Few movies have had the strength to move me to action. The Pursuit of HappYness is definitely the exception.
Will Smith plays the role of Chris Gardner, a down and out dad who’s faced with poverty, homelessness, singleness, and a job that paid ZERO – you heard that correctly ZERO dollars in income.
Faced with these challenges many parents give up their children to orphanages or to relatives. And in some extreme cases, some parents have gone as far as to kill their kids and themselves. Chris Gardner did none of those things. He did something truly amazing despite his circumstances. He persevered. And he fought to improve his life for himself and his son.
Chris Gardner had reason to pursue happiness. He was at rock bottom. If you have not seen the movie yet I won’t spoil for you how the movie ended or why he was in that situation.
Though I’ve never lived on the streets (and I hope I never do) I can relate to portions of the movie because I’ve seen adversities too. Most of us have.
If YOU are struggling with life’s many challenges, or boredom, or sadness, or some other problem blocking your happiness I’ve put together a list of things you can do right now to start feeling happYier. These steps have helped me too.
Here are the steps:
1) Get your hands on things you feel proud to own or have around you. For Chris, his son and those dang machines where the objects he held to.
2) Get active. Read, exercise, watch a good movie (watch The Pursuit of HappYness if you haven’t already), paint, swim, or whatever you like to do that is good to do
3) Find a place you enjoy being at, either alone or with friends. This could be your home, the public library, Barnes and Nobles, Starbucks, the beach or your favorite park
4) Find upbuilding people to hang out with and avoid happyness “vampires”.
5) Develop skills at something you are really good at (painting, drawing, building, fixing pc’s, public speaking, etc)
6) Develop a relationship with God through prayer and reading the Bible. Stay away from weirdoes who claim you need to drink poison and put a plastic bag over your face to be with God in a space ship. Those people are not good for you.
7) Look at adversities as opportunities. I can’t recall who said it but the saying is, “when life hands you lemons… make lemonade”.
Instead of grumbling how bad things are, look at ways of reframing the bad into something good. I know this sounds easier said than done. Here’s one example of how I did it as proof it’s possible and I believe you can too.
After I outsourced the production of one of my projects I found out I was going to lose $4,700. I thought my Internet Identity Theft Protection DVD was being produced in the same format as DVD’s you buy from the stores. When I found out they were DVD-r’s instead of pressed DVD’s I was hot.
I knew I couldn’t sell these without upsetting a lot of people. Though DVD-r supposedly work in 90% of all DVD players, 10% of players cannot read this newer format.
The problem with statistics is there’s no way to control which percentage of users received my DVD’s. 100% of buyers could be in that 10% failure group. That’s a lot of people to anger. So instead of upsetting people, or tossing out the DVD’s out of anger myself, I gave the DVD’s away. I made lemonade.
I’d like to think the goodwill I received in exchange more than made up for the loss of cash I’d receive had I sold the DVD’s. Adversity to opportunity. I’m convinced it’s not what happens to us that ultimately controls the quality of our lives. It’s how we handle what happens to us that makes the difference. So if life gives you lemons, strive to make lemonade.
8) There’s a word in Japanese I like a lot. It’s Kaizen. It means continuous incremental improvement of an activity. Another key to finding happyness, is striving to become more successful, better at something. I would add one thing to this… enjoy the process. I’ve seen people crying and pissed off because they couldn’t get some task right. That’s not what I mean.
One of my favorite quotes comes from a book few people have ever heard of. The book is, In Pursuit of Success, by Joe B. Hill. Here’s the quote:
“Life as a whole and the pursuit of success are supposed to be pleasurable.”
So enjoy what you are doing.
9) Develop a “trust me” attitude. Believe that once you set your mind and plans on an objective you will achieve it. That’s what Chris Gardner did. He kept asking do you trust me’ to his son. And then pursued his dream.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying think, hope wish, and dream and then good things will magically come to you. If Chris Gardner had adopted that attitude he’d probably still be living in the streets and bathing in public restrooms.
For Chris, happyness was represented by attaining money. He took action. We each need to take action to attain happyness too. Some people claim wishing is enough. It isn’t.
As Napoleon Hill said: “Wishing will not bring riches. But desiring riches with a state of mind that becomes an obsession, then PLANNING, definite ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with PERSISTENCE which does not recognize failure, will bring riches.” Think And Grow Rich
Even the Bible agrees with this at Genesis 11:6 when it says of mankind before God scrambled the languages, “And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
Imagine that… even God acknowledged that mankind, who was ‘created a little less than angels’ can achieve whatever we imagine to do. That’s probably why Hill coined the phrase, “what the mind can conceive the mind can achieve”.
Oh, here’s one “bonus” tip for achieving happiness: do something nice for someone else. Preferably someone who has no way of repaying you other than saying thank you. If even that. You’ll see the truth behind the saying there’s more happYness in giving than in receiving.
Taking each of the steps above could lead to more happYness in your life.
You can learn more from a guide that few people will read because of the title… Dr. James Herdon’s Personalized Depression Therapy (available through http://Amazon.com). Don’t let the title fool you. The steps he outlines apply beyond depression. I’m convinced that even people who are not depressed can benefit from what Dr. Herdon has documented.
Also, learn more about how to choose to be happy through these collections of articles and free books on the California State University of Long Beach site at http://www.csulb.edu/~tstevens/index.html
And by all means, if what you need to truly become happy is professional help, seek that help from a competent professional.
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