Be Still. Be Free. Be Content.
A lifestyle blog about achieving balance in your everyday life.
The Key to Happiness
No one’s eulogy ever describes what they had. Instead, they often describe who they were. While living the life that will become your legacy, I’d like you to consider these 3-R’s.
Realize: There’s a credibility that comes with struggle, because only then do you truly have the ability to understand and empathize with another person. We often judge our struggles negatively – yet they have the power to direct us towards greater purpose and understanding.
Remember: All of us have at least one chapter in our lives in which we are not proud. Focus, not on the content of the dark chapters of our story, but on the growth that came in subsequent chapters.
Refocus: Our quality of life is directly related to our perception of our life. There are people who appear to have it all and are unhappy, and there are people, who seemingly have nothing, but are completely peaceful and content. It’s not about competing with what others can do, instead it’s about being the best version of ourselves. My late brother, Chad, proved this often, because although he didn’t meet society’s everyday measures of success with a high-paying career, house, car, wife and kids; he was completely happy and content with everything he did have. He didn’t compare himself to others. And, he was always the best version of himself. He did so by being grateful for what he did have and for what he could do.
We focus so much energy on thinking about what we don’t have or on what we need to do. The mind is powerful. Remind yourself not to focus on what you don’t have, but instead be grateful for everything that you do have. We all have plenty to be grateful for, if we just take a moment to reflect on it. April Hadley, my mindfulness teacher and “security blanket”, often uses a quote from Jon Kabat Zinn in her mindfulness classes, “As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you.”
I was practicing gratitude recently during meditation and I realized that I could have gone on for hours about what I’m grateful for. However, when I reflect on the periods of darkness in my life, that’s where I lose touch with how lucky I am. The practice of gratitude has helped me to see that no matter what comes my way, I have so many blessings to be grateful for. It’s allowed me to reframe my thoughts. Instead of finding bitterness and frustration in the early death of my brother, Chad, now I am able to be grateful for having forty one amazing years of being inspired by and loved by my brother.
Chad, who unarguably had challenges with his health that caused him pain and gave him different abilities, was grateful for what he did have and for what he could do. Because although he had to learn to walk four times during his lifetime, he was grateful that he could walk. Something that many of us take for granted everyday. And, Chad didn’t focus on why he was having problems, instead he focused on what he needed to do to overcome his problems.
Chad Hickman had greater character than any man I know and his legacy will always be remembered as: INSPIRING, DETERMINED, COMPASSIONATE and always doing the right thing, even when no one was looking. Making his story even more inspiring is that he did so with the odds stacked against him; never complaining or speaking negatively of anyone or anything (other than the Michigan State Spartans, Dallas Cowboys or politicians who didn’t embrace environmentalism), and by never asking for anything for himself or expecting anything in return. And, most importantly, by being grateful for what he had and for what he could do!
Chad didn’t know it, but he taught me the key to our happiness is, simple…just be grateful.