Last Friday I’m riding around town fretting over the cost of gas, the cost of food, and my yet-to-arrive economic stimulus check. I heard something on a talk radio program so profound that I nearly had to pull off to the side of the road to write it down. The substitute host for the Neal Boortz show, Herman Cain, had just wrapped up a call from someone lamenting the nation’s low happiness factor. Apparently, some statistician recently determined that most American’s are unhappy. I personally believe despite the negative media we have much to be happy about. Cain went on to describe his three personal keys to happiness, and I have adopted them as well. My mood instantly improved the moment I heard these three ideas.
photo by heydrienne
The Three Keys to Happiness
- Something to Do. How many times have we felt unhappy with life because we simply had too much idle time? I know it has happened in my own life. When I get bored, I get down, and I only snap out of it when I start to get busy again. The thing is, we have to recognize this pattern and stay busy to keep our mood elevated. Find a hobby. Volunteer your free time. Learn to cook. Coach youth sports. There are endless possibilities for “something to do” if we take the time to look.
- Something to Love. Friends and family are such an important element to our ultimate happiness. During a traveling phase at my last job I spent a number of lonely nights hundreds of miles away in a hotel room on business. I was in foreign surroundings, working in a job I didn’t particularly like, in an industry I didn’t believe in (credit/financial services). The one source of inspiration to get through those nights was my family. Even though my career situation has since improved, I still think of my wife and kids when I get down and can’t help but smile. If you are single, you may have a best friend that always knows just how to pick you up, or make you laugh when you want to cry. Pets can even be an incredible source of companionship, there to greet you at the end of a long day. I’ve had pets most of my life and marvel at their willingness to love us unconditionally.
- Something to Hope For. Everyone should have something to hope for. Something that drives them towards a goal. It’s been said that if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time. Have something to aim for; a dream that you hold close and never let completely out of sight. When people lose hope they get complacent, and complacency often leads to a poor attitude. This self-perpetuating cycle of negativity can lead to serious depression, and ultimately harm cherished relationships. I know, I’ve been in a rut myself and I lost sight of the dreams I once held close. But all hope is never lost, you just may have to work a little harder temporarily to catch up and see those dreams around the next corner again.
“The only difference in a rut and a grave is six feet.” If you find yourself in a rut, stop digging. Start moving in the direction of your dreams and things will begin to improve. If your goal is debt freedom, stop charging to your credit cards and start paying all you can pay on outstanding debts. Do not be overwhelmed by the distance to the finish line. If your goal is to lose weight, do not focus on how far you are from your goal weight. Instead, take it one day, one meal, one bite, one workout at a time and begin to move in the direction of your dreams.
The bottom line is we are responsible for our own happiness. Government programs, promises from elected officials, and pats on the back from bosses may offer temporary mood boosts, but ultimately happiness is a self-induced state of mind. Be responsible for your own happiness.
Please share your personal keys to happiness in the comment section below.