12 Happiness Commandments
When it comes to ranking American states on their happiness, we New Jersey residents are not doing too well. The latest Gallup-Healthways , which shows states with the highest and lowest well-being, places New Jersey at #31.
The top five happiest states are: Hawaii, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Utah. The bottom five are: West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The ratings are based on answers to resident questions about sense of purpose, social relationships, financial lives, community involvement and physical health.
And while it’s likely that Monmouth Beach people are more content than typical NJ residents — we shore dwellers do have it pretty good — trying to make happiness a habit takes real effort.
“Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life.”
One person who offers much wisdom on these matters is Gretchen Rubin. One of the nation’s most skilled experts on attaining happiness, she has useful thoughts on a condition allusive to so many Americans today. Her Happiness Project work has helped me and members of my family to seek and find happiness.
A Yale-trained attorney and New York Times best-selling author (The Four Tendencies, Better than Before), Gretchen has developed her own “12 Personal Commandments for Happiness.” Since most good things begin with a plan, she suggests others craft their own list. Meanwhile, have a look at her commandments:
1) Be yourself. Accept your true likes and dislikes — you can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.
2) Let it go. Keep things in perspective. Remember how little most things matter in the long run.
3) Act the way I want to feel. Action and feeling go together and by regulating the action we can indirectly regulate the feeling.
4) Do it now. Studies show that hitting a goal releases chemicals in the brain that give you pleasure.
5) Be polite and be fair. Life is short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us.
6) Enjoy the process. I’ll be happier if I find happiness along the way instead of expecting to be happy when I reach a certain goal.
7) Spend out. I find myself saving things, even when it makes no sense. Stop hoarding — trust in abundance.
8) Identify the problem. So much of happiness, in the end, boils down to mindfulness. Have the discipline to ask, “What’s really bugging me?”
9) Lighten up. Develop a sense of lightness. It’s less about being funny and more about being able to have fun.
10) Do what ought to be done. On matters difficult and ordinary get a grip on yourself. Pick up the phone, get in the car, do it — address the subject and execute.
11) No calculation. Avoid score-keeping in life. We unconsciously overestimate our contributions or skills relative to other people.
12) There is only love. The less people turn toward each other, the less satisfying their relationship. An easy and obvious way to prove love is to pay attention.