Because my mornings these days are unusually cold – it’s been raining since the year started – I usually spend a little more time in bed, curled up, sometimes with eyes closed, oftentimes staring into the windows, thinking of random things. Yes there are people I think about more than the others – okay one person in particular these days, but that’s another story – and then without realizing how it really happens – but it does – my thoughts make a detour and I realize I’m a whole lot happier now.
I’m no guru whatsoever but I will list here some of the ways that can make you a much happier, more balanced person. I realized all these the previous year, and almost all of these discoveries I made through my own personal journey. After all they say that when you are able to get through a most devastating heartbreak, you can get through almost anything. So here:
1. Stop building walls. Walls can make you feel safe, but they won’t make you any happier. Be as open as you possibly can, but guard yourself. People will always disappoint you, walls or no walls.
2. Throw away your expectations. The biggest culprit to our many little unhappinesses and even the huge heartbreaking ones is having way too many expectations. We often love because we want to be loved back, we become good to people because we expect them to be good to us. And while reciprocation will definitely make our lives a lot pleasanter, what happens when none is given? Unhappiness.
3. Give help. Generously, happily. So you have to put in extra hours at work, without the assurance of overtime pay? Or a friend is in desperate need of a wedding planner and she has enlisted you as one of the volunteers. If we give help generously, happily, we become happier. Why? Because you realize you are needed, you have skills. You are not a waste of space.
4. Pray. It doesn’t matter which faith you belong to, says a friend. When you pray, in praise, adoration, thanksgiving, or supplication, you recognize that a greater power is at work. But then you can’t just simply pray. You have to have faith; you have to believe in your prayers. Praying without faith is an insult.
5. Feed on your faith. Stop your senseless worrying and feed your faith. Did your worrying ever get you anywhere? Nope, except maybe at the ER or perhaps at your friend’s house while you’re bawling over your imagined anxieties.
6. Laugh. Find hilarity in everything- when your Mom is in a bad mood, when you’re stuck in traffic just when you’ve decided never to be late again, or when people are less sensitive than usual. Try to distance yourself from these things, and since you know things fall into place eventually, laugh.
7. Be grateful. It has been said that when you don’t see your blessings as blessings, they become curses. How chillingly true. So be thankful for everything. Be thankful that the sun streams through your window, be thankful that your phone is working, be thankful that you have your eyesight, be thankful that you have your friends. Or that you have a crazy family. Be thankful even when things are not looking too good. Everything, yes everything, is a reason for gratitude.
8. Forgive in a heartbeat. Let go of all your grudges. Allow yourself to be angry but never for far too long. Forgive people, forgive circumstances, and best of all forgive yourself. Love cannot exist without forgiveness.
9. Love the world. You can never be happy without love, without knowing how to love, without knowing how to love without selfishness, without expectations, without wanting anything in return. And the only way you can love the world is to freely give love. Love everyone. Love your friends, love your colleagues, love the people who exasperate you, love your annoying neighbor, love those who are of a different faith, even learn to love the people you know you will be meeting in this lifetime but have not met yet.
I know loving people you don’t necessarily like is a huge paradox. But you don’t have to all at once. Oftentimes, the willingness to do so is enough. And when you’ve learned to love, without reservations, without necessarily picking who to love and who not to love, you are no longer captive to your expectations, your need for reciprocation, your craving for attention. You love just because. No whys, buts, and ifs.
In the end, only love can make us happy. Because to love is to be courageous, to love means putting your heart out for everyone, to be fish and fodder for everyone (I got this from the corporate worship last night and I was moved). To love is to accept people for who they are and who they are not and to choose to love them anyway.
The scared ones never get to know what love is like, and so the scared ones are unhappy. And if you have only this life to live, wouldn’t it be a wiser choice to live it in happiness, in peace, in friendship, in faith? In love?
So cheer up, have courage, love, and be a sunshine to everyone. You just might end up doing at least one person, possibly even yourself, a really huge favor. 🙂