Do you ever wish you could be happier?
I recently came across the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In the book, the author describes her year-long project to see if she to increase her happiness. Many of her ideas and suggestions resonated with me.
One of them was her Twelve Commandments. I liked the concept of pithy sayings that helped her to think and act in positive ways, so I began to come up with my own list.
I don’t consider them commandments, though. And they aren’t resolutions either, because they focus as much on being as doing. They are more about my underlying attitudes, about how I want to live life, not the goals I want to achieve. For lack of a better word, I’ve decided to call them tenets.
My Ten Tenets for a fuller life
- Be Lisa
- Wait on God
- Give thanks
- Spread joy
- Do stuff
- Make mistakes
- Fight Resistance
- Enjoy the process
- Maintain boundaries
Please understand, this is not a list of things I’m already good at. Some I struggle with more than others, but none of these happens all by itself–thus the reason for the list. I am hoping my list of tenets will remind me to intentionally live them out.
My list is quite different than Gretchen’s Twelve Commandments. That is because I am a different person, with different struggles, strengths and values. Which leads me to the first tenet:
“To thine own self be true.” Polonius in Hamlet,
“Being Lisa” means being willing to be myself, fully and unapologetically, instead of trying to be who I think I ought to be, or who others want me to be. It means embracing my strengths, preferences and dreams, but it also means acknowledging what I cannot be, what I will never like, and what I was not created to accomplish.
For example: I will never understand fashion, I will never enjoy depressing books (no matter how literary) and I am not destined to become a nurse. To fully own “Be Lisa” I must let go of talents, dreams and interests that don’t belong to me.
Another challenge with “Be Lisa” is figuring out who I really am. I found a helpful post on this subject that suggests we need to consider five aspects: Personality, Core values, Physical body, Dreams, and Preferences.
In order to “Be Lisa” I must embrace my introverted temperament, my analytical thinking style, and the limitations of my no-longer-twenty-year-old body. Not to make excuses, but to face life with realistic expectations and thus avoid unnecessary disappointment. (Disappointed = Unhappy) “Being Lisa” requires that I understand my passions and find ways to employ my strengths, instead of vainly trying to hide or fix the things I can’t do.
“Being Lisa” means I don’t beat myself up because I don’t want to train for a marathon, or even a 5-K. (All my friends are doing it, and it seems like such a healthy, worthy goal. But I hate running.) “Being Lisa” means I sign up for a writing conference expecting that it will take a lot out of me, but doing it anyway because I know it will be worth it. “Being Lisa” means my church volunteer efforts are behind-the-scenes rather than as a greeter or nursery worker.
It’s not always easy to “Be Lisa” but the more I strive to be my authentic, created-just-the-way-I-am self, the happier I will be, the more enjoyable I will be to others, and the more worthwhile stuff I have the potential to do.
One further thought: If I want to “Be Lisa” I need to give everyone around me permission to “Be Themselves” as well. That means I must accept others the way they are, not the “new, improved version” I might wish them to become. Yikes!
I will explore other tenets in future posts, but for now I leave you with the challenge to “Be You.” And if you cringe at the thought of anyone accepting you as you really are, read this beautiful short post from my friend Dale.
Be brave! Be real! Be you!