“I have a dream…We will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We have video proof that Dr. King gave his famous I Have a Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Controversy, however, swirls around the veracity of a quote by President Abraham Lincoln: “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
No argument about the eternal quest for happiness though. Maybe it’s in our DNA. Whether it’s the wish for a hot meal or Aladdin’s Genie with his golden lamp, happiness is a weighty subject. (Sometimes a pricey one. Countless seminars promise happiness in its various forms: How-to-Squeeze Into Your Skinny Jeans, How-to-Make a Million Dollars Before You’re 12!)
The United Nations has given serious thought to happiness. Since 2013, March 20 is decreed to be the International Day of Happiness. They’ve even complied "10 Keys to Happier Living" and created a clever acronym. The following is yours truly’s take on the “Great Dream.” Love to read your ways to happiness in the comments section.
- G R E A T D R E A M -
1) GIVING creates a sense of abundance. No money is needed. An authentic smile or compliment to another reminds us that an unending supply of divine love lives inside.
2) RELATING reduces risks of heart failure! According to the researchers at the Action for Happiness, “Not having close personal ties poses the same level of health risk as smoking or obesity.”
Note to Self and You: It takes courage to reach out. Dark cloudy emotions make it harder. Take the chance. Spill the beans to a trustworthy one and get a hug. Let them share their Light.
3) EXERCISING releases endorphins and apparently reduces the perception of pain. No wonder doctors recommend physical activity for those prone to depression.
4) AWARENESS like mindfulness is a marvelous way to come present. It’s also a fab way to truly savor the sweet moments in life. And figure out the crazy times. (Eckhart Tolle wrote a whole book about the Power of Now.)
5) TRYING OUT new activities is a terrific way to keep grey matter from shrinking. Mastering ballet or the Chinese language might be daunting past the age of 5. Still, baby steps of achievement and accomplishment can lead to higher self-esteem and happiness!
6) DIRECTION gives meaning to life. With goals, there’s a reason to get up in the morning. A few, maybe many follow a true North path. Even if the road swerves for those of us who have the need to redefine happiness; goals let us discover those deeper truths.
7) RESILIENCE is crucial to surviving inevitable losses. Psychologists cite faith and attitude as primary keys for springing back into Life. If circumstances haven’t helped to foster trust in a higher power, I humbly offer the meditation RX. Start small. Same goes for the attitude. Just notice the tiny things you and others do right.
8) EMOTIONS are excellent for everything when they are positive. A reservoir of good feelings produces success on all levels. No surprise that the folks at the Action for Happiness want you to focus on shiny, bright, beautiful things…I do too.
As someone who has suffered the slings and arrows of guilt because ugly thoughts and emotions have surfaced; here are a few tricks: Allow them. Be authentic. The pain needs Love! Write out the nasties on paper and burn them. Imagine how a fairy godmother or angel would counsel the hurt, angry one.
9) ACCEPTANCE can be challenging. It’s soooooo tempting to compare my insides to others’ outside alleged perfection. What helps is remembering that a) I’m on planet Earth aka The Classroom b) The course is designed by a loving Creator.
10) MEANING is given to Life, according to the experts, by believing in something bigger than self. To quote Sesame Street’s beloved Cookie Monster: “Life is not all guessing games. Sometimes we have to care about friends, especially friends who love cookies.”
So what are you going to do today to fulfill your Great Dream? Love to have you join us on March 20th for The Way of Happiness with author, meditation instructor, Paul Kaye and communications expert, Anna Sugai. Click here for more info or visit PeaceLabyrinth.org/events.