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Friday, July 22, 2011

The Road to Happiness

I ran across a yellowed newspaper clipping the other day as I was cleaning out a file drawer. The contents make a perfect topic for this blog. The brief item, titled "The road to happiness," was credited to the Seattle Times. There is no author listed.

The introduction states simply that "Scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests there are influences you can control to increase happiness." The list is as follows, verbatim from the clipping:

Be grateful: Dwell on the good things in life.

Forgive: Let go of anger and hurt.

Make friends: The happiest people enjoy great friendships.

Challenge yourself: Lose yourself in challenging activities that you enjoy.

Be good to others: Research shows that altruism causes others to be nicer to you, makes you feel good and creates an upward spiral of happiness.

Let small things slide: The happiest people don't fixate on little things that go wrong.

Money isn't everything. Being rich may make you a bit happier, but pursuing wealth may require sacrificing close social relationships and challenging activities.

That's the end of the item. It is short but packed with good advice. I have a mixed record when it comes to implementing those seven items. On the success side, I made a gratitude list a couple of years ago, but it would be a good idea to dust it off and review it, just as a reminder. Challenging myself is something I have done for many years, and it is something I continue to do. And I try to be good to others (except telemarketers and others who call me to ask for money). Those calls annoy me to no end.

On the 'hard-to-do' side is forgiveness (especially people who do terrible things to helpless people and animals) and making friends. I'm in the middle on the letting go of small things and not worrying about money items.

So it's a mixed bag, which gives me a chance to appreciate my successes while still challenging myself to work on the things where I am not as successful as I would like to be. I guess that is called personal growth.