Monday, September 28, 2015

101 Ways to Live a Happier Life

I recently enjoyed visiting my nephew's high school for his homecoming football game.  It was joyful to sit among the excited teenagers.  Their energy buzzed around me like a live-wire and I couldn't help but feel nostalgic about some of my happier moments in high school.  It didn't take long, however, to realize that today's youth seem a bit more complex than the kids I graduated with.  They are smarter now, and quicker, and much more aware of the world's problems.  I was particularly saddened when I overheard a conversation in the ladies' room as I was washing my hands.  The conversation between this adorable little cheerleader and her equally perky friend had nothing to do with hair, or the homecoming dance, or cute boys.  Instead, they were discussing their plans to create a website with the initiative to spread awareness about cyber-bullying and teen suicide.  It's hard to say whether kids today actually do have it harder than previous generations, or if they are simply suffering from an over-amplification of the world's troubles as a result of social media. Either way,  All I could focus on after overhearing that conversation is all the things I wish I had known in high school, and the things I desperately want my own nieces and nephews, and children to know as they navigate their way through life.  So I put together this list (which is by no means complete) of 101 things that I believe will contribute to a happier life.
  1. Leave people better than you found them.  At the end of every day, seek forgiveness from those you’ve wronged, and forgive those that have wronged you.  Don't poison your relationships by holding grudges.  "Be the one who nurtures and builds.  Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart.  One who looks for the best in people."- Marvin J Ashton
  2. Remember that family is forever.  Family is the most important aspect of life.  Who you call family doesn't necessarily have to be related to you by blood.
  3.  If you’re having a flare up of pain, keep in mind that there was a time you didn’t feel this way, and there will come a time again that you feel better.  If you suffer from chronic pain or mental illness, it's easy to view your bad days as a sign of weakness.  But try to remember that those are the days you're actually fighting the hardest.  You are a warrior and you are enough.
  4. You are capable of change and daily improvement.  The human brain is literally wired to adapt.  “If people never changed, we’d all still be wearing diapers.”- Autum Burkett   
  5. "You can be as happy as you choose to be, even under the most horrifying circumstances.  It's all about the story you tell yourself." - Julie Bayron 
  6. Look for the beauty in inconveniences.  Welcome them as opportunities to momentarily break from the routine.  The word inconvenience is often synonymous with adventure.
  7. Don't ever, ever, EVER allow possessions and the love of materials to gain priority over your relationships, health, and divine purpose.  It really is just stuff and you can't take it with you. Focus your energy on creating a life that feels good on the inside, and doesn't just looks good on the outside.  The less you own, the less that owns you. 
  8. It isn't what you get from this life that matters. It's what you bring to it. 
  9.  No matter what matter how horrible the day was- the sun will rise again tomorrow. Don't underestimate the power of a good night's sleep and the sense of renewed hope that rises with the sun.  What a difference just 24 tiny hours can make in changing a sense of hopelessness.  
  10. Always say, "Please" and "Thank you."  Even if you don't want to.  Especially if you don't want to!
  11. Hold the door open for the people behind you.  And try not to feel contempt toward the people that don't thank you for it.     
  12. More often than not, you have to just suck it up and continue in spite of it all.  "If you can't fly, then run.  If you can't run, then walk.  If you can't walk, then crawl.  But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward."  Martin Luther King Jr.
  13.  "Forget yourself and find someone who needs your service, and you will discover the secret to a happy, fulfilled life."  -Ezra Taft Benson 
  14.  Be careful when it comes to love, sex, alcohol, food, and all the other drugs.  The abuse of any one of these things can cause mass emotional and physical destruction and potentially destroy your life.
  15. Soak in hot baths.  But make the effort worthwhile.  Listen to some soothing music, light a candle, and nurture your skin with quality bath salts or bubbles.
  16. Work hard.  Work hard enough each day that you don't need sleeping pills to help you sleep at night.  I doubt anyone has ever collapsed in bed saying to themselves, "I wish I hadn't worked so hard today.  I accomplished way too much."   Find the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from being a hard worker.
  17. Be genuinely humble.  Step back often enough to gain perspective of who you are and where your place falls in the world.  Nothing truly beautiful and worthwhile has to beg for attention.
  18. Faith without works is dead.  Get on your knees and pray, and then get on your feet and work.
  19. Anxiety is pointless.  Don't get caught up in "what ifs."  "What if I don't have enough money?"  "What if I'm not good enough?"  Whenever I get caught up in the psychological flu of "what if's" my best friend asks, "What if birds had machine guns?  Then we'd all be in trouble."  Worry is useless.  Don't run from something that isn't actually chasing you. Worrying is like praying for something you don't want.  Let it go.
  20. Take the time to decipher between what is supposed to be the big stuff and what actually is the big stuff, and set your priorities accordingly. 
  21.  Don't be clueless.  Learn life’s necessities- how to work, clean, garden, cook, etc.
  22. Don’t be afraid or too prideful to occasionally lean on your parents or other trusted people.  Nobody ever said we had to do this alone.
  23. Find the hidden strengths in your weaknesses.
  24. Be a goal oriented person.
  25. Have dreams.
  26. Create a life that leaves you unafraid of death, but so happy to live.
  27. Keep journals and photo albums, with detailed dates and names.
  28. Recognize that trauma happens to everyone.  Don't let what has happened to you negatively define your future.
  29. You don't always have to be happy.
  30. When it comes to the important decisions in your life, take the time to council with those that are close to you.  Let some time pass and write your ideas on paper or say them out loud before solidifying your plans.
  31. You are not alone.
  32. You are loved.
  33. Think about the first five things you'd do if you found out you were going to to die tomorrow. Now go ahead and do them.   
  34. Be kind...especially when it's difficult.  
  35. Be yourself.  "Nobody is youer than you."  Dr. Seuss.
  36. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to say nothing.  Never trust your tongue when your heart is angry.   The quieter you become, the more you will hear.
  37. Be a good citizen.  Be honest, clean, and trustworthy.  Educate yourself about your community and the world.
  38. Travel.
  39. Share your talents.
  40. Listen to your gut.  It knows what your head hasn't figured out yet.
  41. Believe in something bigger than yourself, and respect that.  The world doesn't revolve around you.  Nobody cares about you or your life as much as you do.
  42. If you're scared of something, or not very good at it more often.
  43. Celebrate old traditions, and create new ones for you and your family.
  44. Don't be a "Know it all."
  45. Be accepting of everyone.  Don't base your entire circle of friends on the similarities you share.  It's the differences that can make a friendship worthwhile.
  46. Listen to beautiful music.
  47. If you feel a prompting, follow through with it without making a bunch of excuses.
  48. Learn to play an instrument.
  49. If you're feeling said, put on some Christmas music.
  50. Be sure that your behaviors don't conflict with the beliefs that are integral to your self identity. Cognitive Dissonance is a very yucky feeling.
  51. Get plenty of water and sleep.
  52. If you feel like crying, go ahead.
  53. Never turn down affection from your loved ones.  Even if you feel like you don't need it in the moment...they might be the ones in need.
  54. Keep in touch with those that are important to you.
  55. Be patient.
  56. Be thankful.  Choose to experience gratitude every day.
  57. Make your surroundings beautiful and comforting to you.
  58. Remember that children are new.  They need to be taught, with love and patience.
  59. Recognize and respect the circle of life.
  60. If something that isn't essential in your life continues to make you unhappy- drop it.
  61. Learn to discern the difference between what is real and what is not.
  62. Care for things and people other than yourself.  
  63. In most cases, you can either laugh or cry.  Try to choose laughter more often.
  64. My mom taught that if someone is being mean to you, buy them an ice-cream cone.  Take the time to understand where they are coming from. Always remain kind and try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Don't automatically take things personally.  Don't be easily offended.
  65. Don't hesitate to go to the doctor if something is wrong.
  66. Take your vitamins.  
  67. Exercise.
  68. If you're suffering from insomnia, read the Bible.  It will put you right to sleep.
  69. Use a variety of herbs and spices in your cooking.
  70. Pray and/or meditate every day.
  71. There is no shame in seeking psychological help.  
  72. Smile.  Smiling uses less facial muscles than frowning, which means less wrinkles.  Plus it makes you and others around you feel better.
  73. Learn something new every day.
  74. Love wholeheartedly.  Hug, and squeeze, and kiss, and cuddle, and verbally affirm your loved ones.
  75. Learn the meaning of the word "Tough."  As in, "Tough- you're going to do it anyway."
  76. Make a big deal out of birthdays.  Each birthday means you've been blessed to live a whole year more!  That's cause for celebration.  Aging truly does beat the alternative.  
  77. Try not to care what others think of you.  Unless it's your doctor, what people think of you really isn't any of your business.
  78. Save yourself the trouble and always check your calendar before making plans.
  79. Don't make the same mistake twice.  And if you do, forgive yourself and try not to make it a third time.
  80. Be optimistic.
  81. Have a sense of humor.
  82. Love unconditionally.
  83. Happiness is not always about getting our own way.  In fact, getting what we thought we wanted rarely yields the satisfaction we were hoping for.
  84. Contentment is found in successful relationships- not achievements.
  85. Take ownership of your finances by regularly checking your credit card statements, bank statements, and pay stubs.
  86. Eat whole foods whenever possible...Leafy greens, good fats, complex carbs, and lean proteins. 
  87. Stand up for yourself.  
  88. Give to others.  "No one has ever become poor from giving."  Maya Angelou.  
  89. Take time to do what makes your soul happy.  
  90. Love when you're ready, not when you're lonely.
  91. "Be happy with what you have while you're working for what you want."- Helen Keller.  
  92. Be with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.
  93. Take lots and lots of pictures.
  94. Expect nothing, and appreciate everything.
  95. Suicide is never, ever the answer.  Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The bravest thing a person can do is continue living when every cell in their body wants to die.  It will get better.  There is always hope.
  96. Some of the most blessed events in life will never happen if you wait until you're feeling safe and ready.
  97. Accept failure as an inevitability of life.  Failure is an awesome teacher.
  98. Stop wasting time.
  99. Read books.  Actual books that you hold in your hands, with pages.
  100. Accept change.  Life is ever-changing.
  101. Be your own advocate.  Give yourself a time-out every now and then.  Lie in the grass under the summer sunshine.  Or take a walk through a park that is blanketed in fresh snow.  Learn your limits, and take care to respect them.

By Janet Schlosser-

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