How To Live A Long And Happy Life

To reach your full potential, you’ve got to embrace a positive mindset. When you make life decisions on the basis of your fears and desires, you make yourself a prisoner to your own mind, so you lose focus completely. You may make more significant, lasting changes only when you can shift your mind to a place of joy and appreciation.

You just learned the word “happy,” and your head is bursting with visions of the life you will live once you “get” that word. The first step, then, is to accept and appreciate all that life has to offer, even as it’s happening. For example, I was walking down the bus aisle to my daughter’s first day at kindergarten, and I realized that something was going to be lost in translation. My daughter was speaking Hungarian, and I was speaking English when she was in her first-grade class. It’s one thing to say you’ll lose your first-grade class because there aren’t any first-graders, but it was another to realize that there was a whole world out there waiting to learn and grow.

In the same car ride, an African American boy and I talked about the problems of racism as a child, and he pointed out that there was always someone waiting to tell me I was wrong to be offended. The truth of the matter is that you can’t avoid your troubles or your pain, but you can take the time to recognize that if the world were a better place, it wouldn’t need to be so challenging or frustrating. Life is not going to make sense the first year your child is born, but a child is not going to realize they have been born during the Great Depression. The same applies to your current life.  

When I was very little, I had a very negative outlook on life. For most people, we’re born with a sense of purpose and expectation, as well as a dream about what we want to be when we grow up.   

One day, when I was about four years old, I had a dream.   I woke up smiling and laughing, and everyone else at my child’s school was laughing too because my dream had come true. This was the first time I’d thought I’d get what I wanted — and, by the time children reached adulthood, they often had little idea they’d ever get what they dreamed for, and the sense of self-esteem they’d thought they’d have as the child of parents who knew what was better for them was quickly shattered. These dreams of purpose and achievement are natural and naturalizing stages in anyone’s lifetime.

Once you’ve grown up through these dream moments, you’re ready to try your hand at the world. It’s a process, just like everything else in life — it takes time and you’ve got to work hard at it. When you go through it, you’ll come to an understanding that there isn’t one reason why life is so difficult, and there are several things that are contributing to why life is hard.   The key is to figure out your “problem-solving” strategies and then apply them in your daily life. For example, for years, I thought that it was my job as a mom to make the most of my baby’s limited abilities, and I was constantly trying to make things more convenient for my family by cooking and cleaning up after him, while my husband went off and tried various other things to stimulate my son’s curiosity and enthusiasm.

In this manner, both of us worked out our frustrations, both physically and emotionally (the house was always dirty and my son’s bedroom smelled like smoke and urine). When I finally learned how much I had been contributing to his unhappiness. My husband decided that he was going to get a job he really loved working with people, whether or not my husband worked at all. And so I got out of the house and put my feet up (no more baby nap time); I didn’t even get to play with him when he was born, because that was the job he and I both wanted to do, so I didn’t. When I learned that my husband was working harder at being a mom than I was at being a woman, I went into “parent mode.”