The Secret to Happiness (One of Them, Anyway)

The other day one of the websites I follow posed the question: what is the biggest tip you can give someone who’s looking for true happiness? That’s a big question, and one that requires a little bit of thought.  I came up with an answer pretty quickly, which was to release yourself from all worry. But then I got to hang out with an 18-month-old and that’s when I saw the bigger picture that I couldn’t see before; the one that brought everything into perspective.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the worry thing.

The worry answer seemed natural, because that truly is one of the worst and most common ways to kill happiness. And you can train yourself  to not be a worrier. All you have to do is to become aware of your “worry” habit, and then practice replacing all the negative thoughts that come up with more positive ones.

Instead of wasting time and energy on “I don’t know how I’m going to pay my bills. I’m afraid I’m going to end up homeless and on the street” or whatever your own “worry story” is, focus your energy on the positive. How do you do that? There’s two easy ways that I can share with you. The first one is to start acting as if the problem that you have is already solved. Just hand it right on over to the Universe and go about your day. Say things like, “I’m so happy that I have plenty of money to pay all of my bills” or “I love having tons of money in the bank. It makes me feel secure.”

The other thing you can do in this example is to make a list of all the ways you could possibly think of to make money. You might actually do some of them – maybe you have some things hanging around your house that you could sell, or maybe you could work part time at the local diner – and some of them might just be things that you could do, but you may never actually do them. There is something incredibly empowering about focusing on solutions instead of problems. Going through the process might lead you to take inspired action, but even just shifting your energy to be more solution-oriented can actually make a big difference in the actual outcomes that you’ll see. When you shift your focus you’ll start to feel better right away, so this is a quick way to move yourself away from your worry monster at any given time.

“Great tips,” you’re thinking. “But what about the baby?”

Well, let me tell you about that. The same day that I was asked to come up with the happiness tip I had also agreed to watch my friend’s toddler for a couple of hours. Now, I have kids but they’re teenagers now and it’s been a good while since I’ve spent quality time with anyone younger than two. And although I have a good deal of experience with kids, having raised my own, I have to admit I was a little nervous about babysitting. What if the little boy didn’t like me? What if I bored him? What if he cried the whole time?

Those thoughts and others did pass through my head but I let them go and set the intention for a wonderful evening. And in truth, it was absolutely delightful. We had fun! I crawled around on the floor and played with cars, we stomped around and got silly. We giggled and made faces at each other. It was so much fun and it was happy, happy, precious time. In those couple of hours that little boy taught me something about happiness that went beyond just letting go of worry.

I now think that the worry thing is still part of it, but closer to the truth about happiness is truly being present in the moment. With all of your senses. When you’re watching a toddler you really do have to be fully engaged in order to keep their attention and that means no worry, no cell phone, no outside world – and taking the time to be all of those things is a great gift to give yourself. The other thing that this young man taught me was to have FUN. BE SILLY. LAUGH.

Wow. So simple, but when is the last time that you actually did any of those things? I know that, for me, it’s been a while since I dusted off my inner child and let her out to play. But I learned that I need to do that more often. All of the adult stuff is good and important but so is staying in touch with that younger, lighter side of yourself. Don’t let that one go because somewhere in there is the place we’re all trying to get back to – worry-free, in the moment and fully present with love and laughter.

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