Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Five Rules for a Happy Life

I have my share of problems and challenges. I have stress, financial worries, children to worry about and a million other daily “life issues” just like everybody else does. I also have a disability and chronic disease that keeps me from working and walking. But none of that keeps me from waking up happy every day of my life.

I have broken down ‘my approach’ to life into five simple rules that I want to share with you. Why? Because they work for me. Maybe they will work for you too.

The rules are as follows:

RULE ONE: The last person you should be thinking about is you. If you are thinking about yourself, then have that thought start with “How fortunate I am”, “How lucky I am”, “How blessed I am.” Or ask questions like “How can I help?”, “What difference can I make?” But if you are thinking “Poor me”, get off the pity pot! Happiness begins with gratitude and making a difference to others.

Don’t get me wrong, we do have to think about ourselves sometimes. We have to take care of ourselves and our physical and spiritual needs. “Necessity is the mother of invention” and many of the advances that we enjoy today were the result of somebody having a problem and solving it. But if focusing on your own problems is getting you down, try focusing on and helping someone else. It will help. Remember, things could always be worse.

RULE TWO: Trust everyone. You will find that you make mistakes sometimes, but being trusting is a much better way to approach life. If you live and work in such a way that your life is an open book, you will have nothing to worry about, people will trust you and be trustworthy.

RULE THREE: Know that everything in life happens for a reason. Expect life.

Scott Peck begins his book “The Road Less Traveled” with three simple and powerful words: “Life is difficult.” He goes on to explain that the challenge many of us face has to do with our expecting life to be easy and it isn’t. He then goes on to say “that once we see this truth, we transcend it.” In other words, just knowing and expecting that life will be difficult, makes it less difficult.

Some people I know say “always expect the worse and you will never be disappointed”. I disagree. Remember, everything that happens in life happens for a reason. We get to choose what the reason is. Find something of value in every event and circumstance and you will never need to expect the worst.

RULE FOUR: Make a difference. Be involved with something. Don’t just be a member. Be a participant. Show up. Don’t sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else have all the fun. Do more. Give more. Play more. Write more. Love more. If you want more out of life, if you want to be able to say “I got more then I gave”, be a participant.

RULE FIVE: If you are not happy about something, change it. If you can’t change it, then change the way you feel or think about it. The one thing in life that we can control is how we feel about things, our judgments. Exercise that ability and you will build strong character and be a happier person.

Problems? Challenges? Sure. I have as many or more than the next guy. But those problems don’t mean that my glass is half empty or half full. My glass is overflowing.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.