Excerpt: Dr. Ian Smith's 'Happy'

I brought this to his attention recently, and we both lamented how life's routine had squeezed out many of the things that mattered most to us, such as our spending time together and enjoying the special bond we shared. We agreed on the spot that at least once a year we would take a trip together— just the two of us, no families involved. Whether it would be hiking the Rockies, sitting on a beach in California, or visiting the Louvre in Paris, we would rekindle our friendship and give our relationship the time it deserved. Some of the happiest moments in my life have been sitting across the table from my friends, chatting about the silliest and most random things that come to mind. Nothing can replace the deep personal connections that make us feel good about ourselves and others.

Develop a Spiritual Life

A spiritual life can take on many different meanings for different people. For some it is the same as religion; for others it has nothing to do with religion. I like to think of a spiritual life as a belief in a higher power or order of things in which the individual is only part of the whole rather than the whole itself. Spirituality is about a journey seeking wisdom, striving for personal growth, forging deep bonds with others, and searching for meaning. Leading a spiritual life is also about humility and understanding your own limitations. People who are spiritual often work hard at doing what is right and fair, and they are tolerant of differences and more willing to forgive.

Spirituality for many is a way of pursuing a meaningful life in which we use our talents to serve that larger force, whether it is a community or causes such as social justice, world hunger, a green environment, or other big- ticket issues. One definition does not fit all, nor is there a right or wrong way to express spirituality. It is really all about what you think is meaningful and worthy of your service.

Simple Steps to Develop a Spiritual Life

Set aside at least a few quiet minutes every day to say a prayer.

Think of five ways that you can improve the conditions of those around you.

Practice finding the good in others and in difficult situations.

Love others not just in words or thoughts but through the generosity of actions.

Humbly accept and honor the concept of your relatively smaller place within a greater and bigger universe.

Spend at least an hour during the day focusing on good thoughts and positive energy.

Release anger and grudges you still have in your heart from past misdeeds.

Make a practice of doing good things for others on a regular basis.

Ask others about their struggles and triumphs. Make a real investment in the lives and well- being of those around you.

Recognize that there is a higher force in your life. While you may not be able to see, define, or touch it, recognize its presence and vast capabilities.

Forgive

When I was a little kid, one of my teachers would always say to whoever was pouting, "Smile. It's a lot less work. Frowning requires a lot more muscles than smiling." The lesson was simple even to us elementary school children: It takes a lot more effort to be sad than it does to be happy. My Sunday school teacher was famous for saying, "The more time you spend frowning, the less time you can spend smiling." By most definitions she was a very happy woman.

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