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Tricks to Happiness

Thoughts compiled by Cynthia Gill MA, LMFT.

Clients come in and most of them say, "I just want to be happy!" Here are four tips to happiness.

1) Defeat bitterness.

Everyone has to battle against it because all of us are hurt sometimes. There is much pain in this world! We can choose whether to let it fester, in resentment, or give up our right to hurt the person back. I know people who hold on to bitterness for decades, and my heart goes out to them. They are not happy! It's a process to forgive and let go of things, and one we all need to learn if we want to lead a fulfilling life. Our pastor says that "Time doesn't heal all wounds; it heals clean wounds." That is wounds free of bitterness.

This quote was on my son's wedding invitation last month. "Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness..." (Iain Thomas)

2) Be thankful.

The opposite of thankful is entitled. You can tell how much "entitlement-itis" is robbing you of happiness by how much you complain. Is a complainer happy? There is always something to be thankful for, and you can train yourself to be grateful. Start by writing down three things a day you're grateful for in a journal (and don't let yourself repeat any). Train your children to be thankful, so they don't fall into the way of thinking that says they're the center of the universe and the world owes them.

3) Have courage!

Don't let anxiety or fear take over. How much of your thinking is focused on the "what ifs?" Most of these never happen, but they occupy way too much of our thinking. Try this: whenever you're tempted to think of the "what ifs," say to yourself "what next?" Then concentrate on making dinner, or fixing the car, or cleaning out the closet... much more productive thinking than focusing on what you can't control anyway.

4) Serve others.

People who give to others less fortunate than themselves are infinitely more happy than those who like a self-focused life. That's why people who seem to have it all are many times so discontented. I personally think that that's why God allows disabilities, suffering, and

weaknesses: so, we have the opportunity to help others. Raising or working with children certainly helps us grow up and get rid of our selfishness.

If we can "fight the good fight'' and manage to defeat these four things: bitterness, entitlement, fear, and selfishness, we'll live satisfying and reasonably happy lives.

Let forgiveness, thankfulness, courage, and selflessness characterize our lives!

For further assistance, please call 763-566-0088 and speak to our Client Services Coordinator or stop by the NewPath Mental Health Services office at 8401 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 340, Golden Valley, MN 55426 to find out about services you are interested in.


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