In today’s mixed-up world, a happy life may seem hard to find.
But in reality, you have all the makings of a happy life. You just have to choose it for yourself.
There’s no magic key or perfect circumstance—it really is dependent on you.
My husband and I just got back from Africa. We went for two and a half weeks to celebrate my 50th birthday and his 60th birthday.
We saw all kinds of animals—lions, leopards, elephants, and hyenas, just to name a few. It was so fun being out there and experiencing the wild.
It was a long time away, but it was probably one of the most amazing trips we’ve had in our lives. We experienced true happiness.
This recent trip to Africa really helped me discover that there are 3 guiding principles to a happy life, and it all comes down to what choices we make.
Take care of yourself.
This may seem selfish—but it’s not. You are the only one who has responsibility for you. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?
Self-care is not selfish, it’s essential for a happy life.
All too often we spend our time and energy working long hours, running from place to place, and putting out fires.
This often leaves us tired, cranky, and depleted.
Self-care should be an important part of your everyday life. Not only will it fill up your reserves, but it will also lift your mood.
Our trip to Africa did just that. We were able to take a break from our busy schedule and do things that brought joy to both of us.
A happy life is possible when we seek out the joy.
Find those things that make you happy and make time to include them in your life. It may be a walk in the park, reading a good book, having lunch with a friend, taking a bubble bath, or watching the tide come in.
There are so many things that you can do that will bring happiness into your life more abundantly. They don’t have to take a lot of time and they don’t have to be grandiose.
Africa was amazing, but there are things we can do every day to take care of ourselves and to seek out the joy.
Those small moments of joy, over time, will add up to a lifetime of happiness.
Take care of your family.
One of the things I loved most about our trip to Africa was reconnecting with my husband.
We both have very busy lives and with six kids, there’s not always a lot of time left for each other. Sometimes, it’s hard to sit down and really connect as a couple with everything else we’re juggling.
Our trip to Africa was not only a reminder of the importance of self-care, but it was a reminder of the importance of making time for your significant other if you have one.
Connecting with my husband on a deeper level strengthened our relationship and increased our joy.
Of course, when we returned home, life went right back to crazy, but we’re more connected. This connection even reached beyond us to our relationship with our children.
Connection is vital to a happy life. For me, the connection to my husband and children is the most important connection I have.
Strengthening family relationships leads to a stronger partnership in marriage, and a stronger relationship between parents and children.
Because of the importance we place on family relationships, my children know that they can come to me with anything, and they will be both loved and heard.
In today’s world, we all need a safe place to land.
Taking care of your family will not only provide a safe space, but it will also make for a happy home.
Take care of others.
Another favorite part of our trip to Africa was the people we met in every location we visited.
We would sit down and have a conversation with whoever was there. Whether it was in one of the hotels during happy hour, or our tour guides and trackers when we were in the Sabi Sands area of South Africa.
The things we learned from the many different people we met along the way made our African journey that much better.
Everyone had a story to tell and it was fun listening to all the incredible things other people have experienced in their travels.
No matter where we travel, even if it’s within our daily routine, it’s important to talk to other people. Say hello. Ask people about their day. Give them a smile and a compliment. You never know what you’re going to learn when you do.
I learned all kinds of crazy stories about hippos and people’s travel partners. I learned what people do in their lives, and even what kind of fish they like to catch.
The important thing to remember is that you can only learn about others if you take the time to ask them. I learned so many valuable lessons by listening to the stories of others.
It’s amazing what we can learn from someone else when we care about them enough to listen to what they have to say.
We need each other.
It’s our conversations with others that can make the world a better place by helping us get outside of ourselves and experience greater happiness.
Happy people spread happiness. That’s just how it works.
And the more we connect with others, the happier life will be.
Our trip to Africa was full of adventure. But the thing that I loved the most about it are the lessons that came from it.
Take care of yourself, take care of your family, and take care of others. I know from my own experience that these really are three guiding rules to a life of happiness.