03 January 2012

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

This is a bit more on resolutions.  I read this post on 12 Things Happy People Do Differently, and it has some really good points.  I'm not going to repost the whole thing, but I would highly recommend trotting over to Marc and Angel's site for the original post.

Out of the twelve points, there are a couple that I would really like to focus on.

3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison
"...If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made....  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself."

Wow.  Now that I read it, I realize I do this.  Frequently.  And I know - I KNOW - that other people have different skills and talents and there's no point in comparing myself to them.  However, it never occurred to me to make a comparison between my current self and an earlier version of myself.  Frankly, the difference between me five years ago and me today is astounding.  I like myself now so much better than I did then.  I've made good progress!  And, in looking back that far, I realize that there are some improvements I had been making that I really don't work on anymore, and I should.  

Let's back up only one year.  My life has changed so drastically in the past year.  I'm still working on figuring out what I want out of life, but I've taken several steps in a direction that makes me really happy.  

I don't want life to make my decisions, I want to push life to the furthest edge I can take it.  As Thoreau says, "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."

How wonderful is that?  To drive life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms?  I think I've been letting life take its course lately, and it is time for me to be proactive again.

5. Nurture social relationships.
"The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?"

This goes right in line with something I've read in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (which I also highly recommend).  He describes a town in Pennsylvania composed primarily of Italians, and how the death rate there is 30 - 35% lower than in the rest of the US.  While many Americans were suffering from heart disease, this Italian community was healthy and thriving.  There was no difference in diet, exercise or genetics. It became apparent that the difference was the community - the people visited each other, stopped to chat on the street, or cooked for each other in their backyards.  The relationships were so strong that they were literally keeping people healthy.

How awesome is that?  I went to lunch with a friend last month and was amazed at how euphoric I felt afterward.  It's incredible what human relationships can do.  I'm not great at socializing, so this is a great reminder that it's NOT okay to take the easy road and stay at home.  Friends keep you stable and grounded.  I feel like I'm too busy to have people over for dinner most of the time, but I really can't even tell you what I'm so busy doing.

"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?" --Thoreau

So that is something to think about for a while.  It is good to be reminded to push for the most out of life.


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