by Angelena Craig
In the past weeks, we have heard the usual seasonal greetings, "Happy Holidays" and "Have a Happy New Year" again and again.
What is all this wishing for happiness really about?
Of course there is always momentary happiness, like when the sun finally shines, or you find a real bargain while shopping, or you plan a special vacation.
But what is a "happy new year" all about? A whole year to be happy?
At this stage in our journey as boomers we may have done some deep soul-searching and made a reassessment of our priorities as we try to find lasting happiness.
Can you say you're ecstatically happy in your life? Maybe, you think you're sort of happy, although not everything is going so well. Perhaps you come up with an understanding that you are quite unhappy with what you are finding in the world, or within a close relationship, or with your low self-esteem.
A thoughtful question to ask is, "Do I have those things in life which are said to bring happiness?"
Is being happy dependent upon having material abundance so you can purchase all that you need or desire? Is that what brings you happiness?
Maybe you have discovered that things — the "stuff" you own — only brings happiness for a fleeting moment. Then, before long, you want the next thing, thinking surely that item will bring you joyful fulfillment.
Is happiness dependent on good health? Certainly, there are many physically healthy people who don't claim to be happy.
No, health is not enough, but it most definitely helps when you live in a healthy body and have a sound mind.
Or maybe happiness is dependent upon having family and friends around you, people who care and show you that you are loved, while allowing you to be loving in return.
However, you may know from experience, just as love of another can lift us to great heights, it is the impermanence of all things that is the challenge. When we have a loss of a loved one (or a job), we can oh-so-quickly be plunged into utter misery and stay stuck in that place much too long.
As we advance in age, there may be the payoff of becoming smarter, finally learning a hard-earned lesson. It is not things oor people — or even good weather — that is the true source of lasting happiness.
The wise ones tell us, "Happiness is an inside job."
It comes from within, from our attitude, from our understanding of a bigger picture, from a compassion for ourselves and others, and from our acceptance of things as they are.
Following this philosophy can be hard work for most of us. We are more often distracted with all the bad news out there, starting with the media and with our everyday personal challenges.
It is helpful, when caught in a bad mood or in a downward spiral, to be aware and identify the feeling. Is it anger, frustration or guilt? After recognizing the feeling, do your best to alter the mood and the mind.
Some suggestions are:
Pivot away from the problem, choosing instead to think better thoughts.
Focus on feelings of gratitude. Count your blessings, each and every one.
Go out in nature.
Quiet the mind through meditation, yoga or tai chi.
Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations, repeating them until they become embedded. A favorite is, "I have all that I need for my happiness right now. In this moment I have all that I need for my happiness."
Read and study what the great minds have to say to enlighten us.
"Be happy; don't worry."
"As you think, so you attract."
"There is power in positive thinking."
Looking inside, we can think our way to happiness, I think.
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Angelena Craig of Newburyport is the director of The New Aging Movement and a professional-level yoga instructor. Visit her website at www.thenewagingmovement.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.