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4 Lessons on Feeling Happy

Photo by Marcy Kellar
Be content with what you have; rejoice in where you are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

As a conscious gal who’s committed to deepening my relationship with Self and helping others do the same, I’ve learned some potent lessons about the World’s Most-Wanted, elusive state of happiness.

Most often it’s our own expectation and longing for that happy-gassed state that’s actually the culprit of our suffering. The stronger our craving and attachment to the stuff, the less of it we get.

See happiness — like any emotion — checks in and checks out on the regular. It peaks and it wanes and then it doubles back to you.

I used to fret and dread the absence of happiness. I’d perpetuate the darkness by fearing it intensely. Like a dysfunctional relationship, my neediness only repelled the very stuff I wanted for. I’d cling on when happiness arrived, and I’d cry when it left.

How to Be More Optimistic

Photo by AP Photographie
If pessimism is despair, optimism is cowardice and stupidity, is there any need to choose between them?” ~Francis Parker Yockey

On one of my husband and my first camping trips together, we were walking down a wooded trail next to a crisp mountain river. The heat was severe, as it was mid-August.

“Ugh,” my husband said. “This heat is so oppressive.”

“Yeah, but we’re about to go swimming,” I replied. “Don’t be so pessimistic.”

“The difference between my pessimism and your optimism is that I’m optimistic about the big things and you’re only optimistic about the small things,” he replied. “I think my pessimism is better than your optimism.”

I hated to admit it, but he was right. I would worry constantly about whether our relationship was working but blindly skip along, happy to ignore the 100 degree heat.

Before that I used to think everyone should be an optimist, but I don’t think that’s really what we should all be aiming for.

4 Tips for Being Yourself

Photo by Alba Soler
Let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you are. ~Brené Brown

Do you ever fear that who you are isn’t enough — you put on a mask and become someone you’re not to avoid rejection?

This has been me for most of my life. From a young age I never felt as though I was good enough. Growing up as an introvert surrounded by extroverts was what first got me questioning myself.

Everyone seemed to love the opposite of what I was. I felt unloved, and I became ashamed of myself.

This was the beginning of many years of self-destruction. I so desperately wanted to be accepted and loved by others. I did whatever it took to be what I thought people wanted to see. Even if it wasn’t in line with who I was and what I truly valued.

I hid behind a mask. I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. It was my protection from allowing people to get to know the real me so I could avoid rejection. This is how I lived for 23 years.

6 Reasons to Travel Alone

Photo by Chantel Beam
Everything's mine though just on loan, nothing for the memory to hold, though mine as long as I look. ~Wislawa Szymborska

I always had the impression that time was passing too fast, that I was not fulfilling my potential and that I was lost in a world, which I was struggling to get to know even in a small part.

I always wanted to travel, but I didn’t know how to start. I was insecure about my own decisions, but first and foremost I was afraid to do it alone.

One day I just decided to finally leave all these concerns at home and go traveling by myself. I decided to book tickets to places I had never been, pack my backpack and escape to a new part of the world for almost a year.

After visiting 40 countries, I can assure you that being your own captain while crossing into unknown lands is the most self-developing experience it is possible to have. Let me explain to you why.

5 Ways to Stop Worrying

Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read
Behind all this, some great happiness is hiding. ~Yehuda Amichai

I woke up excited about the day ahead. It was a year after I’d left my job and a promising new way of life was taking shape.

I wrote for an hour at my big wooden desk in the morning light. With rich Castro coffee and a cat curled near my feet, I felt expansive and loved.

The promise of breakfast wafted through the house as I headed for the shower. In the shower, an idea for a fun blog post series came to me, and I found myself singing an ABBA tune.

But then it hit me. 

This is not normal. This can’t be right. Mama mia! I’ve been happy for too long this morning.

5 Secrets to a Happier Today

Photo by Moyan Brenn
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. ~Henri Nouwen

“If I’m not fully happy right now in this moment, nothing will ever make me happy.”

The thought struck me as I stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing the dishes. It appeared organically, but it felt like something I already knew, a conclusion I was returning to, not recognizing for the first time.

One of those moments where you say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”

It wasn’t a moment that I should have been happy — one of those milestones in which happiness is actually a requirement, i.e. graduations, weddings, etc.

It was ordinary. I was tackling a mundane task and thinking about what I needed to get done in the next 24 hours.

Yet, in a moment of clarity — one I didn’t muscle into fruition — I recognized that everything I had longed, begged and dreamt about a year ago was there, in my current experience.

6 Tips to Heal a Broken Heart

Photo by Arif Akhtar
When you protect yourself from pain, be sure you do not protect yourself from love. ~Alah Cohen

Many times in life we are faced with an experience where we pour our heart and soul into a situation and/or relationship only to have our heart broken.

We feel like all of our efforts were in vain, and although we gave our all, we are standing in the midst of the rubble that remains.

Often what happens after such an experience is that we decide that we will never allow ourselves to get hurt like that again, and so we do the smart thing and shut down.

We close off our hearts and are extremely cautious when it comes to love or any situation which requires us to open our heart and soul. We want proof that any venture of the heart is secure and safe.

How to Accept Yourself Fully

Photo by Shannon
We accept the love we think we deserve. ~Steven Chbosky

I’ve been going through life feeling like a fraud.

Every time a friend expressed awe over my seemingly perfect life, I gulped a big one and prayed they would never realize what my banal day-to-day existence was really like.

When I was in school, at every exam I hoped that this wouldn’t be the first one I would fail miserably, starting a chain reaction of terrible grades, followed by flunking out of school and ending up on the street … or in jail.

How to Make Your Dream a Reality

Photo by Gala Darling
There are seven days in a week, and Someday isn’t one of them.

To me, these two seemingly innocuous words, “some” and “day,” when put together are the most empty and depressing seven letters in our language.

They are a synonym for “never” and “ain’t going to happen.” They are the lie we tell ourselves for a dream that we will never ever, in our lifetime, accomplish. It is belied in the tone of voice — faithless and empty — this combo of words usually parenthesized by a pair of audible sighs.

Sigh, “Someday I’m going to …” Sigh.

Once again we have deceived and cheated ourselves. Whatever happened to carpe diem? Seize the day? Yesterday I was reminded again of the danger of someday.

4 Tips to Manage Ego and Find Bliss

Photo by Kasia Skrzypek
We must go beyond the constant clamor of ego, beyond the tools of logic and reason, to the still, calm place within us: the realm of the soul. ~Deepak Chopra

Imagine it is a beautiful day. The sky is blue and the sun is shining bright. There is a light breeze that just feels like a gentle hug. You are walking down your favorite street. Everything you see is just beautiful.

As you walk, your sense of peace increases. You then turn the corner and all of a sudden dark clouds appear out of nowhere. The sky turns dark. The gentle breeze is replaced with powerful winds. Pretty soon, you are pushing yourself against the wind. You think you are moving forward but actually you are stuck.

This darkness that appeared is not the weather. It is what happens when you stray from your innate nature — bliss — and succumb to the power of the ego.

Have you noticed that some people have sparkles in their eyes, shining with joy, while others seem to be traveling with a storm cloud over their head, consumed by problems? Those who exude joy don’t have fewer life challenges, they’ve just figured out ways to better handle their egoic mind.

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