Last Happy Thursday, we talked about Marcus Aurelius and his first five keys to happiness. We know he was the most famous Roman Emperor and was the richest and most powerful man on earth. Despite all his power, he worked very hard on being the best person he could be, and did not abuse his power. From his endless pursuit of peace and understanding came some keys to happiness. Let’s finish discussing them today…
6. Focus On Your Own Growth
When it comes to measuring growth, most people tend to compare themselves to others to determine how they are doing in life. You may have someone in your head now whom is or was a good friend of yours and one that you could compare yourself to. You may be saying, “I am doing better than Joe” or “At least I’m not as bad as Jane.” But this is not a good comparison. They only way to measure real growth is to measure yourself and your progress against the person you were yesterday and if you have grown any since. Have you progressed or grown since yesterday? Comparing yourself to Joe or Jane will only make you envious, jealous, or give you a false sense of success. If you want to see if you are making true progress, compare your progress from yesterday to today. That is where you will learn the most.
7. Be Happy No Matter Where You Are
Are you happy? I don’t mean, are you happy sometimes. I mean, are you truly happy? Are you filled with joy, or do you only experience moments of happiness depending on where you are or the circumstances you are facing? Where you are can be physically where you are and what you are doing or it can be your current life situation. Marcus is saying that you need to be happy no matter what you are facing in life. Joy comes from within. And since it is within, you can control it. You can choose to be happy. You can chose to look for the beauty in all things. You have control over how you experience different things that happen in life. I am sure you agree that going to the dentist doesn’t really make you happy. But not having any cavities or a severe tooth ache is a pretty joyous thing. Look for the joy in everything you do and know that you can control how happy you are in any life situation.
8. Be Grateful
It is easy to take things for granted. You probably have so many things in life that you simply believe you are entitled to them. People tend to take the food they eat, the roof over their head, their freedom, and their loved ones for granted. Marcus is challenging you to slow down, pay attention, and be grateful for the things you have in your life. I am sure you have heard someone say, “Count your blessings.” That is another way of saying, “Be grateful.” Practice gratitude every day. Understand that everything is temporary and that having what you have today is a blessing, not a guarantee. So take the time to appreciate what you have on a daily basis. It is a good practice to write in a daily gratitude journal. I write in my gratitude journal Monday – Friday. It really helps me to pay attention and be grateful for the things that most people take for granted.
9. “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
You have complete control over your mind, so whether you perceive something as good or bad is completely up to you. You are the one who has to interpret any event as something positive or something negative. For example, you may believe being in a car accident is really bad. And most people would. But what if that car accident made you appreciate life more than you ever have. Was it really bad? Or what if your spouse cheated on you? Most would say that is bad. But what if that event was necessary for you to find the love of your life. Marcus is saying that you have to control your thoughts, not outside events. You can’t let anything external control your state of mind. This is no easy thing, but the better you are at realizing you are in control of your mind, the stronger you will become.
10. You have a purpose.
Yes, you too. You have a purpose. You have a reason for being here on this earth. Everyone and everything has a purpose and a part to play. Perhaps locked away in your head is the cure for cancer. Maybe your role is to spread joy and peace to all around you, being the example we all need in our lives. Or maybe your purpose is to have a child who changes the world. It may be hard to find your purpose, but know that you have one. We all have gifts and talents just waiting to be utilized to make a difference. Don’t waste your talents binging on Netflix every day, or sleeping 14 hours a day. Look for your purpose, the good you can do. Realize what your talents are and discover how you can use them to change something for the better. You are meant for more than just working 8-12 hours a day. Look for your purpose and pursue it with everything you have.
Happiness is not guaranteed just because you may have power or a boat load of money. Some of the richest people in the world are unhappy and have even taken their own lives. True joy and happiness comes from within, which is something you can control. Sure, you can take these ten keys and never think about them again, never exercising their true power. But if you take these keys, read them every day, and study them, you will surely find happiness. The pursuit of happiness will help you identify the joy within. And these ten keys, if practiced, can help you find that joy. Read and use them daily to strengthen your outlook on life.
I want to thank Andrew Kirby for posting the YouTube video from which I was able to share this information. Here is the video if you wish to give it a watch: