I have been studying positive psychology and came across some really basic and straightforward reminders about how to cultivate a life that can be positive and workable. Satisfaction with life occurs where meaning and pleasure meet. Choosing activities that are both personally meaningful and enjoyable makes us both more positive and more capable of dealing with the more difficult and challenging moments.
It is easy to get lost in our feelings. I always say to myself, “Live by faith, not by feelings.” It is important to recognize our feelings and let them move through us the way that weather systems move through the sky. But getting attached to our feelings and building a storyline around them only makes them stay around longer than necessary and confuses us about where we are headed. The more that I get clear about what I am doing inside, the less it matters that there is any evidence about it out there.
Our culture often confuses happiness with stuff. Lately my son is fixated on the new iPad. He is young enough to believe that this device will make him happier. It might distract him for a few days, but it won’t make him happy. Stuff and status have remarkably little to do with how we feel about life and ourselves. Cultivating a loving connection to our selves and the people we live with is where lasting and meaningful happiness grows.
Less is more… it is hard to enjoy anything when there is too much of everything. Quantity does impact quality and having it all often amounts to not really having much of any of it. Living in the body consciously is the most effective method of keeping activity levels in check. The more that I focus on regular exercise, rest, meditation and a healthy diet, the easier it is to give up the extra activities that interfere. Good habits beget more good habits.
The most recent death of a young basketball player on the court just seconds after he sunk the winning points is yet another wake up call that this life is brief, tender and irreplaceable. Make gratitude, feeling it and expressing it, the most important part of every day. Spend time looking at the color of things around you, notice smiles exchanged and take the time to love people.