Do you want to be happy?

I don’t know if others would describe me as a positive person, but I feel like especially in the past few years, I have figured out what I can do to lift myself  when I start feeling down and empty inside. I’ve found a few things that determine my level of frustration or satisfaction with life. If I keep up with these things, my frustrations with life are easier to put aside and my feelings of contentment are more prominent. This may not be the easy fix for you, but it has worked for me on more than one occasion, although its never an overnight fix.

GratitudeNot too long ago I found some journals at Deseret Book called gratitude journals. I don’t know why they even caught my eye, they just did. I picked them up and flipped through them. One of them had prompts for things to write about for each new day which I thought was neat; but I decided on the other one that had a little quote on the front and no prompts inside. I just thought, “Hey why not try to  write a few things down every day that I’m grateful for?” So I started at the beginning of the year. I set the journal on my nightstand and didn’t have too hard of a time writing down a few things or more every evening. Then hardships came – the little and big, from the normal stresses of every day to death in the family … this “going to bed” ritual was already in place, and so I wrote the things I was grateful for as I’ve cried my  many tears. I wrote the things I was grateful I had learned and/or experienced from each situation, quite often just a few bullet points, not even full sentences. Even still as I cry some evenings I write my gratitude. It is simple and therapeutic. It doesn’t solve the problem or frustration, but it brings a different focus to it.

So many years ago a dear friend taught me that giving service to others (free of charge of course), is one of life’s greatest joys. At the time I was struggling inside. I knew there was a bigger picture I was missing, but I was feeling empty and alone inside. Finally one of my friends questioned me about it, and I had never admitted to anyone that I had felt that way. She suggested that we set up a little Saturday service for ourselves. So every Saturday we tried to do something for someone. One time we helped a small business owner organize a few of her products, another saturday we made banana bread for one of our moms, one week we organized a big group to come down to a homeless family shelter to clean out and organize the closets of donations and their outdoor recreational area. My friend and I went our separate ways in college but I will always remember her for this amazing life lesson she taught me. It doesn’t matter how big or small the act – thinking about and doing something kind for someone else will bring joy to you. It is a learning process, but life will present you with the opportunity everyday to serve someone else. What takes practice is remembering to think about and recognize other peoples needs before you worry about your own. It doesn’t have to be a service project. A few years ago I came to realize that I really like to bake – so for me this is an easy service to my friends, family, and neighbors. I haven’t seen one person upset when I bring a fresh loaf of wheat bread and a little honey butter or some delicious chocolaty treat to their door unexpected. They may throw it away as soon as I leave, but they smiled and knew I thought about them and have usually engaged in some conversation about the day/week/month they are having. What do you do well that could be a great service to someone else? Yes, there is something you can do, even something that you might normally only do for yourself that others would appreciate.

Another small act (or two) that have had great significance to me are to pray/meditate daily and to read from inspirational books (for me, scriptures) just for at least a few minutes, sometimes a very few minutes, every day. Praying/ meditating is a quiet time just to think about and sometimes even just vocalize your desires for the day. Reading inspirational writings, especially the scriptures, reminds me of the greatness and potential within myself and each of us. It’s true and its empowering. I’ve also been surprised at how many times I have randomly read the words I needed for that day. It happens.

Just try one…could it hurt? Try the gratitude journal, small daily or weekly acts of service, or the meditation and reading from inspirational books daily. See where it gets you.

I have felt the difference in life – I’ve felt lighter and brighter. Really.

“Choose Happiness”