Happiness is as easy as 1, 2, 3 (4, 5)

When seeking happiness, we have two choices: we can either chase after it, or sit back and realize it’s already sitting in the corner, waiting for us to notice. Happiness is in every laugh, every thought-provoking conversation, every good book, every hug, every day of sunshine. All we have to do is be grateful.

I’ve read a number of excellent posts today on the importance of contentedness. The theme of each was the same: enough already! It’s time to stop running after something we already have. That being said, we will all have those down days in which we don’t want to put any energy into being grateful. For those days, try this exercise and see if it doesn’t make you just a teensy bit happier:

Step 1: Write down one thing in your immediate vision that makes you grateful. It could be the couch your sitting on, the book on your bedside table, or the cup of coffee in your hand.

Step 2: Write down one person that makes you feel grateful. If it’s your spouse who is causing your sour mood, think of that friend who will listen to your complaints. If your boss is making life difficult, think of the coworker who has your back.

Step 3: Indulge in your surroundings. Surroundings are something we can’t easily change, so embrace yours. If it’s raining outside, curl up with a good movie and a cup of tea. If the sun is shining, go play frisbee with the dog. You’ll be surprised how your perspective can shift when you fully accept something you can’t control.

Step 4: Have one thing that always, always makes you laugh. For me, I nearly always bust up at The Daily Show’s “Moment of Zen.” Laughing will release the stress and give you instantaneous joy, right there in the moment.

Step 5: You should be feeling just a bit better now. All that’s left is for you to do something nice for someone else. It might just be shoveling your neighbor’s walk, or it might be calling up an old friend. Hey, it could even be reblogging a great post you read! My mantra remains, Want more? Give more.

Want more reminders of why we should be happy in the here and now? Check out these great posts: http://bepaulin.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/enough-already/, http://melissabear.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/gratitude-attitude-the-gratitude-journal/

So today, I’m grateful that happiness is waiting for me, inviting me to take a seat and stop chasing it. I think I’ll take it up on that.

A happy invitation

Top 5 gratitude lessons learned in February

Here we are in the last day of February! Today, I am grateful for this coldest and dreariest of winter months coming to a close. That, and VAWA passing, but we’ll have that conversation at a future date. To end the month on a high note, I’ve compiled the top 5 lessons I’ve learned in my first weeks of this project. Here we go…

5. People bring the happiness in our lives.

It’s not things that we should be grateful for, but people. I probably could have predicted this one prior to starting this blog, but it was a bit surprising to see how few things came up in my posts.

4. Be grateful for challenges.

A few of these posts, especially “Cooking up some love” and “Let’s explore diabetes with owls,” were about how challenges can really make us better people. That is certainly something to be grateful for.

3. Be grateful for the journey.

Let’s revisit “Just the two of us.” In that particular post, I explored how much I want to have kids some day, just not right now. Right now is about Right. Now. And I’m enjoying it immensely. That being said…

2. It’s easier to recognize past reasons for gratitude than current reasons.

Hindsight, they say, is 20/20. When it comes to gratitude, that means it’s much easier to be grateful for things that happened in the past than things that are happening in the present. I’ll make a conscientious effort to move away from too many (I remember when…) posts in the future. It’s time to be grateful for today!

1. When in doubt, look to your dog.

Or other grateful people for that matter. The point is, surround yourself with those who live lives of gratitude and you’ll absorb some of their happiness through pure osmosis. 

So there we have it! Watch out March, there’s a whole lot of gratitude headed your way!