There are times when the path to happiness seems difficult and elusive, when in fact it’s often staring you in the face…
It’s often a matter of changing the way you look at the simple things. After all, many of the biggest turning points in our lives stem from the simplest changes. In her wonderful blog post 10 Secrets Happy People Know (But Won’t Tell You), Cate Scolnik experienced such a change when she decided to break away from an abusive relationship. This eventually led her to discover a few important “secrets” to happiness which she realized were hiding in plain sight.
Let’s go over each one, and at the end of this post, be sure to read the original post yourself.
It’s absolutely OK to be sad.
“You don’t have to be happy all the time, or even every day…. The contrast of negative emotions can be beneficial, because they remind us how wonderful happiness is.”
Some people feel the strange need to be happy all of the time. There’s something very wrong about this, as both happiness and sadness are natural aspects that you need in order to keep a healthy balance. Basically, you cannot have one without the other. People who try to reject their sadness unfortunately add to it, as they add the fear of sadness to sadness. It is best to deal with sadness itself, understanding that it too shall pass.
If you want to be happy, you actually have to work on it.
“There are things that we can do to increase our happiness every day, but they take some effort.”
Cate makes a good point here. You cannot develop a skill without practice. Even the most talented people on earth cannot fully realize their potential without spending countless hours studying or practicing their craft. Being a happy person is practically a discipline. It takes work to create the conditions for you to maintain a sustainable and positive outlook on life.
Accept yourself—it’s an imperative
“Sometimes it’s hard to see our own best qualities. Or if we see them, we don’t always value them.”
We have all heard the advice: just be yourself. It isn’t always comforting advice, especially if you are unhappy with who you are. But just remember that you are always undergoing constant change. You are neither a static nor fixed mechanism that has clearly defined functions or limitations. Rather, you are a multitude of “potential” whose transformation you can influence and direct. Accepting yourself, in other words who you are, is also accepting who you can (or want to) become.
Relationships are critical
“Human beings have always been pack animals – we need to connect with people.”
No person is an island—we’ve heard this so many times it has become something of a cliché. But it’s true. Living your life and doing things solely for yourself has its benefits. But after awhile, it might feel a bit empty if you cannot share it with people who are special to you. Connecting with other people and discovering who they are is also another way for us to discover ourselves.
There is nobody else that can contribute to the world in the way that only “you” were meant to
“Comparing yourself to someone else is always going to end in tears.”
There is always something to admire about other people. But when that admiration becomes envy, then we are simply denying our own special uniqueness. Don’t get sucked into this. There will only be one you. You have your own unique interests, strengths, qualities, and potential. Nobody can contribute to the world in the unique way that you can. Cherish that fact, and don’t envy someone else’s qualities at your own expense. It’s unhealthy, flawed, and unnecessary considering everything that you are.
Accepting who you are also means accepting who you were and everything you have been through
“Your memories are part of you, so carry them with grace.”
If you stay true to yourself and your goals to live as positively as you can, you will eventually learn what it means to be truly happy. Everything you have been through—good experiences and bad—led you to this point. Have gratitude for all of those experiences, because they make up the collective forces that put you on your current path toward self discovery.
Learn to trust your intuition and just let go
“We’re all capable of analyzing a situation to death… When this happens think, Thanks Mind, and move on to other things.”
What Cate is saying here is something we all know: obsessively mulling over things in a logical manner won’t always work, particularly when it comes to emotions. There are times when you have to just let go, trust your gut, and move on. The ability to think intuitively, like happiness, is also a discipline. It takes practice to get it right.
You can’t control everything in life (of course), but you can direct your attitude
“Choosing your attitude is easier said than done. I never used to believe it was possible. But it is.”
Attitude is everything. It determines how you interpret and respond to things. If you come across a situation that most people would consider to be unfortunate, you have the power to turn things around if you so choose. Your attitude may determine how you act and feel, but you have the ultimate capacity to determine your own attitude.
Live in the now
“Happy people live now. They feel now. They love now. This doesn’t mean they don’t have goals, but they appreciate what they have now.”
If you want to live a fulfilling life, don’t put it off until later. Take what you have now and begin enjoying it. Happiness won’t come when you finally make that six figure salary; it won’t come when you accomplish your goals. Happiness is to be cultivated in the journey or process of reaching your goals. Those who think otherwise will be in for a disappointing surprise. Be grateful for what you have now, and your happiness and gratitude will increase as you begin attracting and receiving what you want.
You can create happiness for yourself and others, but you can’t buy it
“Maybe you’re trying to buy yourself some happiness, instead of addressing a major issue in your life.”
We all know people who try to compensate for their emptiness through material pursuits: shopping, eating, drinking, etc. We also know how poorly this works. Once again, the path toward happiness is a discipline—a learned skill—but it is not a consumer product. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t treat ourselves to things that money can buy. It just means that we should never cheapen happiness by placing monetary value upon it.
“Guess what? Happiness really is a gift you can give yourself.”
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