Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happiness: Four Keys

I have written a few times about happiness, mainly expressing my belief that happiness comes from being at peace with life.I don't understand the pursuit of happiness itself, because happiness doesn't exist by itself, in a bubble. This past Sunday, there was an article in our local paper, The Akron Beacon Journal, about whether married people were happier than single/divorced/widowed people.I don't recall the conclusion, because I got distracted by the sidebar, the content of which is below.
According to Kathaleen Stevenson, a counselor with Kessler Psychological Services in Hartville, Ohio, people who are happiest, whether single or married, follow these rules:
* Don't keep grudges. They forgive easily, and are active participants in creating positive interactions.
* Have a sense of purpose for their lives- engaging in outside relationships, contributing to the greater good, thus enriching their relationships and personal joy.
* Do not accept any form of abuse in their relationships.
*Follow the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Only four rules, but these four rules contribute to a sense of peace, a feeling of comfort and belonging in your own skin, your own home, and your own community. Peacefulness creates a quiet happiness. I have written before about the first and the last rules.The other two rules can be more difficult, but are no less important.
How do you have a sense of purpose in life when just getting out of bed is a major feat? Perhaps in your relationship with others, as a grandparent, a spouse, a friend...Perhaps you feel that most of your life is behind you, or that you never had a chance for much of a life. How about writing your memoirs? There seems to be a lot of interest in stories about what it is like to live with (fill in the blank) Syndrome.How about tutoring a child, fostering a rescue pet or reading to a blind person? There are so many possibilities... The trick is finding the right one(s).
People who accept abuse from a parent, a spouse a boss, etc., often feel like they have no other options. There are options. Many towns have crisis hotlines, battered women's (and men's) shelters, and/or other support systems. Be brave, and look for them.
Those of us with chronic illness and pain have enough to deal with without creating more problems for ourselves by holding on to grudges or fighting fights we cannot win. Some of us never think about our purpose in life, others often do. I sometimes think that my purpose in life is life itself, a life well lived, to look back in the end and be able to say "I'm satisfied". Abuse is a tough issue. No one deserves it, yet some people dish it out. Eliminate or limit your exposure to abuse.
Four not so simple rules, but I agree with Ms. Stevenson that each of these contributes to happiness. Happiness is not having things, it is having peace.

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