Recently, I read this amazing book called “Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are” by Sheri Riley. I highly recommend reading this book for anyone who feels like they are missing something in life or even looking to find more meaning in their life.
Sheri Riley talks about nine principles in her book. If you live by these nine principles, then you will be living your best life and using your gifts, your strengths to do, as Sheri puts it, “the work you were born to do.”
Her nine principles are:
PRINCIPLE 1: Live in your P.O.W.E.R
PRINCIPLE 2: Healthy living is more than just a diet
PRINCIPLE 3: Pursue peace and a positive mind
PRINCIPLE 4: Have a servant’s heart and a giving spirit
PRINCIPLE 5: Stop working, start maximizing
PRINCIPLE 6: Happy is a choice, joy is a lifestyle
PRINCIPLE 7: Build lasting confidence
PRINCIPLE 8: The courage to be faithful
PRINCIPLE 9: Exponential living
Since my blog is all about building lasting joy and happiness, principle number six is the one that really caught my attention. Okay, all of the chapters really will contribute to your happiness because if you follow all of them, you will find the most satisfaction out of life. If you follow her principles, you may – no, you will – find yourself turning down some really good-looking opportunities. However, it’s only by turning down some opportunities that you will free yourself to pursue those opportunities that you are meant to do.
Sheri starts the chapter with of my favourite quotes by Oprah Winfrey, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
In the chapter, “Happy is a choice, joy is a lifestyle”, Sheri talks about three main points related to joy and happiness. As a note, wherever the words are bolded, these are direct quotes from her book. The rest is my quick summary/interpretation of what she is trying to say.
Why don’t we choose to be happy?
Happiness is all around us, yet we often aren’t paying attention to it. There are a few reasons for that. I know that I personally am guilty of doing a few of these things, especially when it comes to letting go. Are there any that resonate with you?
“We fail to control negative thinking.” Whether you are an introvert like me, or you are an extrovert, it’s easy to let our negative thoughts take over. It’s important to make note of how you are mentally talking to yourself and challenge any negative thoughts.
“We confuse our reality with our truth.” In life, there will be hard times and there will be good times. But even in hard times, you are allowed to be happy.
“We put a ceiling on our happiness.” We fear that when we do feel happy that it won’t last and that we will feel even worse once it is gone. To protect ourselves from the highs and lows in life, we put up barriers. In the end, these barriers actually don’t protect us. They only keep us from feeling the joy and happiness that we desperately want.
“We fail to accept our “new norm”.” Life changes – it’s a fact of life. Maybe your health is not as strong as it used to be or maybe you now have a family with young children. It’s important to not get caught up in what we used to be able to do. Instead, focus on what you CAN do and be fully present in our lives.
“We compare ourselves to others.” How often do you find yourself doing this comparison trap? In today’s world, it’s so easy to do, especially on social media. But always remember that appearances can be deceiving. It is so easy to show only the good, happy moments to everyone else, with never sharing the struggles. Plus, there will always be someone else who is smarter, richer, or has something that you want. Don’t go there. Be happy with what you have and you will find happiness.
“We hang on to anger.” Anger can come in two forms: unresolved (we may not even realize how much it is present) and deliberately held (where you can’t let go). It’s important to have a healthy relationship with anger. As I like to tell my son, “Let the anger flow through you, so it doesn’t control you.”
“Work.” It is easy to get caught up in work, especially if leads to success. Success in this case means being at the top of your field, or at least a rising star. But it’s important to not let work take over our lives and drown out everything else. Make time for your family. Make time to relax and recharge. By making time for things outside of work, it will actually make you better at work. Kind of ironic, but so true!
Three keys to joy
So, while we can put things in our life as a way to decrease our happiness, we can also do things in our life to increase our happiness. They can be very simple to do, we don’t have to make it complicated. But we do need to practice doing these three things as often as we can.
“Celebration.” Remember that quote above by Oprah Winfrey? When we celebrate the big and the small moments in our lives, it brings us even more happiness. It doesn’t have to mean celebrating with a huge party; we can find small ways to celebrate.
“Gratitude.” Gratitude has been scientifically proven to have many benefits, including increasing happiness. In her book, Sheri lists more benefits, so check it out. How does gratitude work? Well, it’s as simple as saying to yourself, or even writing down, what you are thankful for. It’s simple, but it works.
“Forgiveness.” Sheri talks about how forgiveness is not about the other person. The other person does not have to become your friend and their action against you is not suddenly “okay”. It’s about not giving power to what happened and lifting that burden from you.
Protect your joy
It can be hard to find joy at times, bit it always seems easy for the world to come crashing in and take over. So, you need to work at keeping the joy in your life. Here’s how:
“Center yourself in the morning.” This point is about starting your day with meditation. It allows you to start the day with a sense of calmness before everything else – like email, social media, the kids – get in the way.
“Be careful whom you invite into your dream.” This point is that not everyone is going to share your dreams. And that can be really hard emotionally, especially if the other person is close to you. But it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue your dream. Remember, their approval isn’t always about you – it’s mostly to do with their own personal fears.
“Embrace your flaws.” This point is to, well, point out that everyone has flaws, so don’t hide from them. People who hide their flaws become defensive and angry when they are revealed; which only robs them of joy. When you embrace your flaws, you can acknowledge them to others and work on them. Plus, doing so will make you more approachable.
“Don’t give up on YOU.” This point is about being true to yourself and not just portraying to the world what we think everyone else wants to see.
I hope this blog post has inspired you to read the book. I first heard about Sheri’s book on a Marie Forleo podcast. So, if you’re still not sure if you want to read the book, then check out this podcast. And then go get a copy of Sheri’s new book!
Until my next blog post, here’s wishing you lots of joy and happiness!