For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way; something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness IS the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.
Happiness is a journey…not a destination.
So, stop waiting
until you finish school
until you go back to school
until you lose ten pounds
until you gain ten pounds
until you have kids
until your kids leave the house
until you start work
until you retire
until you get married
until you get divorced
until Friday night
until Sunday morning
until you get a new car or home
until your car or home is paid off
until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter
until you are off welfare
until the first or fifteenth
until your song comes on
until you have had a drink
until you have sobered up
until you die
until you are born again…
to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination
The encouraging words above have been attributed to the late Australian philosopher Father Alfred D’Souza.
Do his words resonate with you? Have you said any – or all – of the things D’Souza listed? Have you been waiting for a certain event or milestone to arrive that will miraculously make you happy?
Only a small percentage of the variation in people’s reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. It appears that most of what influences happiness is due to personality and – more importantly – thoughts and behaviors that can be changed.
So, yes, you can learn how to be happy – or at least happier.
A group of researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, led by Dr. Amit Sood, found that there are four steps to happiness.
Dr. Sood says 40 to 50 percent of your happiness depends on the choices you make and where you place your focus each day.
“You can choose to live focusing on what is right and beautiful in your life,” said Dr. Sood, who is the author of a new book, The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness.
Here are the four simple steps to happiness:
- Train Your Attention: Learning to focus your attention enables you to command your thoughts and shift perspective. Dr. Sood recommends doing this by waking up with gratitude, being in nature, resisting judgment, and expressing kindness.
- Cultivate Emotional Resilience: Build inner emotional strength by making room for gratitude, compassion, acceptance, meaning, and forgiveness. “When things go wrong,” Dr. Sood advises, “try to focus on what went right within what went wrong.”
- Start a Mind-Body Practice: Deepen your spiritual awareness through meditation, prayer, or any other mind-body practices that work for you. Activities could include reading, exercise, music, art, prayer, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.
- Pick Healthy Habits: Direct your willpower to making positive, concrete changes to lead to a healthier you – eat well, exercise, worry less. You can do this by simplifying your life, exercising, picking your battles, and lightening up.
“Happiness is a habit,” he says. “Some of us are born with it; others have to choose it.”
What will YOU do – today – to start experiencing more happiness?