Cultivating Happiness

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Happy

** Please note this post is a copy from my previous blog and was originally posted in March 2014**

After hearing about an interesting article from my mother-in-law and having a discussion about it over dinner, it got me thinking about how I could apply some of the tips and concepts to my own life. Dr. Michael Finkelstein’s suggestions for cultivating happiness are a good starting point for helping individuals achieve a sense of well being and enjoy life more – and aren’t we all in need of that?

(1) Follow Your Own Advice: The article on Huffington post encourages readers to recognize that each of us are responsible for our own self-care and wellness. It says, “Recognize that no one is in a better position to take care of you than yourself.” It is likely that you have given friends and loved ones advice; it is also likely that you have given them advice that you do not take the take time or effort to follow yourself. For example, I don’t know how many friends and clients I have encouraged to carve time out of their schedule for self-care – such as exercising, sleeping more, practice better eating habits, etc. However, I find that taking time for self-care is an area I struggle with myself. Therefore, learning to take my own advice and treat myself as I would treat a friend could lead to better wellness and more happiness in my own life.

(2) Exert Self-Control: This tip talks about exerting self-control in order to resist engaging in a bad habit (i.e. smoking, drinking too much, eating junk food often, etc). The success will make you feel proud and may help motivate you in the future.

Another suggestion would be to practice moderation rather than complete abstinence – depending on what the “bad habit” is. Sometimes complete deprivation can lead to giving up on a goal or over-imbibing.

(3) Forgive Yourself for a Mistake: Mistakes are going to happen. Instead of only focusing on the negative and what went wrong, try to also recognize something positive that resulted from the mistake as well. Or, find something that you learned as a result of making the mistake.

(4) Reconsider Your Needs: Here, the article suggests identifying something you own that is not expensive (i.e. a picture of a loved one, a handwritten note) but still means a lot to you personally. The goal is to find the value in inexpensive things in order to help re-evaluate priorities and find out what is personally meaningful to you.

Another idea is to practice gratitude on a regular basis. One way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal and write down a couple of things you are thankful for every day. This helps us find something positive and good in every day and also allows us to be reminded of what we are thankful for on a regular basis.

(5) Celebrate Your Age: The article suggests rejoicing in the time you have ahead of you instead of only reminiscing on the time that has already gone by. Celebrate your life experiences and how they have helped develop your character.

(6) Learn Something From Your Children: The basis of this suggestion is to release the fear that is often attached to our boundaries as adults and experience the world through a child’s eyes. Express curiosity and wonderment and take enjoyment in simple pleasures.

(7) Defy Your Schedule: Here, the article suggests planning one day in your week where you commit to rising and going to bed with the sun in order to keep your body in tune with natural rhythms. A lot of readers (including me) are probably saying, “uh, yeah right.” I hear ya.

My suggestion would be to practice better sleeping habits every day (or most days) of the week instead. Try to get the hours that you require (everyone is different), and don’t put yourself in a “sleep debt” you try to make up for on holidays or the weekends.

(8) Welcome the Unknown: Throw out the fear attached to change. Or, more accurately, the fear of the unknown. Embrace what will be, and don’t try to plan for everything – it won’t work anyway…trust me. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back from some potentially great experiences.

(9) Thank Someone for Something: And the concept of gratitude, or being thankful, resurfaces again. Same concept as before – thinking of things you are grateful for and appreciative of helps you realize and appreciate what you have.

Another suggestion is to pay it forward. Meaning, do a good deed and help someone else out. Not only will you be paying someone else a kindness, but you will feel good about your actions too.

(10) Commend Yourself for a Job Well Done: It is important to recognize our own achievements and accomplishments. Furthermore, it helps motivate us to move forward.

Some questions for further reflection:

Which of these do you agree or identify with? Are there any you don’t agree with? Finally, what are some things that may not be on the list?

You can read the original article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/10-skillful-living-tips-t_n_3315252.html

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