These last two years of the pandemic have not been easy on the human psyche. For many, our physical health was directly impacted by the virus. Most survived, many didn’t.
The stress that engulfed society as the virus wove its way into nearly every aspect of our lives – school closures, work, masking, vaccinations, intolerance, lack of civility, violence, isolation and politics, to name a few – took a toll. Our emotional and mental well-being has taken some big blows and it feels like we have been robbed of every ounce of happiness we tried to hang on to.
Do you remember the letter published in the New York Sun, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.”? The back story is Virginia O’Hanlon wrote to the Sun in 1897: “DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?” The response by veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial. To summarize…
“VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
I feel many in the world wonder if we will ever get back to normal, if their lives will get back on a somewhat familiar track and if they will find happiness and wholeness; maybe even wondering, as Virginia did, “Is happiness real?”
And to that, I say, “Yes, Virginia, happiness is real. And you don’t need to wait until the world fixes itself to experience it; it is already within you. You just need to fan its flames.”
Probably the single biggest barrier to finding happiness and peace is the notion that it comes to us as a result of getting or doing something. We have this endless obsession with more, thinking ‘more’ will bring happiness. I would suggest a much healthier approach and, quite frankly, a way you can create happiness is to change the narrative in your head. Happiness doesn’t start with what happens on the outside, but rather starts with the journey inward.
In a world filled with anxiety, depression, or just a sense of emptiness and “is this it?” head trash, we all could use help bringing back a healthy mindset to our whole being.
Here are 15 tips to stoke the flames of happiness in your being:
- Uncomplicate your life.
- Stop playing the victim and the entitlement game. Be personally responsible for your life.
- Have a vision. Know where you want to be in your life in one, five, 10 years or more from now.
- Take the next step; not all the steps, just the next step.
- Create clarity. See #1.
- Stop seeking perfection. It’s all about progress, not perfection.
- Improve your self-awareness.
- Own your first hour every day. It will help you win the day.
- Eat, sleep, move…well, every day. This will lead to resilience which leads to confidence. And confidence will start shooting good hormones, like serotonin, into your bloodstream creating feelings of happiness and building more confidence between your ears.
- Connect with others. A basic human need after we solve the food, water, shelter and safety needs is love and belonging. Get out there and connect!
- You are a spiritual being. Yes, you have a physical presence, but you are much more – mind, body, and soul, the three-legged stool of your life. Take care of all three legs, or your stool will topple.
- Stephen Covey once suggested there are three constants in life: values, change and choice. Get clear on your values to help you make good choices in an ever-changing world. But remember, you always have a choice.
- Get out of your head and serve others.
- Let go of your ego and forgive. It’s the path to true happiness.
- Expectation vs agreement. Just because you expect it doesn’t mean the other party either knows that or agrees to it. Always work towards agreement. Yep, you have to communicate in real words.
The amazing thing about these tips is that they won’t cost you any money. However, they will cost you time and energy. The question is, are you willing to invest? (See last line of #12)
Not following these guidelines could cost you the quality of your life, and that is a big price to pay.
When we understand that no matter what is happening around us, happiness comes from within, we will discover an amazing sense of peace. And it is that feeling of wholeness that leads to a deeper engagement in life and how you experience it.
THAT, Virginia, is worth believing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Wishing you and all your family much happiness this holiday season.
Tom Garrity is managing partner at Compass Point Consulting LLC in Hanover Township, Northampton County. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.