3 Things I Learned in College That Help Me Embrace Happiness

Photo by chrisfutcher from flickr

Photo by chrisfutcher from flickr

Successfully completing college has benefits that reach far beyond my degrees and have helped me embrace happiness.

Here are three of them.

Accepting things as they are

Just as I had to take required courses to complete a given degree, life serves up experiences that I don’t exactly prefer, but seem to show up anyway. Since I can’t control circumstances outside of my sphere, I find aspects of the experience that tie in with my goals and about which I can develop interest.

Recently I had to visit the Social Security office to get clarification about Medicare, for example. I knew that I may have a long wait, so I took my laptop so I could work on projects while I was there. Other times, I may take a book or decide to engage in people-watching to get ideas for my blog.

When I approach an anticipated long wait or meeting with the expectation that it will be productive for me, things always go well and quickly. I spare myself the stress and frustration by accepting and preparing for the situation.

Appreciating and managing the precious gift of time

Managing time well was one of the keys to my success in college, especially in graduate school when I had a family to manage as well.

College courses are conveniently chopped into quarters and semesters, structured by professors and punctuated with tests and projects. It has always been helpful for me to chop my time into chunks as well and keep a calendar and to-do lists to help propel me along the way.

Just as professors assign work, I assign myself tasks to complete, and take them just as seriously as I did my college work.

My purse-sized month-at-a glance calendar is still my favorite, but I’m beginning to use my Google calendar more and more to keep track of appointments and events. Because it syncs with my phone, I get reminders of events and milestones, as well as have the option of getting driving directions if I’ve entered the address in the details.

In addition, I keep a spiral notebook or legal pad nearby at all times, even during business and personal phone calls. That ensures that I will note anything I need to remember and later act upon.

In college, I found that starting on an assignment the day it was given made it so much easier to return to it later and finish it on time.

Likewise, responding quickly to email and phone calls has been very useful because it lessens the chance that I will forget. (Even with a to-do list forgetting an item can happen)

One of the most important entries on my calendar is Pamper Day, usually Wednesdays. That’s when I indulge in self-care such as going to the hairstylist, manicurist or masseuse. In addition, I make time almost weekly for lunch with friends or networking with fellow entrepreneurs.

When you treat yourself well you are also showing the Universe how you want to be treated. It can’t help but respond in kind.

Long ago I learned to schedule fun and relaxation time just as seriously as I do all my other activities so that I get the rejuvenation to keep me feeling joyful and fulfilled. (I just booked my New Years’ Eve excursion. What are you doing New Year’s Eve?)

Committing to projects and relationships wholeheartedly

Completing college required a firm commitment that held fast over many years. Fully engaging and committing to other activities in my life has brought success and deep satisfaction.

Whether it was raising my four children, helping raise my three grandchildren, inflating balloons for the church picnic, writing my dissertation, making kitchen curtains, planting tomatoes, hosting my weekly radio show or chauffeuring a friend to the doctor, I do it with gusto and full commitment.

Just as there were times when I dropped a class in college, there are times, of course, when an activity conflicts with my goals or needs to be postponed for a future date. That’s when I say “no” to the activity and “yes” to myself. That way I’m free to carry out the remaining projects without distraction.

Accepting things as they are, appreciating and managing the precious gift of time and committing to projects and relationships wholeheartedly have put me in the driver’s seat of my life where I embrace happiness during this trip called life. I encourage you to do the same.