I have, in the past, spoken openly about my battles with bipolar disorder (BPD)/depression. It is a dark and lonely place to be. The tendency is to try things to fill that void. I have come to realize over the last 17 years or so of dealing with BPD that the responsibility of my happiness was largely my own. Through trial and error; bouts of self-medicating and medication, I realized the power I do have to manage BPD as well as to ensure that I cultivate an atmosphere of happiness in my own life. I have come up with 10 commandments of happiness that I believe will find resonance with very many persons:
1. Thou shall remove all clutter from your life. “Clutter” refers to all those things and people that no longer serve your greater good but are simply taking up space and energy in your life. You do not need those. Get rid of them.
2. Thou shall use your “No’s” generously. Do not be afraid to say ‘No’, especially if you find that requests are always being made of you to do something for someone. Over-extending yourself can be taxing on both your psyche and your resources. Interestingly, using your “No” helps to remove some of the “clutter” that is just sitting there.
3. Thou shall take time for you. Don’t be afraid to take a break. Usually, when we make decisions while “going through” we make a mess and add stress to our lives. Take a break: read a book, go sit by the river or beach or do whatever rocks your boat but take some time away from whatever is bothering you. When you return, it most likely might be gone or at least you will be in a better head space to tackle it.
4. Thou shall have 2 or 3 friends that you can talk to. Nuh badda wid di crowd. The more friendships you have to manage and give yourself to, the more stressed you will be. select your inner circle wisely and keep that circle as small as possible. That circle will be your support system. To them you can vent, cry and celebrate moments together.
5. Thou shall not compare yourself nor compete with others. Listen to me! Stop trying to be a carbon copy of other people. More often than not, you will make a very poor copy and that will add to your frustration. You do not have to dress, speak, have the same job, education etc. like everyone else. Be you.
6. Thou shall have your own life’s motto that guides you. Some time ago I developed my own motto, “I AM worthy”. The meaning behind the motto itself is quite profound but every time I find myself in a situation that seeks to undermine my own happiness or peace of mind, I remind myself that I am worthy… of happiness…to be loved… to be respected… to be treated right.
7. Thou shall seek to do good. There is an inexplicable joy that is derived from doing good. The good that you do, does not have to be recognized or broadcast on Facebook or Instagram. The knowledge that you have made a difference alone will suffice. Looking back for rewards is what is going to stress you.
8. Thou shall forgive yourself and others. You might have heard it said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die. That adage is true. The burden of carrying around yourself and others for errant ways is much too heavy. Forgiveness helps to lighten the load. Forgiveness is not forgetting the error, it is remembering that we all are humans (and human err).
9. Thou shall never give up on your dreams. Few things are as debilitating as unfulfilled dreams. So many times, many of us sit and wonder about “shudda, cudda, woulda”. We wonder what life could have been if we did… that is a life of regrets. Pursue your dreams, as crazy and out there as they may seem but let it never be said that you did not try. There was a little poem we used to say as children that had a line, which said, “try and try again, boy. You will succeed at last.”
10. Take care of your physical body. Bathe. Brush your teeth. Put on some kuskus. Dress up. Exercise. There is a strong correlation between how we look and how we feel. Plus there are numerous studies that show that taking care of our physical bodies through nutrition and exercise and even how we dress helps us to feel happier. When I feel low in spirit, I look for the best thing in my closet (even if I have to wear it twice in one week) or I wear one of my ‘sexy’ underwears (sexy underwear makes me feel bold).
If you obey these commandments, I guarantee you, you will see a difference in your happiness quotient. And, remember, your happiness is a decision that YOU must make.
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