Three secrets to happiness in 2020 – happy new year and welcome to the new decade! I am remembering how freaked out people were by Y2K concerns twenty years ago; and can’t believe where the last 20 years have gone! Has it taken me 20 years to learn these secrets to happiness in 2020? YES. Because sometimes the easiest, simplest things are the hardest to believe and practice, since our culture and mindset in North America are oriented toward struggle and suffering.
What are these three secrets to happiness in 2020? Read on!
- Secret #1 – Count your simple blessings. Do you worry about where your next meal is coming from? Do you have clean water? Shelter from the cold–a home, whether simple or large, and clothes, whether thrift or fancy–they all serve the same purpose and bring the same happiness. When our needs are always met, sometimes we forget how important these are, and we start feeling over-entitled, like a cranky toddler who can’t ever be satisfied. Overcoming these important challenges–hunger, thirst, shelter, safety–gives our life purpose, meaning, and fulfillment. Ask someone who has suffered physically–in war, deprivation and poverty and you’ll see what I mean. You won’t ever again take for granted the simple blessings that are actually pretty darn important.
For me as a single parent running my own business, and with no child support, and also previously there being mental illness and addiction in the picture when my ex was around: the ability to provide for my children, to keep a simple house, to keep them warm in winter and comfortable in summer: this is my second-greatest blessing ever, and even when I’m really tired and frazzled, I know great satisfaction from being able to provide. I don’t know if I would feel this gratitude had I not had a few years of great hardship getting on my feet again after divorce. I feel as though I will never take this for granted.
Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, taught that it is the removal of pain that brings true pleasure–a hot shower when you’ve been cold; finally getting to the toilet after a long wait – treasure these moments for the blessings they really are! I’m not kidding. There’s no great Oz of happiness out there somewhere; you’re in it right now, so enjoy!
What is my number one blessing? Well, that’s easy: connection to God, the eternal!
- Secret #2 – Take in the wonder of your daily life – For city dwellers, surrounded by concrete and pollution and traffic and people, get out to enjoy trees, sunsets, mountains, walks, quiet, good smells, solitariness. For country people, get into the city sometimes to enjoy culture, buzz, fine dining. Familiarity breeds contempt and indifference; it is our nature. Material and sensory abundance have a numbing effect on our psyche: when we don’t have to struggle, we lose motivation and joy–we need some hurdles to overcome to feel renewed and reward. Our funny psychology! Yet we were wired this way to overcome great physical struggle for survival, and so let’s be compassionate with our nature, and surprise ourselves occasionally by enjoying something new right where we are!
I have lived all over the planet, and realize this after moving back to my native Calgary with my kids in my late 30s: where you go, there you are. Every place I’ve ever lived in is really beautiful, with many outstanding amenities–whether it’s desert silence or the bustle of an artsy city–and so place doesn’t matter; what matters is our attitude of seeking out and appreciating habits as something fresh.
- Secret #3 – Self-control and discipline. A little self control goes a long way to helping us take great pleasure from our daily routines. When was the last time you felt really hungry? Really well rested? Took great satisfaction from watching TV? Don’t eat until you’re hungry; challenge yourself physically during the day so you’re physically tired at night (not just mentally tired) and limit pleasures like binge-watching, drinking, smoking, recreational drugs so that when you actually partake, you’ll really enjoy it but not get sucked into a negative cycle. Keep things simple; moderation is actually the way to achieve maximum pleasure from simple things like eating, exercise, entertainment. How do you feel after a big binge? Staying up all night with a TV show? When you’re really hung over or in a weed fog? If you’ve really pigged out at an all-you-can-eat restaurant? Terrible, right? Over-indulging always brings suffering. Self-control and simplicity brings self-respect, confidence, and helps us recognize the truth, that simple things are what bring happiness.
There’s my two cents about the three secrets to happiness in 2020! Enjoy. Kindest regards to you and your loved ones for ease, clarity, joy and wonder in 2020!