7 practical & simple tips for a Happier and More Joyful Life…
Happiness is a skill; it is a State of Mind, a Choice. Happiness is a Decision
I have two amazing kids, a 19-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy. At an early age, my baby boy was diagnosed with ADHD and “other learning impairments.”
He received early intervention and did pretty well. He learned to speak and read, however, his ability to process and retain information was a challenge. Hence, school was not his favorite place to go. For Chris school became a nightmare.
Every morning, Chris would refuse to get up. My home became a battlefield, a struggle. As a mom, it was frustrating and sad to see him struggle that way. One night during our prayers before bed, he told me, “Mom, I think God made me wrong.”
“Chris what would make you says that?” With tears in my eyes I said to my beautiful boy, “Chris there is nothing wrong with you. God made you perfect, you are just perfect the way you are!”
You can image how hard it was for me as a mom to hear my baby boy saying such a thing. He was not only miserable; but he was in pain.
That night I decided that I needed to find a way to help him. I would not let my child struggle anymore; this was no longer acceptable. That night I set my intentions during my meditation to find a solution.
I know that for every challenge there is a viable solution, a spiritual solution. I learned this from my own experience after suffering for many years with depression, anxiety and not feeling like I was enough.
I learned that change is inevitable but transformation is a choice. I was able to transform into a happier and healthier version of myself, and so I knew that Chris was able to do the same. I had faith.
As a holistic and wellness advisor and Reiki practitioner, I practice my meditation routine every day. It is my ritual to keep me centered and removes blockages and stress. Whenever there is a challenge I present it to the universal mind, higher self, the mind of God, whatever you want to call it. The truth is that anything I do is guided by this power. So I present the challenge and trust that the answer will come, and it did!
Tip #1 – Make sure you are happy; because when you are happy everything is possible. Start by asking the right questions:
A few days later I was invited to a seminar, it was on finding happiness, it was amazing, just what I needed it at that point. At the end of the event, I came to one of the coordinators and thanked her for putting it together. I said, “I came with a lot of questions, and I found so many answers.” Then she asked me, “What answers were you looking for today?” I explained about the struggle with Chris on a daily basis. I told her that I did not know what else to do with him, that I tried everything.
And then she said something extremely profound. She said, “Make sure he is happy” because when you are happy everything is possible. Happiness is the answer to every problem, she said, get him to a “happy place,” and once he is there, he’ll be able to do anything.
That was a profound and simple formula: Make sure he is happy. Take him to the happy place and from that place anything is possible…
Tip #2: The power of rituals… Create a ritual and stick to it, have faith and be consistent, and in time you’ll get the results you want.
I knew back then about brain plasticity and the power of visualization when meditating. I also experienced the “happy place” during my own journey to heal my body, mind and spirit.
I had developed a seven-step ritual to keep myself there… in the Happy Place. I just did not know the name for it, the “happy place from where everything was possible.” It sounded like a fairy tale land.
I was determined to make it work, and so we created a ritual for both of us, before going to bed we’ll pray. Very simple way to pray was to thank God for all the things that made Chris happy today.
Every night, I would ask Chris any of these questions, one at the time and give him time to think:
- Ok Chris tells me one thing that made you happy today or
- What was good about today?
- What was good about recess?
- Tell me one thing that was great about today’s day?
- What are you grateful for today?
And of course most of the time he’ll talk about recess… the games he played, his friends, the silly things they did together, the running and the jumping, etc.
However, as time passed, he started talking about other things, such as, lunchtime, and things that he enjoyed during lunch, and good things that happened at home, little things:
- His dog named Ruffus and how much he love him
- About playing at the park
- Going to the pool during summer
- Exploring the backyard
- Watching a movie
- Playing soccer with his dad
- Looking at the squirrel and the deer, and on, and on…
Tip #3 – Ask better and empowering questions to start a Happy Memories Collection box!
And without even knowing what we were doing we started a collection of happy memories to use whenever we wanted to go to the happy place from where everything was possible.
Chris was training himself to find things that made him happy during the day so that he can share with me at night. If one night he would not find anything, I would offer suggestions, such as:
- What about dinner? or
- What about the painting you did today? Or
- What about the Lego you put together?
- The dessert your sister made
- Your comfy bed
- Your toys…
- What about all the homework you were able to finish?
And he would say, oh yes that was great, and I’ll ask, how that made you feel? Really happy he’ll say.
I learned the power of asking better and quality questions. One of the most powerful questions that I learned to ask is “What was good about that?”
And just like that he’ll go to a happy place were great things were always happening for him… And once he was there, anything was possible.
Tip #4: Create simple mantras that you can repeat over and over– The power of repetition is amazing… Don’t underestimate it!
I would repeat every night; feeling happy is so good, isn’t it Chris? And he would say, yes mommy it is. And I’ll continue, yes, because when you are happy, good things happen to you. Chris will finish my sentence.
This became our mantra… I would ask this not only at night, I would ask him in the morning before going to school, when he came home from school, during the weekend, and at night. It was intentional, he needed to hear it and own it.
It became a game, our fun game, and slowly but surely, the struggles subsided, the complaints stopped, no more crying in the morning. He would get up, prepare his vitamins, make his own breakfast, get dressed and off to school. Not only did he become happier but also his self-esteem improved significantly. It was like a ripple effect.
For the first time Chris was eager to go to school. And of course it wasn’t perfect, from time to time he would remember his learning challenges, but he would say, it’s ok I can do this, I need more time that’s all. So school was no longer a nightmare for Chris, it was fun!
Tip #5: When you are happy good things happens to you… Expect good things to happen today, and they will!
A number of good things started happening to Chris:
- He got nominated the student of month, and won
- Citizen of the month
- Recognized by his teacher with a few stickers for finishing his assignments on time
- He won an ice cream contest for behaving well on the bus
- He was recognized during assembly in front of all his peers
- Got the star war spaceship for Christmas
He was so excited about the possibilities! And yes, maybe these seem so little, and maybe he got nominated for student of the month before, and yes he will get presents every Christmas, but guess what? This time was not the same, because the meaning he attached to these experiences was different and new, and more empowering.
It was no longer just a gift or just another sticker. It was an expectation that something good would happen today, and so it did, and didn’t have to be a trip to Disney or a big present.
The simple and little things served as a validation for him. The knowing that yes, when you are happier, good things will definitely happen to you… So he expected it, looked for it, saw it happening, and felt it. His brain started creating the connections between what we were saying every day, and what was happening in real life… and so he has no choice but to believe it.
Tip #6: Look for what is good and stop looking for what is missing. Happiness is your birthright – so reclaim it. And yes, happiness will take some work!
Here is the thing – we were conditioned, we learned to believe that in order for us to be happy we must earn it, we must achieve it. We were taught to believe that in order to be happy certain conditions or situations needed to be met.
You might say to yourself, I’ll be happy when I get the job, or the promotion, or find the love of my life, or when I get the new car, or the big house…. This is so far from the truth. It is actually the opposite, you get happier and everything else will come.
The simple truth is that happiness is a state of mind, a state of being. It is a decision, a conscious decision that we make on a daily basis. And yes, it takes some work and practice and consistency, like everything else in life. The point is that the same way we learned to be so unhappy and depressed we can learn to be happy.
It is a conscious decision because it is the ability to train your brain to look for what is right, for what is good, instead of what is wrong. It is the ability to be grateful for what we have instead of complaining for what we think is missing.
The challenge is that we keep on looking for happiness outside ourselves. We are waiting for the perfect thing to happen for us to be happy, the perfect job, the perfect spouse, and the perfect car, get the picture? We are so focused on the things that are missing that we can’t appreciate what we have.
Tip #7: Learn to live in the present moment… Learn to enjoy every moment like the very last one!
Learn to live in the present moment. Chris knew that in order for him to be able to tell me about his experiences, he’d have to remember every detail. For him to be able to do such a thing he needed to be present in the moment, capturing the colors, smells, environment, temperature, people, their expressions and how they felt, and how he felt about them.
When you are present in the moment, there is no past or future, just this precious little moment, therefore, worries will diminish because your mind is not concerned with what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow but just with appreciating today’s.
My son taught me a great lesson, that we all have the capacity for happiness and love beyond our imagination. That life is not about the challenges but how we approach those challenges.
Ask yourself this question: If you had six months to live what would you do and why are you not doing it now? The only thing you have is this moment.
And know that we can be happy now with all the challenges and limitations that life presents us with every day. We can be happy despite the learning challenges, the extra pounds, and the lack of a job, the missing partner, or the need for more money.
I learned that happiness is possible and it’s easy, and we should strive to find it as much as possible because it is our birthright. We must re-claim it, treasure it, embrace and take the juice out of it. Learn to go to the happy place and from there everything is possible.
And remember… it is so good to be happy, because when you are happy good things happens to you!
Love and blessings!