Three simple steps to living more happily

Whether we're young or older, life is a continuous learning channel. Have you noticed?

By now I know that some "little" things can make big changes in our lives. Here are three: Blog. Happy woman. 10.13

1.    Get real.

2.    Get focused.

3.    Get thankful.

Curious? Read on.

1.  Get real

We ought not expect the people around us to be on our wave length. They're individuals, remember?

So it shouldn't surprise us that even people we feel closest to often don't immediately grasp the meaning of what we say to them. And vice versa. This explains why any two people so often talk past each other.

I well remember the first time I gave my husband one of those "poor little me" remarks, thinking my groom would understand and see my point. Instead, he replied, "Honey, you're only disappointed because you expected me to do that and I didn't. But you never asked or even hinted. How was I supposed to know what you wanted?"

Once I got over being annoyed I realized my practical guy was right. Like many women I value spontaneous gestures and like most men, he wasn't wired that way.

A small bit of common sense reminds us that flowery gestures come cheap--and can be empty. A good marriage thrives on honesty, faithfulness and loving through whatever comes. So does any close relationship or friendship. 

Getting real means steering clear of comparisons and if onlys, too. That's harder to do in the face of social media and because we stare at screens so much of the time.

It's time we engrave this on the hard drive of our minds: Except for live interviews and action shots, everything we see on TV or on Facebook, Instagram, and the like has been carefully staged.

(Think about it. Would you post a photo or video depicting your family and yourself in the midst of a bad day?) 

Nevertheless, distractions like TV shows and social media can be enticing traps. We look at what's onscreen and then contemplate our "imperfect" lives and get depressed.

We get depressed because we forget that we see only what they want us to see.

2.  Get focused

Whether we realize it or not, we constantly telegraph--and pick up--messages by what we focus on.

I saw that play out at lunchtime one day. At the next table a dad and his little girl, maybe four years old, were having lunch. Throughout their meal Daddy talked with his daughter and she talked back, with lots of smiles and giggles. He picked her up when they finished and she buried her face in his neck. He carried her out and both were grinning from ear to ear.

Tables around them held other couples and families, everyone engrossed in their smart phones or electronic gadgets and grabbing bites. Nobody smiled and nobody talked to anybody, at least not to any live person sitting at the same table. When they finished eating they simply got up and walked out, still focused on their electronic gadgets. I doubt I could have counted five smiles among that group.

The contrast pained my heart. The daddy and daughter deepened their relationship and enhanced their family's strength and love. The others, the ones who hardly spoke to each other, satisfied their hunger and their curiosity of the moment. Nothing more.

I'll not forget that day because it felt as if I were observing a case study in the ways people interact with others. Or lack of same.

That lunchtime drove home an important truth for me: What and whom we focus on plays a huge part in our moods and how we view our lives.

3.  Get thankful

To simply be thankful can become a habit but for some of us progress may be slow.

For years I've been working to learn the art of tuning my awareness toward the good rather than getting hung up on what I perceive as my life's insufficiencies or annoyances. I don't have it nailed yet, but I've made progress. I see the difference in my moods and outlook on life.

I know now how much it lifts my mood all day if I start by thanking God for what is and ask His strength and blessing for the day.

At bedtime I wrap up the day by thanking the Giver for the good stuff and saying a simple, "Thank you, Lord." Then I commit people I'm concerned about and whatever troubles me to God's loving care. Most of the time that helps me drift off to sleep with a smile.  

As always, the Bible shows us how: 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

Once we learn to fix our thoughts on what is real and what is right in our lives and in the people we love, living more happily naturally follows. Instead of scowling and complaining about what's wrong with the world, we can fasten on God's goodness in the midst of it all--and smile.

(Besides, they say smiling helps stave off wrinkles.)

Still learning,


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