Happy holidays with so much love from me (Dr. Amy). May 2015 be better, brighter, healthier and happier than your wildest expectations.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could create happiness – if happiness was a simple goal you could achieve? As it turns out, it is exactly that. It is a process of doing – it isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something you chose to be, and part of that choice is acting in a way that leads towards happiness. Here are nine practices, developed by Don Richard Riso, to help you on your journey:
Treat Others With Kindness and Integrity
One of the simplest ways to help others be kind and helpful to you and to treat you like an independent worthwhile human is to do the same for them. And god knows kindness goes a long way towards happiness.
Love Yourself and Others Equally
Love your neighbor as yourself – but also remember to love yourself as your neighbor. Many of you (women especially) tend to care for others, for the needs of the kids, the spouse, the parents and forget about your own needs. Don’t forget to add yourself to the list of cherished loved ones and to make your needs count for as much as those of everyone else. There is no way to create happiness if you don’t factor yourself into your own life.
Be Authentic And Truthful in All Matters
Research has verified that lying, no matter how much you have convinced yourself it doesn’t matter to you, actually raises the levels of your stress hormones and contributes to anxiety, stress and the aging process. The same might be true for the soft lies – the moments where you go along with what is going on just so you don’t make waves, even if it isn’t something you want in your life. To create happiness be true to you – your body always knows the difference.
Discover Beauty and Pleasure Everywhere
It’s out there. Beauty is out there all over the place and it is so easy to walk by and not notice because you’re caught up in the latest drama at work or your to-do list or that tiff you had with your partner. Don’t miss it – if you don’t see the beauty and enjoy the little moments now, then when will you? The only time you can change is right now so if you want to be joyful then live into what is happening RIGHT NOW.
Learn from Everyone and Everything
It is so hard to remember to truly appreciate every situation and so easy to pop up the defenses. Of course you can approach every situation like the expert – you already know it, you’ve done it before, you know how this goes. The basic problem with that is that you only leave room then for one possible outcome, and that is that you come away from that situation with nothing new. In short, you don’t grow or change, you just stay stagnant. Try for one day approaching every situation as though you are new to it and as though you can learn something and I promise, you will learn something. You will grow and evolve – how wonderful is that?
Trust Your Ability to Face Challenges and Contribute Willingly
It’s so easy to worry and it feeds into so many basic states of pathology. Worry is a way of creating drama and tension, of pretending you might have control over the uncontrollable and also it’s one of the biggest ways of doubting yourself or your loved ones that you can engage in. By worrying constantly you are sending the signal that you don’t trust your (or your loved ones, if you worry only for other people) ability to cope with life, to deal with the challenges that arise. But here is the thing – if you or the people you worry about are still alive then you are entirely capable of facing everything that life has thrown at you so far. That is kind of a powerful thought – you have effectively dealt with every challenge that has come at you. That is one hell of an awesome track record. Boosting your trust in yourself and the universe is a great way to boost happiness.
Be Attached to Nothing and Experience Real Freedom
This doesn’t mean don’t attach to anything therefore don’t love anything. Love with your whole heart, but let that love grow, evolve and change. Let everything grow, evolve and change. It’s so easy to get into a place where you try to keep things the same, keep them stable and predictable and uniform but life isn’t like that. Everything grows and develops and ultimately might even fade, but none of that is bad. By allowing your relationships, your life, your patterns to evolve you also allow yourself to find deeper joy, greater authenticity and more freedom. In other words don’t try to control or be attached to life being a certain way, because then you don’t allow it to ever get any better.
Let Go of Willfulness and Empower Others
This one can be a challenge to see because society trains you to learn to get your own way. It’s actually one of the biggest skills you learn as an infant or toddler because at that stage of development it is important to be able to get what you need from the people around you. As an adult, however, it can be helpful to notice the behaviors that you have adopted that might push people to behave a certain way around you or give in to you. Guilt, shame, blame and judgement can be subtle (or not so subtle) ways of bullying people and using those tools can be entirely unconscious. To create happiness isn’t it time to examine the ways you might manipulate those around you?
Value Yourself and Engage with the Tumult of the World
This is the hardest one for me – both to understand and to follow. You might, like me, notice the internal tendency to being the peacekeeper, to trying to keep things smooth and even and to keep everyone around you happy. Peacekeeping is a strong gift and can be of great value in your life, but it can also slip over into a form of self-denial. The small ways you don’t speak your truth because you want to keep the peace. Again, there are degrees of health here. Sometimes engaging with the turmoil and allowing there to be bumps in the road can be the most authentic path forward and can allow you to experience real happiness and to be absolutely true to yourself. This doesn’t mean that you should cause problems just to stir the pot, but you should be able to give true expression to problems that are already there and not try to dismiss them.
Create Happiness Now
Waiting for someone, something, some circumstance to make you happy is common, but it’s also a dead end. If you’re waiting to be happy and don’t do something to change your mind, you will always be waiting to be happy. Start today – take a simple step to create happiness. There is no reason to wait. It might not happen overnight, it might not happen in a month, but it will happen and you have the power to control it.
This week has been an uphill week so this video was like a little gift dropped in my lap – it is pure dance joy and just makes me smile every time I watch it. Part of being healthy is admitting when things have been tough and allowing yourself to have some reward time. It doesn’t help to just crack the whip and push yourself to be productive or to do more or to finish one more little task. Do the things that make you smile even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Take little breaks for absolutely no reason other than for the joy of it.
This? This is *totally* for the joy of it. The song is by Parov Stelar – All Night. The dancer is the amazing and awesome Jamie Berry from Just Some Motion. This just makes me want to close my office door and crank it up and see how much of this dance I can do right here. Pure dance joy.
Sometimes joy lands in your lap and thank God for it, but sometimes you have to remind yourself that joy is out there waiting for you. You can find it. This little bit of dance joy is really all you need to boost your mood. Actually – this and the Wonder Woman Pose and you are good to go.
If you’re feeling a little low right now, or overwhelmed or freaked out or your soul is a little under-nourished then it’s time for joy-seeking behavior. I highly suggest making a list right now of the things that ALWAYS bring you joy. Put your Joy list on your phone, on your computer, on post-it notes and on your mirrors at home so that you can remind yourself about those little things. Here’s my joy list:
Some days (or weeks) it really helps to remind yourself that there are things out there that make you smile, that make things seem easier, that make you happy and that are within your reach. There are no Lamborghinis on my joy list – it’s little things like dove dark chocolate squares and fresh flowers. Like listening to a great song with my headphones or taking three minutes for myself to meditate. This is about little things you can work into your day to help lift your spirits when you’re down or overwhelmed. It’s your own mental health minute. It’s like the dance joy video for no reason other than to make yourself smile. Happiness has to be a priority, always. If you don’t make your own joy a priority then nobody will.