How to be happy

In lieu of a podcast this week, I want to share a brief video and some thoughts on Brother David Steindl-Rast’s TED talk.

Years ago, I had the great opportunity to join a small group with my husband where we discussed the difference between happiness and joy. What we agreed on as a group was that happiness is often fleeting and that joy is all-sustaining when happiness can be a roller coaster ride. Joy is something that comes from deep within our spirit and remains strong regardless of situations.

Isn’t it true? Some days you feel happy, because things go your way or you choose an option based on the pleasure principle and tell yourself, “It feels good, so I’ll do it and I’ll be happy.”

Or this one: “If I have “X”, then I will be happy.”

Or: “If I have that relationship, I will be happy.”

We seemingly want more of what we don’t have and decide that we’ll be happier.

Well…It’s a total LIE. A terrible, dirty, self-sabotaging LIE. And yes, I’ve told myself (and sometimes still do) this dirty lie too.

Having more or having “X” doesn’t make you happier.

That small group experience brought on the conversation about joy vs. happiness and it changed our way of thinking permanently.

Then I saw this TED talk with Brother David Steindl-Rast.  It’s not just about joy.

In his talk, Brother David Steindl-Rast addresses how to live a life based on grateful living and how when we do so we are happy. There is an undeniable connection between being grateful and being happy. After watching him, I think that’s what this group and I were realizing.

It is in our gratitude, spiritual joy, and love for others that we find true happiness.

I’ll let you watch the TED Talk and hear it for yourself, but here are his main points that are so eloquently explained:

grateful-happy1. We all want to be happy. Some people have everything but they are never happy because they want something else or want more of the same thing. Yet, people with misfortune are happy despite their challenges, because they are grateful for what they have.

2. We experience gratitude when something valuable has been freely given to us. When something valuable is freely given to us, gratefulness spontaneously rises = happiness.

3. We can experience gratitude more than once in awhile. It can be a way of living.

4. When we are grateful, we are grateful for the opportunity – not the thing. We couldn’t enjoy the thing without the opportunity. So the thing doesn’t matter. It’s about appreciating the opportunity.

5. Every moment is a new gift.

6. We cannot be grateful for everything: violence, oppression, exploitation, loss of people and loved ones. When difficult things happen, we can be grateful for the opportunity and rise to the occasion by exercising patience, standing up for our opinion or conviction or seeing the opportunity in the moment.

7. Simple method for grateful living: Stop. Look. Go.

  • Stop. We go through life so quickly. Set up stop signs. Get quiet. Look at the richness that is given to us and enjoy it.
  • Look. Open our hearts for the opportunity and take those opportunities to make others happy – especially since we all want to be happy.
  • Go. Opportunities invite us to do something. GO.

8. When we are grateful we are not fearful or violent. We act out of a sense of enough instead of scarcity so that we are more willing to share with others. We also enjoy the differences in people and are more respectful of everyone.

9. A grateful world = joyful world.

I love his simple method. Stop. Look. Go.

What opportunity will you STOP to experience today?
What will you experience when you LOOK?
Then, how will you GO?

Choose to be grateful no matter what today and see how it changes things – your attitude, your interactions, your day at home and at work, and your outlook. I bet it will be a game changer.

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