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Personal Pursuit of Happiness: Personal Life Commandments

The Happiness Project, written by Gretchen Rubin, was a book I read in 2010 when having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.  It was an interesting read, but at the time, I wasn't ready to work on being happy yet. I was still traumatized with my diagnosis and working on getting my life back.  Happiness could wait.

Fast forward seven years and I am back on the Happiness train!  I started by writing my Personal Life Commandments, things I have used throughout my life to guide me in decision-making.  I want to share them here, for future generations of Olivers, Holts and Steffes to better understand me.

1.  Keep Smiling.  This was a saying that my father-in-law, Giles Steffes, said to us when we were going through some tough times.  A sort of "this too shall pass" sort of statement.  It has helped us through tremendous grief and heartache.

2.  Breathe.  Learning how to breathe seems a little ridiculous, but it is an important concept in controlling your happiness and reducing your stress.  Reminding myself to "breathe" has helped me in the most basic of ways.

3.  Do Things Your Future Self Will Thank You For.  This showed up on my Facebook feed and it had to become a part of my personal life commandments.  This notion makes me think of the adventurous girl I was back in the day!

4.  Kindness Matters.  Kindness matters to ALL, not just the strangers (random acts of kindness people) but to your family and friends.  It's easy to forget that those nearest to us need our acts of kindness as well.

5.  Belly laugh daily.  It is important to me to laugh outrageously every day.  It brings oxygen into my system and makes me smile more often throughout the day.

6.  Dance.  I never feel so alive than when I am dancing.  The music, my body feels 100 times lighter and my brain is tickled with the whole notion.

7.  Leave a mark.  Not the hitting kind!  Leave a mark on mankind.  As a teacher, I had the blessing to teach over 300 students and as a principal touch nearly 4,000 students.  My goal was to be sure that each of them knew that I cared. I feel like I accomplished that goal.  Now I am trying to impact public education the best way I know how, and that is to teach pre-service teachers.

8.  Practice gratitude.  I have been so blessed in my life.  So many wonderful opportunities, so many wonderful friends and fabulous family members.  I've known illness, death and heartache, but I have been blessed so much beyond those negatives.

9.  Embrace my creativity.  I need to be creative, to have an outlet, to make and grow and express myself.  When I don't, I feel less than myself.  I have to remind myself of that.

10.  Be Terri.  Be the best me I can be, and right now that means focusing on my health and mental well being.  My word for this year is CONQUER and I believe I am on the right path for doing this.

Do you have a list of personal life commandments?  If so, leave me a link so I can visit you!  This was a wonderful chance to dive in and really ask myself what was important to me.  There are some that didn't make the list, but that are super important, too.  Love with abandon, Schedule Priorities, Quality Counts, Be Mindful.  These are all things that I do use, but the top ten are listed above.

Be well.


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  1. I love these reminders as a way to promote happiness. Just last night I played some Bee Gee's songs and got my groove on. It felt good!


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