-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I didn’t have to work on Good Friday and made plans to clean the garage. I deemed this year the “Year of Purge” and the garage was the jumping off point. I knew the task before me was great because we have a lot of crap. I was going to take everything out, clean the garage, then put everything back in purposefully. Now as luck would have it my husband actually got the day off too (unplanned), so I had help. And you know what? We did it. It took us about three hours in dirty and blustery conditions, but it looks amazing. Now every time I drive into the garage (with a car that still has no bumper), I am happy. It seems like such a simple thing, but I believe happiness should be uncomplicated.
So maybe a clean garage is not your idea of happiness. Or maybe you are feeling like happiness IS complicated. Below are some great tips to develop some “happiness habits”, many of which I employ all the time. Perhaps you will find your equivalent of the clean garage or at the very least set yourself on a path of increased joy.
1. Ease up on yourself and others. Remind yourself we’re all sharing the planet and everyone has difficulties. There is no them and us – just us.
2. Be generous with time, energy and compassion – it will never be wasted.
3. Take your time. You don’t have to give an immediate answer to an invitation or a request for help. “I’ll get back to you. When do you need to know by?” or “I need to think about that” are perfectly reasonable responses.
5. Retrain your inner voice to be kinder. Erase “You idiot, look what you did” and replace it with “How can you make sure you don’t do that again – what did I learn?” Employ this technique with your children. [still working on this one, but I can say things are much better and I have learned a lot about myself]
6. Tell people how you feel if situations bother you. Use the formula – When you (do whatever) I feel (whatever you feel), For instance “When you shout at me, I feel hurt and angry.” Ask them to think of something different they could do. [this works wonders–I have used the formula with success many times]
7. Let people know how you expect to be treated. Firstly, by treating others as you wish to be treated and, secondly, by letting others know when you find their behaviour/language or timing inappropriate. Offer a preferred style i.e. “It doesn’t work for me when you approach me about work difficulties in the canteen…could we schedule a meeting instead?”
8. You don’t need to be right. Hammering home your own agenda or beliefs is tiresome and alienates people. Insisting you’re right and that everyone agrees with you is a definite no-no. Recognise that others are entitled to believe whatever they want even if you don’t agree – you are not the opinion police!
9. The past is the past. Don’t hang on to old past hurts, either address them or drop them. Old hurts are highly corrosive, usually only to the people who are hanging on to them. A good, enjoyable life is the best antidote.
10. Choose your battles. Some things don’t matter. Learn to recognise important issues as oppose to small stuff. Ask yourself will this matter in a week, a month or a year. You don’t need to pick on everything and often people don’t need to know what you think, either. Learn to let the little things go. You will be astonished by how much energy you free up.
11. Pay attention to your health. Eat well and schedule regular exercise and relaxation. If you have a problem, get it checked out by your doctor. Attend all your regular health checks.
12. Do things you have agreed to wholeheartedly, cheerfully and with good grace otherwise just say “No”.
13. Count your blessings. Enjoy small, free everyday pleasures: The sunshine, rainbows, a good movie, a chat to a friend, your new sweater, a hot shower, a comedy on TV, a hug from a friend or your child.
14. Smile at others – not an inane grin – just a friendly smile. It helps the world go round. Accept compliments graciously. Give others compliments if you are thinking nice things about them.
15. Say Please and thank you. Apologise if you get something wrong or you upset someone. [I would classify these in my “works wonders” category too]