08/18/2014 04:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Alphabet of Happiness: 'P'

Here are a few reminders from the letter "P" of how even a small shifts can cause big changes. Play, purpose, poise and peace are all access points to your innate joy. See what resonates most for you.

It is utterly false and cruelly arbitrary to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age. -- Margaret Mead


Do you want to laugh more, reactivate your creativity and yes, look years younger? It's easier than you think -- all you have to do is play! As children, this comes naturally: playing with friends, riding bikes, running outside -- it is all part of the plan. Yet, as grownups, have you ever noticed how things become much more goal-oriented? Even bike riding is often done for very specific reasons, like tracking distance traveled or calories burned. What happened to enjoying for the sake of pure unadulterated fun? What happened to playing all out for the sheer joy of feeling alive?

Everyone has something that they love to do, that makes them feel unencumbered, free and alive. Find that for yourself, and while you're at it, give yourself permission to look, act and be silly. Laugh at yourself, laugh with friends. Consider revisiting an activity you loved as a child, or trying something brand new. You may inspire your creativity and find yourself significantly more productive when you get back to work.

This is the time to reconnect with your lighthearted spirit, your innocence, and above all with your capacity to renew. Take the challenge -- what can you do to add more play back into your busy life?

"Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors where there were only walls." -- Joseph Campbell

What is the purpose of life? What calls the deepest part of you? Each and every individual is born with a purpose, and a gift to help bring it forth. This is true for everyone -- no exceptions.

There's a story of a student and a master. One day, the student asks his master the purpose of his life. She answers, "Only you can find that, but knowing of your purpose is not found in your mind, but rather in your heart ... If you knew, right now, that you were going to die tomorrow, what would you most regret that you had not accomplished?" He responded that he would regret not making peace with his family and not creating his own center for learning. The master smiled and said, "See how you discovered it for yourself. Now, it is now up to you to go and make these your reality..."

There is only one person that has the combination of your spirit, your strengths and your vision; only you can know what is true for you. Tune into your courage to bring all that's inside of you to the surface. This opens the way for you to use your life as a vehicle for something greater -- something that touches others too.

Besides experiencing a profound sense of fulfillment personally, the world needs what only you can express. It often starts with a whisper of an idea. Listen to the call of your heart and don't wait another day -- take one step now...

The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it. -- Diana Vreeland

Poise is how you hold yourself through both the easy and not so easy times. Unlike those who ride the roller coaster of feelings, ecstatic when circumstances are in their favor and devastated when they are not, a person of poise moves through life with greater equilibrium, less volatility and even more grace. Are you starting to notice the times when you can respond to challenges rather than fly off the handle? Can you become the calm center in the eye of the storm?

That's your poise kicking in. It will lead you to greater confidence in yourself, an elegance and strength in handling whatever comes your way and a trust that you are on your path. Though poise may not change the challenges -- it will help you ride the rapids instead of being submerged in the rushing rocky water. Everyone has the capacity for poise -- just holding it as an intention, allows more of it to show up in your world.

"If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work." -- Thích Nhất Hạnh


Peace is the presence that lives within you. Through all the phases and all the places, it is a deep well that feeds your soul. In the quiet of the night, in the pause of the day, in nature, on the yoga mat, running or in the most unexpected places, you can access your peace. Tune in, the breath is your road map -- slow down and breathe your way in.

When your mind is on overdrive and when you feel foggy, know the fog for what it is: an illusion, like layers of clouds that may obscure the sun, but never negate its power. That peaceful power lives in you too. It has no agenda, it is not in a rush; it just is. Drop into it, in the stillness. Allow yourself to trust that you have an abundance of peace, overflowing inside of you... pause, listen and let it in.

As you connect with your inner peace, be prepared to notice more examples of peace around you. In the words of the Dalai Lama, "We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves."

Any more "Ps" that pull you towards happiness? How do you find your purpose, poise or peace? What's your favorite way to play?