Choosing happiness - revisited

16 May 2013
I originally wrote this post in 2008 and have resurrected it hoping that you'll find it interesting and helpful. I'm too busy to write this morning, I'm teaching myself how to edit a video on my computer. I'll be back tomorrow. :- )

At my sister's house.

Recently Kathleen sent me a magazine article called Grin and Tonic. I don't know what magazine it's from, there was a time when I knew every popular magazine by their page style, now I'm happy that I don't know. Anyhow, it's a very interesting view on happiness. In part it reads:
"While not exactly simple, some of their findings suggest there may indeed be a science to happiness - even a recipe. (And if your own idea of happiness is a flat-screen TV or a pair of Jimmy Choo heels then cover your eyes because the truth is, well, not very glamorous.)
When University of Wisconsin researcher Dr Richard Davidson hooked up a Tibetan monk to an MRI and asked him to meditate on, of all things, compassion, he got the most surprising result of all.
"There as a dramatic increase in activity in the areas of the brain associated with happiness. There is an inextricable link between personal happiness and kindness."

Well, well, well. Fancy that. So all those times our mothers and grandmothers told us to be kind to others they were really showing us the way to personal happiness.

The article goes on to state that in another study they found that five random acts of kindness a week for six weeks"produced a dramatic increase in the subjects' levels of happiness".
This is one thing I know to be true. I know that being kind to others makes me happy. And it's more than the feeling I get when I am thanked for a kindness, it's more than the smile that sets on my face when I see the delight of someone who has been surprised by kindness, it's more than that, much more. This kind of happiness is within, it's more permanent than a fleeting smile, this kind of happiness stays with you, it can be built upon.

Before I changed my life I was kind to others but never went out of my way to be. Now that it's a more conscious action I make sure I'm kind whenever the opportunity arises and I have deliberately chosen to spend some of my time where I will be in a position to help others. It has made such a difference. It has shown me that my own life truly is blessed, that giving is much better than receiving, that my soul is enriched by people I would otherwise not have met and that my life is better by doing this simple thing.

There is a knack to kindness - it should be quiet and matter-of-fact. Grand acts of kindness, done only for the thanks or what will come from it, are quite the opposite of what I'm writing about. This kindness is often carried out with no thanks or expectations of it. And I'm not talking about making yourself a doormat either. This kindness will make you stronger. Doormat kindness is loud and obvious and done to make yourself popular or to look good. I think real kindness is like a whisper, only you and the recipient know.

I have never been happier than I am now and I owe that to the kind of life I live. I have deliberately made the choices that give me this kind of life and I repeat those deliberate choices almost every day. I knew long before I lived this way that kindness, generosity and sharing would be a big part of my life but until I started living it, I didn't know how happy I would be made by those simple choices.

If you feel that your life is out of control and you're not sure how to steady it, think about what I've written here. You can change at any point by making small, deliberate choices in your every day life. Kindness is easy and simple but the rewards that come from the quiet execution of it are far more complex than I can fathom. All I know is that I have been changed by giving and if you can change one person's life by an act of kindness, then you will start to change your own life too.