How to be Happy

“It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.” Dalai Lama

Ding! The alert from my phone communicates that I have just received a text message. Contrary to my normal practice of silencing all electronic interference while writing, I forgot to turn off my phone this morning. Now distracted, I proceed to read the message. “Good morning, sweet little brother.” I know. Some of you who know me may have an issue with my sister’s descriptions. I will get to that later.

Quite a few studies have compiled substantial data on the ability we have to control our level of happiness. You can review numerous articles by just googling the word happiness. One article that I suggest reading by Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D. is Seven Things Happy People Do and Seven Things They Don’t. You can read her article in less than three short minutes.

Degges-White’s article reminds me of my own personal success philosophy, which is based on finding simple practices, easy to understand and execute, that have proven great results. Keeping in line with a simple approach, I always suggest doing just one thing. Avoid making a whole list of changes to implement within 24 hours. For most of us, this is a recipe for failure. And that failure may lead to demoralization that in the future may be the reason we do not even try.

Start small. Keep it simple. Add additional small steps along the way. I have found that some of the smallest, simplest things create long-term excellence and greater results.

One step that author Degges-White suggests in her short article is: “Create a strong social support network.” In numerous other pieces, I have written about the positive results that are possible through the power of relationships. Blue Zone author Dan Buttener has written about the scientific evidence supporting a longer life in geographical locations around the world that have certain practices – one which emphasizes the importance of relationships.

We do not need the scientific evidence. Do we? We do not need the psychological studies and numerous articles that have been written about this topic. We know that relationships are a key to happiness in life. Longevity is a bonus according to the studies. And importantly, our success is dependent on these relationships. We understand this. We need no evidence.

But what can we do to ensure that we create and maintain relationships that have such a positive effect? My answer is to employ simple easy steps. Start small. Select an action that you can easily accomplish daily.

One special practice that is making a difference in my life is calling or employing text communication with my three sisters on a regular basis. I know for a fact that each of them loves me. They want the best for me. They are interested in what I am doing. They provide counsel at times. My interactions with them create a positive mentality in my own life. Why would I not choose to communicate daily with them, taking only minutes to do, knowing that the results are very positive?

At this point of my writing is when I actually got that text from my sister Dianne. Great timing. She was responding to my early morning text to her. In case you have already forgotten what my sister wrote, here it is again: “Good morning, sweet little brother.”

I can assure you that there are plenty of people who would not describe me in such a way. This would include all of my sisters, if we go back decades, and recall brother-sister relationships in the teen years. And, some in my immediate family might have a few remarks about the sweetness description. But today, that is what I read. And, to borrow a saying from my mom: “That’s my story and I am sticking with it.”

What I am sticking with is simple. A short positive communication, taking only seconds each day, is possible for me. How about you? Do you have simple practices, such as my sister dialogue example, that you have made into habits to enrich your life? If you have such practices, you are probably living a happier life. And, your opportunity for success is greater.

Just the thought that I have three peole who are on my side every single day gives me a boost for the day. And my short conversations often end with the heartfelt expression, “I love you.” I feel better about my life because of this simple practice which takes only a few seconds. A short text from me, followed by a short response from the recipient is edifying. The whole communication process consumes less than 15 seconds. And yet, the result is a happier me. One that finds more motivation for the day.

Author Degges-White’s article lists 14 different things you can do to increase your happiness in life. Two more that resonated with me were:

Don’t waste time trying to force a perfect life.
Give the brain time to reset – every single day.

Check out the other 12 examples to find simple, easy things you can do to increase your level of happiness. Select practices that are easy to implement and can be done daily. Start small. One single step is all that is needed. Be sure to audit your effort and your results. What did you do in the past week? What was the outcome?

Complicated, exhaustive formulas for success are likely those we will never adopt. Keep it simple and short. Here are some practices to consider making into habits. I practice all of these on a regular basis.

Read a positive quote each day.
Call a friend.
Write a thank you note to someone.
Meditate for one minute several times each day.
Read a past special letter from someone.
Walk for five minutes outside.
Tell someone, “I love you.”
Say a short prayer.

Start with a single practice that takes only a few minutes each day. Some choices may only require seconds to execute. Make a daily commitment. After a week, review your effort and the results. When you have made your practice a habit, add another one.

Today, I will take a few seconds . . .

“Good morning, sweet sister Dianne”