Tag: spiritual health

Making a Habit of Happiness

Recently, I was stuck on my latest fiction-in-progress so I was surfing the Internet and Facebook. I found this meme created by Do the Right Thing that extolled thirty habits for happiness.


I read through the list and some of the comments on the post. One person said it was too long to read through, and I thought that was a shame.
Then I decided to make my own, much shorter list.

But how do I know what should go on the list?

And who am I to say I know anything about happiness?

What is Happiness Anyway

Oh, happiness how fleeting! Here for one heart’s beating!

According to my wise friends at Dictionary.com, happiness is the quality or state of being delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing.
In short: happiness is a moment in time where something goes right and you feel a surge of success.
It’s a moment in time. It’s not meant to be a continual state of being. However, if you’re going to choose an emotion to characterize your life, wouldn’t happiness be preferable to sadness or anger?

But when the property tax bill comes and it’s a couple hundred dollars more than the previous year, no one is very pleased. (Well, Mr. Tax Man probably is.)

However, practice #2 from my top ten list below and you’ll start thinking, “Plenty of people didn’t get a tax bill because they don’t own a home. I’m blessed to have such a nice house. I’ve worked in the schools and I know education is important. I’m glad that if there’s a fire, the fire department will come and take care of it. If not for my taxes, those things wouldn’t be possible.”

I might not be happy about the bill even after all that, but now I’m feeling less disgruntled.

So while I doubt anyone will be happy all the time, having a positive outlook and practicing gratitude can alter your “state of being” from irritated and grumbling to accepting and smiling.

Narrowing Down the Choices

To narrow down this list of thirty, I did what most people in this social media dominated culture of ours do: I asked my Facebook community.

How did we cull answers from a larger population before there was Facebook and Instagram and all the others?
Most kids can’t imagine not being able to search the Internet for answers to any question. Somehow, those of us born before 1980 managed it. Go figure.

Within the first twelve hours of posting my Facebook poll, I had two clear leaders among the thirty options. And a five-way tie for third place. No surprise.

This list contains thirty good habits to form for better mental health. Because in reality, that’s what happiness brings. It can also lower blood pressure and drop adrenal levels associated with stress.

Of course, no research is “one and done.” I ended up with a four-way tie for third place. So I made this meme and let my friends help me narrow the choices down a second time.


I have an amazing tribe. Although this second request didn’t gender the same flurry of interest, enough people responded that I could determine a clear third, fourth and fifth place.
In the end, my peeps helped me build this “Top 5” list (for those of you who like it short and sweet):


My Top 10 Habits for Happiness

Of course, my personal list doesn’t coincide with the masses of public opinion. It rarely does. I’m unique that way.

Here’s how I would prioritize the habits for happiness. The first two directly coincide with recent annual themes for me. I focused attention on the area of showing gratitude (remember #365DaysofGratitude) and thinking positively.

1. Show gratitude
2. Accentuate the positive
3. Smile. Smile. Smile
4. Choose faith over fear (As one person pointed out, meditating on scripture and prayer should be on the list. I think they’re incorporated here. How can I have faith without them?)
5. Let go of the baggage (Don’t hold grudges. Don’t rehearse wrongs. Don’t look for fault everywhere. Sing with Elsa, “Let it Go.”)
6. Live truthfully and honestly (yes, I combined two because they are twins)
7. Dream big and work hard for the dream (dreaming big alone is the path to disappointment and discouragement, but if you dream it and planto achieve it and then work your plan…good times!)
8. Build a healthy body (yes, I’m a cheater because eating well, exercising, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep go here)
9. Listen to understand
10. No excuses or self-justification. Own it.

I’m a writer, so a few things about the original list bugged me. Some of the points meant the same thing. Or close enough. Others were tied together–inseparable to my way of thinking.

What is your top habit for happiness? If you do this ONE THING, you will have a better day.

Another New Year – Another chance to NOT Break a Resolution

I’ve joined the multitudes that don’t actually make New Year’s Resolutions. Most of the time, I break them. Statistically, most resolutions are broken by February 1st.

In the past five years, I’ve set goals for myself in several broad areas: physical, spiritual, emotional and relational. I wish I could say I had met all my goals. Most years I meet as many as I don’t meet. Last year, I met all but one goal.

Since I’ve embarked on the journey toward fulfilling my life-long dream of becoming a published author, I’ve mixed up my categories for the coming year. My categories are: hobbies, physical, spiritual, writing and other.

My Goal sheet
My Goal sheet

I made a handy-dandy chart and have my goals for the first two months already filled in. Why didn’t I complete the whole year?

I want to be realistic. I’m not setting myself up for failure, but I might need to keep a goal for several months before actualizing the desired result.

For example, you’ll notice that my physical goal for January and February is to lose five pounds. I intend to lose five or more pounds each month. I didn’t fill in the goal for March because if I haven’t achieved my goal weight (or more specifically the correct fit of my clothes), I might repeat the weight loss goal for another month.

Since I already have stated word count goals for my writing, I wanted to use project goals in that category. The reason I didn’t put a goal for March is because I’m not sure if I will actually be finished revising the first book of my series in a month. Since this is my initial revision phase, I’m not certain how long the process will take.

Of course, it’s obvious I expect the book to be ready for other eyes by March. My goal in the “other” classification for that month is to get the first book in the trilogy out to beta readers.

Most of my publishing goals and deadlines have been entered in the “other” category. Writing and publishing are separate aspects of my new career. If I’m going to be a professional writer, I need to always write (or rewrite) and not sit on my hands once I begin the quest for an agent or publisher.

What do you think about using goals to motivate you at the start of a new year? Do you still make resolutions? Is setting goals the same as making a resolution?

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