Some people think that if they had a little more money, or a few more things they would be happier. Not that making money or having nice things is bad. As author, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, notes in his book Thou Shall Prosper, when we channel our energies into an honorable occupation, money is merely evidence that we have served well. It is when the pursuit of money and things becomes an end it itself. Then it becomes a drug, right up there with cocaine and alcohol.
The high is fleeting. You get some and you need more. When you don’t have it you are depressed, anxious and miserable to live with. [Kasser/Ryan Knox College/University of Rochester] As the saying goes, “Money is a wonderful servant, but a horrible master. “
If you want to be happy pursue these things.
Pursue Kindness: We were designed to be kind. Being generous helps us use our strengths and talents in a meaningful way. One study followed women with multiple sclerosis who volunteered as peer supporters to other patients. They received training in compassionate listening techniques and called the patients to talk and listen for 15 minutes at a time. The study found that this act of kindness increased self-esteem and satisfaction in the volunteers. The positive impact on the volunteers was even greater than that on the patients they were helping.
Pursue healthy, close relationships: People in loving relationships with friends and family are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness and low self-esteem. When we are encouraged and accountable, we are more likely to live a healthy lifestyle. When we feel ‘safe’ with our loved ones, we are more willing to take healthy risks that advance us in life. When we feel accepted and approved, we are more resilient in the face of setbacks.
Pursue the moment: Have you ever been stressed and insecure all day because of something unfair that was done or said to you that morning? You are not alone. This tendency to obsess over offenses, stew in regret, or worry about the future is common. It’s called rumination and it is a joy-killer. It can lead to binge eating, high blood pressure, wasted time and depression. Yes, there is a time to deal with issues in your lives, but those ‘issues’ should not eat at you day and night. Choose to live in the moment now. Slow down and pay attention. Learn to be fully present now. When you eat, savor. When you work, focus. When you walk, breathe deeply and enjoy. Be here now.
Pursue healthy living: In a study at Ghent University, the longer participants with a history of depression sat around doing nothing, the more their mood tended to become negative and self-judgmental. Why? Because during periods of rest, people spend more time ruminating over problems and analyzing themselves. Getting up and moving refocuses the mind. Exercise may also fend off depression by balancing the transfer of hormones between the endocrine and nervous systems. It sparks the ‘feel good’ hormones.
Pursue a positive perspective: Those who have suffered a traumatic accident that confined them to a wheelchair are often as happy [or happier] than they were prior to the accident. Why? They are forced to accept their changed condition and discover the good things that have resulted. It is called, “reframing”. Reframing means accepting the things you cannot change and focusing on the blessings that result from your current circumstance. It is choosing to be happy anyway.And happiness is, after all, a choice. May you choose it today.
BOOKS TO READ:
Stumbling Upon Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
Happiness is a Choice by Frank Minirth MD and Paul Meier MD
The How of Happiness, by Sonja Lyubormirsky
Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin