Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happiness Project

What does it take to make you happy? Many people spend their whole lives, all their time and energy, pursuing happiness, and never achieving it. They think, "If only X would happen, then I would be happy." When (if) X happens, they are happy for a short time, then they realize that it wasn't X they were missing, but something else, which becomes their next "If only...".
I agree with Rabbi H. Schachtel that "Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have."  Acquiring things may give you a momentary spurt of pleasure, but it can't substitute for pure, in-the-soul happiness. So if real happiness comes from wanting what you have, what do you do if life has given you too much that you don't want- pain, illness, fatigue, poverty, conflict, etc.
A very important idea is to remember that your illness (or whatever you have) is only a part of who you are. Give your illness the attention it requires to cope with it effectively, and no more. i.e., take your meds, go to the doctor, etc., but don't dwell on your symptoms. If you need to keep a pain log, or log of other symptoms, do so only for as long as is needed to get the information you are seeking, then stop keeping the log. This kind of log tends to maintain focus on the negative aspects. Remember that it is easier to keep pain under control than it is to get it back under control. It is better to take pain meds consistently than to consistently be wondering if you should take them. Keep an ongoing Gratitude Journal- when you wake up, when you go to bed, or whatever time of day would be most beneficial to you, write down 5 specific things for which you are grateful. Or, keep the Journal nearby, and use it throughout the day. Counter each negative thought with a positive: I can't walk around the block anymore, but I can walk to the nearby store and back. Be active in your life, your family and your community. Treat yourself and others with kindness and acceptance.
Check out www.happiness-project.com for more ideas. I first started reading Gretchen Rubin's monthly column in Good Housekeeping magazine, then explored her website. Now I subscribe to her daily blog, and her daily happiness quotation. She has written several books, two of which are about happiness. The first one, The Happiness Project, was about her year exploring happiness, and as her blog subtitle states, her "Experiments in  the Practice of Every Day Life". The second book, Happier at Home is about making your home a happier place to be. The Happiness Project has become a movement, with groups all over the world dedicated to the exploration and pursuit of happiness. Browse through the Tips and Quizzes tab, and the Your Happiness Project tab for lots of 'how-to's.              

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