This series poses life-questions for personal reflection.
My views are offered as a thought starter.
Most people are either happy, or they’re not. My Grandmother said she was born happy. Others are the opposite. It almost seems that happiness is a by-product of our internal wiring.
There’s no shortage of books on happiness; Amazon lists over 60,000. Clearly, there’s a lot of interest in the subject and no universal answers. That being the case, I suppose there’s no harm in adding my two cents.
For me, happiness requires attention, like getting “in shape.” The following steps help:
Step 1: Accept what Is!
Seriously, it is what it is. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve things, but we’re going to be a lot happier if we simply learn to accept things as they are.
A reporter once asked Mahatma Gandhi if he could sum up his philosophy of life in twenty-five words or less. Gandhi cheerfully replied, “Of course, but I only need three. Renounce and enjoy!”
What Gandhi meant by “Renounce” was letting go of frustration, anger, and sadness that arises from life circumstances. Once we do that, it’s easier to simply enjoy.
That sounds simplistic, but of the three steps I present here, this is the one I practice most, and it’s helped a lot!
Step 2: Seek out connections!
When upset, we often shut down and draw inward to ourselves. This is the worst possible approach because “Self” is the problem, not the cure.
Happiness ensues when we connect with others, nature, or anything that gets us beyond our “Self!”
Step 3: Focus on others!
Perennially happy people display a common characteristic, they focus on others rather than themselves. Sour people are precisely the opposite. If you doubt that, test the theory out with your acquaintances!
The more effort we place on getting to know people, the more interesting they become. The required shift in focus away from “Self” has two benefits; first, it brings people closer to us, and second, it makes us more attractive. Self-centered people are universally off-putting!
Accepting what is and shifting our focus away from “Self” is pretty much the whole enchilada. It’s of course easier to say than do, but based on my observations and practice, I believe it helps.
Anyway, that’s my take on it.
What do you think is the secret to happiness?
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