Happiness, is a practice. We will call it the Happy Habit.

Happiness is something you can have despite all you have been through.  There are many examples of happiness in human history.  People whom survived war, concentration camps, abuse, personal hardship, that have still achieved happiness in their life.

Life’s problems can steal so much from us.  Some problems are temporary even though they feel long lasting.  There are long lasting problems that can drain us.  A few happiness habits can fortify us and give us inner strength and peace of mind.  Striving to do just a few of these can improve your outlook.

We must first identify what has us unhappy or miserable.  Are there circumstances that seem out of our control?  Did we bring any of these troubles on ourselves?  Are we a victum?  Is it just because we live in a world that is suffering too? The July magazines on http://www.jw.org  helps with anxieties and getting control of our lives where possible.

What I would like to address is injustices happen all too frequently.  My mother in law, Marcia, whom just turned 98, her parents were immagrants, and her father was killed by a hit and run driver when she was 16.  She was raised during the great depression, and then later being newly married her husband went off to WW11.  Typically during those times she found she was pregnant and he was overseas.  She had to be brave and strong on the home front, working and bearing her three sons.  Later she suffered the loss of her middle son in a vehicle accident.  And her youngest son was seriously maimed in the vietnam war.  Yet, she has practiced some happiness habits all these years.  I have learned so much from her.

Happiness Habits:

Upon waking in the morning I pray to Jehovah to give me wisdom and discernment.  We are confronted with so many situations and choices each day.  If we respond to situations with wisdom than we may have less frustrations and consequences to deal with.  If we are discerning, it means we might not react too quickly before truly considering a situation and the possible outcomes.  Of course I am not talking about being indecisive.  Just, diminishing impulsiveness.  Life is hard enough without adding to our troubles.  This approach helps with anger management too.  Jehovah promises anyone whom asks for wisdom and discernment he will freely give it to them.  How generous, the happy god wants us to be happy too.

Take a moment, let’s say you have a break at work, instead of burying your nose in your phone or ipad, sit outside and observe nature, or take a brief walk during your lunch or break.  My mother in law, Marcia, whom is 98 today has one habit that she has always done, she takes a walk each day, she sits outside and observes nature.  She has a clear, active mind, and she still takes her daily walk with her dog Mikey.  She has a routine, and she looks at her watch and she knows what she should be doing when.  Marcia still does her own laundry, and paperwork, she reads the newspaper and is interested in people, places, and events.  When I call and say let’s go and do this tomorrow, she says, no, I have laundry to do tomorrow.  The next day I can do it.  I am always impressed with her simple reasoning on things I tend to overcomplicate.  Being impulsive, I am learning to slow down and work things around my own schedule and routine.

When you are handicapped, it is vital to still strive to practice a routine.  It gives your life sanity and peace.  When you cannot do all you have planned, it makes a difference.  You did what you could and accomplishment is satisfying.

Having a routine is vital for happiness.  Include good things in your routine, if I decide to fuel my car on Friday, take it to the car wash, and vaccume it out, then it is ready for the next weeks activity.  My husband actually does this for me, and I have come to appreciate it.  I like to go to the Barnes and Noble and browse books and magazines.  It is a real treat.  Plan something nice to do after you clean out the car.  Go have a coffee and snack, enjoy it at the establishment.  Keep the car clean.  Your work mates see in your car, your family sees in your car, and you see in your car.  I met a man once whom kept his car so immaculant that it looked like it was still on the sales lot.  I told him,” I am so impressed with how beautifully clean your car looks”.  I had just pulled up next to this car at the gas station and had to comment.  People notice for the good or not so good.

Your esteem is fragile, so invest in your esteem with healthy habits.  Have a date with yourself to read the book Of Psalms or Proverbs.  Read a few minutes a day if you like.  Just keep your goals reasonable.  Do not say “I will read an hour a day.”  Each day is different.  Just prayerfully consider and read a chapter, and if you like, do another.  It doesn’t matter how much you read, but how much you meditate on what you read, reflecting on how beneficial the application of the material can be.

I love these adult coloring books.  It makes a great present for anyone you want to encourage.  You can use colored pencils or fine point markers.  The designs are really interesting.  If you just want to wind down, you can color for a few minutes.  I do not put it on myself to finish in a sitting.  I may say, “I will color a couple of the flowers today.” and you get to choose the colors.  Your choice, your in control.  You do not have to be perfect, it is not up for inspection by others.  It is for your own pleasure.  I purchased one for my friend Sandy whom has MS when I was at Barnes and Noble the other day, and I purchased one for myself.  I have not done much yet, but I have done some.  It is wonderful.

My friend Olivia, told me you can download pages and print them out to color.

Express love, appreciation, and approval often for those you share a home with, and those you work with. Exercise consideration, complain less, and Thank more.  Help loved ones with the chores in the house.

Let your employer know what you appreciate about them and all they do to manage your department.  It is a hard task to be an employer.  Ask if there is anything you can do to lighten their load.  Is there something they can delegate to you.  Be a help. Everyone wants a raise, do our employers know we appreciate them?  An acquaintance whom got a bonus told me that a couple days later the boss sent everyone a text message because no one thanked him and he expressed hurt and annoyance.  The boss is a person too.

Call and check in on your family members.  Make time to meet a family member for a coffee.  Have a rule that no phones are to be messed with, just talk and listen.  Ask what they have been doing lately, what are they currently interested in, and what future goals are they working toward.  How many do not even know how their mates or teenagers would answer this.

Marcia loved learning, she took decorating classes, and attended community events.  She did not mind doing things on her own, she just went and enjoyed herself.  Marcia has traveled the world.  She enjoyed great music.  I enjoy listening to her and all the adventures she was involved in.

Do not have large expectations of others.  Expectations of others can lead to great disappointment.  One person I know is really generous, but their expectations of others response to their generosity cause them to feel hurt and disappointment.  Give freely, and the best time to give is when it is not expected.  People do not express themselves the way we would want them to, but it does not mean they don’t feel appreciation.  The action of giving is a joy.

We went to Maine to see my family and friends last May, a about 25 years ago I lived there and attended a congregation there.  So when visiting, a friend I did not recognize came up to me and told me I had taught her how to sew.  She was wearing a skirt she had sewn recently and was very proud of it.  That made me feel so good she was making use of a skill I have taught her and so many over the decades.   Someone took a lot of time to teach me fine sewing skills.   Jesus said, you receive free, you give free.  Share your craft with others, all will be blessed.  I wish Betty whom taught me was still alive so I could tell her how much it meant to me her teaching me how to sew so well.  I am sure I did not tell her thank you then like I would now.  I know I said thank you, but now I have so much more I would tell her.  Her son contacted me a few years ago and said I was her all time favorite student and he sent this expensive nice machine of hers with all the specialty feet and attachments.  That was so kind, and it made me feel really good.

During the civil war, and WW1 and WW11, women did their needlepoint.  Their mens lives were at stake, and their life as they knew it was on the line.  Practicing daily habits helped them preserve a sense of control, even the habit of sitting down at a particular time for their tea.  There was a time to practice their music, and there was a time to call on each other, and there was a time to sit and do some needlepoint.  When they did their embroidery or knitting or sewing they had something beautiful to focus on, and there was a sense of accomplishment, and they could look forward to the finished product.  Visiting a yarn shop you can discover some classes or group projects.  Yesterday I went to the yarn shop for some special instruction in some knitting tequniques I had trouble doing.  Having dyslexia, I am slow to learn and apt to get things backwards.  It was one little thing I was getting backwards and she figured it out and took the time with me. While I am recuperating from my hernia surgery I can practice what I learned.  Give it a try, learn something new.  Earn a little esteem.

At night, pray to Jehovah and thank him for the good in your life.  If you are depressed and cannot recognize the good in your life, ask Jehovah to help you see the good in your life.  Ask him to help you be joyful.  If you have problems that you cannot cope with, tell him, and ask him to help you find a way to address your situation for a better outcome.

These are some happiness habits that Marcia and I practice.  Despite life’s challenges, joy can be achieved.

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