Ten Simple Secrets to Happiness
Ten Secrets of Happiness:
Practice Tai Chi and Qi Gong regularly to keep your body and mind balanced.
When a person is not happy, there are two things that need to be addressed: your mind is troubled, tangled, disturbed by negativities; or your energy flow in the body is blocked, stagnated, or not flowing the way it is supposed to. When a person is happy, his mind is clear and healthy, his body’s energy is harmonized and flows smoothly. Tai Chi practice includes special body movements and correct patterns of breathing to balance the energy flow in your body, and balance the energy between your mind and your body.
Keep a positive attitude.
If you have a positive attitude, and take positive action, you most likely will be successful in whatever you do. If you fail, you can always get up and start over again. What is the big deal in failing? When you have a positive attitude, people like to be with you, they feel cheerful, and they feel good. Not many people like to be with someone who is negative, you lose friends that way. When you have no friends, depression becomes more pronounced. It is like a negative circle, everything becomes worse and worse. Without a change in attitude, or a change in thinking, antidepressants are less likely to be helpful. A friend of mine has depression. His main problem is the negativities in his mind. He cannot see the positive side of things and we know that everything has two sides. He lost friends one after the other and he lost girl friends one after the other. He continues to feel lonely and frustrated, continues to feel powerless, has no energy, and is unable to work. He continues to sink into the darkness with many different kinds of medication. This type of person is very difficult to treat because they don’t have a positive mental attitude and they aren’t willing to change their way of thinking.
Don’t be afraid of hard work.
Hard work can be a good learning experience and the more you do, the more you learn. People may complain that they work too hard, but if you enjoy the work you do, even if it is hard work, it can be still be rewarding. If you complain about everything you do, you are in trouble, and you need to get help. I believe this book can help you a great deal if you read through the book and put the ideas into practice. Complaining creates negative energy that not only makes you unhappy, but disturbs other people, as well. You should be able to enjoy working with different people, being exposed to different knowledge, and getting paid for your hard work. If you are a positive minded person, you will find ways to enjoy many things.
Be honest with yourself, and with others.
Honesty is a very important way of living in harmony. It would make the world different if we were all honest with each other. If people lose trust in family, friends, business associates, politicians, etc., it creates problems in their daily lives and in society. Some people play mind games and try very hard to figure out what to say or what to do and they modify their behavior because they are so afraid of being criticized. They don’t understand that if they are honest, they have nothing to worry about. Otherwise, the constant tension creates stress and blockages in your energy system and also makes your life too tiring and stressful. You cannot be happy when you carry a lot of tension and stress.
Helping other people.
Human beings have a long history of helping each other in order to survive and live. For example, in China, families help each other, friends help each other, and co-workers help each other. Even though there is a low average income, the Chinese people are a “happy culture.” But why do we still have so much unhappiness and depression, particularly in the United States? A friend of mine accidentally cut a dead tree in her neighbor’s yard, and the neighbor filed a lawsuit for $2000. Is a dead tree more important than friendship with a neighbor? From my many years of observation and experience, it seems that people who tend to give are happier than people who tend to take. When you help other people, you get psychological reward from being able to give to others. The positive action makes you feel good and happy. If you think you lose something by helping others, if you are worried that you are giving out too much and not getting back, or if you try to calculate if it is fair or not fair, you create tension and stress that causes the blockages in your body and mind.
I volunteer (as President) for TQHI (Tai Chi and Qi Gong Healing Institute) and I sometimes have to give up my own work to save time for this non-profit organization. I don’t feel that volunteering is a waste of my time and I enjoy working with the other board members. I enjoy being productive and generous for something I believe in and I enjoy the group energy. It has had a very positive impact on my spirit and I have learned a lot from this group activity. If you only think, “What do I get”, you are not going to be a happy person. This kind of calculation weakens your spirit. Life is not just about another day, another dollar.
My suggestions are to try to appreciate the help you get from other people and acknowledge that help, forget what you have done for others, give for the sake of giving, and don’t feel the need to get back. Giving is priceless, it is from your heart, and nothing can measure the value of giving. You will be a lot happier because you know you have something to offer.
Avoid over analyzing.
There are major differences between western psychology and Daoist psychology. Western psychology tries to analyze everything, looking for reasons for everything. Sometimes, when you try so hard to find a reason, or try to find the exact answer, you create an ongoing battle within yourself. You may understand the cause of the problems, but may not know how to get rid of them. Things happen for many reasons and get solved for many reasons.
Daoist psychology uses the Daoist philosophy to correct the imbalance in your mind, to help you to let go of whatever is bothering you, and thereby preserve your energy. I have a patient with many mental and emotional issues. She has been seeing a psychotherapist all her life and still has many problems. She is unable to let go of the negativities of the past. She totally understands where her problem comes from, but she cannot make things better. She still blames whoever caused the damage to her life in the past. She holds onto these negative thoughts and this causes worry that forms a barrier to many positive activities. Some people worry about things that might never happen, which is a complete waste of energy. Cautiousness is good to have in order to deal with situations that are unexpected, but being overcautious will create negativities and blockages in the mind and you will lose enjoyment of the event. Our minds are already too busy that often causes trouble in our life. People think too much, worry too much, plan too much, and fear too much. This behavior creates stress and tension, and can trigger depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
You cannot control everything that happens and you cannot predict everything that happens. The more you analyze the more problems you may get. Try not to waste your energy this way. It’s better to preserve your energy for improving your health, happiness, and well-being. When things happen, you will find a way to deal with them.
“True forgiveness includes total acceptance. And out of acceptance, wounds are healed and happiness is possible again.” - Catherine Marshall.
Forgiving others can create positive energy and help you to let go. We all make some mistakes in our lives and we all learn from mistakes. Love can create forgiveness and forgiveness can nurture love.
Do not hold onto something insignificant and negative. Let go of unpleasant things that happened in your past. When you hold onto negative things, you lock yourself in the cage and can have no freedom. Once you are able to let go, you set yourself free, your energy channels are opened, your mind is free, and your happiness arrives. Try to remember that everyday is a new day, a new life. Life is like water constantly flowing with no end and it flows to one direction and does not flow back. Why should we always try to bring the old things back, especially things that were not pleasant? Remember, these unpleasant events are already gone forever.
Use Daoist wisdom
As we discussed before, learning Daoist philosophy and living with Daoist wisdom can help you to become natural and spontaneous. You then become more relaxed, accepting, tolerant, appreciative and positive. Chinese people have used Daoism for centuries. In almost every field, people use Daoism to find the right answer for their own needs. The military uses the Dao to make correct battle strategies. The scientist uses the Dao to figure out how to make things happen. Chinese doctors use the Dao to help patients to get well in the most efficient way. Teachers use the Dao to provide quality teaching. Astronauts use Dao to stay focused and do better science. Farmers use Daoism to predict the weather and follow the weather pattern to prepare for planting. Chinese believe that if you use Daoist wisdom, your success rate is higher. Why don’t we take advantage of this philosophy and use this ancient wisdom to help ourselves and others? This wisdom does not directly tell you what to do, but it does give you a light and direction to help you to see things more clearly. It teaches you to unload yourself, free your mind, and let things happen spontaneously and naturally. Generally speaking, the natural way is the correct way. If you are against the natural way, you may live with many “obstacles.” In Daoist study and practice, you can be rich or poor, any intellectual level and occupation, and any age.
Continue learning and keep your mind open.
The more you learn, the greater understanding you will have. The day you stop learning is the day you are dead. Knowledge has more value than money. This has been a tradition in China and Europe for many years. Since I was a child, I always liked to be around people who had vast knowledge, or who knew more than me. I felt like they were a source for me, teaching me to do things right, understanding that things happen for a reason. I love to learn anything that can enrich my mind and help my understanding of the world. One obstacle that many people have is a closed mind. People were taught in a certain way and continue this way generation after generation. Willingness to change goes together with a willingness to learn. Change is not a bad thing. In the past 100 years, we have changed so much, some things change into good and some things change into bad, or unpleasant, but eventually things change to good again. Everyone has changes as he or she matures. Some people are happier than others and some people are more successful than others. Learning is an important aspect in changing for the better. Open your mind, learn from many different sources and learn from the past (but don’t stay in the past). This will help you understand life more completely.
Cherish love and friendship in your life.
“Love comes when we take the time to understand and care for another person.”
I believe that sharing love, being honest with each other, forgiving each other, understanding each other, helping each other, taking care of each other, caring for each other, giving to each other, supporting each other, all help to avoid family problems. If we always think only about “me,” “my comfort,” “my sleep,” “my pleasure,” “my life,” “my needs,” without thinking much about our partner’s comfort, sleep, pleasure, life, or needs, then we will have many failed marriages. Even though being married to a person with depression is not easy, with love, compassion, conscientiousness, and moral strength, the relationship can endure and the person suffering from depression can be helped. .
“We can do no great thing, only small things with great love.”-Mother Teresa.
We all have the ability to give love and enjoy being loved. Love can be interpreted in different ways other than just for couples. Love between mother and daughter or son, love between husband and wife, love between friends, love between siblings, and love between you and your pet. All these kinds of love can be appreciated and cherished. There is an old saying in the Chinese culture: once you become a friend, you are a friend forever. I go to China every year. I have so much joy meeting many of my friends. Friends continue to help you in any way you need. They nurture you in a different ways and they talk to you without restriction. On my last trip to China, one of my friends gave me a big punch as soon as she saw me, because I hadn’t told her sooner that I was coming to China. I had to apologize ten times while laughing hysterically. This kind of feeling is hard for me to find in the United States. Living in this country for sixteen years, I feel friendships in many cases don’t last. People moved away and never stay in touch. Even within families, some family members hardly ever talk to each other. Sometimes, people don’t cherish friendships and may even abuse a friendship. Friendships are likely to be short, quick, or temporary. Remember, if you give love, you also receive love. If you abuse friendships, you will never have true friends. A rule of thumb is: If you don’t like other people to treat you unpleasantly and with disrespect, you should not treat them that way.