When life seems to be a little more challenging it has been said the best advice is to help someone else. While I agree with this statement and all that results from assisting others I also believe it is difficult to pour from an empty cup.
We have been taught to live life backwards. To suppress our gifts because we don’t want to appear conceited; to always think of others first because we don’t want to appear selfish; and to always be charitable while forgetting that if the bank is empty there is nothing to give.
It is the same with our happiness. We can’t give happiness if we don’t have happiness. In North America we search for happiness like it is the prize at the end of a long race. We are repeatedly asked to assist others in feeling joy without nurturing it in ourselves. Happiness is contagious but in order to give and show happiness we must take time to find it in ourselves. Happiness is an inside job and begins with being appreciative and be grateful for all we have. We need to embrace our gifts, talents, and be comfortable celebrating “the miracle of you”. Og Mandino reminds us in his book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, that we are nature’s greatest miracle. To quote Mandino, Chapter 11, The Scroll Marked IV
“Since the beginning of time never has there been another with my mind, my heart, my eyes, my ears, my hands, my hair, my mouth. None that came before, none that live today, and none that come tomorrow can walk and talk and move and think exactly like me.”
While is it our culture that has conditioned us to hide our light under a barrel, we are also innately programmed to notice the negative. Being aware of negativity around us was necessary when we were caveman because it kept us alive. Our lives have changed drastically from our caveman days yet we remain attuned to notice the negative. Think about your last job performance review. Your supervisor most likely told you 7- 9 things that were really spectacular, but I guarantee that you honed in on the 1 or 2 areas for improvement. It is like the positive feedback totally disappeared under the shadow of a few minor suggestions.
Happiness begins with appreciation. When we feel appreciated we see everything in a more positive light. This feeling of appreciation allows us to be more motivated and take more initiative, which in turns allows us more personal and professional success. We wait, sometimes endlessly for this appreciation to come from others, when in fact we can give this gift to ourselves. We need to own and celebrate what we do well and recognize how others benefit from our skills and talents. Feeling good about what we do and how we do it allows us to live happier and more fulfilling lives.
Gratitude creates an energy vibration that the universe finds difficult to ignore. If a few moments are taken every day to appreciate and be grateful for three things, acknowledged and recited aloud our happiness level raises. The universe is comprised of energy and like energy attracts like energy. Simply by being grateful for three things daily causes your personal energy to shift and this positivity provides reason for celebration, which again is contagious to those around you. Ironically you are helping others simply by raising your energetic vibration.
Human beings are programmed to be of service, supporting our fellow humans in a way that assist them to either achieve a goal or just to make their life a little easier for them. We naturally feel better when we help others, but there is need for balance. Ralph Waldo Emerson talks about balance when he says that nature never plays favourites. There is always a give and take and when a surplus is given to one part a reduction is seen in another. So it is true with humans. You must keep your well full by taking time to nurture yourself. It might be a long, relaxing bubble bath; a good book while comfortably snuggling with a family pet; or perhaps a stroll along a nature trail. It is important to choose an activity is that brings you joy and allows you to recharge your batteries.
Thoughts that wire together fire together. Our mind is an amazing device and yet with all it’s wonder it can only hold one thought at a time. Remember how we focus on negativity? What we focus on multiplies and so it becomes very important to monitor our thoughts, especially from a self-care perspective. If we are always thinking negatively, we create this cycle of unworthiness, depression, and fear. If we replace these negative thoughts with positive feelings of accomplishment, skill, self-love and appreciation we are not only able to minimize our negatives thoughts but we feel an excitement about life that keeps us moving forward.
So the next time life appears to be a little more challenging take a moment to appreciate your greatness. Celebrate your uniqueness, nurture yourself and recharge your batteries. These few minutes can shift your focus, raise your energy, and allow you to help others in ways you never expected.
Happiness is contagious and it begins with you.