Talk to Knights of Columbus September 2019

Good evening brothers, I hope you are having a good week. My talk for this evening is Seven Days to Happiness. As you know our lives can be challenging every day with so many demands on our precious time, struggling with financial constraints, and trying to maintain good personal relations with our family, friends and colleagues, it is easy to develop a negative outlook on life. The Bible tells us that cheerfulness keeps us healthy; Proverbs 17:22 reads, “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is a slow death to be gloomy all the time.” Here are seven ways (one for each day) of developing a more optimistic outlook on life in just one week.

Day 1: Concentrate on the positive

According to psychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, the human brain has a natural bias toward the negative “that makes it like Velcro for bad experiences that we encounter, and Teflon for the good ones” In his book, Hardwiring Happiness, Dr. Hanson offers these suggestions for tuning in and creating positive experiences by:

Finding good facts in your current setting
Finding good facts in recent events
Finding good facts in ongoing conditions
Finding good facts in your personal qualities
Finding good facts in the past
Anticipating good facts in the future
Sharing the good with others
Finding the good in the bad
Imagining good facts
Producing good facts
Seeing life as an opportunity

The more we train ourselves to focus on the positive the more likely we are to see good things all around us like: the shining sun, the support of a friend, the comfort of a pet, the warm smile of a stranger.

Day 2: Let it go

Negativity expands and sometimes explodes when we won’t let things go; when we won’t accept life the way it is. You’ve heard the expression, “Let go and let God.” When dealing with difficult people rather than react and argue with them, surrender – of the need to control the situation and let go of the impression that you can force someone to change. Be flexible rather than being rigid. You will experience less stress and you will be happier as well
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Day 3: Obstacles as steppingstones

The author Thomas Carlyle wrote, “The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, became a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.” Karl Malden the actor used his block of granite as a stepping-stone. Very early in his career he realized that he would never get a leading part in a play or movie. He says, “While other men were cast in leads, I was always the friend, the father, the brother, the second part… I knew I was never going to be a big star.” “I realized early on that I needed to act better than anybody else. I strived to be number 1 in the number two parts that I knew I was destined to get.” Malden worked very hard and it paid off with a highly successful acting career which spanned seven decades. And earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Day 4: Thought control

Switch off the negative and turn on the positive. There are times our mind is a fight for territory – positive or negative thoughts? Become a mental warrior and rally yourself to win that battle by taking control of your thoughts. Here are some examples of switching from the negative to the positive: I’ll never get that job – switch over to I’ve got a strong resume, better than most. I’m too old to return to college – switch over to many second career people return to school and I can be one of them. I never get what I want – switch over to I deserve the best life has to offer.

Day 5: Create good out of bad

Tell the story of Lee Ballantyne whose wife died and one week after her passing he went out to a restaurant alone for the first time in four decades.
Spotted a young couple smiling and chatting while studying the menu.
At first it made him envious/
Later he realized that it was just like being with Carol his wife and how they shared similar experiences over the years/
Touched deeply by their affection toward each other he asked the waiter to put their dinner on his credit card.
He wrote a note to the couple saying, “dining for the first-time alone after my wife died, you made me happy and I smiled because you reminded of my wife and me years ago.
Please allow me to buy you dinner it will put a smile on Carol my wife’s face.
Please pay it forward.

The couple overwhelmed with emotion and saddened by his loss, but inspired by his generosity, caught up to him and promised him to pay it forward.

Day 6: Smile more often

Most of you are aware that a smile can change people’s attitudes in an instant. “You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.” Said silent screen star Charlie Chaplin. Smile at everyone you encounter, – family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. Smiling is contagious, you will notice that when you smile it is highly likely that they will smile back. Your spirits will rise, and you will experience a positive feeling.

Day 7: Write a Gratitude letter

The simple act of writing a gratitude letter to someone can boost your level of happiness and place your focus toward the positives about your life. In a recent experiment done by Steve Toepfer, assistant professor in Human Development at Kent State University, Toepfer asked subjects to write a meaningful letter of gratitude to anyone they wanted. The more letters people wrote the less they reported feeling symptoms of depression, and they noted feeling happier and more satisfied with life overall.

So, my brothers these are seven guidelines for a happier attitude and life. Repeat them over the seven days and keep practicing them and you will notice that you will be well on your way to maintaining a positive attitude.

Good luck and God bless.

This talk was written and delivered on September 12, 2019 by:

Carmine Morelli, Lecturer, Knight’s of Columbus Council 5423