Expanding your happiness.
Recently, I read an Oprah interview with Deepak Chopra. They discussed many things about life and happiness; I found the interview really interesting, but what stopped me in my tracks was the answer to Oprah’s question: “What do you think is the purpose of life?” Now, whatever you may think of Deepak, you have to admit that he seems to live a happy and fulfilled life and I was interested in what he had to say. His answer was short and sweet. “I believe the purpose of life is the progressive expansion of happiness and the ability to love and show compassion.”
Whoa. Not “change the world”, not “make a zillion dollars”, not even “live your dream.” Just the “progressive expansion of happiness and the ability to love and show compassion.” For some reason, the “expansion of happiness” phrase just resonated with me. Do you mean to tell me, Deepak, that the purpose of life might just be…to have fun??? Well, that’s an idea I can get behind.
Having a perspective like this has changed everything for me. Looking ahead to a day off, I don’t feel guilty that I’m not working, I feel HAPPY that I have some time off. I say “no” to things that don’t make me happy and “yes” to things that do. If there is something I HAVE to do that doesn’t make me particularly happy, I make sure to fit a little fun in before or after. Or even during! Here are a few more things I’ve started to do in the name of happiness expansion….
- I have stopped watching the news. That means no CNN breaking news, no talking heads bashing political candidates. Nothing. Okay, maybe the local weather once in awhile. I’ve found that I’m really missing out on nothing. Maybe I don’t know about the latest disaster, but what can I do about it other than worry and feel upset? And, as for political talk shows, they only create high blood pressure for me.
- I spend at least 2 hours in nature every week. Fortunately, I live in a place where I’m only 5 minutes away from a lovely hike or beach walk. I find that the time I spend walking and hiking is extremely calming and enjoyable and that I feel much more grounded when I’m done. Sometimes I just sit on a bench and stare for awhile. It’s a great way to get out of my head and into my body, soaking up the calm that only nature provides.
- When my husband comes up with a plan for the day, I now say “yes”, rather than put my 2 cents in, especially when the plan is perfectly acceptable and putting my 2 cents in would just be about having control. I find these days to be so much fun – not making decisions and going along for the ride once in awhile is pretty enjoyable.
- Sometimes I order the most expensive thing on the menu. Must have been some childhood thing with me, but in the past I’ve always steered away from the most expensive dish – even if it’s just a few dollars more! But, a few weeks ago, I ordered the Chilean Sea Bass at one of my favorite restaurants (I’d been eyeing it for a couple of years, believe it or not) and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had – my happiness expanded a lot that night!
- Even when it’s not perfect, sometimes I let it roll. Perfectionism takes up so much time! It’s time I’d rather be doing something fun and, recently, I’ve begun to let go of making it perfect and started accepting that good is perfectly (or imperfectly) fine.
What are you doing to expand your happiness?