Sunday, January 24, 2010

Open-minded, redefined

As I previously mentioned in my post, Good Morning Sunshine, the second phase of living each day to its "happiness potential" is reflection. I didn't realize this when I first created my blog, but I think this might be the most important way to shift each day to a more positive, upbeat outlook. As a matter of fact, when I first started this blog I didn't take notice to many of the things I have recently discovered. I simply wanted to look at each day for what good was in my life, and to stop focusing on the negativity. What I didn't notice was that in order to do this, I had to first take time to reflect on a few things in my life.
  • Make peace. As John Lennon would say, "let it be." Make peace with all of the people who you feel have "wronged" you or have left you feeling bitter, or leave your stomach doing somersaults every time you think about them. You don't necessarily have to reach out to this person/people to notify of your shift in attitude, or even have a conversation with them, but the more things you are able to let go in your own mind, the better off you will be. This can take a long time to accomplish, but the gratification of being at peace with yourself and all those in your life is incredibly rewarding. For some people, it is a huge challenge but overcoming this first step will lead you to a much happier and healthier lifestyle, and more open minded to seeking beauty and happiness.
  • Eliminate sources of negativity. This might seem obvious, but to actually do it is the real challenge. Do you have a bad habit that you want to kick? Are you tired of feeling crummy because you aren't getting enough sleep? Take care of yourself and fix it! It's as simple as that. The more sources of negative feelings and thoughts that you can eliminate or reduce, the better chance you'll have of boosting your happiness, and enjoying life more.
  • Identify your "happiness triggers." Take time to think about all of the things that make you happy. This may seem like an overwhelming task (because in most cases, this could be a very long list!) Start with the following questions:
    • What unique qualities makes you who you are?
    • What do you like doing in your spare time?
    • Do you have a passion or a hobby that energizes you?
    • Are you at your best when you're with certain people?
    • If you could spend your days doing anything, what would it be?
    • If you could spend your entire life doing something, what would it be?
    • What is something that you could spend hours doing or talking about without boredom?
    • Can you identify a particular point in your life when you were overwhelmingly happy?
  • All of these play a huge part in the "happiness formula" and identifying all of them is important. The things that are on this list will play into the next phase, "Living," as they are a major factor in contributing to your everyday happiness and outlook. For myself, I know that I'm at the peak of my happiness if I'm traveling or discovering new things, but on a smaller, everyday scale, I am happiest with a cup of coffee, listening to my favorite music, visiting with my close friends, or sitting with a blank journal to write down my thoughts. Even the slightest thought of these things energizes me! Spend some time identifying your happiness triggers so that you can eventually incorporate them often.
  • Start fresh. This is an unclear step, as there is no definition to "starting fresh", but I think a better way to describe it is to "clear your mind." When I think of this relative to my own personal experience, there was never one specific time I set aside to rid my mind of any distracting thoughts, but rather it was more of a moment when I realized that I was "ready" to accept happiness into my life. For some people, this could mean the physical act of meditating or contemplating in a silent environment to avoid distractions. For myself it means taking a drive on an empty freeway to watch the sunrise in silence, tuning into the world around me, and relishing in the good things that I am appreciative of in my own life. Part of my inspiration for creating this blog came from one of my many drives on the highway and since then I have found it to be a great source of reflection and contemplation.
Once you have spent time reducing or eliminating negativity in your life (thoughts, feelings, physical sources, relationships, etc.), contemplating your own happiness, and clearing your mind, you will be ready for the next phase toward reaching your happiness potential, "Living," which I will write about in a week or so. Take time the next few days to tune out negativity in your life and identify your own happiness triggers. What gets you out of bed each morning? What do you most look forward to each day? Fill me in, I'm always curious and I love hearing your stories!


  1. I was reviewing some of my StrengthsFinder materials from my class earlier this month. I saw this quote about positivity that reminded me of you and recent blog posts. Hope you like it.

    "There are always flowers for those who want to see them."
    ~Henri Matisse, artist

  2. That's a great quote! And I bet you didn't even know this but I love Matisse :)

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