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Happiness moves us beyond self-centredness

© Catherine Ripplinger Fenwick

There's that word again, "happiness." What an illusive thing is happiness! The word means so many different things. Happiness can mean health, success, love, a warm kitten, or whatever we want it to be. For most of us, our goals, aspirations and dreams revolve around the concept of happiness.

I know a few happy people. They are people who know and like themselves. They feel worthy and competent. They are able to learn from life's experiences and think positive thoughts. Happy people have a healthy sense of humour. They readily share themselves and their resources. They learned to share their toys when they were children and can grasp the true meaning of intimacy. They are capable of committing random acts of kindness.

Happy people remember how ridiculous they are when they take themselves too seriously. They can accept who they are with humility and know that in the whole scheme of things they are not the centre of the universe. You know the old saying, "You can't have everything! Where would you put it???" Happy people are more content and satisfied with life. Their awareness is not limited to a fixation on themselves and their point of view.

Happy people find joy in the happiness of others and are able to give and receive love. They are generous with their thoughts, prayers and material things. They know that their acts of kindness and good deeds have a ripple effect that reaches far beyond the moment. They do not "grandstand" their generosity, but share what they have and who they are with quiet humility. I am very grateful to have known a few people like that in my life.

Happy people are available when a loved one is in need. They are able to lend emotional and physical support when necessary. They can relate to the other person's pain.

Happy people sometimes cry. In their humility they can step into someone else's shoes and feel empathy for their pain. They feel sorrow for another's loss, pride in another's achievement, and pleasure in another's joy.

Happy people have a deep appreciation for the gifts of the earth and have acute awareness of the interconnection of all living things. They admire the beauty of a sunset, the power of a summer storm and the peace of long walks in the country.

Happy people make an effort to be physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. There is meaning and purpose to their lives. They have a belief system that makes some sense of it all. They love their work and love to play. They can lose themselves in the sheer pleasure and celebration of life.

Happy people laugh a lot. One night, as I tucked my son into bed, I reminded him to set his alarm clock. "It's O.K. Mom" he said, "I have my rubber duckie in my bed." I asked him, "How will your duck take the place of an alarm clock?". He responded, "He'll wake me at the quack of dawn!"

These days I make an effort to get together with family and friends as often as I can. I am rediscovering childlike innocence, joy and wonder. Getting in touch with my playful inner child helps me to be happier.

Happiness is escaping to the country, visiting country cousins and farmer friends. "How can you tell when someone is a good farmer?" "She is the woman out standing in her field!"

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