Dear John,

What keeps you on track to finding happiness and living through love each day? How do you avoid getting derailed with the stresses of life that surround us?

Continued from Saturday…

Instead of trying to pursue or identify happiness, try to apply these 8 pillars of joy to your daily life:

Perspective

Our perspective is what enables us to see situations, problems, and people differently. We are often limited by our lens in those moments, crafted from our historical experiences and patterns. When we free ourselves from these narrow perspectives, we can broaden our appreciation and understanding of the world.

How can you look at things differently? Can you deepen your empathy for someone else’s point of view? Can you find an opportunity in your obstacle?

Humility

Humility takes us out of our own egocentrism and broadens our vision to a wider range of circumstances, possibilities, and perspectives. When we have a high self-regard or self-involvement, it disconnects us from others. Humility is the antidote to that, bringing us closer to others and away from self-aggrandizement.

Would the outcome change if you approached a problem or task with humility or curiosity? What would it feel like to praise others instead of yourself? How would an interaction change if you admitted you didn’t know?

Humor

Stress is inevitable and humor is one of the best ways to cope with it. It is a pressure-release valve. Bringing humor into our stressed out, frenetic lives gives us a break, a pause, to let go of it all in the moment and let our bodies release. It is joy-making, requiring our bodies to move, our lips to smile, and our lungs to respire. It is an opportunity to reset and release.

What can you laugh about today? Instead of getting struck in anger, sadness or fear, can you find the humor in the circumstances and laugh it off?

Acceptance

Acceptance is the conscious decision to stop resisting life’s circumstances. It is synonymous with surrender. Instead of spending our vital life force in resistance or avoidance, we can align our sails with life’s winds and go with the flow. When we are in acceptance, we have more bandwidth, energy and resources to allocate on being present and innovating solutions.

What would happen if you accepted the outcome instead of standing in resistance? Can you surrender and trust that life has a bigger plan for you?

Forgiveness

There is no better resource on forgiveness than Desmond Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving. In his book, he identifies four core elements to forgiving: (1) telling your story, (2) naming your hurt, (3) granting forgiveness by recognizing our shared humanity, and (4) renewing or releasing the relationship. We will all experience brokenness in ourselves and others. This is how we learn to identify the hurt and hone in on what it takes to heal. We can’t always control what may break us, but we are solely responsible for putting ourselves back together. This work, when done in the context of relationships, is what deepens our empathy and understanding of one another, i.e. our shared humanity.

Can you let go of your resentments, expectations, or rivalry? What would you do with the energy you reclaimed from laying down the sword? Can you lean into forgiving someone who has wronged you? Can you remember a time when someone forgave you for a wrong you committed?

Gratitude

Gratitude is a process and an emotion; it makes what you have enough. When we are grateful, we are not searching for more. Gratitude brings us into the present with reverence – it makes the mundane and ordinary sacred. There is a saying, “if you want to feel rich, want less.” Gratitude is what abates insatiable consumerism. Establishing a daily gratitude practice is linked to improved health benefits and a greater overall satisfaction with life.

Can you name three moments or people in the day that you are grateful for? When you find yourself wanting more, can you find gratitude for what you have?

Compassion

Compassion is empathy in action. Empathy is important to broadening our understanding of others’ circumstances, pain, and suffering. Compassion takes it one step further, motivating our bodies, minds, and souls to relieve the suffering of others. When we talk about shared humanity, it is the compassionate regard that we have for our fellow humans that allows us to understand, grow, and thrive together.

What does it look like to put your empathy in action? What can you do to remove the pain or improve the circumstances of someone suffering?

Generosity

Being generous means living in abundance. It is searching for opportunities to find those less fortunate than you and lifting them up. There is always someone less fortunate than you – recognizing it and acting to better their disposition is a powerful force. It is the selfless and unconditional giving from your overflowing cup. Fear is a zero-sum game; generosity is the antidote.

Who could benefit from any one of your gifts? Apart from material items, what else can you give? A smile? A hug? An encouraging word or gentle smile? A moment of your time? What can you give to others without expecting anything in return?

To be continued…check back tomorrow for the finale, Part 3 of this exploration.

With love and light, John Moos, MD