by Arnette Travis
Author/Activist/Advocate, RLACEI Contributing Author
In the fall of 2017, I was surprised and honored that my friend, bestselling author and Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner, opened his newly released book – The Blue Zones of Happiness – with the story of how I re-engineered my life to achieve happiness. Dan’s characterization of me as someone who intentionally changed their habits and surroundings, got me thinking of how dreams and desires can manifest in real life.
During the spring of 2020, when normal life activities came to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic, staying positive and productive became my daily objective. Ten years earlier, I’d experienced the “dark night of the soul,” a.k.a. depression, and knew well that the mind, as well as the body, must be nurtured daily. By mid-summer, news reports of increased incidents of domestic violence, depression and suicides revealed that many people were suffering from a variety of mental maladies. And while the pandemic can rightfully be considered the catalyst, it was not the reason that mental illness – in varying degrees – is omnipresent in our society.
Looking through the 20/20 window of hindsight and wanting to share the process I’d gone through years earlier, happiness as a teachable concept began to take shape. By January 2021, a Happy course had been outlined, incorporating five revelations and five essential elements.
- Revelation 1: Preparation+Opportunity=Success
If you put in the work through positive daily practices, you are in the best possible position to receive happiness. Habits are the support system of a happy life.
- Revelation 2:
You have little to no control over many circumstances and events that happen around you and in the world. The one thing you have complete control over is your attitude.
- Revelation 3:
When you awake looking forward to the day, the probability of having a happy day increases exponentially. Purpose is the essential “you” and brings you joy.
- Revelation 4:
Your closest relationships are a reflection of yourself and have a direct influence on you. We need to have the right people in our lives.
- Revelation 5:
Life is too short to be unhappy. You deserve to be happy for as long as you live.
For anyone who questions whether happiness is sustainable, the answer is yes. In addition to the special occasions and relationships that lift us up from time to time, when we go about our daily routines with a mindset of gratitude and giving, a blanket of contentment covers us. Contentment is happiness.
I’m not suggesting that life will be free of challenges and difficulties, or that you should ignore them when they occur. Rather, it is your response that makes the difference in how those challenges and difficulties affect you. Bad things happen to all of us, and if we approach them calmly, we’re able to analyze and assess what actions to take to resolve them. And then there are the times when the only response is acceptance.
Just as things took shape for the Happy course, I experienced a sudden and severe case of COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It came out of nowhere and led to a diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer. After putting my entire focus on treatment, in early 2022, I resolved to complete the Happy program and share with the world the intentional steps to living a life of purpose and joy.
A complimentary Happy Guide is available to download at https://arnette.life