Sunday, October 31, 2010

How to be Happy

I am not so ignorant that I think I have the answers to the question of how to be happy for everyone and certainly I have been having trouble with this question just for me. However, I got a religious track yesterday from a Christian organization that addresses this very question and they have the answers. I thought I would share it with you since it does have food for thought here. The title of the track is "Five Secrets for Being Happy". There is no author on the track.

The first secret is to love people and not money and possessions.
I am not going to go into the quotations of the Bible because I am not a Christian as my blog attests and find no validity there, but the spirit of all religions have this as a basis of their religion. When I came to Korea, my sons got rid of all of my clothes and my huge library. I was grief stricken that they did. I told them that I had not died and was coming back. Then I realized that I was not reading or using those books but liked to just see those volumes on the shelf. The clothes were the same. Most of the clothes I never wore and were from the days I had a 9-5 job that I had left to work at home. Beside, I had lost over 50 lbs since coming here. They did not fit me anymore.

The article said that people should evaluate whether one can simplify their lifestyle. I had to see that I had given in to the fear of the past of being poor and never having enough. My sons had also gotten rid of my food reserves, much were well past the expiration date. It wasn't because I was stocking up a nuclear shelter. I had a large house full of stuff that I would never use and it was stuff they would have to eventually throw away. Call it karma, but it was time I got rid of all of that stuff.

Before I came here, I was fast accumulating more and more stuff. Now, I live in an apartment that is the size of my bedroom. I intend to live in my bedroom when I get back and never accumulate the huge amount of stuff again. It also cost a lot of money. Since I have been gone, I have lived on the money I made here and my son who is in charge of my finances has saved a nice amount of money for me.

I think this secret is worthwhile looking at and one I may not have even learned if I had not come here. It took a lot to learn here but well worth learning.

The second secret is to resist the urge to compare yourself with others.
As a teacher, I always have told students to just do the best you can and don't worry about anyone else. Well, it was so easy to tell students that but not so easy to do it myself. I am a writer and I would see writers who wrote so much better than I did, constructed plots so much better than I did, made more money than I did and won more awards than I did.

I have a friend who is very beautiful and I have known her for a very long time. When she was younger she spent a great deal of time and energy making herself look attractive and for the most part succeeded. Now, with advancing age, there is nothing sold in a bottle or done with a plastic surgeon's knife than can make her look the way she did 30 or 40 years ago. She did not inherit great bone structure or skin so her beauty is not holding up all that well. She is always comparing herself to other women and coming up on the short end. She was married to a man who I think finally left because she was driving him crazy with having to be reassured that she was beautiful. He left her and settled down with a woman her age.

The religious tract says that you should try and see yourself as God sees you and allow his view to influence your sense of self-worth. For me, it was upgrading my own sense of self-worth. I had to think I was worth more than my writing, my looks, my weight, age and so forth. I had to love myself regardless. I am a work of progress on this one but it is getting better.

The third secret is to maintain an appreciate attitude.
The track says to make time to meditate on the good things you now enjoy. There has been times in the past when my health was shaky. It is good now. One cannot buy good health to some extent. There are other things. One man I know who is bitter has a loving wife who works hard to make a good life for him. If she was no longer there then he would finally know what a good thing he had. I read good books when I can get them. I never have to depend on television or movies for entertainment. If I could not find a good book to read, I would write what I want to read. I am grateful for that. I friend loves to garden but lives in an apartment so she grows things in her windows and pots. She uses fresh herbs in her cooking. There is always things in our lives to be grateful for. We just forget.

The fourth secret is the choose your friends wisely.
This was one secret that I was going to disagree with. Then I started to think this one out. One time I had a friend who I felt close to but she dropped me when I got suspended from my job for an article in a magazine that I wrote that my boss disagreed with. It had nothing to do with my job and I filed an action with the union and won it along with back pay. I remember those dark days when I thought I was friend-less and my family rallied around me as well as my union for they knew I was right. I had warnings before that she was a fair weather friend but ignored them. I did not chose wisely my friendship but we live and learn.

I had a another friend who took my medications when I came back from the hospital and was in pain. My doctor gave me a medication that many people were addicted to. I did not know she had a drug problem. Luckily, I never really needed it. I had given her a key to my house and had to change the locks on the house. My son had surprised her going out the door with my meds. This time, I had no idea she had a problem with drugs. I did not know her well enough to have given her my key when she asked for it. I never do that anymore. She wanted the key, she said, in case I needed something and could not get to the door. I should have thought that one out more.

Secret five is satisfy your spiritual need.
This is the secret is that is not a secret to me at all. I have been doing this all of my life; but I have been doing more of it since coming to Korea which made it possible to do the other four. I think everyone should do some degree of spiritual work or working on the inner self. I don't think it has to be a religion or one particular form of inner work. It could be therapy.

Meditation is a good way to go here and there are many ways of doing it. Writing meditation is my favorite way and there are many books on this subject and many websites on the Internet. I have a friend who does walking meditation and another person I know who is into drawing meditation and I do a form of it in my journals. I think there are many ways of doing meditation and if one has a favorite activity you can incorporate it into meditation as long as no one is being hurt including the self.

I think all of the five ways is a good start on how to be happy. Finding out what makes one happy is a good way to discover who you are and that is not easy. I find writing a perfect vehicle but it is not for everyone. Biking may be for some while hiking may be for other or sewing or whatever. The thing is to not use passive activities such as watching television or movies. Involving one in life is what meditation is and not what many considering contemplating one's navel. It is the interaction with life starting with breathing and the necessary ingredient is the self and it is has to be your own way.

I hope this helps with your search to be happy. I just described my search.

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