In our Declaration of Independence it is written that we have the God-given right to pursue happiness (please note that it says we have the right to pursue it but does not guarantee that we will find it). We all seek happiness and we look for it in all kinds of places –– sports, entertainment, sex, food, therapy, relationships – and we are often disappointed when we don’t find it there. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote a Hall of Fame song about this disappointment – Is That All There Is? – and Peggy Lee won a Grammy for singing it. It sings of seeking happiness and coming away empty handed and disappointed. We’re going to look at the five A’s of happiness that Peggy Lee did not sing about.
How many times do you start a thought with “If only…” with the remainder being an unspoken “then I would be happy”? How many truly happy people do you know? Do you consider yourself happy? What makes you happy?
The Five A’s of Happiness
There are five A s that may point you in the right direction and these are appreciation, awareness, acceptance, acknowledgment and amazement.
Appreciation really doesn’t have to be defined, it just has to be practiced. Look around you and take notice of all the things you have to be grateful for. Who and what do you appreciate? The little cheer that my grandson yells after every T Ball game comes to mind – “two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?” They appreciate the other team. Who do you appreciate? Keep a running list of things you appreciate. Right at the top of my list are family who love me, fresh air, clean water, good food, freedom. Each one of those could spawn a new list. The list should grow longer and longer and never stop. But be careful, because appreciation can change your life for the better. Only do this exercise if you are serious about being happy.
Awareness goes hand in glove with appreciation. The more aware you become of everything around you, the more appreciative you will become. Do you see beauty everywhere? How long has it been since you picked up a fallen leaf and noticed the colors, the structure, the beauty of it? How long has it been since you “smelled the flowers.” As a driver I’m always surprised at what I see on a daily route when someone else is driving. When I drive I only see the traffic, the directional signs and the things I need to see to be safe and get us to our destination. When I’m a passenger I can be aware of the people, the architecture, the plants and flowers, the blueness of the sky, clouds and whatever is along the way. Become aware of other people and their expressions, their energy, their joys and sorrows. Become more aware of yourself – who you are and what you want and need, what you enjoy and do not enjoy. Awareness is a key ingredient for happiness.
Acceptance keeps you from trying to change yourself and everyone and everything around you. It allows you the freedom of being who you are and allowing others to be who they are as well. You have heard the saying, “I love you warts and all.” That’s acceptance. You don’t have to judge or remake anyone you know. It’s a very freeing concept and opens you up to happiness with yourself and others.
Acknowledgement lets you recognize your own talents, abilities, accomplishments and uniqueness as well as the talents, abilities, accomplishments and uniqueness of those around you. Acknowledgment of someone else’s successes does not detract from your own or diminish you in any way. Nor does it generally make them arrogant. Remember how good it feels when someone says sincerely to you, “Great job. Thank you?” You can give that gift to someone else. Start with your spouse and children if you are married. Those are four magnificent words: “Good job! Thank you.” When is the last time you used them? Get them out, dust them off and use them until they become second nature. Thank you!
Amazement lets you look at everything through new eyes and exclaim “WOW!” When you are aware and you really see, your will be amazed my more and more. My grandson is a constant source of amazement to me because of his sweetness, his intelligence, his wit and his tenderness.
Those five A’s can bring you closer to happiness than almost anything I know. Happiness is an inside job, after all, and appreciation, awareness, acceptance, acknowledgment and amazement are some of the tools that help you work there.