Happiness Is…

Have you had a chance to read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin? Her work has had a powerful impact on me. Reading the book has given me a chance to reflect on my daily practices and how I show up in life.

Am I happy? Are others happy being around me? What makes me happy? 

I gave a speech a couple of months ago titled “Happiness Is a Choice”. As I was preparing, I posed this question to sporting family members: “What makes you happy?” I got various responses:

“Relaxing with a good movie or book.”, “Being with friends.”, “Going on Vacation”, “Being involved in a creative project”, “You not pestering me with questions right now.”, “A beautiful sunset” etc.

Ultimately though, after discussing it at length, it boiled down to this….people, events, and circumstances can’t make you happy, only you can make yourself happy. You decide to be so.

Practicing happiness can go a long way in boosting your health. We’ve all heard the old adage “Laughter is the best medicine.” Right? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to test it for yourself. We all can tell the difference between how we feel after having a good hearty laugh… compared to when we are ticked off, snappy at someone, or grumpy. If being happy can create better health the question then becomes… “How do I practice happiness?”

I came up with a list of daily practices that help me be in a mindset and physical state where happiness (and good health) is cultivated…

  • Eat three meals a day
  • Get good sleep and rest
  • Exercise
  • Listen to favorite music
  • Meditate and Pray
  • Surround myself with and recognize supportive family and friends
  • Learn something new everyday
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Prioritize my day – do what is most challenging first
  • Turn my fear of the unknown into excitement about the process of learning
  • Acknowledge the gift each of my family members are to me
  • Notice the little things in life that if I suddenly didn’t have I would miss. (like running water)

Here are a few suggestions from Gretchen’s book “The Happiness Project”…

  • Act the way I want to feel.
  • Do it now.
  • Be polite and be fair.
  • Enjoy the process.
  • Lighten up.
  • Don’t keep score.
  • Smile! Laugh at yourself. – showing vulnerability and a sense of humor makes you more likable and approachable. It also takes social courage.
  • There is only love.

Two of my favorite mantras…

  • I am enough.
  • Doing my best is perfect!

Life is a journey. When I get to the end of my goals and dreams I hope that the words of the writer Colette are of no consequence: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”

We can realize the wonderful life we’ve been given. Today. Now. In this moment. The choice is ours.

What cultivates happiness for you? I would love to hear about your own happiness project or ways in which you choose to be happy.

Tips for Mindful Eating / Habits for Life

Breathe – A great way to center the mind and connect to the flow of energy. Allow yourself to let go of pressing, out-of-the-moment thought and tune-IN to the present with both mind and body. Make a connection to your body through the breath. Listen and feel the motion of each inhale and each exhale as you breathe. Did you know? It is the #1 way to detoxify the body!!

Photo: Joost Nelissen

Drink up – fluids are what the body is made up of (60-70% actually) so it make sense that if you don’t flush it your body will hold on to toxins. Flush it out (literally) by taking in ½ your weight in ounces of water each day. Add more if you are exercising heavily.

TIP: Drink fluids ½ hour or more before your meal. Then do not drink with your meal. Liquids can dilute digestive juices making your stomach work harder during digestion. Continue reading