Change doesn’t come from comfort.

It’s an important reminder that “if it doesn’t open, it’s not your door”.

So here’s a few tips on being content:

1. Stop complaining

As Teddy Roosevelt aptly puts it, “complaining about a problem without offering a solution is called whining”. And there are those that are just good at complaining. They’re never happy unless they see others in a miserable state.

2. Be thankful

The secret to having it all is knowing you already do. A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles. Be grateful when things are going our way. Be graceful when they’re not. Life isn’t all a bed of roses. There are thorns to help you appreciate the beauty of life.

3. Change your perspective

Happiness lies in perspective. As Henry Thoreau aptly puts it “the question is not what you look at but what you see.” Remember, no one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side.

4. Don’t compare

Not everyone gets an equal shake and share in their lives. Always keep in mind that you need to be busy enough not to look at how green the grass of your neighbors are. Louise Bourgeois once said that “you must accept the fact that others don’t see what you do.”

5. Put people before things

Although having material things matter to us, a lot of it will not last long. People matter – no matter what their status in life are. Letting them down because you choose material things over their immediate concerns is disconcerting.

6. Do away with wish lists

We all have a bucket list. Things we want to have. Places we want to go to. Love we wish we have. It’s not a bad thought. There are a million things we want before we die. But here’s the take. We need to create memories that last a lifetime. Make an impression on the world. Dreaming of unrealistic goals speaks of discontent. Love what you have. Focus on today. Make your expectations realistic. Savor the little things. Unclutter your life.

Socrates tells us “he who is not content with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

A life well spent

There are days that are just difficult to get by. Period.

We can’t have a positive life with a negative attitude. Think positive and sound becomes music, action becomes dance, and life becomes an art.

LIFE is like a flute. It may have many holes and emptiness inside, but if we work on it carefully, it can provide magical melodies as gateway to happiness.

When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to it. That’s where your power is.

Be happy! Enjoy life everyday. Find reason to simply imbibe that feeling that even on our worst days, life is beautiful.

The sand

The sand teaches one thing. . .

You can’t hold too many things in life no matter what you do.

Even if you decide who you want to stay with, the wind will always blow them away.

So learn to let go and cherish those who stay because like the sand, only those at the center of your palm and those who are true to you will remain as your treasures.

Someone at work asked me why I always have a “happy disposition” despite everything.

My reply, “it is up to you to see the beauty of everyday things”.

The story of the blind boy

On a busy street, a blind boy was waiting for someone to drop a coin in his can. He had a board beside him with a note written: “I am blind, please feel pity on me.”

A man came and dropped a coin and erased what was on the board. Soon, the boy heard a lot of coins being dropped in his can. The boy wondered and asked someone to read what was on the board.

“Today is a beautiful day, too bad I can’t see it”.

I shared this story 5 years ago and up to today, I find it most relevant for stories on relative joy.

The story here reminds us on various ways to see life’s challenges – wallowing in self-pity or celebrating our Calvary.

We always have choices. But the decision is always left to us to make. Comfort zones are so easy to settle in. And like the blind boy in the story, it’s what we’re used to – self-pity. Like many of us, we feel it’s a safe place to be, afraid of change, waiting for the miracles that would change the situation – instead of taking on how happiness can be achieved if we only changed our paradigm.

Better days

We all want to be the best we can be. Always. All days.

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on it’s wings.

It’s a fair reminder that to have better days we need to believe in ourselves.

Because we want to be better versions or have even better days, here’s an adapted version of 7 steps to help us live better!

1. “Future-focused”

When you think about life, remember that no amount of guilt can change the past. No amount of anxiety can change the future. And because each new change provides us the chance to better ourselves, don’t define yourself with who you once were.

2. Set boundaries

We need to set limits not to control others, but to protect yourself. Let’s not create too much unneeded drama in our lives just because we fail to effectively set boundaries.

3. Feel all emotions

Wouldn’t it be great to just remove all those negative feelings in our lives? Yes! Those unwanted emotions. But positive and negative moments serve as lessons in gratitude and pain. So here’s the deal. Allow yourself to work through the difficult times and get to enjoy the good times so we can experience and learn from life.

4. Commit to healthier habits

There are 6 best doctors in the world. And they give free consultations daily, without having to seek appointments.

Sunshine, water, air, rest, exercise and diet.

We tend to abuse our bodies in more ways than one. And yet we spend so much for health care when health isn’t our priority. As we grow older, we need to plan for better days even with our health.

5. Practice gratitude

Learn to replace our rants with expressions of thanks. Not everything is wrong with our lives. And never get stuck in a rut. Have a mindset on positivity. Some things just have to turn out wrong before they become right. Count your crossings as blessings.

6. Cultivate generosity

Yes, the world does not revolve around you. Those who are bitter about what’s happening to them by drowning themselves in self pity lack appreciation of life in its full splendor. Loving others through generous service deepens relationships with others and makes you happier overall.

7. Give yourself grace

This is the part that I love.

We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. The key to experiencing growth and becoming the best version of yourself is to give grace to who you already are and love yourself along the journey.

(Adapted and parts rewritten from Downs, Ups, and Tencups. 7 Steps to a Better You)

Uncertainty and happiness

Vincent Van Gogh said that

I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

I thought of sharing that line with you because it’s a beautiful phrase that reminds us of our daily crosses in life.

I guess growing older has a way of reconciling us with the universe. The young ones don’t get it. Just like when most of us were young, the hurdles of going through pain were bittersweet relations that we hardly understood. Pain changes us as people. Sometimes we think of life being unfair – a job lost, a love failed, financial disasters. Pain will leave once it has finished teaching you.

There is no greater teacher of happiness than pain. Just like pain, happiness is a choice that is made. We need to fight the pains of our lives and having a mindset on positive values and attitude makes or breaks us. Pain cannot break us unless we allow it to.

Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time. It’s about loving what you have and being grateful for it. Happiness is letting each situation be what it is, instead of what we think it should be…it is what it is…

Staring at beauty

Sometimes you have to stop staring at your problems and start seeing how beautiful life is

Like cats that literally get run over on the road, we stare at the headlights too long that we get run over with our problems. And that’s not a good thing.

When we stare too long and ponder why we’re in a rut with our problems, we get stuck at moving forward. And we forfeit ourselves of happiness.

You know how it is when you see something beautiful and want it? It releases happy thoughts and desires and channels our whole being into achieving our goals.

Mindfulness helps one appreciate the beauty of life IN SPITE of the problems.

To appreciate life’s beauty is to first live a better life.

1. Make time for fun.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Being buried in all that work is useless if you can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor. Get out and enjoy life. Appreciate the spoils of your work.

2. Choose happiness

It’s true that no one can be happy everyday! But you can experience negative emotions and still be happy. I know many people who sulk in the depth of anger and disappointment and remain there. Remember, you can’t turn back time and time wasted on negativity is pointless!

3. Say what you need to say.

Nothing and no one lasts forever. Even the bad days won’t go on your entire life. And neither do the good. Don’t waste your time mulling on something that can take your intuition to solve in a day. Just say what you have to and move on.

People and difficult times

A friend reminded me the other week about her life challenges. We all have people that walk in and out of lives. There will be some who will drop in and out of life’s journey and there will be those that will stay for the long haul. Whether it’s work or love or family, difficult times will always make you remember the types of people in our life.

1. Who helped you in difficult times.

Life is a cycle of ups and downs. Even the science will show you the evidence that behind every success story, is a failure. And vice-versa. The people that stay and pick you up when you’re at your worse, will always be worth the keep. It’s because they care enough to see your ugly days as being still beautiful.

2. Who left you in difficult times.

Lifestyles change. And so does the impact of security – in health, wealth and love. And it is understandable that when the balloons have lost their helium, the champagne has all been drained, the cash flow has ended up as debts, there will be an exodus of the free loaders. The people that left the party should stay memorable to you. After all, they provided joy, no matter how artificially, to our celebrations in life. They’re just not the kind who are bound to stay for the long haul.

3. Who put you in difficult times.

And then there are those who put you in a dark place so that they can shine. Envy. Anger. Greed. Arrogance. Hate.

But wait. Think about it. We all had in some way or another, placed someone through difficult days – intentionally, subconsciously, or even as an accomplice (through silence of inaction).

These are the kind of people we plant seeds of vengeance on. Yes we forgive (in words) but we don’t forget.

Forgetting is a selfless act in attaining happiness. It is the kind of action where we need to die within us so that we can forgive not only the transgressors but ourselves.

Why is there that need to forget? Because forgetting clears the burden of recall and vengeance.

Stay kind. Forgive and forget. Move on. It’s time to stay beautiful because you are loved.

The theory of 1,000 marbles

There’s a post on Positive Outlooks regarding a theory of a thousand marbles and our perspective in life. It entails the conversation between an older gentleman and a younger one in a Saturday morning talk show.

“He was telling whoever he was talking with about a thousand marbles.”

The conversation being tossed around was about how “Tom” was spending his life making more money with more work while spending less time with his family, to the point of missing his children’s “momentous” occasions in life.

To maintain a good perspective of priorities, he began to explain his theory of “a thousand marbles”, which is basically a little arithmetic.

The average person lives is about 75 years. There are 52 weeks in a years. Which means that there are 52 Saturdays for every year. Multiply that by 75, the average number of years we live and that gives you 3,900 Saturdays in an average persons’s life.

If you’re reading this and you’re 55 years old now, then you’ve lived through 2,860 Saturdays. And if you live through the average life span, it would mean that you have about 1,000 Saturdays left to enjoy in your life.

He went to several toy stores to buy a total of 1,000 marbles. Took them home. Placed them in a clear plastic container. And every Saturday since then, took one marble out of the container and threw it away.

“I found out that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight. Now let me tell you one more thing before I sign off and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it till next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.”

Somehow we’re constantly reminded how short life is or how finite our existence is. And how time flies. Spending it in hate, anger and negative thoughts is such a wasteful process and we simply end up regretting it down the road.

We should be grateful for another day, to see the beautiful things around us, appreciate the kindness of people, the opportunity to seize the moment to give joy and love.

“If we live each moment in mindfulness, then it does not matter how many marbles we live through or how short or long life is, because we have lived it fully.”

The story of the horse

Let’s face it. We perceive everything that happens to us as good or bad and miserably fail to grasp at reality. Happiness is, after all, relative.

Let me share with you this story:

There once was a farmer, whose horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad fortune”, they said full of sympathy.

“Maybe” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it, three other wild horses.

“What great fortune”, the neighbors exclaimed!

“Maybe”, replied the old man.

The following day the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the untamed horses. He was thrown off and broke his leg. The son would forever limp.

“What terrible fortune”, the neighbors cried.

“Maybe”, answered the farmer.

The next morning, the army came through the farmer’s village to draft young able bodied men for the war. Seeing his son’s limp, they passed him by.

The neighbors congratulated the farmer. “What wonderful fortune”!

“Maybe”, said the farmer.

The moral of the story is that nothing is static as it seems. It’s hard to tell which experiences are going to turn out fortuitous because everything is constantly changing. Opportunities come and go. Some disappointments end up being a stroke of luck.

The farmer in the story was responding to the situations presented nonreactively. And I guess that’s the way we should deal with the cards laid out randomly in our lives.

Facing life with a nonreactive stance may be the best thing one can take in order to lessen the anxieties we have in life. The less we react to many situations, the happier we become.

Keep life rules simple. Count your blessings. It’s a good life!