There was a common saying when I was growing up that went “Life is short, and then you die.” While this is true, it probably isn’t the best mind-set for a healthy, meaningful life. There are some pretty great moments to be relished along the way, some meaning to be found, and perhaps even a legacy to be left behind. I’m not saying that everyone’s goal should be to become a version of Ned Flanders from The Simpsons, or to create a rose colored “Stepford” existence, since that would be shallow, creepy and off-putting. I do think that more of life’s “awesomeness” should be tapped, channeled, enjoyed and passed along to others. It is far too short to continually be thinking about what sucks, what’s not working, whose bothering you, etc., and treating others like their in your way.
I have blogged in the past about things to do to ensure you “enjoy the ride”, and I follow a few other great blogs that serve as excellent reminders that there are things you can do to be more positive and happy (e.g. 5ThingsToDoToday). I just read a brief piece by Linda Wasmer Andrews from Yahoo!Health titled “How People Actually Get Happier.” It covers some resent research that surfaced 14 specific actions that you can do to improve your overall level of happiness and well being. The list includes:
- Doing acts of kindness for others
- Pursuing personally meaningful goals
- Expressing gratitude
- Being optimistic
- Doing physical exercise or sports
- Nurturing social relationships
- Savoring life’s joys
- Acting like a happy person
- Doing activities “in the moment”
- Forgiving others
- Practicing religion or spirituality
- Using strategies to manage stress
- Avoiding overthinking
- Practicing meditation
I’ll let you read Linda’s article for your self, but I have to note that a) taking steps to become more healthy is critical (#5), b) research has shown that behavior change can lead to lasting emotional change – - so by actually starting to do things a “happy person does” prior to feeling that way, you can actually actually change your mind-set and mood and begin to genuinely feel that way (watch “Yes Man” for a silly example of this), and c) add my personal #15 that includes “stop complaining.” I have Facebook Friends (and a few real ones) that can’t help complain about anything that’s a challenge, not in their plans, a pain-in-the-butt, etc., and I get it. However, this practice helps nudge your mood, disposition and journey to the dark side. The side that makes you post 20 different messages about “Life’s too short to be around negative people,” when really you’ve become one of them. Rather than complain, take action to be happy.
Small steps add up!!!