This past week I saw a video on Facebook. It was of Dame Helen Mirren, the British actress, who was addressing the graduating class of Tulane University. In the speech, she gave the students her five easy steps for having a happy life. They were don't be in a rush to get married, treat people as people, ignore anyone who judges you by the way you look, don't be afraid of fear and don't over complicate things. Some of these things I agree with. Others, not so much. But in thinking about this, I thought that maybe I should present some rules on being happy. So here goes, Darren's 9 rules for a happy life.
One, take time out each day to appreciate nature. It might be looking at clouds. It might be hearing a birds cry. It might be watching new growth in the garden. It might be smelling the roses. God's creation is ever around us. We just need to take a moment to appreciate it.
Two, realise life is transient. It does not last forever. Emotions last but a moment as well. We can't always be happy, however. There is bound to be pain at some time. Our lowest points won't last forever either. Things will improve. The pendulum does swing.
Three, come to appreciate your short comings. All of us are blessed with gifts and talents. All of us struggle with something. Just know that you can't be everything to everybody. You don't have all of the answers. It's ok that I can't be a ballerina or a gourmet chef. Someone else can do that. All I am called is to be me.
Four, continue to learn. Read. Appreciate art and music. Go to lectures. As soon as we think that we know it all, we become the greatest fools. As long as we learn, we are alive.
Five, respect others. Everyone has a purpose in the world. Listen to different points of view. Engage in respectful, thoughtful conversation. Just as you are a beloved child of God, so is your opponent, your enemy, and your rival.
Six, appreciate the gift of relationships. We never know how long they might last: people move, change jobs, get sick, move on in new directions, and die. Yet relationships that are healthy and life giving make us a better person. Bad relationships teach us how to be resilient, how to live when we are challenged. Never think that any time spent in a relationship with another is wasted.
Seven, don't be afraid to be your own person. Don't be afraid to be different. Be yourself in relationships. You were created to be you for a reason. The world needs you. Don't forget it. But then again the world needs everyone else so never think it is all about you.
Eight, don't let your emotions rule you. One bad thing does not need to ruin a whole day. Everyone might not share your sense of exhilaration. Don't let yourself get stuck in any one feeling as that is only a part of who we are called to be.
Nine, set yourself goals but know it's not the end of the world if you don't achieve them. Don't be scared to challenge yourself. We can't grow unless we push ourselves. But don't be upset if we don't complete all of our challenges. We grow to new understandings of ourselves, we change our minds, life events get in the way. Never let previous failures hold you back.
Not an exhaustive list. But living life according to these 9 principles will make you a happier person.