Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend indentifies the five strengths of happy people and has some great examples to draw from.
1. Take Responsibility for their own Happiness
The happiest people I know are people who recognize that they are the agent of change in their own life. They recognize that it is not what happens to you in life but how you respond to what happens to you that matters most. Happy people are not just victims of everyone else’s actions, but they realize that they have the power to turn the negative things in their lives around and find the peace that is always there. One of the best examples of this type of responsibility was demonstrated to me by Thelma Soares, the mother of Lori Hacking. Lori was brutally killed by her husband Mark Hacking in a highly publicized case in Salt Lake City.
Of the devastating loss she suffered, Thelma told me, “I suffer the pain of Mark’s decisions every day and yet I can still choose to forgive him and feel the peace that comes from that. But that is a choice I make every day.
2. Live Their Lives Out Of Love, Not Fear
The greatest human motivator is love not fear. Nothing inherently makes a human being happier than knowing that they are loved by others and loving another human being. One of the greatest impediments to loving and serving another human being is fear. Fear is the opposite of love and it is our fear that keeps a safe distance between us and those that we love. Fear is what keeps us from being vulnerable with those we care about. Fear is what keeps us from risking or doing the things that we feel prompted or driven to do to connect to other people. Fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection, fear of looking weak, the fear we’ll be taken advantage of or the fear of not knowing what to do or say in those awkward moments is what truly drives us away from those we love the most.
3. Look For the Positive in Every Setting
One of the greatest keys to being happy in life is to look and find the positive things that are happening in your world. Happiness is not so much a function of “having” a happy life, but maybe more importantly of “finding” the happiness in life! People who are able to see the good that is going on around them even in the midst of some of the bad that they are experiencing will inevitably be happier. One of the best examples of someone who found the positive in every setting was the Dutch Christian Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom.
Corrie and her family used their home to hide Jews from the Nazi’s in order to protect them from a sure death at the concentration camps. Eventually the ten Booms where captured and sent to a concentration camp themselves. While in the camp, most were completely discouraged and literally wanting to die to end the torment they were going through. But Corrie ten Boom somehow managed to stay positive about the experience, finding the good in everything she could. In fact one day in a one of her many daily prayers she thanked God for the fleas that had invested their barracks. Many around her couldn’t believe she was actually grateful for the fleas and protested but she quickly clarified that if it were not for the fleas, then the guards would be inspecting their barracks more regularly and they would have found the bible that she had hidden away that was bringing in so much light and peace. Happiness apparently is not the condition of your house as much as the condition of your heart.
4. Forgive Others Quickly
For many, one of the biggest impediments of being happy today is the inability to let go of the past. In my work with couples I have found that one of the fastest ways to truly be happy is to become an expert in the art of forgiveness. Because of the world in which we live and the complexity of the relationships we have, being offended is inevitable. Our happiness really is not whether we get through life without being offended or not but more importantly on how we handle the times when we are offended. The ability to forgive is the ability to move on, it enables the offended to see the offense in the healthiest light possible and to know that the sooner they can let go of the offense, the sooner they can begin to heal and move on.
One of the best examples of forgiveness I have ever seen took place by a man named Chris Williams who was confronted with the most difficult task imaginable. One evening Chris Williams was driving with his pregnant wife and three of his four kids. It was a typical evening until a teenager driving drunk, crossed the road and ran head on into the Williams’ car, tragically killing his wife and unborn baby along with two of his other children. The third child was transported to the hospital with a head injury. Chris Williams was the only one that walked away from the accident that night. However, he chose not to just walk away. Before leaving the scene of the accident, Chris Williams made it a point to forgive the teenage driver who had taken his family. He told the police officers to be sure to tell the boy that the father of the family in the accident forgave him.
Chris Williams forgave the boy who took four members of his family and he was able to do so in the moment. I’m sure that his forgiveness was just the first step in a painful chapter of his life, but I’ve also found that it was probably the most important thing he could do to find happiness again. Forgiveness of another allows us to put down the pain and move on, rather than carrying it with us. It also allows us to find the peace that can only come by letting go of our own negative feelings. Thanks to Chris Williams for his wonderful exampled.
5. Completely Lose Yourself in Others
I have feel that the greatest happiness found in life does not come in the honors of men, in money, or personal accomplishments. I have found more joy and happiness in the selfless love I have for my children. I have found my greatest joys come in the quiet of the night when holding a sick child or in the peace of my heart when one of my boys finally hits the ball in a stressful baseball game. Or in how proud I can be watching my daughter grow into her own personality. To me this happiness of completely losing myself in someone else is exemplified in one collective image and that is the image of mother. My mother had lost herself in me, my wife loses herself in her children and my aunts, mother-in-law and grandparents have done the same. Nothing brings more happiness to the soul of a human being than to completely care only and entirely for someone else. Thank you to all the mothers who have been willing to lose themselves for all of us; we hope we made you happy!
Matt Townsend is a national speaker and relationship expert who uses his unique gift of understanding relationships to help individuals, couples and families learn the skills they need to better relate. Through entertainment and humor he teaches life-changing principles and skills empowering couples to change by learning to communicate more effectively, to stop patterns of negative reactions, and to get to the heart of important issues.
For more couple advice from Matt, attend:
Date Night with Matt Townsend
Friday, May 14
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
$35 per couple
Location: Noah’s in South Jordan
To register call (801) 747-2121