From awe to ecstasy, from contentment to delight, happiness shows up in so many different ways. The good news is that the more you focus on it, the more your brain responds. In her "Alphabet of Happiness," Randy Taran takes a closer look at aspects of happiness just waiting to be accessed. Here are three more that may remind you of the joy you already have at hand.
"Knowledge is power." -- Francis Bacon
If knowledge is power, then the journey to self-discovery is one of the most powerful adventures a person can take. Knowledge is far more than book smarts. It can come from many places. Imagine we are like radios, with many channels and frequencies, each of which is a source of information and knowledge. Seen through that lens, intellectual capacity represents just one of the frequencies. From the head we get cerebral knowledge, the kind that defines how "smart" we are considered at school. Another channel, which is equally important, is the knowledge of the heart. There are times you just know what you know. What about listening to your gut, listening to the signals your body is telling you? If someone's presence continually drains your energy or gives you a pain in the pit of your stomach, that would be a clue!
There is also knowledge passed down from elders and experts. Timeless sayings like "count your blessings" still hold sway. The wisdom of children is another channel. Have you ever been blown away by the profound insights coming from the mouth of a child? Nature has its own frequency. In its miraculous capacity to evolve all of life, it is awesome in its knowledge and power. Another channel of knowledge is deep within. In the still moments, when we can bypass all the noise and static from everyday life, tuning in allows us to access the deeply rooted guidance from our own place of profound awareness.
There is a universe of knowledge waiting to flow to us, if we just open up to the different channels. Are you listening to the powerful information on all your channels? Where do you derive your knowledge?
"Kindness is my religion" -- The Dalai Lama
There are certain universal truths that transcend all religions. Kindness is one of them. Being kind brings out the best: in yourself, in the recipient of your kindness and in others who observe that act of kindness. In this way, kindness is never contained to a single act, but is a powerful influencer that can ripple out to transform entire communities. Kindness has the capacity to travel, to spread and to inspire. Have you ever gone through a tollbooth, just to be informed that the person in font of you paid for your toll? How did it make you feel? Did you then want to do something similar for others, to pay it forward?
In an interesting 2009 Harvard Business School working paper, people we asked about the last time they spent either 20 or 100 dollars on either themselves or someone else. The people who gave their money away were significantly happier than those who kept it for themselves. This good feeling often inspires people to want to give again. Why? Simply because it just feels so good, especially if you experience some connection to the person or situation you have helped. Then you know you have made a difference. These acts of kindness cause a warm feeling that lasts far longer than the temporary pleasure from some new gadget that we quickly get tired of. Those who practice kindness and generosity gain far more than they give.
It doesn't require money to be kind. Smile at a stranger, listen to what someone is trying to say, accept an individual for who they are. Remind them of their goodness even if they cannot quite see it themselves. Just believing in someone can give them the strength to take that next step. Kindness is love in action. You have more power than you know to make someone's day, to infuse them with hope, and to be the change we are all looking for.
"Humor is mankind's blessing." -- Mark Twain
In this high-stress environment, it's more important than ever to remember to kid around. Humor, laughter and play are necessary aspects of happiness. Kidding around connects us to the freedom of childhood. Let your inner kid come out and show you what joy is all about. Dance till you drop, sing in the shower, laugh till tears roll down your face. What made you feel alive as a child? What made you laugh? What made you wonder? What filled your heart with contentment? Chances are you would enjoy it now, too.
We often forget that life can be amusing. An attitude of amusement is an antidote to taking the slights and arrows of life too personally. Pretty much most of the time, things are not personal, but a reflection of what is going on in another. Choose to be amused by the human condition -- you will feel lighter. Make some room in your mind and your days to simply kid around. Infuse your life with some lighthearted fun and reconnect with the essential you. It will refresh and energize you more than you know.
What are some other K's that make you happy? What acts of kindness or humor have made your day?