5 Lessons for Happiness

Woman at beach Jorge Sanmartín Maïssa

1. Choose your company wisely. Who you surround yourself with, you become.
We are all energy — constantly absorbing and giving it off to others. If you subject yourself to peers who are negative, insecure or destructive, it will affect you. Regardless of your strength as an individual, you are not immune to a constant surrounding of negative energy or bad influence. Your friendships, just like everything in your life, need updating. They need to be reassessed from time to time to determine if they are still working in your life.

2. Create a set of rules for yourself. Determine your value system and use your moral compass to guide you.
We exert energy and focus on our financial and business plans but don’t devote the time to create a personal life plan. No, not the vacations you want to take or the type of house you want to buy — but the kind of person you want to be. What are the values and morals that will guide you to become the person you want to be, everyday? What rules will you set for yourself and abide by with discipline to stay course in a positive, healthy direction? How will you practice integrity in a reactive and unpredictable world? Without a values compass, it is easy to make decisions that will steer you off course and in the opposite direction of the person you want to be. And along the way, you’ll ultimately make decisions that will hurt yourself and others.

3. Courage is having the strength to be vulnerable.
We live in a society where we are rewarded for moving forward, and the quicker, the better. When we feel pain, we numb it, medicate it and distract it so we can block it out — a strategy that has damaging consequences in the long run. We equate strength with those who can champion through any challenge or hardship with efficiency and speed. While this may work in the corporate world, it doesn’t work with matters of the heart. It doesn’t work with mourning loss, or when dealing with deep, powerful emotions. True courage is not blocking out your emotions, it’s having the strength to deal with them, to handle yourself and others with care even when you’re down.

4. Respect your body – take care of it and be selective with who you share it with.
We can blame the media, we can blame history, we can blame society – but whomever you point the finger to, deep down inside I think we all know that our body is sacred and our health, a precious gift. Yet so many people fail to treat their own bodies with love, care and respect. In the wise words of my friend SK, “Be the gatekeeper.”

Your body is a temple. Be selective. Respect it and be respected. Love yourself and be loved. If you don’t respect and love yourself first, building a healthy relationship with another is like building a house with no foundation — eventually the cracks and lack of a strong base will cause it to crumble.

5. Don’t let any one thing be your everything. Set yourself up so when life throws a curveball at you, you aren’t completely wiped off your feet.
You will lose your job. You will have your heart broken. The one person you thought would never hurt you will disappoint you. You will experience losing someone special. You will fall. And you will get up. Life’s curveballs are inevitable, therefore position yourself so that the “getting up” part is not so crippling. Save enough so that if you do lose your job you have some breathing room financially. In relationships, remember to have balance, your own hobbies and independence. It creates a healthier dynamic so if you do ever break up, then you haven’t lost your entire sense of self. It’s never a healthy scenario if you let one external variable be responsible for most of your happiness and security. Don’t let any one thing be your everything.

Photo credit: Jorge Sanmartín Maïssa

6 Comments

  • Reply March 5, 2013

    Julene Vincenti

    Amy, wonderfully and so eloquently written. It is so important for us to be reminded of the important things in life. Your articles certainly bring a focus back to a place we so often forget about and neglect. I have printed this particular article to share with my 3 girls (now 4, 2, and 9 mo) when they are ready. Thank you for saying what I as a mother could not have said better.

  • Reply March 7, 2013

    Kris

    I stumbled across you. I’m a firm believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason. We are small but powerful forces in a plan greater than us. Your articles are electric. You can tell that you have lived and learned…the learning being the most important. I just turned 26. Having my own demons I’ve wrestled with all my life, I have a tendency to lose focus. I’m extremely delighted to have found your column. It’s a great thing, seeing other women with a certain distinction that I someday would like to obtain. Thank you for being you and not being afraid to share it with the world. To leave you with this, it is my sincerest way of showing my gratitude for finding another strong woman in this life.

    “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
    ― Maya Angelou

    Thank you,
    Kris

  • Reply May 30, 2013

    Josee

    Thank you for your words of wisdom Amy. You give me energy to grab life with my two hands and be the leader of it. Thank you.

  • Reply June 5, 2013

    Jun

    Hi Amy, thank you so much for sharing this. I have recently been grappling with a few of the issues you highlighted above i.e. losing job, losing someone special, finding another special someone, giving up things, all in the span of 8 months. It was, and still is, a rollercoaster ride. From experiences of the past, I learned to be very selective with who I share it with. But I broke my own rule recently, which was devastating. I started punishing myself and became utterly harsh on myself. After I read this, I realise that I should give myself room for error. I am, after all, 25. Without these mistakes, I will never learn.

    Again, thank you.

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