Do you want to be happy? Of course you do, but according to new research, resting and relaxation are no way to go about it.
You're better off going to the theatre or exercising; even a visit to the library beats lounging around on the sofa.
Such were the findings of a joint study by the University of Sussex and the London School of Economics, which has come up with a list of 33 activities that make us happy.
One thing's for certain, texting and social media come at the bottom of the list, only increasing our happiness by a puny 0.45 per cent.
But happiness doesn't have to come from other people. It can come from within - and connecting with the world around you.
A few years ago I went through a period of such severe depression that life didn't seem worth living. It was like permanent winter, so bleak and cold that the sun would never shine.
Then I saw snowdrops pushing through the freezing, iron-hard ground. I looked at them every day until I felt that if they could come back to life, then so could I.
Those green shoots gave me hope in a way that nothing else had.
As spring came, I started to put in more and more plants, until the garden was ablaze with colour. Life was growing through my hands; gentle, peaceful, but, above all, optimistic. If I gave love, it was returned, a hundredfold.
I could spend hours lost in gardening. The form of depressive illness I have is biological. It has affected generations of my family and follows no rhyme, reason nor circumstance. I can be depressed when the sun is shining or I am surrounded by a group of loving friends.
Of course, fresh air and exercise help to alleviate depression, but for me gardening is more than that. It represents endurance as well as hope.
At the end of the first garden I made stood a tree, huge and magnificent. It withstood freezing temperatures and gale-force winds. It bent but never broke.
The leaves dropped until it looked no more than a stark skeleton, but it always, always came back to life. And so I learned that we may be battled and bruised, but hope is a living thing.
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island.
He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him,
and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.
Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.
But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.
The worst had happened; everything was lost.
He was stunned with grief and anger. “God how could you do this to me!” he cried.
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island.
It had come to rescue him.
“How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.
It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad.
But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.
Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.
For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves,God has a positive answer for it.
The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.- Eric Hoffer
According to legend, a young man while roaming the desert came across a spring of delicious crystal-clear water. The water was so sweet, he filled his leather canteen so he could bring some back to a tribal elder who had been his teacher。
After a four-day journey he presented the water to the old man who took a deep drink, smiled warmly and thanked his student lavishly for the sweet water. The young man returned to his village with a happy heart。
Later, the teacher let another student taste the water. He spat it out, saying it was awful. It apparently had become stale because of the old leather container。
The student challenged his teacher: "Master, the water was foul. Why did you pretend to like it?"
The teacher replied, "You only tasted the water. I tasted the gift. The water was simply the container for an act of loving-kindness and nothing could be sweeter."
I think we understand this lesson best when we receive innocent gifts of love from young children. Whether it's a ceramic tray or a macaroni bracelet, the natural and proper response is appreciation and expressed thankfulness because we love the idea within the gift。
Gratitude doesn't always come naturally. Unfortunately, most children and many adults value only the thing given rather than the feeling embodied in it. We should remind ourselves and teach our children about the beauty and purity of feelings and expressions of gratitude. After all, gifts from the heart are really gifts of the heart。