Habits of Happiness

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I have to admit that writing this for others to read is difficult. There is a certain sense of vulnerability to admitting I’m only human. But I am. Given my mere mortal imperfections, I am working on developing habits for happiness and success. I know that new habits are never easy to establish.

My analytical mind really likes a process, so I use daily reminders from Lift app to practice the following habits: daily gratitude, daily journaling, random acts of kindness, daily meditation, and exercise. I won’t claim to have come up with this myself.

Recently, YouTube and I were hanging out and I happened upon a Ted Talk featuring psychologist, entrepreneur, and educator, Shawn Achor, regarding productivity at work. What I found was his supposition that happiness practices beget work satisfaction and productivity.

As I listened, I took note of Dr. Achor’s suggestions. I also realized that I was worried about what I did not have instead of what I did. I needed an attitude of gratitude. Thankfulness. Now, I consider myself a positive person, but maybe I was exhibiting positivety outwardly, but not truly embodying it. I can talk a good game, but can I play it?

So far, my physical health has been the easiest. I established a better habit of exercise several months ago, and pretty clean eating several years ago. We try to follow the 80:20 rule. If we eat clean, minimally processed foods most of the time, the 20% we cannot is of little harm. I feel strong and pretty pain free (other than after I smashed into a fence fielding a deep fly ball – that would have hurt at any age).

Often prayer and meditation are considered together. For my purposes, I keep them separate. Prayer happens throughout the day in short, measured doses. I find prayer and gratitude to be very similar in terms if its effect on the spirit. In prayer, I’m not looking for $1,000,000, but I ask to be open to hearing the messages God is providing me through life’s experiences. I also pray for others that are in need, which I hope tunes me for compassion. I say all of this, but I constantly need these reminders to put it into practice.

The commonalities I hear time and again from successful people is the exercise of meditation. While meditation can contain prayer, my goal is to develop a practice of mental calming and focus. Who can’t use that, especially when the going gets tough. So far? Not good at this… I do the best when I use a binaural brain entrainment app for 20 minutes twice a day. To be honest, this has only happened once. Maybe I just need to schedule the time and start with five minutes each.

I have been pretty consistent at crafting a daily gratitude list. I only look for three items. The difficulty I sometimes experience is framing the routine as worthy of appreciation, but just breathing another breath should be enough.

The practice of journaling, I consider to be an extension of being grateful. My goal in recording to my journal is to more deeply explore a positive aspect of my last 24 hours. My intentions are good, but as I consider this to be a reflection, it seems to be best saved for the end of the day, a time with significant competition from other necessities. Let us call this habit a work in progress.

Much like sending prayerful intention to others in need, fulfilling random acts of kindness are practices in compassion. To fully achieve this, I need to put in more effort. I’m good given clear opportunities. I’m not as good at creating the interaction, going out of my way to express my appreciation or perform a good deed for a stranger or even a friend.

Through this, I must remember that developing habits is a process. While I can’t let frustration derail me, I also can’t remain stalled in a old habits. When the going gets tough, when life gets busy, we fall back to the familiar. My challenge is to put the supports in place to make the new, familiar, and the old, difficult to rely upon.

What exactly am I doing here?

Web log. Web-logging. Blogging. Why? I don’t know yet, but it has been one of those things that I feel like I need to learn and practice. For several months the idea has tumbled
around my head. It is usually dismissed because I either couldn’t focus on a topic or felt like I didn’t have any content that anyone would care to read about (darn self-defeating thoughts). Most of the time, I try to sketch out every detail and document every step as I contemplate my projects. Much of the time, I never make it past the planning stage for that very reason. Maybe it is time to run with the fragments and let them take their own shape (lessons learned from my little Layla girl whose cows happily become penguins).
So, what did I decide? I guess I’ll just write. It will be whatever it becomes. Whatever it is, it will be positive and focused on growth of human potential. Is that my mission statement? Maybe a professional offshoot will develop based off of my experience. We shall see…

I invite you to follow me and share your thoughts and ideas.