Throughout my life I have felt drawn towards the study of happiness, balance, wellness, gratitude and peace. Not long ago, I was going through some papers my mother had saved from when I was in the second grade. I saw how my little 7-year-old self could one day grow up to have a business called "Peaceful Beach." For example, there was a letter to Santa that went something like, "Dear Santa, thank you for all that you do for the little children in the world," as well as an ambivalent note to a "Julia L." that attempted to end the relationship but keep the lines of communication open, something like, "You are mean to me and treat me bad and so I can not be your friend anymore. Love, Brooke."
As my children return to school tomorrow and start the 1st and 4th grades, it makes sense to me to organize my thoughts on having a happier life in an elementary way. So I have decided to list all of the concepts I feel contribute to having happiness alphabetically. Maybe some day I'll flesh them out into a real book but for now I have my happiness list. I've found that my children enjoy helping me come up with ideas for a happier life for each letter of the alphabet. Here is what we have come up with so far for the ABC's of a Happy Life (Some letters were easier than others):
A is for Acceptance, Awareness, Awe, Altruism, Authenticity, Accomplishment, Action, Appreciation, Art.
B is for Balance, Brotherhood, Beauty, Breathing, Blessings, Being.
C is for Charity, Confidence, Congeniality, Compassion, Curiosity, Cuddling, Coffee, Comedy, Comfort, Companionship, Courtesy, Civility, Complete work/Completing tasks, Courage, Creativity.
D is for Dancing, Dedication, Desiderata, Devotion, Dignity, Direction, Discovery, Dreaming, Doing.
E is for Embrace, Excitement for life, Exercise, Expression, Employment, Engagement, Exhaling.
F is for Family, Fearlessness, Friends, Fun, Fantasy, Freedom, Fellowship, Flow, Free will, Forgiveness.
G is for Generosity, GIving, Glee, Gratitude, Gardening, Godliness, Goodfellowship, Growth, Grace.
H is for Happy thoughts, Harmony, Heart at Peace, Healing, Honesty, Helping others, Hearing, Hugs.
I is for Inquisitiveness, Individuality, Interest in others, Involvement, Inviting, Introspection.
J is for Joyfulness, Journaling, Joie de vivre, Judiciousness, Juvenescence.
K is for Kindred Spirits, Kinship, Kindness, Knowledge, Kisses.
L is for Love, Laughter, Lightness of Being, Listening, Learning,
Loving-Kindness, Letting Go.
M is for Meditation, Mindfulness, Ministry, Music, Making Merry, Mirth, Mitzvahs, Morale.
N is for Neighborliness, Niceness, New experiences, Nonviolence, Novelty, Nutrition.
O is for Optimism, Others, Open-heartedness, Open-mindedness.
P is for Passion, Playfulness, Presentness, Peacefulness, Pampering Yourself, Pets, Poetry, People, Positivity, Purposefulness.
Q is for Quiet Time, Quixotism, Quest, Questioning, Quaintness.
R is for Relaxation, Reading, Reflection, Rejoicing, Rejuvenation, Reaching out, Responsibility, Respect.
S is for Service, Self (Self-Esteem, Self-Respect, Self-Confidence) & Selflessness, Singing, Smiling, Spirituality, Surrender, Study.
T is for Tact, Talent, Taste, Talking, Tea, Teaching, Tenderheartedness, Theatre, Theology, Therapy, Thinking, Thoughtfulness, Tolerance, Touch, Tranquility, Treasuring, Travel, Truce, Trust.
U is for being Unabashed, Unafraid, Unassuming, User-friendliness.
V is for Valuing, Validating, Virtues and Vices, Visualization, Vitality, Vision, Voyaging, Voicing and Vocalization.
W is for Wellbeing, Wonderment, Writing, Worldview, Worthiness, Worship, Worthwhile endeavors, Wisdom, Wholeheartedness, Whistling, Whimsy, Welcoming, Warmheartedness, Walking and Wandering.
X is for Xanadu (def.: an idyllic, beautiful place).
Y is for You, Yin and Yang, Yuletide, Youthful attitude, Yoga, Yumminess.
Z is for Zen, Zest for life, Zydeco music
(if you have ever heard Zydeco music, you know what I mean).
Obviously this is not a complete list and many of the words I used on my list are up for debate, I'm sure. Feel free to add your own. Words have different meanings for different people. They are personal and we all have those words that speak to us in our darkest hours and bring light to our lives when we need them most. If any words on this list are helpful to you, my hope is that you will say them to yourself in your time of need. Feel free to start your own list of words that make you happy, or remind you to be so or to suggest words to the one I have here. There is no right or wrong word. Only you know what resonates for you.