Monday, March 5, 2012

My 10 Steps To Happiness

People often tell me that I seem to be a chronically upbeat person. And more or less, it’s true. Not all the time, though. I’m not always smiling or joking or optimistic, and I definitely have moody days. But for the most part I’m in generally good spirits; I take life in stride and shrug off most things.


So what’s my secret to happiness? What do I do or not do that makes me so nauseatingly cheery? Well, I’m-a-gonna-tell-you. And you’ll realize that achieving happiness is not as complicated as you think.


1) I Still See Awesomeness

A chipmunk taking a peanut from my hand, a hummingbird visiting my garden, the first garden sprouts in the spring, a baby bird taking its first flight, the unfurling of a flower bud, the crunching of fall leaves under my shoes, my first cup of coffee in the morning, a warm bath, a good book, lightning, fireflies, the sound of waves crashing against the rocks, rainbows...all these wonders and more are everywhere. Simple pleasures. Miracles of life. Awesomeness. I think once you lose sight of awesomeness, you stop smiling. Look around you and be amazed.




2) I Keep Up To Date With The News...Even The Bad Stuff

I read (or watch) the news daily, no matter how disturbing it can be at times. Why? For a couple of reasons:

a) I want to know what’s going on in our world. Sure ignorance is bliss, but pretending bad things are not happening doesn’t mean they’re not. By being aware, it also motivates me to do something; contribute, help a cause, make a change. How would we ever evolve if no one knew what’s going on?


b) It is a way of reminding myself how much worse my life could be; that there are people suffering, really suffering, which humbles me, stops me from bellyaching about something ridiculous and reminds me to be grateful.

Which brings me to the next thing...


3) I Practice Gratitude Every Day

It doesn’t take much to lose sight of the positive things in our lives as we try to get through the hustle and bustle of each day. So I force myself to put on the brakes at least once a day to remind myself how good I have it, which in turn will hopefully deter me from bellyaching about nonsense. Reminders can be uplifting moments like visiting a favourite blog, reading a chapter or two in my latest read, spending a little time in my garden, strolling through a thrift shop in search of something unusual, spending time with my amazing husband or soaking in a hot bath. Or they can be tough ones like reading tragic and devastating news articles, watching videos depicting real problems that people are facing or reading books that bear witness to the dark side of humanity. It doesn’t matter which method I choose as long as it snaps me out of a bad attitude.



4) I Never Chase Fashion Or Follow Trends

I’ve never liked the Joneses, let alone felt a need to try and keep up with them. I have no idea what’s in or out. What’s popular or not. What the latest fashion trends are. What’s cool and what isn’t. I just know what I like. And if it’s ridiculously outdated, so what? It makes me happy and that’s all that matters. Intimidated by fashion or trends or what the neighbours are doing? Me? Pfffttt...not a chance.


5) I’m Aging Gracefully

Last month, I celebrated my 47th birthday. Happily. Getting older has never been an issue for me. Why would it? Every new period of my life brings with it new milestones. At this point, I am enjoying watching my children getting older, becoming more independent and traveling down the same paths I once walked through. Every new year brings with it new joys. Don’t be afraid to grow older. Embrace it.


6) When My Soul Needs Soothing, I Look To Mother Nature

Hiking, gardening, birding, walking, snapping photographs of flowers, chipmunks, baby birds, the ocean, parks, mountains...the great outdoors and all that Mother Nature has to offer soothes my soul. I can sit in front of on ocean with a good book in hand and listen to the waves crashing against the rocks for hours. No shopping mall, bar, dance club, restaurant, movie theater can ever come close. (The bookstore is a strong candidate, though...)



7) I Live And Let Live (And Mind My Own Business)

Just like I don’t like people telling me how to live my life, I don’t tell others how to live theirs, either. How does how I live my life concern Mr. or Miss so-and-so down the street? It doesn’t. On the flip side, how is it my business how Mr. or Miss so-and-so are living their lives? It isn’t. Whatever works for others is fine by me. I stay on my side of the fence and hope everyone else does the same. This way of being also prevents conflicts, which in turn promotes peace and happiness.



8) I Live In The Present

There are probably a dozen things I’d change if I could go back in time. And there are probably even more regrets I can conjure up if I sit and think about my younger years. But what’s the point? What good would it do me to dwell on the coulda, woulda, shoulda? What’s done is done. The best thing I can do is learn from my past and be a better person in the present.

In the same breath, there’s no point fretting about what might come to pass. I have no control over some things that the future may bring my way, and dreading what might be up ahead is futile...and exhausting. One day at a time is all any of us can handle.



9) I Surround Myself With Positive People

There are people who are chronically negative. Pessimistic. Never satisfied. Always complaining. Always unhappy. Always criticizing. Always judgmental. They suck the energy right out of you every time you’re around them as you listen to them moan and groan about one thing or another. And without good reason. I avoid these people like the plague. I truly believe that the company you keep is one of the most important contributors to your happiness. If you surround yourself with individuals who are positive, motivated and well balanced, you are also more likely to be positive, motivated and well balanced.



10) I Laugh...Every Day

Laughter is the best medicine. It boosts the immune system, triggers the release of endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals), protects the heart (laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow) and relaxes the whole body (a hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress). Not a day goes by that I don’t enjoy some humour. And you should, too. Take a few minutes, every day, and enjoy a good laugh; it’ll help improve your overall health.



And those are my steps to happiness. Simple things, really. But very effective. What are your steps to contentment?

20 comments:

  1. Dear Martha,
    This is such a wonderful post and it makes me see how much we are alike. If I could write as well as you, this could be a post that I could have written! I don't follow trends. I surround myself with positive people, watch the news, even the bad stuff, I laugh, all of it! The only thing I would add is that under "nature" I would also mention God. (Closer to God in a garden, than anywhere else on Earth!)
    Beautiful post, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, sweet Kay. I'm surprised you would say that because I think you write very well. I really enjoy the posts on your blog.

      Delete
  2. Yes, you write so well - and I agree with all of it. The only things I would add are seeing my little dog go crazy when he sees me and the sly little face licks he gives me when he thinks I'm asleep! Also, a well-deserved glass of wine at the end of a hard day. Watching squirrels chasing each other round a tree makes me laugh as well. It really is the simple things that help keep me sane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, pets definitely are one of the best parts of the day. Squirrels chasing each other is also a lot of fun! I think if I had to list all the simple things I enjoy, this post would be much, much longer.

      Delete
  3. Those are 10 great rules and I'm happy to say I follow them too, as best I can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we all do the best we can on any given day.

      Delete
  4. Martha this is an awesome post! Easily my all-time favourite of yours :) All the points you make really make perfect sense and totally resonate with me, especially #'s 1, 6 & 7 & of course #10!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jane; that's cool! Number 10 is definitely something we both share judging from our blogs!

      Delete
  5. One of my favorite quotes is from the 1999 movie "A Christmas Carol".

    "Ebenezer, when happiness shows up, always give it a comfortable seat."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great quote! Pretty much says it all.

      Delete
  6. I do believe I have fallen even more in love with you:)

    What a brilliant post!
    Some of your tips I struggle with and some of them I buzz through no problem. I do try each and every day to get better and I agree with everything you said, its all so valuable.
    One thing I've added to my list this year is -all things in kindness. It's changed my whole outlook and helped caaaalm things down in my life. Soon it'll be my default reaction, instead of those learned ones;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha ha...that is sweet LaelShine!

      From what I've gathered from your wonderful blog is that I think you probably do great. We're not perfect beings, so each day is another day to do the best we can. I also think that as we get older, we start to see life from a different perspective.

      Delete
  7. Dearest Martha, this post is absolutely wonderful. You made my day and, as often your blog does, you made me laugh. Thank you. Joy and humour can conquer anything even when "anything" is serious. Love it!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad to hear that I contributed in a positive way to your day, Cathy! It really is those simple things that keep us going. And humour is something that all of us need a daily dose of - like a good vitamin.

      Delete
  8. What a fantastic post, Martha...I'm so glad I scrolled down. First of all, a belated Happy Birthday to You! I hope you had a good one. Second of all, I am constantly reminded when I read your posts of how similarly we regard life. I completely concur with all 10 of your very wise suggestions. Not that I don't sometimes fail in carrying out these ideals, but of course another thing I try to remember is...to forgive myself my failures and not dwell on them, but simply vow to do better.

    Thank you for this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Beth. Another year...hopefully, a little wiser :) From what I've read on your blog, I've no doubt we're very similar. I also fail sometimes in these, but that's what makes us human. As long as we do the best we can.

      Delete
  9. 10 steps to live by! Great post Martha, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was looking for something else and came across this post. I hadn't found your blog back then, but I love this so much. These are so wonderful. If everyone followed these, we would all get along so much better too! I would love to be able to send these to the two political parties in the USA. Yes a simple life is a happy life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we complicate life a little too much. The easier you make it, the happier you are. At least that works for me!

      Delete