Happiness. Happiness is one of those things that can elude as quickly as it comes. Particularly now that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is settling into our bones and spirits, are there ways to assure happiness? To establish a sort of hardly wavering inner peace?
Here are some things that can be incorporated into our lives to help make happiness a more prevalent constant.
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down five things each morning or night (Or by golly if it’s that bad, day and night!) that you are thankful for. I did not think this would work but am amazed at how such a simple act can really change one’s attitude. It will begin simple and perhaps grumbly or rather broad. Thanks for my cat. Thanks for my coffee. I am thankful for my family. But it will quickly turn into I am thankful for the soft fur of my cat against my cheek. For the early morning sunrise and the strong cup of coffee to revive me. For the sweet texts that I receive from so and so… There is much to be thankful for.
2. Meditate in the mornings. Seriously, meditate for 25 seconds. Whatever. I look out at the beautiful mountain peak with ribbons of lavender and rose iced across its tall stature and close my eyes. I think of a word. Light. Peace. Love. Forgiveness. I try not to venture off of that word. Deep breaths. It changes the whole game. Yoga is a great practice to add to this.
3. Become self reliant. Listen, it would have been real easy for Doug and I to fall into the depths of despair for a much longer span of time. We could have gone on government assistance, picked up our food stamps, and done the whole woe is me for a lot longer. But instead we became determined. We have the ability to work and we work hard. Doug got a job. He was not able to get back into the well paying field he was in. He is working for slightly more than minimum wage. We opened the shop on faith. After being homeless for seven months it would have been easy to lose faith. Don’t lose faith. And don’t lose faith in yourself! We are buying fresh, delicious food. We got an apartment. We gave up a car. We are making it work. It would be too easy to keep up the blame game and feel sorry for ourselves. Happiness reveals itself in self reliance.
4. Become the Queen of Swords. Okay, this one might require a bit of explaining. I have a dear friend, a Hopi elder, a wise man, who explained to me that I am imbalanced. When making a decision I will first consider the feelings of not just everyone around but the impact on dogs in Italy and the children of Kenya. I will worry everything to death. What will my decisions cause? I then will consider my passions. I will finally think of what is the best decision for me and then lastly money. I need to be the Queen of Swords! he says. I must balance my decisions. To make a swift and sound decision that benefits myself is unheard of to me. But important. We give until we are depleted. We must begin to make decisions based on our own needs. If we are well and balanced everything else around us will fall in line. It is NOT our responsibility to ensure happiness and fairness or to take care of the entire world for everyone. It is only our responsibility to live our life fully, be kind, and take care of ourselves first so that we can care practically and fully for others.
5. Do more of what you love. Instead of being so busy caring for others, making ends meet, doing chores, doing what we think we ought to be doing, we ought to be coloring, or painting, or gardening, or singing karaoke, or eating out, or hiking, or…. We are not guaranteed 84.5 years. Each breath, each moment is an opportunity to do what we love.
6. Get outside. Therapy is cheaper in nature. Get outside, walk along Mother Nature’s trails, listen to the birds, see an eagle fly, smell a ponderosa tree while the sap is rising, watch chipmunks scatter, smell the rain coming, touch a fuzzy mullein leaf. Know that our life’s problems are rather mundane and we are connected to all things.
7. Connect with Spirit. Your idea of God, Creator, or Spirit is exactly right. Your connection with Spirit is written in each of your cells. Worship with smudge herbs and a feather, with the Bible, with a candle, with a whisper of thanks, or by picking up trash. Be connected. Whatever your version is.
8. Surround yourself with folks that inspire you, who love you, who make you happy. Just because you are related to someone does not mean you have to have them in your life. Our people enter our lives in many ways. Since we only have so much time to offer, spend it with those that bring you up.
9. Spend time with an animal. A pet can truly bring joy and peace. We take our minds off of ourselves for a moment every time we stroke the soft fur of a purring cat or take a happy dog for a walk.
10. Watch what you put in your body. Its mineral and vitamin content, or lack or, it’s source, it’s way of getting to you, all make a difference. Eating powerful food gives you power. Our mood can be directly related to the candy bar we ate instead of the avocado. There are also herbs that help with anxiety and more severe sadness. Find a real herbalist to make them for you (not a health food store). St. John’s Wort, Borage, and Lemon Balm are just a few.
These are tried and true ways to add joy to your life. To ensure happiness. It is easier to get back to happiness when we are wavering or side tracked once you incorporate these. Start with just a few. Add more on. Do what you can but ensure that happiness becomes a part of your life. You are worth it.