While these things may be easy in concept, they can be hard to implement, or remember to implement. Our lives are so full of distractions, which is part of the problem. But if you boil down what we are trying to accomplish with all our efforts and time is basic: Be Happy. So often we forget this and simply are checking boxes, grinding out, thinking of the next thing on our ‘to do’ list and ultimately forgetting to be happy. So take a few minutes, read my thoughts before you jump to the next big thing on your list, and hopefully take some time to be happy. These are things I’ve talked about and continue to come back to.
- Live in the Moment – not the past, not the future, but right now. One of my favorite books is The Power of Now. While it has many great things about managing ego and your defense mechanisms, the key point is that if you live in the moment you will find happiness or at least survive tough situations with tact. I’ve been reading a number of Navy SEAL type books including American Sniper and The Warrior Elite. If you know anything about SEAL training in BUD/S, they have Hell Week. Most men drop out but those that don’t have a mental attitude of getting through that exact moment. Take that single step. Survive that cold moment in the water. They don’t look ahead that they have 3 or 5 more days of this as that is simply too daunting. An acquaintance I was talking with on Monday admitted shame and guilt in the past prevents her from being happy today. I told her essentially that who you are in the past doesn’t define us today. We have the ability to live in today and make building blocks to who we’ll be in the future, but simply living today and being happy in the moment is a choice we get to make. She asked if I was a motivational speaker, to which I just laughed. Easy message, hard to remember to do. See the joy in what you are doing in this exact moment and stop worrying about things that have been or may never come to be.
- Attitude of Gratitude. Simply taking time and being thankful for what we have has a great impact on our overall happiness. My wife and I try to take time together each night to say how thankful we are to have the life we have, with two great kids and each other. Saying out loud how lucky we feel for this life, and for health, and for living where we do, and so on somehow makes it all worth it. It removes the stress and is sort of the payment for services tendered in all the hard work we do. Which brings me to:
- Work Hard Toward Something Meaningful to You. Hard work has negative connotations to many, but in reality if you are putting in time and effort toward something you are passionate about or meaningful to you is not really hard work at all. The sweat and effort are investments to your mental well being, and if you stay in the moment, can actually be quite enjoyable. For some people this is their job, for others it is building for Habitat for Humanity. Take satisfaction in what you do and embrace the work it takes to get there. At the end of the day, you’ll feel happy about what you accomplished.
- Play. I rarely see adults playing. Those that embrace mountain biking, or old man soccer, or even social chess club have the right idea. Or those that mix it up and play soccer or football or basketball with their kids on a regular basis, or even have board game night at home. We love playing Sorry and Life, but hope to expand to highly recommended games like Galaxy Trucker and Ticket To Ride. While those are different than the physical play that MarksDailyApple recommends, both are important in that you stop being so fucking serious about life and enjoy something that still requires mental engagement with a fun end goal of beating your friends, wife, or kids in a competition. Play is important people! And I want to qualify that play with others is the key, so get off Candy Crush and engage with other humans.
Finally, I’ll give you one bonus of what not to do. This is a slippery slope, but if you remove stress from your life you’ll be happier. One stress that we’ve removed is watching the nightly news. It is all about ratings, and to get those they focus on mostly bad things: murder, assault, deadly accidents, natural disasters, war. Every time I watch I get sad and stressed out, showing how fucked up the world is. Maybe it’s a simple defense mechanism, but this news does nothing for me and adds nothing to my life except stress and grief. Remove it and you’ll be happier, I know I am.
And with that, I’m off to another out of town work obligation. Going to enjoy my ride on a nice day and my experience with new people. Have a great day folks, and remember to take time to be Happy!