The Habits of Happy People, Part 4 of 8

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Happy people are resilient. They view problems as predictable and manageable.

Habit #3: Coping skills and forgiveness.

Despite the theme of this blog series being The Habits of Happy People, the reality is that no one can be happy all the time.

Our relationships with others will sometimes cause us stress. Sometimes the car doesn’t start, the money runs low, work is demanding, or we fight with our spouse or kids. Sometimes, through no fault of our own, bad things happen.

When all those things and more start to get to us, we need Habit #3. Habit #3 is Coping skills and Forgiveness.

Happy people know that problems and challenges are a part of life. Problems are as predictable as sunshine and taxes. Problems don’t happen only to bad people or to good people. They just happen.

Happy people are resilient and are able to get through problems in life by developing coping skills that they can use in times of distress.

“Coping skills” is just a fancy way of saying whatever we do to get through. Eating something tasty, donating to a worthy cause, spending positive time with friends and family, taking up a hobby, taking a deep breath, going for a walk… All of these sorts of things are coping skills.

Re-examining what it is that got us so upset in the first place and practicing some acceptance and forgiveness are other coping skills. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, defined forgiveness as “a shift in thinking, such that your desire to harm that person has decreased, and your desire to do him good … has increased.”

Lyubomirskly also acknowledges that forgiveness is extremely challenging in practice. For those of us stuck when it comes to extending forgiveness, here are some tips that Lyubomirsky recommends:

• Recall a time when you needed forgiveness and were forgiven for something that you did.

• Practice empathy and try to put yourself in another person’s position and perspective.

• Imagine what your life would be like if you had forgiven the person who is asking for forgiveness.

• Write a letter to that person in which you describe the hurt and how it has affected you. Then write a statement in which you express forgiveness for that person. You don’t have to deliver the letter, but you may choose to.

Forgiveness and coping skills are two practices that make it easier for us to live a happy life. Life isn’t perfect, but that fact doesn’t have to keep us down.

To read the other blogs in this series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8


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