Here we are again -- a new year is upon us. To mark the start of another 365 days many of us resolve to make some changes. Be it lose weight, get healthier, make more money, spend less, find a job or get a new one, exercise regularly, whatever. Why do we make resolutions at all when most of them get abandoned or end up as mere failed attempts? Despite good intentions, self-interventions often fall short because our focus is on external or superficial changes. To truly make lasting positive changes we must begin with the mind. Becoming your best begins with finding and experiencing HAPPINESS at the core of your being.
To be happy is to be content and self-confident deep down with no matter who or what you are, independent of what may come. Happiness is sheer delight and satisfaction, with no connection to circumstances or states of being. Happiness is supreme bliss; pleasure beyond the realm of vicissitudes or fortunes. When you are happy at your core you have the God-given power and ability to do anything and be your very best.
How do we attain true and lasting happiness? It starts with the mind, then extends to the body, and then to others. Abraham Lincoln once said, "A mind is as happy as it makes itself up to be." Yes, some scholars and biographers think that Lincoln may have been bi-polar, but his point is important. We have the God-given ability to choose happiness with the power of our thoughts. Keep constant vigil on your thoughts. Be your own mental gatekeeper and lock the door on thoughts that are self-disparaging or self-destructive. "To think is to create; as we think so we become," said Rene Descarte. It's true.
Think regular thoughts of happiness and you will become happy. Think and totally believe that it is possible to lose some weight and get healthier, and you will take repeated actions to make it real. I know this is true; I've lost and maintained a 150-pound weight loss for almost 20 years. I did it by believing that I could lose weight with the help of God, and praying regularly asking Him for help. I took thoughts of praise and spiritual connection with me at all times, which empowered me to take repeated action toward my goal of losing excess weight, joyously exercising and eating less and more healthfully.
It is possible to find and maintain happiness at your innermost core. Believe it to become real. If the center of your being is at peace -- contented and confident -- then all else that you are and do will follow peacefully, confidently and happily. Maintain your inner core of happiness and all else will be fine.
The philosopher David Hume said "circumstances vary; the amount of happiness does not." This means that our peaceful inner-core of happiness isn't affected by external events. Things may go well, or not so well. We may get what we want, or not. No matter. Either way, the peaceful, happy core remains stable. At least that's the goal. It can take some effort, however. It's a daily, life-long practice.
The Dalai Lama teaches us that true happiness comes from acts of compassion and calmness. If we are always careful to maintain calm no matter what, then we give our inner-self the room to attain peace and ultimate connection (enlightenment, in other words). Taking that peaceful inner-calm and extending it to others through compassion and empathy (truly understanding and validating the reality of others) offers us true happiness in return.
I believe and experience true happiness through constant prayer and regular meditation. As a Christian, I look to Jesus Christ, God-incarnated in human form for peace and instruction on how to truly love myself and others. Christ teaches that we have the likeness of God inside us, at our core. So when we pray to God we are in return, praying to God inside us and in others. When I sit in silent meditation, opening my mind and myself to the holy presence of God, my extraneous chatter and self-effacing thoughts (which the Greeks call the logismoi) subside leaving room for that likeness of God to come in to my core. By the grace of God I'm given true peace and happiness at my core.
Then I am able to accomplish a lot. Like losing 150 pounds and keeping it off almost two decades. Like joyfully exercising each day: I walked a couple of miles today with my wife and loved being outside with her. Like making a living and supporting my family.
Need to make more and save more money, find a job or get a new one? Start with getting happy deep, deep down. Let that center core of peace and happiness kindle your efforts to network with everyone you know, and in online social media. Put out the word that you're looking and willing with a heightened self-confidence and inner-happiness that's contagious.
Whatever you resolve to do or be this new year, do your best to break free of dependence on material possessions or external circumstances or people to make you happy. Let the priceless and free gifts of God's presence in you be more than enough. Be happy that you're alive today, and thank God for your life.
Norris J. Chumley, Ph.D. is the author of several DVDs and books on happiness and spiritual practices: "Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss," "Big Body Yoga: 30 Days to Spiritual Wellbeing," and "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer," available at Amazon. He is also a public speaker and personal coach - for more information visit NorrisChumley.com