10 Simple Secrets for a Calmer and Happier You
By Allan Lokos
1. Deal with Difficult People Gently
Pocket Practice: Find a place where you can feel completely at ease, sit, and say to yourself,
Only I can destroy my peace, and I choose not to do so.
Throughout the day, when it seems as if others are making your life difficult, stop and remind yourself that you are the one who determines how you feel about what’s going on. You are the one experiencing the words and actions of those around you, and your perceptions are entirely up to you.
2. Consider Your Words Before Speaking
Pocket Practice: Work this sentence (or a similar one) into your conversations, especially when there is disagreement: “Let me think about that”
This simple statement can prevent us from making quick decisions that we might regret, or from speaking while angry, which we’ll surely regret. It also sends a message that we care enough about the other person that we want to take time to consider what they’ve said.
3. Free Yourself from Feeling Like a Victim
Pocket Practice: Consider letting someone off the hook for a deed they committed
Sometimes we have to let go of our deep desire for things to be different or to have been different—because they aren’t, and they weren’t. We might have to give up a subtle belief that because we were victimized, we are damaged and can never enjoy a meaningful relationship or a successful career. We might have to let someone else off the hook in order that we might be free.
Remember, we cannot have a better past, but we can usually have a better present.
4. Open Your Mind to New Possibilities
Pocket Practice: Choose a particular situation and practice “Beginner’s Mind.”
The essential characteristic of Beginner’s Mind is openness—the willingness to explore all possibilities. Beginner’s Mind sees past what it knows and openly embraces all options. Those with Beginner’s Mind are curious, free of preconceptions, and able to enjoy the wonder and exploration of life. Release what you know and, like a wide-eyed child, take it all in anew.
5. Accept Things as They Are
Pocket Practice: Consider how your discomfort with a particular situation might be eased by accepting things as they are.
Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different than the way they are. Sit quietly, close your eyes, and open the spaciousness of mind and heart needed for a change of perspective. Remind yourself that even if a particularly difficult situation you are now confronting seems insurmountable, it is not fixed and solid. It will change. If after contemplating in this way for a few sessions you conclude that the situation is unacceptable, you should be better able to explore your options in a calmer and more compassionate manner.
6. Trust That You Can Do It
Pocket Practice: Focus on effort, not results.
When facing new and challenging situations, projects, or adventures, take a few moments throughout the day and remind yourself, I can do this, and I can enjoy it. I will give it my full effort; that’s all I can do. When we see life as an ongoing process—a process that includes challenges as well as easy times—we can accept that some things simply require greater effort. That’s the way it is. There’s nothing wrong, it is just the nature of things.
7. Allow Yourself to Truly Listen to Others
Pocket Practice: Develop listening skills.
This practice can dramatically change your relationships.
Let go of your thoughts while the other person is speaking. Notice if, as the other speaks, your mind is already preparing a response. You may be agreeing or disagreeing, or perhaps thinking of advice to offer. If so, gently release your thoughts and return to listening. Determine that you will not respond until you have left at least a three-second period of silence.
8. Reflect Before You Send an E-mail
Pocket Practice: Before clicking the send button on the emails you write, stop, close your eyes, and breathe for a few seconds.
It is an excellent practice to reread each e-mail before sending it and make sure it contains nothing you might later regret. Let thoughts like What is my intention? and Am I being considerate? go through your mind. If the email can be changed to better reflect the person you want to be, make the changes. Even your emails should reflect your true self.
9. Pause Before You Say Too Much
Pocket Practice: When you sense that a conversation is about to become heated, stop and consider what you are about to say before saying it.
You can avoid tremendous grief if you remember that you can never really take back your words. Find a way to express your truth with kindness.
10. Know When You Can and Can’t Help Others
Pocket Practice: Contemplate and accept that there are times when you can help and times when you cannot. Remember that just feeling bad helps no one.
Sit quietly for a few minutes and reflect on the following:
There is suffering in the world, including my own, that I can help to relieve, and I will endeavor to do so. There is suffering in the world about which I can do nothing. When I accept that reality, I am more available to experience and share my own happiness and that of others. I, and those around me, fare better when my heart and mind are filled with loving-kindness.