Ideas That Can Make Life So Good

If I had my life to live over I'd do a much better job and from an early age.

Yet I'm very happy here and now. As we should all be, especially if we have sufficient accommodation, food and clothing.

If we do have all the basic necessities and are still weighted down with worries, tensions or emptiness, a few personal positive changes could be a big help in bringing increased happiness and a better life.

"This strange disease of modern life with its sick hurry, its divided aims." Sounds like the times in which we now live but it was written in the 1800's by Matthew Arnold. Stress is not uncommon but at this point in time it seems to be very much on the rise for so many. Our present social environment can make us feel anxious, empty or downright miserable if we do not have the right prescription for living well.

There are numerous happenings in our lives that can leave us feeling worried and depressed for long periods of time. But there is a wonderful prescribed set of ideas written on the topic of living wisely, much of which has been carried down through the ages. Some very helpful advice can be found repeatedly throughout these wise writings. We may only need to adopt our choices as our own treasures and keep them close at hand. A sampling is presented here.

A simple change of thought can provide an immediate improvement in how we are feeling at any moment. Initially this may not be easy to do and will require practice, but the results can be so valuable in eliminating those bad moments.

Cheerfulness will come from acting cheerful because it is very difficult to act one way and feel the opposite. Happiness is in our thoughts, it is not material things or experiences, but it is what we are thinking, now. So focus on pleasant ideas, words and experiences and feel better.

Smile and be smiled at! We are not likely to feel angry or upset when smiles are exchanged. Such a simple act with such a positive effect, and so said Joseph Addison (1672-1719); "What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. They are but trifles, to be sure, but, scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable."

Our values should be reviewed from to time. So many of us go through life always wanting more and better, much of which does not bring peace of mind and often just the opposite. It is normal to want more for ourselves and our families, but of what value will it truly be and how much will it cost in terms of real life? How many extra hours of stress and anxiety, now and later, are required? Anxieties abound in our social surroundings, even encouraged as we are continually bombarded with messages telling us that we must have more. But we do not need to go this way. We can eliminate those things which are not necessary for a contented life.

Carrying a heavy load of problems and worries for which there is no solution can take the enjoyment out of living, and worse, make us sick. Of course this is a complete waste of time. If our anxiety is about something we should fix, and can fix, and want to fix, then we should fix it. Otherwise we can forget it! Shantideva put this simply; "If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?"

In a stressful situation slow down and if you can, take a break. Visualize your way out of your tension by picturing a very calm and peaceful setting. Use deep easy breathing as a soother, and continue this regularly throughout the day.

Confidence seems difficult or impossible to achieve for many of us, but happily this can be improved upon. Personality might make it difficult but we can be content with doing what we can do. A good start is to forget trying to be perfect in the eyes of others and feel good ourselves. There is plenty of room on earth for us who are not superstars. There is only one you - you are unique and special in this world.

Feeling hopeless and sick might seem very appropriate and unique to your very difficult situation, but you should know that many of us have suffered similar or worse experiences and survived very well. So will you. To counteract the feeling of hopelessness, list those assets which you possess. Some of these: family, youth, friends, health, job, home, nature, pets, garden, music, faith, books...

Kindness benefits both ways. Many wise people have stated a very important relationship between our feelings toward others and how we feel. By thinking of and being thoughtful of other people, we get our thoughts away from ourselves and whatever is causing our misery. It's simple according to Benjamin Franklin; "When you are good to others, you are best to yourself."

Anger may seem justified when we have been hurt, however let's review the situation and consider the facts and effects. Who is being harmed by our anger or revenge? If we are sickened and causing ourselves more hurt, what is the sense? On this topic Arnold Bennett in the 1800's surmises; "It's hard to have one's watch stolen, but one reflects that the thief of the watch became a thief from causes of heredity and environment which are as interesting as they are scientifically comprehensible; and one buys another watch, if not with joy, at any rate with a philosophy that makes bitterness impossible."

Stress may attempt to intervene in your daily habits but do not permit it. Visit a peaceful retreat in your imagination, and at different times during the day, go there to calm your feelings. Picture it in vivid detail. Perhaps a comfortable room with soft music. A quiet place in the woods. A placid fishing lake. A beautiful garden with flowers, trees, birds, water falls. Perhaps such a place already exists for you. While you are there, let go of everything except where you are.

Guilt? Go easy on yourself and accept that we all make mistakes, or have done some very bad things that we so wish that we had not done. We can think about these but only long enough to review them initially; then make amends if possible, and if you want to. Finally determine better actions in future situations such as a avoiding experiences that result in guilt by not judging, blaming, or harming others - or yourself.

Love is such an asset but it can also involve problems with differences in opinion, manners and actions. One description of a long term loving relationship might be the desire for two people to spend their lives together, with a continuing compassion for each other through good and bad times. Joseph Addison put it quite nicely, "Two persons who have chosen each other out of all the species with a design to be each other's mutual comfort and entertainment have, in that action, bound themselves to be good-humored, affable, discreet, forgiving, patient, and joyful, with respect to each other's frailties and perfections, to the end of their lives."

In criticizing others we can make ourselves look bad and there can be repercussions. On the other hand listening and making an effort to see others' viewpoints results in less pressure to perform and tasks at hand will be made easier. The added friendliness returned to us will be uplifting. "He will succeed if he remains firm in principle and goes beyond selfish considerations to mingle freely with those who do not share his feelings, as well as those who do." - I Ching

Sleep tight suggestions. Quietly relaxing in the evening is most helpful to a peaceful night and a better tomorrow. An alcohol nightcap is relaxing but unfortunately usually sets a mental alarm clock for about 2am. Trying to put yourself to sleep has the opposite effect, so instead of clamping your eyes tight try leaving them lightly open to roam the room, or fix them on an insignificant object. Think peaceful scenes. Count sheep or count deep breaths. You can also consider that you do not need so much sleep and limit tossing to 15-20 minutes. Then get up and watch some boring TV or work on an easy crossword puzzle which will direct your mind away from what was agitating it. This can work very well and an hour or more of this and a return to bed can result in a sound shortened sleep.

Humility as well as self-confidence is necessary in a well-balanced life and this gives us a sound approach to interacting with other people. They feel good and we feel good, and another friend is added value in our lives. "Friendship improves happiness and abates misery by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief." - Marcus Cicero (BC)

So to improve our lives we can do what we would do to learn a trade, art or game; we can read and practice. A good place to start is the self-help or self-improvement section of the public library or bookstore. If you think that this is an odd place in which to be seen, think again. There are very many big selling self-help titles to choose from. These books are popular reading. Start with the most popular books on various self-help topics. Reread the better ones, highlight the best phrases, and take notes. Set aside fifteen minutes a day to help make good thinking and happy, satisfied feelings a way of life. It could be the best time investment you ever made.

Always consider professional medical help with difficult physical and mental health problems. We should not shy away from anything that could improve our lives.

This article is based on Grampa Ken's 32 KEYS A Collection of Ideas About Life. An online booklet online since 1999, it began with the accumulation of a few helpful tips on living well, much needed along the journey to here.

Short url to this article -
* You may excerpt this post with a link back. Bookmark or share it also, if you wish.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button