On Your Way to a Happier Life
By: Fr. Simon Herbers, CP
“When you are optimistic, that usually leads to action, and anything that keeps you alive and active increases your health.” These are words of a spry and mentally alert ninety year old lady. I would like to share a few tips for developing a happier attitude to life.
Listen to yourself.
Many of us habitually put ourselves down. Over a lifetime those negative messages can turn you into a pessimist and ultimately may affect your health. For a week, write down phrases that you catch yourself saying like, “I’m too old to do that anymore,” or “I’m such a jerk.” You’ll be surprised that you end up with a list of five or more phrases that you repeat over and over. Now, replace the negative thoughts with something more positive. So, if you find yourself saying, “I’m too old to dance like that,” replace that thought with, “I’m older now, but I can dance if I allow for plenty of rest between songs.”
Write yourself a letter.
Writing about how you feel can help resolve problems and subdue negative feelings. Try this: set aside ten minutes a day for four days and write how you feel. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Just write until the time is up. That will allow your thoughts and feelings to flow freely. You can throw out the paper at the end of each day. Writing will help to get the negative thoughts out of your system.
Try to do at least one new thing a month.
Go to a museum, sneak into a lecture at a local college, eat at a new restaurant, or walk in the park. Dr. David Bouda, MD, a professor of oncology says, “If you don’t use your brain and body in different ways occasionally, you will get old very quickly.”
Look for the end of the rainbow.
Spend a moment each day to take a fresh look at something in nature and marvel at it.
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing. It’s that simple,” says Lila Green, author of “Making Sense of Humor.” Laugh at yourself. When you laugh at yourself, you don’t break – you bend. It helps keep your mind flexible and prevents hardening of the attitudes. Instead of getting angry or embarrassed, laugh with others and you will feel better about yourself.
Grief: Let it out, but don’t let it linger.
“Grief is a totally normal part of life. It’s as important to survival as eating and breathing,” Dr. Gersten says. Realize that it is okay to be sad. You don’t have to tough it out. In fact, if your try to fight it, your grief may last forever. Mourn your loss, talk it out, and get help. That’s what friends are for.
Eat smart, get a hobby, plant a garden, pray – these plus many others are tips for developing a positive attitude for a better life.
The biggest opponent you have in life is yourself. You’re either your own opponent or your own friend. So, be the best friend that you can be to yourself. Who knows? If could lead you to a longer, healthier, more satisfying life.