Living Happily Ever After in 8 Easy Steps

“Either give me more wine, or leave me alone.”  Rumi

Any of you who have been following along on my journey for the past few months have probably figured out that I like to set myself to tasks.  I have found that if I don’t give myself tangible goals and set intentions to follow through, days and days will pass without any writing, creating or purposeful living.  Yes, yes: I really AM the Queen of Procrastination.  Look here I am with my crown:

wine

And so I find myself with the task today to talk about Rumi’s quote, “Either give me more wine or leave me alone.”  No really.  It’s a Rumi quote.  Imagine my surprise when I was collecting quotes to use during this month of Ruminations I have assigned to myself, and here was this awesome, fabulous, incongruous quote.  It seemed so unspiritual in nature,(ironic, I know,  because of the direct reference to a spirit) but when I contemplated the quote further, I wondered, could this hide a great life lesson?

On the surface the meaning seems fairly clear.  Granted I have had moments like that in my life, wanting nothing but to be left alone to slosh around in my own self pity, ‘wining’ as it were.  But upon further study I believe the true meaning behind these words goes much deeper.  Perhaps what Rumi is really trying to say is “if you are here to add to my joy, then stay.  If not… get outta my face.”  He says it a bit more poetically.

My contemplation of joy, and how to bring more happiness to life has led me to write a LIST!  I know.  You are probably as excited as I am.

Living ‘happily ever after’ is not just for Disney Princesses anymore.  With a few guidelines anyone can live a happier, more fulfilling and joyous life.  Here are a few tips that have made all the difference in my life.

1.  Choose your friends wisely.  Friends are a great source of happiness.  They can bring you comfort when you need it, a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with, or someone to build you up and make you believe in yourself and in your dreams.  Good friends are priceless and irreplaceable.  Keep them close to your heart.  Cherish them and love them for they count among the greatest gifts your life has to offer.

Then there are those other ‘friends’.  You know the ones I mean.  These ‘friends’ are always sure to knock you down a few pegs, make you feel just a little bit foolish for dreaming too big, or say the things that should really be left unsaid.  The ‘friends’ who gossip to you, and then gossip about you.  The ‘friends’ who start sentences with things like “don’t take this the wrong way, but….” or “I hate to be a bitch, but….”.  These people are not friends.  They are frenemies.  Recognize them quickly, send them love, but then send them.  Away.  Far, far away.

2.  Choose to be happy.  Sounds too simple, I know, but when you come right down to it, happiness really is a choice.  Life is a constant series of changes, some good, some not so good, but always it is our reaction to events that cause us to experience happiness, or not.   By making a conscious effort to see happiness as a choice when things are going well, it will be much easier to find a silver lining when those storm clouds roll in.  Sure, you may not feel happiness when the rain is pouring down, but at least you won’t despair.  Choosing to be happy most of the time helps to create a habit of happiness so that no matter what life throws your way, you will weather the storm.

3.  Get moving.  Walk, bike, swim, dance, jog, hop on a pogo stick, skip rope, whatever.  Just get moving.  It will fire up your endorphins and make the happy chemicals dance in your brain.  And while you are at it, take those endorphins out into nature.  Something about walking through the woods recharges and replenishes in such a way that it is nearly impossible to hold onto stress.

4.  Dance with abandon.   We all seem to worry so much about what others think of us it stands to reason that everybody else is so busy thinking the same things themselves that they don’t have the time to think anything about us.  Free yourself from the perception that other people judge what you do, then crank the music and dance.   Nobody is watching.

5.  Help somebody.  It is the best kind of high.  Reaching out to somebody in need takes us out of ourselves and gives us a sense of empathy, compassion, and joy that makes feeling despondent nearly impossible.  Lend a hand, and gain a heart.

6.  Get busy.  Create something.  Put down the iDevice, shut off the Netflix and make something from nothing.  Creating gets us closer to our true selves and brings our spirits alive.  It doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t have to share it with anyone.  Fingerpaint, or decorate a cake, or plant an herb garden or make a rag rug… anything will do.  Be inspired and follow that calling.

7.  Stay young.  Years may cause our bodies to age, but we can choose to keep our spirit young.  In youth we see things with fresh eyes, we fall in love with life and all of its possibilities, we dream big and believe we can grow into it.  By maintaining a youthful spirit we can sell our cleverness and look with awe at all of the wonders of the world.

8.  Laugh (and cry) often.  My American Husband is hilarious.  He makes me laugh every single day and this, to me, is his finest quality and most attractive feature.  Laughter really is the best medicine for whatever ails you.  But did you know that crying is also very good for you?  Feeling and expressing whatever emotions you have is the most authentic form of human existence.  It’s only when we suppress our emotions that they bounce around inside and cause us to get sick.  So watch a funny, or sad movie, find friends who share your sense of humor, and learn to laugh at life’s funny twists and turns.   Don’t take life so seriously.  Nobody makes it out alive anyways.

And so concludes my advice on living happily ever after.  Taking a cue from my own list, I create for you, a poem:

My list is writ,

my song is sung,

my smile is lit,

my wine is brung.

Take that, Rumi.

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