The Recipe for a Happy Life: Happiness Is a Way of Life, Not an End

Happiness is at once the best, the noblest and the pleasantest of things. ~ Aristotle

Dance PartyNo single formula exists
for a happy life. We are each unique beings with differing needs and values. Many tools are available to aid you in living happily, many paths; but the foundation for that life includes a few essentials: love, virtue, effort, a clear mind, and meaning.

Chief among these elements is love,
without which life is empty – not romantic love (which can be tasty and delicious) but love of self. Self-love is synonymous with self-respect or personal worth; with it we’re able to receive love, without it we instead build barriers to others. Being able to take in love is the first step to giving love and to being happy.

Virtue is a challenge
for all of us! But its role in creating happiness is made clear in the words of Confucius: “Virtue is never left to stand alone. He who has it will have neighbors.” Living a life of virtue is a safety net for everyone on the path to becoming a joy magnet because it connects us firmly to our community. It is a synonym for giving and love, the golden rule.

True effort is required
to achieve any worthwhile objective in life, but it must be made with the correct goal in mind. Many people work diligently but make hardly any progress. Whether you call it joy, peace, or freedom, know that your goal is great happiness. See your life as one giant experiment. Life is a struggle full of landmines, there is no doubt about that. Develop the determination to overcome challenges. Bill Reidler, one of my best teachers, once gave a friend excellent advice about this: “Pick something and be willing to really screw it up!” He meant for her to take risks, to dare to live a noble, most excellent life.

MeditationA clear mind is the light
that guides us to fulfillment. Perhaps this is the most difficult of the happiness requirements for anyone to implement. I believe the reason for this is that it is very hard for us to step out of our own skin, to see ourselves as we really are rather than how we imagine ourselves to be. I also believe clarity of mind can be learned; it can be practiced. The best tools for this are daily doses of humility, listening, and meditation.

These four ingredients
– love, virtue, effort, and a clear mind – give our lives substance and direction. Yet they are not enough; meaning is still lacking. To be happy you must be true to yourself; you must seek and live that which makes your heart sing. Your life and your work must be significant – to you. Treat yourself also to the pleasures of life. A hedonistic life is fun and seductive, but will never suffice to create happiness. However, a life bereft of pleasure won’t either. We should be passionate both about our work and about those things that make us feel good: the myriad sensations and sweetness of nature.

In the book “Happier,” Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar
Mountain Climbingsays, “Becoming happier is a lifelong pursuit.” He makes the point that we do well to approach fulfillment as a process rather than a finite end. A clearly defined goal creates for us the freedom to live the goal. We know where we’re going and we have the tools; now we can stop obsessing or worrying about it and get busy living it.
David Cantu
Marriage Counselor Austin, Texas
Happiness Is a Way of Life, Not an End (article) © 2009

Ecclesiastes 1:12,13

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

Getting to Know Yourself Better Questions

You cannot be yourself or accomplish your desires without first knowing yourself. ~ David Cantu

1. What’s your greatest aspiration?

2. What can you do to nourish it today?
3. What can you do today to live your passion?
4. At the rate you’re going, what will you accomplish in your lifetime?
5. Doing the same things and expecting different results is insane; what can you do to get out of your comfort zone and create the results you really want?
6. Think about the times you say no. How would it benefit you to say yes?
7. We fret about, fight over and crave more of it. What’s your relationship with money?
8. You may enjoy getting angry, but it’s not really doing you any good. What do you want when you get angry that you’re not getting?
9. Be real. What can you do instead of worry?
10. You repeat things in your mind. What might you do to end this crippling habit?
11. What do your friends or family complain about you?
12. You don’t need all that stuff you have. Why not get rid of it?
13. What one thing are you willing to improve in your diet or physical regimen?
14. How do the people in your life want to be loved?
15. Hearing is not listening. At least once today, will you practice listening?
16. What can you do to be more accepting and less critical of others?
17. Giving yourself grief is not good. How can you better love yourself?
18. How are you unique?
19. What do your emotions say about you?
20. For what do you pray?

We are each a pebble
Water Dropthrown into a vast ocean. And like the pebble, every one of our actions creates endless waves rippling around the world. Use these questions as a blueprint to change yourself and create awesome ripples in your life. Show your answers to someone who will give you honest feedback. Have a great day!

David Cantu

Marriage Counselor Austin Texas

Get to Know Yourself, Ask Some Questions (Article) © 2003

 

Luke 17:21

For behold, the kingdom of heaven is within you.

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