Mackay: Be happy beyond the holidays

This time of year, we often hear the greeting “Happy Holidays.” Are we really happy just because the holidays are here? Or is there a way to be happy all year long?

We are as happy as we decide to be. No one can tell us to be happy. Happiness is a state of mind.

Benjamin Franklin was concluding a moving speech on the guarantees of the Constitution when a heckler shouted out, “Aw, those words don’t mean anything. Where’s all the happiness you say it guarantees us?” Franklin smiled and calmly silenced his critic. “My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

That’s why my friend Wally “Famous” Amos said, “Happiness is an inside job.” By the way, Wally makes lots of people happy with his cookies!

I believe we were born to be happy. The happiest people I know are not the richest or most attractive or even the best at what they do. The happiest people are those who discover that what they should be doing and what they are doing are the same things.

That’s because happiness doesn’t come from just doing what you like — it’s from liking what you do. True happiness lies in satisfaction, which has nothing at all to do with how much money you make or how many people report to you.

So where do you start on a path to happiness in business and life in general? Here are 10 commandments, inspired by “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin (Harper Collins, 2009), that might improve your outlook if you strive to follow them daily:

• Take it easy.

• Be yourself.

• Handle your responsibilities.

• Exercise understanding.

• Face your fears.

• Leave your worries behind.

• Live honestly.

• Behave positively.

• Open your heart and mind.

• Share your time, attention and talents with others.

There is an ancient Native American legend about a little-known tribe that was constantly at war with other tribes. They abused their religion and their families, had no morals or feelings for others and laughed at any kind of order. The violent tribe seemed doomed to wipe themselves off the face of the earth.

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