HAPPINESS: The 17 Keys From My Life Experiences

A few days ago marks the date four years back when I was released from the hospital and sent back out into the world. The certainty that I once had for walking again was vanishing along with that certainty of a very successful future. I felt like I had everything figured out in my life before the accident and that I could envision the bright future that I had ahead of me. When I left that hospital the world became a scary place. All I could think of was the worst case where I would never get back on my feet and be the person that I once was physically because I thought without the physical aspects of my life there was no reason to live. 

I was afraid to be alone. I felt like I needed someone there at all times to hold my hand to get through the day. Every thought was filled with doubt. Would I be able to walk again? Would I be able to get back out there on that waterski? Would I be able to finish what I started at Ohio State? Everybody assured me that I would do all of those things again. The biggest doubt I had was, without being able to do all the physical things, would I ever be happy again?
It is obvious today that you know the answer to that last question. Happiness has consumed my life and mind and now I preach how to find it within the lives of others. 
We are tested time after time throughout our lives and put through many hardships. We all live with stress and you can’t avoid that. No two people have the exact same problem, but we all deal with our fair share of challenges. Some people are faced with bigger challenges than most. 
There are two ways that we can respond to the many challenges that are brought upon us in life. The first way is to let it consume you and constantly question, “why me?”. Challenges are put in our life to teach us a lesson to help us grow and move onto the next chapter stronger than before. So the better way to react to a challenge or a hardship is to tell yourself, “this is all part of a plan” so then you must question, “what can I take away from this situation? How will I use this challenge as a way to better myself and better others?”.
Some of the happiest people that I have ever met are those who have gone through the most hardship. They can also be some of the most miserable people I have ever met. Those people that have hit rock bottom and have promised themselves never to go back there are the ones that understand what true happiness is all about. Some of these people have stared death in the face and because of that they are thankful for each and every day they are given. I myself included.
I want to share with you a list of things that I have found to be some of the keys to true happiness in my life. If you try to do, or all of the things on this list, you will not just find yourself to be a happier person, but you will also affect the lives of everyone around you. Here are the keys that I have practiced to find true happiness in my life:

THE KEYS TO HAPPINESS THROUGH MY LIFE EXPERIENCE
1.) Find beauty in everything and everyone.
2.) Never put yourself above anyone else. Love yourself, but love others just the same.
3.) Find joy in helping others. You’ll find that the best way to help yourself is to help others.
4.) Have a great sense of optimism, not just for yourself, but for every person you meet. 
5.) Focus on your strengths and use them to make your strengths stronger. You can strengthen your weaknesses, but practice more at what you’re good at. Others can make up for your weaknesses.
6.) Talk and speak up for yourself, but more importantly listen.
7.) Don’t let the critics get you down. Sort through it and only listen to constructive criticism.
8.) Say, “hi” or, “how’s it going?” and smile to everyone that makes eye contact with you.
9.) Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with anyone. Don’t let anyone intimidate you and make you feel like they will not listen to you and never feel like you are talking to someone lesser than you.
10.) Listen to music and carefully listen to the lyrics. Don’t be afraid to sing out loud and dance. Most of us suck at it anyway.
11.) Never think that a question is stupid, but think long and hard before you answer it. Just because you think the answer is obvious, that person would not ask the question if they knew the answer.
12.) Believe everyone, including yourself, can get better.
13.) Give, give, give, and give some more. You do not have to spend a dime to do this.
14.) The hardest one on this list is to not let anything bother you and never complain no matter how hard things get. I constantly joke about my situation to make thing less bothersome.
15.) Forgive.
16.) Learn from the past without regret and don’t dwell on it. Don’t focus on the future to avoid anxiety, but still have goals and dreams. Live in the present and work towards your dreams one day at a time. 
17.) Try as much as you can in your life and discover your true passions. You want to look back on your life without regrets and be able to say, “I lived.”

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