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April 25, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

5 Keys to Happiness

By Anne Christen More Blogs by This Author

Taking Action

I’ve lived in my apartment complex for more than a year, and I’ve witnessed a dramatic change in the attitude of the community manager. She used to be sullen and sulky, speaking only in a tone of cold spite. But in the last six months or so, I’ve noticed a genuine and dramatic change in her. She’s much friendlier and smiles more. I took it upon myself to ask her about this, declaring, “You seem different somehow lately. It’s good to see you happy.”

She shrugged. “I lost my mother last year, which was really hard on me. And I was angry for a long time because I couldn’t understand why she was taken from me. The only thing that made me feel better was going to church. That opened my heart up to God, and with him at my side, I realize I can get through just about anything.”

Her answer, while profound in nature, was quite simple in terms of taking action. She recognized that something was wrong, so she went to church. I commend her for this because many people turn their backs on religion when life gets a little hard. It’s easy to love God when the road is paved smoothly before you, but it’s also just as easy to dismiss that love when the road gets a little bumpy.

Talking to my apartment manager made me realize that everyone should have his or her keys to happiness. My mom, I know, has struggled to reclaim her happiness since my grandfather passed away several years ago. If she could find the paths back to this state of being, my whole family would breathe a sigh of relief.

To Thine Own Self...

Here are the components I find to be the most basic, the most elemental, to happiness:

  1. Let go of the past. This has been an especially difficult lesson for me, but the reality is that whatever previously happened is done. You can’t go back and change anything, so it’s best to learn from previous mistakes or events and keep moving forward. Living in the past is detrimental to any future you might have, and what you do from here on is much more important than what you have done.
  2. Reclaim yourself. I have lost my sense of identity in past relationships as a result of trying to keep others happy. You know what I have to show for this today? Absolutely nothing. I have subsequently struggled for a long time to get back to the person I once was, the one who loved to play and watch sports, read good books, and laugh as if the joy in my heart was an infection to pass to others. I’m still trying to return to that person today, and I won’t relinquish my endeavor until I get there.
  3. Find your pleasure. Pleasure comes in many forms. For some it’s as simple as taking a quiet bath. Others like to shop, garden, and/or listen to music. Whatever your pleasure is, make time for it each and every day. All work and no play will make you miserable.
  4. Accept and like who you are. Again, I’ve struggled with this for most of my life and now regret every minute of it. I’ve always believed that I’m somehow different from the rest of the world, that something isn’t quite right because I don’t have the same life perspective as others. As I get older, I realize it doesn’t matter if I’m different or not. I have to live with the person I am, and if others don’t like me, it doesn’t matter. On the other hand, I do need to like myself so I can lead a fulfilling life.
  5. Never lose your spirituality. Regardless of what you believe in, faith helps to define who you are. So you need to hold and maintain your spirituality with all your might. Do not lose it in an effort to conform. Spirituality can guide you when making decisions and provide light in moments of darkness.

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