How to be Happy…Putting the Pieces Together

I can’t remember where I found this but I think it’s a great reminder. Some of these come easy for me but others are a constant work in progress.

puzzle 238x300 How to be Happy...Putting the Pieces TogetherContrary to popular belief, happiness isn’t something that just happens. You have to work on being happy. To help you with that, here are 42 happiness tips and tidbits:

1. Just be yourself.

2. Realize that you’re fighting against a world of your own creation.

3. Know that your happiness is independent of how much stuff you own.

4. Change yourself instead of expecting the world to change to meet your expectations.

5. Define happiness as peace, tranquility, and serenity.

6. Remember there’s no such thing as the perfect life.

7. Your happiness is equal to your ability to love.

8. Stop thinking of what you don’t want.

9. Just for today, pretend that you have amnesia about anything that stresses or worries you.

10. Truly believe that everything you go through has a higher purpose.

11. Don’t turn small problems into big ones.

12. Stop comparing yourself to others.

13. Remember that envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.

14. Set limits with people who drain your energy.

15. Surround yourself with positive, mood-elevating people.

16. Nothing has to happen outside of yourself for you to be happy.

17. When you change your thoughts you literally rewire your brain; start rewiring your brain for happiness.

18. Be very careful of where you choose to place your attention.

19. Don’t criticize anyone—including yourself—for 24 hours.

20. Try turning the stories that you tell yourself about what happens in your life into comedies instead of dramas.

21. Make a list of the things you need in order to be truly happy; make it a really short list. (Here’s an example: Having good health, sufficient money for food and shelter, no debts, loving friends and family, and something meaningful to work toward).

22. Keep a happiness journal in which you write down only the things that make you happy.

23. Set SMART goals and then create a paint-by-numbers plan to achieve them.

24. Spend a few minutes each day thinking about things that make you happy.

25. Find your passion.

26. Savor the little things.

27. Schedule short, frequent vacations; studies show that the anticipation leading up to the time off is one of the best parts about taking a vacation.

28. Engage in humility; you can only carry the burden of pride and of having a huge ego for so long before you crack under the pressure of upholding your incredible significance.

29. Dr. Timothy Sharp recommends that you set aside “worry time”. There may be an issue that is bothering you and that you need to sit down and think through. Schedule some time in which you’re going to think about the issue and then put it out of your mind until then.

30. Accept the things you cannot change.

31. Keep in mind that we tend to overestimate how likely it is that something bad will happen. We also tend to overestimate how bad things will be if something negative does happen.

32. Talk to yourself in the way in which you would talk to someone you really care about and respect.

33. Try something new.

34. Identify your greatest strengths, and then to try to use these strengths in new ways.

35. Keep an “unhappiness log” so that you can keep track of things such as the following:

* Are there specific things or people that trigger emotions in you that are not conducive to happiness?
* Is there someone in particular who is constantly making you angry?
* Are there certain situations in which you become irritable and can easily become upset? For example, if you’re hungry or haven’t had enough sleep.
* Is there a particular situation that creates anxiety or frustration in your life?

The aim of keeping an “unhappiness log” is to identify specific things that trigger anger, frustration, anxiety, and so on in you so that you can plan on how to deal with these situations before they happen.

36. Give in to temptation once in a while: eat that chocolate sundae (with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top), splurge on a day at the spa, or read the mystery novel instead of answering the 100th email.

37. Although it is important to “know thyself”—as Socrates advised—don’t take self-introspection to the level of navel-gazing. That’s just not conducive to happiness. It’s just not.

38. In the Mahabharata– one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India –there is a passage which says “That person who lives in their own home, eats and lives simply and has no debt to anyone; they are truly happy in this world”. Simplify!

39. Think of the saying: “It’s not where you stand but the direction in which you face.” If things aren’t going well for you, just think of where you would like to be and start taking baby steps to move in that direction.

40. Shift from a victim to a creator mentality.

41. Release negative feelings and emotions and allow the happiness that lies underneath those feelings to emerge.

42. As Charles Schulz would say, “Happiness is a side dish of French fries” and “Happiness is a warm puppy.”

The Iron by Henry Rollins

I spend a lot of time reading articles on various topics. I read a lot of good articles and a lot of great ones as well but every so often something crosses my path that truly moves and inspires me. The Iron is the latter.
The Iron was written by Henry Rollins, former Black Flag vocalist, current spoken word artist, prolific author, actor, radio host, TV host, and documentarian. The article is from a 1994 Details magazine but has been posted all over the Web.

While The Iron can be taken literally when working out, The Iron can also be taken metaphorically, as a symbol for the road blocks often run into when striving to reach goals.

barbell shoulder press 300x235 The Iron by Henry Rollins

The Iron by Henry Rollins

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time. As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.

Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say shit to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs.

Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.