Allow me to share thirteen secrets to happiness that I have learned in my sixty-five years of life, thirteen secrets that if you implement these ideals will bring you great joy.
Recognize a problem, as an issue to be solved. An frustrated marriage, unfulfilling career or less than stellar state of health will continue to ooze disappointment until the pain becomes too great to bear. Recognize problems before they feel insurmountable. The day you acknowledge your marriage lacks the passion you crave, or your job is not aligned with our life’s purpose or you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror because of the additional pounds, is the day you have the actual choice to change your reality. Until you are willing to recognize that there is a problem, you don’t even have the choice to fix it.
Believe the truth, ignore the lie. As living beings we have the gift of choice. This means we can choose our attitudes, perspectives and frame of mind. Entitlement is a frame of mind that lies to us and tells us that what we have is not enough. It tells us to focus on our perceived lack and with that focus, be miserable. Don’t believe the lies. Live in the truth of the abundance that is already yours. Be thankful for your health, your relationships, the clean water you have to drink, the food on your table. These are the truth of all you have. Don’t believe entitlement’s lie.
The right time is NOW. There is no better time to live your heart’s passion than right now. Go where your life’s purpose and your inner wisdom is telling you to go; but don’t put it off. Do it now. Resist the temptation to feel regret for not beginning earlier. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. So, realize that today is the only real time. It is all you truly have, so live it now.
Respect life, be grateful for each breath. Some days doctors deliver horrible news to an anxious family. Some days there are auto crashes, heart attacks and freak accidents that no one could have predicted. Life is a gift. Everyday, every breath is a gift and needs to be treated with reverence and gratitude. Life comes and goes without prejudice. We can make all the preparation we want, but life follows its own schedule. Don’t forget to cherish each breath, each time you have the opportunity to laugh, to love, to give, and to live.
Keep on, keeping on. It is doing the one extra thing that no else is doing, or is unwilling to do, that creates the success that we most desire. At the end of the day, when we lay our heads on our pillow knowing that we took one more step than we thought we could, gives us a sense of peace, and sense of self worth. I took one step more; one step more after feeling discouraged; one step more after hope seemed lost, one more step than my fear told me was possible and I did it.
Measure your success in love. Love is the true measure of success. Measure the number of times you asked for love and it was given to you. Measure the incredible feeling of having your partner peacefully sleeping beside you. Measure the butterfly kisses given to you by your children, and measure the love that you freely shared with others. Want to be rich? Then measure your success in love.
Live your greatest dreams. When we push down or delay living our dreams they can get lost in the exigencies of life. Bring your dreams back to the surface, and believe in your worth to pull off the dreams in your heart. Everything begins with a dream. Dreams lead us forward and tell us if we are going in the right direction and doing the things that are important for us to do. If your dreams do not frighten you, you might not be dreaming big enough. Have the courage to go after and live your greatest dreams.
Understand the incredible value of a second chance. A second chance is a gift. All human being make mistakes. It is when we receive a second chance that we should truly celebrate. When we are granted the gift of a second chance we have a chance for redemption, and an opportunity to choose a different action or to say different words that result in a different outcome. Reflect deeply and understand the incredible value of a second chance.
Open the floodgates of faith. When we open the floodgates and refuse to allow fear to trump our faith, we are better able to live our lives on purpose, with purpose. Once we allow ourselves to surrender our problems and receive God’s help we are soaked in feelings of hope, joy and a sense of real purpose. The force behind the grace that pours out from the opened floodgates of faith allows us to live the life we were created to live.
Be responsible for the HOW in your life, not that what. We are not responsible for everything that happens to us, but we are responsible for how we choose to react to what happens to us. To often our focus in on the ‘what’ has happened to us in our lives, where it needs to be on the ‘how’ we will choose to respond to what happens to us. We have control of only one thing in our lives, the way we choose to respond to life and its challenges. Find the silver lining in every cloud. Allow optimism to be your guide. Choose wisely ‘how’ you will perceive and react to challenges in your life. Being responsible for the ‘how’ will make all the difference.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. How important is it, really, when someone puts the toilet paper on backwards? Or how important is it, really, when I forget to give my husband every receipt? How important is it that the trash wasn’t taken out last night, instead of this morning? There are so many exigencies in life that we allow more importance than they deserve. What is important is the health, joy and happiness of those we love, including ourselves and when we sweat the small stuff we are choosing to be miserable about a thing, or event that really doesn’t matter.
Fall down seven times, but get up eight. Can life be difficult at times. Of course it can. The secret to winning at life is not the number of times life knocks you down, it is the number of times you choose to stand back up. Life is a series of choices we make. The times when life knocks us down, it is only us who can choose to stand back up. Appreciate your challenges, learn from them, allow each one to make you stronger and more competent. If life knocks you down seven times, just make sure to stand back up, eight.
Forgiveness is for giving. When confronted with a choice between forgiveness and resentment; choose forgiveness. When faced with a chance to give love or withhold love back; choose to give it. Sure there will be times in life when we are taken advantage of, or even betrayed. Sometimes the choice to forgive is certainly not easy. But in the end, choosing to forgive is about setting our hearts free. Understand that unforgiveness is like an infection and that forgiveness is like the medicine we need to be healed.
Dawn is the CEO and Founder of The Heart Link Women's Network with locations in US, Canada, and Australia. In 2008 Dawn was selected by Oprah Magazine and the White House Project as one of 80 women emerging leaders.