I try to spend one weekend day a week doing whatever I feel like, including staying home and vegging in front of my TV should I choose to do that. It helps me to relax and makes me feel as if I’ve had some time to myself.
Yesterday was such a day for me. I actually met up with a friend for brunch and got home shortly before 1pm but spent the rest of my day reading and watching TV. For most of the day, I was tuned into one of the PBS stations in the Bay Area. They were broadcasting on a couple of my favorite topics — the science of neuroplasticity and the steps to happiness. While I was watching these programs, it dawned on me that I’ve learned most, if not all, of the facts and steps presented in these programs through my regular readings. Moreover, I felt the facts presented are becoming matter-of-fact to me, as in I have internalized them into my thinking.
Sadly, while I’ve incorporated them into my thinking, I have not yet carried out all the principles presented. I would say I am more than 50% there. For example, I take ownership of my own happiness, as in I try to never view myself as a victim of circumstance. I practice forgiveness as much as possible, and I try to always look at the positive side of things. I found my purpose and passion in life and am working towards fulfilling that. But I am far from raising my internal happy meter to where it could be by always practicing all the steps to happiness. But I am not discouraged because life is a journey, a process, a work in progress. Now that I’ve learned what I need to do, the next step is just doing them. But not just doing them for a period of time, but practicing the principles for the rest of my life!
To practice something for the rest of my life means to form habits of the practice. From my experience, there are three steps to making that happen:
- Know the steps. There’s nothing worse in life than not knowing what you don’t know. This form of ignorance keep you from reaching a higher level of understanding of life in general. It also keeps you from achieving great things. For me, this step in living a happy life is very close to complete (at least with the steps I’ve been exposed to) due to my deep yearning to learn.
- Believe in the steps. After you’ve learned what you need to do, it’s imperative that you incorporate those steps into your personal beliefs. The best example I can give is with exercise. Many people know that exercise is good for them, yet they don’t do enough of it. Why? Because they have not yet incorporated that fact into their beliefs. So how exactly do you incorporate facts into your beliefs? I think the methods vary for people, but for me, I experiment with the steps presented. For example, when I learned that smiling physically can lift one’s mood mentally, I tried it out. Guess what? It works, and now I am a believer!
- Practice the steps. Too many people view life and life’s achievements as destinations. If that’s how you view your life right now, it’s ok because to get anywhere, you still need to practice the steps. Just know that what gets you there is also what will sustain you there for as long as you like. So if you want to continue to feel happy once you start to feel happy, you will need to continue to practice those steps. The good news is, it gets easier with each practice! I promise!