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My Happiness Recipe

by Marissa on August 22, 2010

Every year around mid-August, I get the end-of-summer blahs and this weekend’s hazy, rainy weather didn’t do much to lift my spirits. Not only does the weather go through transitions between seasons, but so do our bodies. We often need to take time to shut down and recharge so we can prepare for cooler temperatures and heartier foods and that’s exactly how I spent my weekend – in a state of relaxation.

Somehow, all my relaxing got me thinking about happiness: although I consider myself a happy person, I haven’t felt particularly joyous this weekend. I’ve done a lot of reading on the topic of creating more happiness in ones life and have worked toward my own state of happiness in my ongoing efforts to live more in the present. Most of the work I’ve done and the books I’ve read take a spiritual approach to happiness. For instance, in The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle says that one can create a happier life by living in the Now, transcending the ego to escape the analytical mind and releasing pre-conceived notions of the self. Similarly, the Dali Lama’s The Art of Happiness explores that happiness depends on the state of one’s mind rather than that of the external world.
Sure this approach works like a charm, but I’ve discovered that it can be difficult to transform one’s thinking and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. In this case, you must dig deep to reach this level of spiritual enlightenment and retrain the mind to let go of the illusions and messages to which you may have spent most of your life identifying. If you can accomplish this mental feat, you’ll cultivate a long-term shift in how you see the world and be more at peace.
There are then the personal accounts of happiness that seem far more achievable in their tangible applications of joy like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. In this case, happiness hinges far less on internal transformation as it does on external changes. Travel to a foreign country and learn a new language or eliminate clutter from a home and bask in the newfound happiness you’ve created. But how long does this more superficial version of happiness last? Probably only as long as you can enjoy the aftereffects and then you must move on to the next country or project to achieve that same level of happiness all over again.

Is one way better than the other? I don’t think so. My happiness recipe involves a little of each approach customized to my life. Here’s a taste of it:
  • Smile more often
  • Meditate or journal daily
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Keep my closet, papers, home and finances organized
  • Eat according to the seasons and how my body tells me to
  • Spread love, release fear
  • Recharge with time alone
  • Speak kindly to myself
  • Be authentic
  • Breathe deeply, chew thoroughly
  • Live in the moment and not for the future

What are the ingredients in your happiness recipe?

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