Cultivating Happiness

With Thanksgiving right around the corner I have been hearing a lot about being thankful and noticing where we can have an attitude of gratitude instead of dwelling on the things that we wish were better. If you have been reading anything I have posted you know I am a big fan of being proactive and intentional. Can you tell what is coming? That’s right – we are about to get intentional with our happiness and gratitude.

Yesterday Erin wrote a great post on keeping a Gratitude journal. It is an awesome idea and if you haven’t read the post please check it out here. It will be time well spent! I want to take that idea of noticing good things in our lives and take it a step further. How would it be if we created opportunities for ourselves that we are thankful for or that made us happy?

happinessHere’s the challenge: If you have been thinking how nice it would be to get together with family, to call up an old friend, go for a hike, whatever it is – I want you to make an opportunity for yourself to do just that! This does not need to be something that takes a lot of time or money or effort. Does it get any easier than that? A phone call takes minutes and is free. Spending time with your family can be a lot of fun and with the holidays coming up you have the perfect moment to get folks together to do something a little out of the ordinary.

There will always be a million things that we want to do and a million and one reasons why we shouldn’t go and do them. Those reasons that are keeping us from the things that make us happy are keeping you from cultivating an experience of joy. When you take care of everything else on your list but the thing that would make you smile or just feel good then you are doing yourself a disservice. You are your most important investment and when you take the time to take care of you then the other things on your list the things you need to accomplish will be so much easier to knock out.

Now taking time to invest in ourselves and as Erin put it to “build our family timehappy” is a difficult thing to do in today’s culture. We constantly hear that we need to do things for us, we are number one, but then we get a mixed message that we should not be selfish or self-serving. We need to be humble and still do everything to stay on top. That is confusing and it wears a body out! We are getting mixed messages and it is darn near impossible to please both sides. Of course we want to be able to be there for others and do avoid that selfish label like the plague, but we also want to be happy and do good things for us.

So how is this challenge of creating opportunities for happiness different from the cultural messages we are slammed with every day? I would venture to say that by cultivating a lifestyle of happiness through small experiences of joy we are setting ourselves up to be able to pour out to others. We proactively build our happiness through small attitude and action shifts and when we do that we have more energy to be our best with the people around us. Happiness is contagious and when we are happy, through shifting our attention to an attitude of gratitude or creating opportunities for happiness, the people we come into contact with have a prime example of how to cultivate happiness in their own lives as well.1

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Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

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