Happiness is...

Americans like to smile; we like to be happy! It’s a good thing we are a culture with the best dental hygiene because smiling is something we do well. I think of the French who are not big into smiles (or teeth). Luc Tessier in the movie French Kiss says, When people tell me they are happy, my ass begins to twitch. This makes me laugh and want to smile even more! When Americans are not happy we are very good at fixing it and if you don’t want to fix it, well people will just assume you are French!
I think there’s a recipe for happiness just like your grandmother’s cookies, they’re not that hard to bake and when you make them, everyone’s glad!
All recipes begin with the ingredients; the same is true for happiness. A recipe for happiness might go something like this...add a heaping cup of family and friends, a cup full of meaningful work, a dash of optimism, a sprinkle of gratefulness, plenty of forgiveness, a generous amount of giving, and two hands full of spirituality. You can’t find these ingredients in your pantry or buy them at the store, but you do have them at your fingertips should you choose to use them.
It seems that the happiest people surround themselves with family and friends; this is a sure-fire way to find happiness and to feel fully alive. Happy people don’t spend very much time alone; they like to be around the ones they love. Someone who is cheerful probably tends to have strong relationships with those who share their joy, sorrow, and stress…It’s a wonderful thing to invest in relationships with your friends, it’s a bonus if your friends are naturally happy people.  
There are some people who manage to always look on the bright side. We may not all be as sunny and optimistic as the famous Pollyanna character but we can find her same enthusiasm for life if we can play the ‘glad game’ every now and then. Think about something you’re grateful for and voila, you’re smiling!
Grateful people are happy people. To me, gratitude is best expressed in writing letters, journaling, or even an email or a text to tell someone you love them, this can make you and that person feel better in an instant.
I find when I get really into a project or activity, I lose all track of time, stop worrying and just enjoy the moment. This is when I think busy schedules are a good thing; life’s many activities bring great satisfaction. I find this happens to me when doing enjoyable daily tasks too…dancing, playing with my children, writing, reading are all things I can lose myself in. Taking time away from other important things like work is good for our soul.
People feel happiest when they’re doing what they do best…work or play. I think you will agree with me that we should all have more fun and less stress. If you love your work and it’s meaningful, that plays a huge factor, but equal parts play and work are what equals happiness. I’m sure Freud would agree when he said, Love and work…work and love, that’s all there is.
There’s a bigger chance that you will be happier if you don’t spend too much time alone. It’s a good thing to accept social invitations, initiate social get-togethers, have face-to-face time rather than online time, and hug your family and friends. Nurture your relationships; having tons of friends could never compare to those few very close friendships that consistently make you happy. When I’m having a bad day, I like to relive a good memory spent with friends and family. 
Another way to get happy is to forgive. It may be extremely hard to do and take some time but once we forgive those who have hurt us, our hearts are happier.
Spirituality contributes to our happiness, believing in something higher gives us direction and purpose and it just feels right.
A few weeks ago, most of the world watched the Royal Wedding with great joy. This one wedding made people all over the world so happy and gave us optimism and a reason to celebrate with the world. I think most people look forward to the next big celebration that brings us all together like the Olympics.

Quotes to inspire and make you feel happy:

The best way to cheer yourself up, is to try and cheer somebody else up. Mark Twain

Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot about puppies. Gene Hill
The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.  Anonymous
Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. Nathaniel Hawthorne
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust
Questions to ponder… When have you been the happiest? To get you thinking here’s some food for thought with three top five happy lists from my husband, my daughter, and me. Can you guess which list belongs to whom?
1.       a to do list that’s already been done
2.       the feeling after an intense work out
3.       bedtime rituals with our children
4.       a night without doing dishes
5.       seeing the lights turn on in our children

1.       birthday cake
2.       balloons
3.       kites
4.       Hello Kitty
5.       parties

1.       the beach
2.       hugs
3.       pink peonies
4.       the sound of music and laughter
5.       being skin to skin with my babies
What’s on your happy list?

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