Seeing The Good Life

Your life can be as good as you let it be.  How we view our life will largely determine how happy we are.  I know someone that has led a very good life - Sunday dinners with children and grandchildren, a close relationship and lots of activities with siblings, travel all over the U.S., jobs that have paid well, nice homes - you name it, but they do not seem very happy.  When talking to them I get the feeling that when they look back on their lives they see missed opportunities instead of focusing on the good times.

No one wants to be unhappy, but at times it appears that unhappiness is what we choose.  Why is contentment so hard to achieve?  There is a part of the mind which thinks that it is protecting us by observing and noting everything negative or bad in the world.  While this may have some practical use, it often spins out of control, and we become stuck in negative mental loops that repeat continuously.

Although I don't have all of the answers, and working on contentment and happiness can be a full time job, I have found a few tools that help.



  • Don't fret over what could have been.  Although we've all been told not to cry over spilled milk, it is easier said than done.  By observing our thoughts and noticing when we start down the negative path we can learn to pull out of the downward spiral.  Acknowledge your negative thoughts, then remind yourself that you are alive here and now. Do your best with what you have in the present moment.
  • Be grateful.  Many studies have shown that a formal program of being grateful improves feelings of happiness and contentment.  Daily prayer, a gratefulness log, or a journal are all great ways to express your appreciation for everything beautiful and special in your life.
  • Don't fight reality - it's a losing game.  Simply wishing things were different than they are or were only leads to resentment and anger.  Accept things as they are without resistance and use this as a starting point for positive change.
  • Intentionally practice seeing the beauty in the rich and complex world around you.  Use mindfulness to step outside of your routine way of seeing things and consciously notice beauty.
There is beauty abound in this world, you only need to take the time to see it.  Check out Brooke's related post at Slow Your Home.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Nothing is cooler than sharing. Spread the Zen below.

6 comments:

  1. I once read that we always seem to get into negative spirals, but never positive...Odd that we seem to be so hard-wired to see the bad without seeing the good.

    We could all take a lesson from my daughter, who marvels over the newness and wonder of pretty much everything she encounters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does seem that as we get older we tend to focus on danger, fear, and negative things. While this may help our biological selves survive, it does nothing for the spirit. Oh to have the fresh attitude of a child again, wouldn't that be nice!

      Delete
  2. Great post, Dan. Glad to see the brain addressed here. Yes, we are hard wired to be suspicious and assume the worst. It has kept the species going for million of years. And it's a lot of hard freakin' work to overcome that, but well worth the trouble. You have an excellent list of simple and elegant tips here. Accepting and working within reality has been a great starting place for dealing with my own issues. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any time I feel myself wishing things were different, I feel negativity gnawing at me. Even when you want to make positive change you have to start with the way things are.

      Delete
  3. So great to read this just now. Perspective has such impact on our outlook, but only when we allow it to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to assess my perspective daily and adjust as necessary.

      Delete