#7 Keep Growing.
Don’t stand still. Change the world by first beginning to change yourself!
We can never know enough. The world is so full of so much information, knowledge and wisdom in so many spheres. Seek wisdom in areas that can help you grow as a person; that can improve your relationships with your spouse; your family; your community and in your workplace.
Also find a passion; find a hobby or sport that you can also continue to improve and grow in. But pass it on. Use your improved knowledge and wisdom for the benefit of others.
All this will continue to move your life forward and also uplift and encourage you and in turn, you will be happier!
Both in your relationships and even your hobbies, as you grow and improve this will have a knock on effect on those around you, that you are in turn helping, as your relationship with them develops and improves.
#8 Learn to listen
Listening is a real art – it does not come easily to many of us.
Some of you may even be like me – I am often in a another world in my mind, and only half-aware of my immediate surroundings. Sometimes it takes a very serious effort to bring my whole focus to bear on those next to me who are speaking to me.
When I do this, it is normally most helpful, even if only in avoiding the ills of poor communication, especially when that someone is my wife!
When I don’t, I lose. I lose the connection with another human being and the growth and wisdom that can come through that connection.
When we pay close attention to what someone is sharing with us, and when the conversation is an important one and we are able to accurately reflect back to them what they have said, we give them a gift.
When we listen we give a gift of our time and attention, but also we give the gift of our respect for the person we are listening to, in that we display a good appreciation of where they are at.
To listen is to do more than just be there and hear. It means to pay attention; to heed to the point of taking action of what we have heard.
The foundation text of Judaism is the Sh’ma which starts with ‘Hear O’Israel’ or ‘Listen to Me, My people Israel!’
The Almighty is calling and pleading with His chosen people to heed His instructions, His Torah.
When you truly listen, you more fully hear so that your world is clearer and your future actions are likely to be better focussed and appropriate to the circumstances. Thus, as you are now in less conflict with your environment; your world, you are much more likely to be at ease and in turn happier!
So open and active listening leads to greater happiness!
#9 Create moments of silence in the soul:
We are so enveloped by a very fast moving world today, a world of technology and people everywhere. A strange world in which sometimes we spend more time connecting with people on the other side of the world (through Facebook or Twitter and other social media apps), than we do with our neighbours, or horror of horrors, perhaps more than we do with our family!
In such a world, we need to occasionally take a breather – to escape into nature or at least into a ‘prayer cupboard’!
At the very least, we need to find time to go for a walk or a run (perhaps without the music), or to do some star-gazing out on the porch, or find someway where we can still our soul and let it me surrounded by silence.
Perhaps when we do, when we are silent and stilled, we will be fully open to listening and to then hearing beneath and beyond the noise of the busy world, to the deep speech of the Universe and the song that she sings to her Creator.
The heavens declare the glory of G-d,
The skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day pours forth speech to day,
Night communicates knowledge to night.
There is no speech or language
Where their voice is not heard. (Ps 19:1-3)
Finding silence for our souls can lead to reconnecting with the Source of our souls. It can bring refreshing and rejuvenation and a deep sense of peace. It all this it leads to greater happiness.
But it can offer even more.
When we are silent enough to hear the voice of the Almighty, perhaps we are also silent enough to hear the silent cry of the innocent unborn being sucked into oblivion, or the distressed cries of the poor and needy, the neglected and marginalized.
Our silence may help us tune in to God’s mercy, and see this very important attribute of the Creator and us, His creation made in His image.
For more on the silent scream of the unborn see Where is the outcry – why is the church silent?
For more on God’s mercy see ‘Les Miserables: Reconciling God’s attribute of Justice with Mercy’
For more on God’s Grace see ‘Amazing Grace’
Next: Happiness Principle #10 – Transforming Suffering