In the natural world, only change is permanent. Observe an oak tree as it experiences the cycles of the seasons: it is flexible in the wind and rain, deriving its strength from its deep roots. As part of nature, human beings are also subject to life cycles. Accepting that flux will take you a long way toward serenity. Like the oak tree, you have your own psychological “seasons” to weather. As you age, you must revisit old emotional issues. If you try to ignore them, they will just crop up again, and they can make you sick.
The great myth of modern times is that success will automatically lead to happiness. When you pursue success, you are always trying to move upward and forward. Only those actions that perpetuate the upward and forward thrust of your life feel satisfying. But as you cycle through life, you need strong roots to nourish you and to help you age with grace and wisdom. The direction of happiness is inward and downward. Growth moves from the inside out. “We can no longer keep running faster than our bodies and souls were created to travel. The mind, body and soul have a rhythm, a cadence, which cannot be ignored or disrespected.”
To discover your natural rhythms and become aware of your authentic self, slow down and listen to what nature tells you – and to what you tell yourself. If you allow yourself the quiet time to find and listen to your inner voice, your true purpose will begin to reveal itself. To find the correct balance between your work and the rest of your life, explore the connections among yourself, your family, your work and your community.
Listen to Your Body
Such surrender can be difficult since most people are control freaks. But by relinquishing your ego attachments you open the door to new, deep, authentic connections. Though about 50% of how you experience happiness is genetic, the other half is up to you. Genetics aside, choices within your control can help you live a happier, healthier life. It is small shifts in awareness and simple practices that will guide you to a level of happiness and balance that will dramatically change your life.
Science is confirming the idea that a mind-body-spirit connection forms the basis of human wellbeing. Research validates the common sense notion that caring for your physical health increases your happiness: get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly and eat a low-fat, high-fibre diet. Challenge yourself to approach every experience as an opportunity to learn. Attitude is crucial. The physical act of smiling is not only a result of happiness; it also leads to happiness. Laughing releases healing endorphins, reduces stress and enhances brain function.
When you practice an “attitude of gratitude” – helping others, being generous, developing your spiritual side and practicing forgiveness – you increase your optimism and good feelings. You cannot fully experience stress and gratitude at the same time. Altruistic acts combat negative feelings and reduce stress by increasing your emotional strength and energy.
Compassion is the bedrock of the great world religions. It is not simply empathy; it requires action. You must choose it.