A friend of mine asked me to give him a list of the top ten things I’ve learned in my work about how to live a happy, peaceful life.
Well, narrowing it down to ten is difficult, as people have truly taught me so much over the years, but I’ll try:
1. Be spiritual, even religious. Don’t be afraid of the “R” word. And don’t be too afraid of delving a bit into whatever religion or spirituality you lean towards or that feels right and true to you—maybe it’s even the one you were born into! And be consistent so that it has a chance to get into you.
2. Take care of business TODAY. Procrastination is often fueled by fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of imperfection, etc. It also saps away your vital life energy and tranquility, which you could use for other things.
3. Don’t seek chaos. It’s an unnecessary habit and it ultimately produces unneeded anxiety, confusion, and feelings of being out of sorts and disconnected from yourself. This includes unhealthy relationships and all acting out behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse, sex addictions and affairs, AND retail therapy.
4. Read. Someone once told me that a person will always be happy as long as they have books to read. This includes Kindles and Nooks! Reading takes us into the minds and hearts of others and it broadens our perspective and our paradigms which helps when life makes us feel anxious, depressed, or afraid.
5. Exercise. You don’t have to go overboard. Just do something which lets you feel in touch with your body and your breathing. Being physically in touch with yourself releases neurotransmitters which help with tranquility and healthy self-confidence.
6. Connect with someone everyday just to connect. If you have kids, focus on them exclusively for a bit of time on a regular basis without multitasking. You’ll know what you’ve been missing the minute you start doing this.
7. Don’t always focus on something to ‘pick you up’ or ‘pull you through’ like a trip, a possession, a relationship, etc. Just enjoy the moments you have as well as the things and relationships you have.
8. Forgive. Someone once told me that family forgives because that’s what family does. If you’ve ever been really angry with someone in your family for offending or disappointing you, you know how difficult this can truly be. (P.S. This doesn’t extend to situations of continued, repeated abuse.)
9. Tolerate. Work on your patience with others and with yourself. We can ALWAYS say more, prove more, argue more, etc. But in the end, we’re all going to the same place and we won’t be able to bring our points and our opinions with us.
10. Serve. Doesn’t have to be particularly heroic or wide-reaching. Serve your spouse. Serve your children. Serve your aging parents. Get used to serving, in any way that you can. It’s a good way to remind ourselves that there’s a big world out there and that we’re not all alone.
AND…for extra credit:
11. Be committed and follow-through. Includes your marriage, your kids, your work, your avocations, and your word. Yes, you can change course when necessary and appropriate but quite often we do this too often and too erratically. We must not constantly remove the value of things in our lives and make everything disposable if we don’t want to live lives which feel meaningless and empty to us.
Be well and in good health,
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand A Few Things First)
Cobwebs and Ugly Wallpaper