This post is a point-by-point response to “Fifteen Things You Should Give Up to be Happy.”
1. Let others be “right.” Accept that yours isn’t the only right way to do or think or be, there are always myriad options that still fit that word.
2. Collaborate. If you’re always in charge, in control, how little you will learn. Think Buckminster Fuller’s dictum that the whole exceeds the sum of the parts.
3. Praise. Instead of blaming this, that, or the other, find something praiseworthy in all things. Much simpler than it sounds, and you’ll make new synapses as well (bonus to everyone with Alzheimer’s genes).
4. Treat yourself like a beloved 5-year-old. Instead of berating yourself or indulging in “self-defeating self-talk,” do a bit of behavior modification. First, recognize when you indulge in self-defeatism. Next, recognize and stop it. Next, recognize, stop, and replace that junk with positives (see #3, above). Lastly, jump straight to the positives.
5. Dream, and act on your dreams. Anyone can do anything, particularly if they practice that thing 15 minutes per day. And remember, practice doesn’t make perfect: Perfect practice makes perfect.
6. Practice containment. One of my most useful mantras: Contain. Don’t explain, don’t complain, contain.
7. Use your critical thinking and judgement habits wisely. See #s 1, 2, and 3, above.
8. Put your aesthetics at the top of your “I’m impressed” list. If you’re looking for approbation from others, try finding it in yourself, first. This holds true for anything, support, kindness, generosity, love.
9. Embrace this idea: Change is the only constant. The more one resists a thing, the stronger force that thing has to control one.
10. Open your mind to something new on a daily basis. Behavior modification again, if you stuff each thing you perceive into an already labelled box, well, how boring are you? btw, if you’re bored and want to find the source of your boredom, look in a mirror.
11. Adrenaline is the basis of both fear and excitement. You can choose to get excited about something that frightens you. The physiological trigger is the same, the only difference is your attitude.
12. When you balk, examine your reasons. If you don’t want to do something, don’t, but also don’t blame excuses.
13. Live in the present. The past has its pluses and minuses, all of which are useful to you in the here-and-now. The future is a dream – yes, you must dream. But live each moment as fully as you are able, because it will soon be one of those plus-or-minus-memories.
14. Love with open hands. Give and receive love – and every other thing – in the moment. Love in particular is like a handful of sand: close your fist and it will all run out. Hold it gently in a cupped palm and some may spill, but there’s also the possibility of replenishment.
15. Gratitude is an active endeavor. If you feel grateful for something, by all means express that sentiment. But go farther, much farther. Seek out situations where gratitude can be expressed. Create them – and I mean your gratitude, not you doing things designed to make others grateful to you.
And a final thought: Unconditional love is the only thing I know that is truly self-perpetuating. Give it freely, and you’ll find that you have that amount and more inside to give again. Hoard it and it will wither and die.