“Happiness isn’t some elusive treasure we chase after…it’s a state of being we need to practice.” ~ Brian Johnson
What if true happiness was truly easy? What if all we had to do each day is hit (or come close!) to ten easy targets so we could fall into bed each night feeling more content, more at ease, and more in love with our lives than ever before? What if happiness was as simple as ticking things off a ‘to do’ list?
We know from eating the foods we love that certain ingredients just go together. We should think of this list as a recipe for happiness! Incorporating these ten items into every 24 hour period will help us feed our mind, body, and soul what it needs to achieve the ongoing sense of well being we seek.
Of course there will be challenges and we will fall short sometimes. There will be days we miss every opportunity, and these targets, for one reason or another, will remain elusive. But if we use this short list as a guideline to “cover the basics,” we’ll be doing exactly what it takes for sustained human happiness. And it’s a recipe that isn’t too difficult or overwhelming to follow.
Are you ready? If you are, take aim and fire away!
Target 1: Water. Sip, sip and sip some more! Good, clean water replenishes our body so that it will function efficiently, burn calories, stave off hunger, and keep us energized. It offers us a cleansing, healing antidote to the toxins of our daily grind, while serving to hydrate the living, breathing Earth organisms we surely are. Drink up!
Target 2: Sleep. Catch some shut eye! Proper rest is extremely important to feeling balanced. A regular bed and wake up time directly affects how we feel all day long. Old habits die hard, but the more we hit our target for ample rest, the better we feel about everything and the more centered we become.
Target 3: Movement. Run that body around! Get off the couch. Stand up and walk through the office. Park far away from every door to every store. Take a lap around the neighborhood. Hike that hill. We can’t sit at a desk all day and then ride a stationary bike for 45 minutes at the gym after work and believe we moved our bodies enough. It’s great, but it’s not enough. We must incorporate exercise throughout the course of our day whenever possible. And yes, it’s always possible.
Target 4: Laughter. Find the joke! Look for the humor. Every day there are funny moments that not only work to soothe stress, they also keep us from taking ourselves and our predicaments too seriously. When we poke a bit of fun into everyday situations, at work, with our families, our happiness becomes the by product of these bits and bursts playful amusement. Plus, we’ll have some good stories to tell at the dinner table.
Target 5: Nutrition. Newsflash: Health is about not dieting! To be truly happy, there’s no dieting allowed! Isn’t that great? The target should be to simply give our body what it needs. Respect it enough to feed it clean, pesticide free, organic, ripe, juicy, whole, unfiltered, unprocessed, real food with real nutrients that will work like magic to make us feel great, look good, keep off the weight, fight certain diseases, and help our bodies run like well oiled machines.
Target 6: Meditation. Quiet please! Moments of silent reflection, mantras, solitary focus, and prayer are a must during the course of any happy day. As much as we need connection with others, we also crave that very connection with ourselves. The target? 5 minutes alone with our thoughts, in a quiet space. Meditation help us feel calm, collected, and wholly rational.
Target 7: Do Something. Finish a project! Achieve a small goal. Create. Do at least one thing each day that requires real concentration and conscientious action. Is it a crossword puzzle? Rearranging a garden? Voting? Is it giving our time and talent to our community? Working toward the completion of something each day is the savory part of any recipe for happiness. We are happy when we enjoy the journey and sense of peace that comes from of the accomplishment of doing something meaningful.
Target 8: Love. Show it! Say it! Make it! Find it! Do it! Love is a beautiful verb. When we give it often and freely, without return expectations, we will watch it come back to us (and through us) in more ways imagined or counted.
Target 9: Kindness. Engage in random acts of kindness! Small, large, it doesn’t matter. Learn to recognize opportunities as they arise. We are all presented with situations where we can simply choose kindness over apathy. When we choose kindness, we make another person’s life a little easier and a little more bearable. Acts of kindness are boomerangs. When we make others feel good about the power of humanity at its best, we end up feeling good (and happy!) in return.
Target 10: Engagement. Have a conversation! Resolve a heavy conflict, or lightly talk about the weather. Daily social engagement is important. Understanding other perspectives keeps things interesting. Processing another person’s point of view might just be the inspiring piece of a puzzle we’re trying to solve in our own lives. Connection with others does one of two things: it helps us expand our mindset, or it validates our convictions. Both are daily requirements for happiness.
When life feels overwhelming, or beyond our control, it’s often best to simplify. We can’t think of happiness as a far off intangible thing we’ll “obtain” some glorious day in the future. We live in a complicated world, but we can streamline the way we achieve our own sense of well being by consciously trying our best to hit these ten targets every day. If we’re feeling unhappy, and we can’t seem to get out of the rut we’ve found ourselves in, crossing off the items on this list just might make a difference. And it’s important to remember that it’s the practicing itself, not the idea of perfection that makes this recipe for happiness work.