Five Keys to Being Happy
The two most important things people want to discover in their lives are true happiness and meaning. But how do you get there? Tom Thibodeau, Viterbo University religious studies professor, gave some insight on the subject last week at Franciscan Skemp's Successful Aging Program. He based his thoughts on John Izzo's book, "The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die," which included interviews with more than 200 wise people. The five secrets are: Reflect more, be true to yourself. "We must recognize the importance of good stuff every day, always nurture the good stuff and reflect on the good stuff," Thibodeau said. He said people smile, laugh, feel good and have energy about the positive things in life. "We forget about the good stuff," he said. "How many messages we receive are positive?" Thibodeau asked. He suggested that people take time for family and visit a friend, read and write poetry, and follow their heart, he said. "Take time for matters of the heart," Thibodeau said. Leave no regrets. The sin of old life is melancholy, Thibodeau said. "No matter what you're doing, show up and do the best you can," he said. He referred to Ann Quindlen, an author and a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, who said, "I show up, I listen, and I try to laugh." People never forget an act of kindness or someone who took the time to come to a funeral, Thibodeau said. "Your friends need you more than Oprah," he told the audience. Become love. Be a loving presence to others. The biggest regrets are that we have not loved enough and didn't spend more time with family and friends, Thibodeau said. Enjoy more. Live in the moment. Thibodeau asked the crowd to stand up and follow what looked like a dance and the cheer, "I feel good, I feel fine, I feel happy all the time." He said we will be judged for what we have not enjoyed. "Laughter and play are so important to our health," Thibodeau said. "One of the greatest gifts is to give someone the gift of joy." Give more than you take. Give more and nurture a legacy. "What are you going to leave behind?" Thibodeau said, adding that good work always lasts. So Thibodeau and Izzo want us to ask the following questions:
- Am I following my heart right now? What would it mean for me to really follow my heart right now? How am I responding to the setbacks in my life right now? Am I stepping forward or retreating?
- Did I make room for family, friends and relationships today/this week? Did I live in the present today/this week, or did I let tomorrow or yesterday steal the day's happiness?
- Did I make the world a better place this week in some way? Was I kind, generous and giving?
These are tough questions, but you can start by paying attention to one question this week -- and focus more on the good stuff, the positive stuff.