that dying people experienced a wide gambit of emotions and regrets. Bronnie Ware found these to be the five most common.
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I didn’t work so hard.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
The overall theme that is most significant in this list is the necessity of honouring and being true to ourselves.
At the turn of this century, the Dalai Lama issued the following eighteen rules for living.
Rule 1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
Rule 2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
Rule 3. Follow the three Rs: 1. Respect for self 2. Respect for others 3. Responsibility for all your actions.
Rule 4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Rule 5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Rule 6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
Rule 7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Rule 8. Spend some time alone every day.
Rule 9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
Rule 10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Rule 11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
Rule 12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
Rule 13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
Rule 14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
Rule 15. Be gentle with the earth.
Rule 16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
Rule 17. Remember that the best relationships is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Rule 18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
It is now accepted that marked changes in bodily sensations are closely associated with our feelings, thoughts and emotions, for instance, depression, contempt , envy and sadness tend to shut down the body and cause increased pain. Happiness and love sparked activity across nearly the entire body and decrease sensations of pain, while depression had the opposite effect.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
Poem: Help yourself to happiness, author unknown.
But finding it and keeping it
seems is difficult to do.
Difficult because we think
that happiness is found
Only in the places where
Wealth and fame abound-
And so we go on searching
in “places of pleasure”
and monetary treasure,
Unaware that happiness
is just a “state of mind”
Within the reach of everyone
who takes time to be kind-
For in making OTHERS HAPPY
we will be happy too,
For happiness given away
returns to “shine on you.”
©Marion Brownlie, Author