The Magic to Happiness
If I could actually create The magical list on how to find happiness, I would be a gajillionaire. Truth is, what would work for some people simply would not work for others. Picking up a self-help book or listening to any coach eventually leads to the fact that happiness consists of a multitude of other items that require involvement and development, though not each and every one of these categories listed will be important to each of us nor require further development.
Happiness is defined as a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions. So, how does one find that elusive thing called happiness? For me, it consists of the following 10 fundamental foundations.
- Happiness - The challenge with some folks, I believe, is that they are so intent on finding this grand "idea" of what happiness should be and look like, that they fail to recognize the various degrees of happiness when they experience it.
- Balance - Perhaps changing one's mind frame from balance to harmony might be more in-line with our current culture. Comparing life's goings-on to a pleasing combination or arrangement of notes shows that multiple things can happen around us at the same time and still have a desirable outcome.
- Alignment of Core Values - A lot of hoopla has been made about core values and aligning yourself with your own core values. The truth is, the alignment has already been established, probably many years in the making. In a nutshell, your core values are your identity.
- Mindfulness - Mindfulness is simply paying attention to your internal and external experiences which are occurring at the present moment.
- Clarity - To find clarity, one must first ask themselves what they believe in. An individual's core values are at the base of who a person is and are what make each person uniquely them.
- Wholeness - A proportionate balance of mind, body and spirit is gained when we acknowledge the components of our world as they are, both good and bad, real and imagined, emotional and mental, as well as physical and nonphysical.
- Gratitude - Feeling thankful is good for you!
- Compassion - The reason to be compassionate is that one compassionate act builds on the act of another. The flip side of doing continuous altruistic acts of kindness for others - improvement of your own well being.
- Purpose - The challenge with life is that if we are to grow from challenges and experiences then we have to continually reframe our thoughts.
- Adversity - Initially, adversity may be overwhelming and seem insurmountable. But somewhere along the line, with time, challenge-solving techniques, and the help of people who love us, a shift in our psyche takes place.
- Change - Change, and indeed the inspiration to seek it or embrace it, requires an individual to dig down deep and do the heavy lifting necessary to achieve it. Sometimes, it means you have to toss away the garbage blocking your way in order to create and navigate the path beyond.
Happiness. It is an elusive thing, and in some ways a dirty word. Dirty, because we have visions of what happiness should be when we see the lifestyles of the rich and famous and compare ourselves with our neighbors. Oddly enough, the few really wealthy people I know could not tell me if they were happy or not. In fact, they wondered if they had ever really been happy or would know it if they were happy.
Is it the final destination (goal) or the pursuit of the dream that brings happiness? Let's consider that perhaps the trip may be as good as the destination. Now, don't get me wrong. Those larger than life dreams are necessary and when you achieve them and love it, I say good for you. But I would also like you to consider that the dream may be successfully reshaped and even changed along the way. Perhaps being open to change in the pursuit of your dreams allows happiness to sink in.
I stink at remembering movie and song quotes, but one I do remember and have used to put my own life in perspective, comes from the 1989 movie, Parenthood. To set the scene, Steve Martin (Gil) is complaining about his complicated life when Grandma wanders into the room.
Grandma says, "You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster ride. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it."
My own life has been a roller coaster ride. I had a terrible first marriage. Bought my second home with boyfriend (now husband). Later eloped to Barbados to marry the love of my life. We were up and coming, working hard and playing hard. At one time my goal was to be married and have my first kid by the time I turned 30. Boom! It happened. Happily married by 28, baby boy at 30. Three years later I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl born dying with a lung defect. She survived all odds and became the youngest baby at the time to receive a double-lung transplant. After her transplant life seemed to return to normal but quarterly medical check ups and expensive medication costs killed us financially and little by little our secure financial future was sucked away and replaced with mounds of debt. Three years later I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.
We eked out summer vacations and family reunions around medical check ups. We played games, read, and watched television together. We have a strong family unit and are deeply connected. Even with the mountain of debt hanging over us, we felt blessed and lucky enough to enjoy family and have jobs that allowed us to stay afloat. Our daughter died five years ago. I have personally known the personal emotional hell that is part of losing a child and the havoc it wreaks on a family. But I have also seen my oldest hold high honors in his studies and go off to pursue an education and career in genetics. But just last week I received the phone call all parents dread to receive, "Your son has been in a car wreck. He's okay but his car is totaled." Luckily, I still get to watch him grow into a man, a husband, a dad, and an uncle. And I have the yet untold joys of watching his younger brother push his way through life as well. Daily life in the Neal household is a constant roller coaster ride.
I have a vision of how I foresee my future. It is pretty grand and I find I have to change my plan of attack from time to time, but the vision - my destination - always remains the same.
My life has been a roller coaster ride and I am only half way through it. I have been frightened, scared, sick and altogether thrilled. I have loved and been loved. I have no idea what the future holds for me but if my past is any indicator, it's going to be a wild ride!