Someone asked me why I am so happy all of the time. I get that a lot. Often, it’s asked with an undertone of envy or even disbelief, as in, “ What the hell are you so happy about?” Other times, people offer up a reason for it, like “It must be nice not to have to work.”
Truth be told, being retired helps. It gives me more time to do the things that make me happy. On the other hand, I was pretty happy before I retired, too. And I can think of people I know who were miserable both before and after leaving the workforce.
Instead of asking why, I thought I’d answer, “How am I so happy?” Why implies a more personal, external reason. While that is sometimes the case, I believe that being happy – most of the time – is more of a conscious effort that can be learned, if you are willing.
Love your bed. Sleep is illusive for many of us, especially women. Everyone’s needs are as different as their experiences. Fact is, the world looks very different when you’ve had the right amount of sleep. Too much can be as bad as too little. Six hours a night is optimal for me. Sometimes more, occasionally, less. I used to think that sleeping was a waste of time – that I could use those hours for more important things. However, without the right amount of sleep, the rest of the day is less productive and more of a chore. I think more clearly when my body and my mind have rested.
Make time to play. It might not happen every day. But having fun is really important. It helps keep things in perspective. You need to balance all the heavy stuff in the world with something lighter, like laughing with friends. See a funny movie, go bowling, see a comedy show.
Learn something new. No matter how old we get, there is excitement in accomplishing something you’ve never done before. Take lessons, sign up for a class, ask a friend to teach you something that they know.. There’s a certain momentum to learning: It keeps us moving forward, keeps us from becoming stagnant.
Move. You don’t have to me a gym rat or run ten miles every day (Bravo to you, if you do!) There is an advantage to feeling the connection between your body and your mind. Talk a walk, dance, work in your garden. Keep that mind-body link strong. When you push your body, something awesome happens in your head. While you’re concentrating on coordinated muscle movement, your conscious thinking is suspended and cannot haunt you with anxiety over other things. You end up with better perspective.
Do something for someone else. It doesn’t have to be an act worthy of Mother Teresa. It doesn’t have to use up your valuable time. Throughout the day, hold doors for people, offer to help lift or move a heavy object, compliment someone’s work, share your dessert. Be more aware of what people around you are doing and be helpful. It will ensure that you take yourself less seriously.
Finally, you can choose to be happy. Granted, some days are harder and present more obstacles to feeling joy. But happiness takes many forms and there is always one that’s right for the moment. It could just be a sense of well-being. It might be finding comfort. You may discover it in a small, personal triumph. Look around you – there are blessings everywhere. Allow yourself a moment to feel amazing gratitude for even small things.
The world is filled with big, bad, ugliness. But happiness comes from inside of you. If you can’t find anything thing that makes you happy, create something. Try something new. Visit someone just for the sake of being with them. Offer to share someone else’s burden. Make time to do something you love. Take responsibility for your own happiness and make it happen!