Everyone wants to feel better and be happier. Here are some ways to get there.
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Feeling Great: Creating a Life of Optimism, Enthusiasm and Contentment by Dadi Janki, Peter Vegso, and Kelly Johnson.
Sweetness is a virtue that searches for the good in every person and situation.
At its heart is the conviction that there is always something positive to be found.
You simply need the patience to discover it.
Optimism opens a door in difficult or hopeless situations. Optimism knows that there is always a way, no matter how many doors have been shut, and it believes that there is always a good alternative.
No matter what the crisis, an optimistic outlook will tell you that the situation you are facing is a sign that you need to find a different way of thinking or a new way of doing things. Sometimes it’s easy to miss the signal because change can be uncomfortable, to say the least. No one really wants to do the work it takes to change unless it’s absolutely necessary, so they often ignore the warning signs until they become so obvious and clear that there is no other choice but to wake up. Now the choice is either to heed the warning and make a change or continue in self-delusion and fall behind on your journey to develop a lifetime of feeling great. But if you take the road that lacks optimism instead of taking steps toward renaissance, your steps will lead you to complaints, resentment, or even desperation.
Optimists hold on to hope … they don’t ignore the reality and consequences of problems, but they also don’t despair or lose themselves in the chaos when Pandora’s Box is opened. In your daily life, you will face many obstacles; sometimes they will be bumps in the road, other times they will be complete detours. But no matter if it is a brief detour or a true Pandora’s Box with a whole assortment of problems that bring fear, chaos, and distress, optimism will enable you to persevere. When you can draw on patience and determination, your commitment to positive thinking and introspection will allow you to find solutions, and it will attract healing and peace from within yourself and from the world around you.
Work on becoming an optimist-maintain a gentle determination that will allow you to focus on potential alternatives and find solutions to problems. Be flexible and allow yourself to be led. Combine the art of making things happen with the ability to allow things to happen, and realize that more than one factor is involved in building a bridge and finding a solution. When you apply these principles to your life, you will feel yourself moving closer and closer toward that constant state of feeling great that once was so elusive.
The Story of the Two Applicants
A man answered an ad in the paper for a job, and was asked to come in and fill out an application. As he waited in the lobby he asked the receptionist, “How are the people here?”
“Well, what were the people like where you worked before?” she responded.
“They weren’t very nice,” he said. “They overworked me and my boss was strict and rude. I’m glad to be rid of them!”
“Really?” replied the receptionist. “That’s just how you’ll find people here, too.”
Half an hour later another applicant came through the door. While he was waiting for an interview, he asked the receptionist, “How are the people at this company?”
“What were the people like where you worked before?” she replied.
“Oh, they were great! My boss was good to me and gave me opportunities to learn new things. I worked hard but it was good work. I’m going to miss them,” he mused.
“Well, that’s just how you’ll find people here, too. You’re going to love it!” she said.
Lesson: Don’t let your thoughts reside in a negative mind. An optimist resides in hope.
Exercise: Authentic Living
Becoming an Optimist
Here is an exercise that will sharpen your skills at being an optimist. Learn these rules and put them to practice; you will quickly find that they cease to be “rules” and become part of your character instead. Be mindful of them from morning to evening-they will carry you a long way toward fulfilling your goal of feeling great day after day.
Peter Vegso’s 15 Rules for Happiness
Sometimes we need a shift in perspective to lift our spirits. It’s easy to get caught up in ourselves and our situations and allow them to dictate how we feel, but we can learn to control the inner and outer influences that affect us. We can actually train ourselves to overcome distressing or pessimistic emotions and enjoy greater happiness in our lives.
- Be grateful for what you have-you may not have everything you want, but it’s likely that you have everything you need. If you don’t, be grateful for the ability to pursue your needs and set a plan to achieve them.
- Find a source of awe in each day-there are a million things waiting to be discovered: a person’s kindness, a sunrise, a faithful pet. Take a look around you and learn to recognize them.
- Reach out to someone – be kind, listen, share something. Until you make that effort, you won’t know what the person next to you needs. An encouraging word may be all that’s needed to give someone an emotional boost.
- Do something for yourself-even if it’s something small like taking an extra ten minutes with your coffee in the morning or taking the scenic way home from work.
- Be aware of your thoughts-when something runs through your mind that you can’t do anything about, let it go. All that thinking will cause you to sink lower; you need to rise above things that are not contributing to your happiness.
- Live for today-realize that you only have right now and make the best of it; yesterday is gone and tomorrow will bring challenges of its own.
- De-clutter-clean out your junk drawer, tidy up your desk or your closet. When you put external things in order, your mind and heart will also function in a more orderly fashion and that is an especially liberating feeling.
- Donate-find something that you haven’t worn or used in a while that someone else can use; maybe it’s a coat, a blanket, or the blue jeans you can’t fit into anymore. Make sure they are in good condition; donating old rags is not very helpful or caring.
- Quit feeling sorry for yourself-even if something legitimate is making you sad, know the true source of the sadness and grow, but an attitude of “poor me” is simply being negative.
- Set a goal-whether it’s exercise, eating better, encouraging your child more often-each little step forward will be rewarding.
- Practice calm-every one of us has hectic days that can unravel us if we let them. Breathe, settle down, and tackle one situation at a time; you’ll accomplish more and feel less stressed.
- Take a quick inventory of things around you that are comforting-the pictures on your desk, the trees on the roadside, the music in your car, the bed on which you are sleeping. Wherever you are, there are reminders of your fortune-be thankful!
- Smile more-even if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, determine that you will not take negative feelings into your day. Try smiling at yourself in the mirror (and try not to laugh!).
- Get outside-of the building. The sun has an amazing ability to change our perspective; its warmth can permeate even the grumpiest façade. If it’s not a sunny day, take a drive or take a walk in the rain and appreciate its ability to renew and make things grow-including you.
- Get outside-of yourself. Too much thinking and internalizing can make you dull and self-centered. Lift up your chin and be an overcomer-you really can be happy if you try; and that makes everyone around you happy.
Top photo—Hartwig HKD/Flickr
Inset photo courtesy of authors.