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In a flurry of white dresses and patent leather shoes, little girls will flock to church this Easter Sunday, holding their mothers’ hands. Little boys with slicked hair and clean mouths will wait patiently for their Easter baskets, where they can tear into multi-colored wrappers and demolish chocolate bunnies with their small, bare hands.
As Easter approaches, it seems the slate can be wiped clean. For one day, everything is shiny and new and bright again. Whether you go to church, go out for brunch or orchestrate a massive egg hunt, it can be a time for laughter, family and new beginnings.
It can also be a time for happiness.
Happiness, on rare occasions, can seem as intrinsic as breathing. Other times, it can seem mechanical – like a forgotten concept as our schedules pile up and we drown beneath endless task lists and to-do’s. But take a cue from this holiday – whatever it means to you – and employ some of my favorite happiness tactics to keep you on a path of joy, not stress.
1. Drown out the noise. The world has become an over stimulated playground when it comes to living life: from dating, to having babies, to buying a home, to picking a phone, to decorating, purchasing clothes, figuring out what to eat every single day, how to exercise, having the “right” relationship, the right job… the constant bombardment from websites, television and your friends can be overwhelming. So stop listening. Don’t listen to the latest diet fad or health craze. Don’t pay attention to advertising. Simply drown it out and trust the only thing that matters: your instincts.
2. Make your own rules. No one can tell you how to live your life, what constitutes a happy marriage or job or how to raise your child. You have to figure out what works for you, your partner and your life. It’s no one else’s decision. Your happiness isn’t a result of other people’s suggestions – it’s a direct outcome of what you do, so instead of letting society dictate what’s right for you, make your own rules.
3. Replace “I have to” with “I want to.” There are too many “I should do this” and “I have to do that” on a daily basis. What can you live without? What do you really want to do? How can you marry your responsibilities and your interests? Sometimes it’s just a slight shift in attitude or learning to say no to certain commitments. Ask yourself: at the end of the day, what really matters? What do I want my life to be?
4. Don’t want more, want enough. In this world, we are taught that to have more is to be more. Wrong. Don’t crowd your life with more. Simplify. Be adequate. Do just enough, have just enough, be just enough. Let go of this outer “ego” that defines you and realize that we’re not meant to have more, more, more. We’re meant to live simpler lives and be happy with less.
5. Collect experiences, not things. You can’t take any of your possessions with you when you go, so why cling so tightly to them? Travel. Get out of the house. Get off the couch. Get out of the store. Stop being influenced by advertisers. Instead of purchasing that extra pair of shoes, pack up a picnic and surprise your hubby with an afternoon feast. Start measuring your life by experiences, not possessions.