Quotable Notables on Happiness, Part III

You can live life with greater joy and deeper happiness … if you choose to.

Quotable Notables uses quotes from bloggers the way bloggers use quotes from the well-known (click here for a complete explanation). Please follow their links to discover additional ideas for living life with greater depth and meaning, more growth and self-development and more happiness in every step along the journey of life you take.

This is the last in this Quotable Notable series on happiness (other NQ topics will be forthcoming).

Read the others here:

Quotable Notables on Happiness I
Quotable Notables on Happiness II
Quotable Notables on Happiness III

Disclaimer: the use of the quotes below does not in any way necessarily imply that those who made the statements endorse my point of view or agree with the interpretation I give their comments.

Quotable Notables

1. Tina Su at Think Simple Now

“Here’s a gentle reminder that Happiness is a state within us. It is a chemical reaction based on where we put our focus, and from which perspective we choose to experience the world.”

Everything the human being experiences can be measured biochemically. That’s no surprise. The revelation is that our thoughts and attitudes, what we focus our attention on over time, can change our biochemistry.

Therein lays the power for personal change, growth and joy. And therein lays the challenge too.

If happiness is a sensation created by biochemical reactions in the brain, the goal is to be in charge of choosing the nature of that biochemistry. But how? It is by choosing our thoughts and the way we think them, developing that process to a regularity that forms habitual ways of thinking.

When we are able to master our thoughts to that extent, life will become an amazing gift and a wild adventure at the same time.

Try this:

For a full week, every time you catch yourself thinking negatively, correct yourself abruptly by saying in your mind, “Oops, what I meant to say is …” and then fill in the blank with something positive instead. If the negativity starts to rear its ugly head during a conversation, do the same exact thing, only verbally. Literally say, “Oops, what I meant to say is …” and replace what you were saying with something positive. Keep doing this for a week and see if it doesn’t start to reprogram your thinking.

2-3. Jonathan Wells at Advanced Life Skills

“In order to be truly happy, you need to make time for yourself to relax, dream, and take pleasure in life’s simpler moments.”

How often do you set aside your to-do list and simply enjoy what’s around you? I love to hike. I love it as a physical challenge. I get genuine pleasure from being able to get from point A to point B at a particular pace.

But I also love to slow down at times and take in the incredible beauty that is also part of the hiking experience.

Do you ever do that in life? Do you ever put the sponge or vacuum down and just watch and admire your kids as they play? Do you ever leave the office to look up at the city, to really see it, to take in the amazing ingenuity, creativity, industry and art behind the streets and bridges and architecture of the bustling city?

Learning to regularly stop and notice the little things around you, to sincerely enjoy the ladybug on a branch, a child’s smile, a conversation, a gust of wind is a habit worth cultivating.

“If being happy was based on money, position, relationships or possessions, then the rich and powerful would be the happiest people on earth, and nobody involved in a meaningful relationship would ever be unhappy. Clearly, this is not the case.”

One of the great obstacles to happiness is thinking it can be found traveling down a particular road that takes a lifetime to maneuver only to find that the road is nothing more than a dead-end. It can be so disheartening, leaving us frustrated, angry and bitter. One of the mistakes we can make is to take hold of one tip, one principle, one path to happiness expecting it to produce what it never promised (or should never have been promised) to produce.

We pursue a life of optimism and find that path to be a little lackluster. Or we develop a deeply spiritual life and are dissatisfied by the degree of happiness it provided. Such efforts yield fruit for a time, but happiness seems to grow old and stale after a while, never fully realizing the potential that never materialized as expected.

Why does this happen? The answer is the same I would give if your pursuit was optimal health and you pursued it down the single path of eating gobs of spinach. Helpful, but incomplete. Others rely on huge doses of multivitamins. Others go to the gym. Each may bear its fruit, but each by itself is incomplete for the goal of optimal health.

Happiness is no different. Optimal happiness is the result of the complete development of the whole person: spiritual, moral, emotional. It must include attention to our thoughts, the way we think them, to our beliefs about life, about ourselves, about relationships, about what happiness is and how to achieve it. It includes the things we do, how we act, the habitual behaviors we develop.

It really can be overwhelming when we consider all that adds or detracts from joy. But it doesn’t have to be. Just like getting healthy, we take one or two steps at a time. Ask yourself this question: “What one thing is most important for me to improve my happiness?” Then take the proper step in that direction. Then ask again and take the next step. (for optimal joy, repeat indefinitely!)

In other words, for most of the population, nothing outside of you needs be blamed for how unhappy you are today. All the keys to a truly happy life lie within your control because they all lie within you: Your thoughts, your beliefs, your actions, your character.

4. Dia Thabet at Achieve Your Goals

“Focusing on what you want to accomplish in life is a great way to help you attain peace of mind and inner peace. When you focus on what you love, you are awakening the happy feelings and emotions within you to help you relax and get peace of mind.”

Peace of mind is a quality that is part of our happiness quotient. Peace of mind comes to those who have calmed their inner demons of guilt and shame, either by overcoming enough of their selfish and destructive impulses to merit it or by releasing themselves from the trap of unrealistic expectations and a self-imposed system of intolerance of their own imperfection.

I’ve found that in our effort to overcome the drag of guilt and shame and fear, for that matter, it helps to think backwards.

The other day I was watching my 5-year-old son try to find his way through the lines of a maze. He was getting frustrated as he kept bumping into dead-end after dead-end. So I told him to start at the finish, then trace his way backwards to the start. It worked.

That’s what we can do with life as well. Start at the end, with a clear vision of what you want out of life, what kind of a person you want to be. And then trace backwards to today so you know exactly how to get from where you are to where you want to be by the end of your journey.

5. Farouk Radwan at 2 Know Thyself

 “Your physical state is highly connected to your mental state and living a healthy life style is one of the important components for happiness.”

The truth of this principle is in looking at its opposite: Imagine a life of lethargy, one that is riddled with disease and addiction. When movement is difficult and your heart is week and your mind is clouded with the goo of fatty and sugary content-less foods, the mind can’t do what it is supposed to do. The biochemistry malfunctions. And life itself slows to a sludgy emotional and mental ooze.

The human body was meant for movement. So move it! Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a brisk walk at break and lunch instead of watching TV in the break room. Take your sweetheart hiking instead of watching Harry Potter XXVII. Get to the gym, or the bike, or the game (where YOU play, not to watch someone else play!), play catch with your kids, go for a swim, do squats while you wash the dishes or talk on the phone.

You will be the happier for doing it as you develop that habit.

6. Kayla Albert guest posted at the Change Blog

“Life is fluid. Our ability to find happiness in the journey is directly correlated to how willing we are to let go and go with the flow.”

Life is messy. It unexpectedly ebbs and then flows. It dips and bumps and peaks and falters, then plateaus and dips again. Life can be confusing and baffling and then suddenly all the pieces fit together and makes perfect sense. And then they scatter once more. Life is a dynamic process of unpredictability. It is in flux at all times and in all places. Nothing about life stands still for long.

It is within this context that some decide to fight it, to do their best to hold it and manipulate it into a predetermined shape and form. Life is infinitely too complex to be controlled that way, despite our efforts to put it in its own self-contained box. There are just too many variables to control for.

The best we can do is set the direction and work toward goals without being so tied to the details and exact timeline that we end up in a straight jacket for the effort.

Instead, learn to bend in the wind. If we are too rigid when life strikes its hardest blows, we can break and splinter into a million pieces. If, on the other hand, we have some flexibility built into our personality, the winds can blow and tsunamis crash and life explode and we will much more likely stay standing.

So how do you retrofit your personality to shift some with life’s earthquakes?

  1. Accept the fact of life’s unpredictability
  2. Learn to release your grip on it
  3. Learn to get excited about the unexpected

7. Peter Clemens at the Change Blog

“This was undoubtedly an incredible month, and I was rarely alone in the sense that it was easy to meet and hang out with other travelers. But … there was something missing … and that was someone to share my happiness with.”

Happiness is a contact sport; it improves when it bumps up against others. We are, after all, social beings. And study after study indicates we thrive best when we have others to share our lives with. So why not happiness as well?

Sharing happiness benefits us in at least two ways:

  1. Those we share it with are lifted. The act of lifting another person is a rush. It feels good. We are happier for it.
  2. Happiness deepens with its sharing. Ever watch a comedy by yourself? Bet you didn’t laugh as much as when watching it with a buddy who shares your sense of humor. Happiness is just like that. When you can share it, it grows and expands and deepens.

In this sense, happiness is a lot like a viral epidemic; it spreads when in contact with others. And the more you share it, the more you will both retain it and improve it.

So let’s start a new sort of virus: Let’s start a happiness epidemic. Have you caught it yourself yet?

If not, first click on the links below for tips on how to catch a very bad case of the virus first for yourself, and then begin to spread it to every one you come in contact with.

 What do you think?

  • How have you been able to increase your happiness?
  • Have you had to overcome many obstacles to get there?

Please share with us in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

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