John Lennon’s grade school teacher once asked him to write down what he wanted to be when he grew up. He wrote “happy.” She said you don't understand the question, he said you don't understand life. Shots fired, you’re the man, John.
It’s easy to forget what’s truly important when we are bombarded daily with advertisements and even worse, other people’s opinions. Friends and even family members setting limitation on us as to who we can and should be. People who cant possibly know what’s in our hearts; even with the best of intentions broadcasting their own fears onto us. People forget that true fulfillment comes from personal growth and relationships rather than material possessions and status. To quote Steve Jobs “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.
In an effort to better understand what it is that makes individuals successful I’ve studied their habits and what I’ve come to find is that the happiest and most successful among us do three things. They give gratitude, whether it is through prayer or mediation. They work on their personal goals and strive each day to grow as an individual and they give back.
Prayer, mediation, yoga or any other practice that exercises the mind is vital for training and priming our minds for gratitude and happiness. These practices are the equivalent of cardio or lifting weights for the body. It’s impossible to be upset and grateful at the same time. My recommendation would be to start the day with one of the methods mentioned above and to think and emotionally embrace three things in your life your truly grateful for. They don’t need to be anything crazy. It can be something as small as the smell of a freshly brewed cup of coffee or as important as your children. Just breathe, envision what it is your grateful for and FEEL the gratitude. You will be amazed how great you feel after ten minutes. And if you’re sitting there thinking your have nothing to be grateful for just head down to an orphanage or community center and volunteer. I promise, you will find something to be grateful for.
Growth is our next pillar for happiness. Whether it’s mental, like learning how to paint or physical, like improving your 40-yard dash. We must all grow and strive to achieve our goals. If you’re not growing you’re dying and you’re never too old to learn something new. The best way to grow is to do something your afraid of doing. I’ve come to find that making the decision is the scariest part. It gets easier from there because you ultimately grow into the person who thrives through circumstances in which you were once afraid of.
Our final and arguably most important factor for happiness are our relationships and the best relationships are based on giving. If you are in a relationship with someone, this includes friendships, where you’re constantly keeping count of who does what for who you’re never going to be happy. A relationship is somewhere you go to give, not take. This means both sides, don’t be a doormat. “Treat one another like it’s the beginning and there wont be an end.” –Tony Robbins. My final thought is love. Try and embrace love as often as possible Love everyone and everything. Fill your heart with love and there wont be room for hate. I think the world needs to continue to embrace love and remember how many more similarities we all have than differences. These are the real keys to happiness.