Happier You

Encouraging a Happier Humanity

“Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas;
they are in your own backyard if you but dig for them.”

Russell H. Conwell

Hi, I’m Tom Huling, author of Happier You, a collection of stories and reflections about happiness, based largely on my own experiences and ideas. What makes me happy may not be the same things that make you happy. However, there’s something in Happier You for everyone… whether it’s an inspiring story that touches your heart, one new idea that inspires you to take action or implementing a happier habit that transforms your life.

Happier You is for every one of all ages. It encourages children to be kinder and grateful for what they have, employees to be more harmonious and productive, and friends and family members to be more positive, thereby creating a better all around environment. No matter where you are in your life or on what level of personal happiness you sit, Happier You can help lift you up.

This book is not only designed for your simple enjoyment but also to give you one positive place to go anytime you need some morale support, a little encouragement or an inspiring thought to help you feel better. When you are struggling in any area of your life, including relationships, finances or health, and you are looking for inspiration, you will find it through the examples, suggestions and helpful habits in Happier You.

Although what inspires joy in each of us may vary, I believe there are a few basic, universal paths to happiness for all human beings. These include (1) saying yes to your dreams, (2) practicing kindness, forgiveness and gratitude, and (3) practicing happier personal habits.

I know many people—maybe you do too—who would like to be happier but just don’t know how to get started in the right direction. If you feel this way or know someone who does, Happier You can serve as a gentle reminder that no matter your circumstances or situation, Happier You will steer you away from negativity, drama and obstacles and back towards a life of happiness by creating happier habits in your daily life.

When we claim our right to happiness, we inspire other people to claim theirs as well, creating a ripple that continues to impact everyone around you and everyone around them with no logical end. And, like the circle of life, that happiness will come back to you 100 times. Though I wrote Happier You especially for you, it was not written only for you. It was written for all your family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances who are experiencing their own special happiness challenges. It was written for the complete stranger you have not yet met, but who’s life you can affect by sharing the words and messages in Happier You.

“Happiness is contagious, it’s infectious and it’s life changing!” I invite you to share Happier You just as you might share a delicious meal or a favorite song that touches your heart. I would like to implore you, encourage you, even inspire you to make a difference in your own little corner of the world, one happier person at a time.

Excerpts from Happier You

Click on the chapters below to open a new page.

Chapter 1

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
—Author unknown

When I was in elementary school, my fifth grade teacher told us all to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. When I wrote down “happy,” he said he wasn’t sure I understood the assignment. I told him I wasn’t sure he understood kids. I didn’t care in grade school whether I was going to be a plumber, a golfer, or a mechanical engineer when I grew up. I didn’t even know what a mechanical engineer was, but driving trains sounded like it might be fun.

I did know, however, that I wanted to be happy because in the short time I had been alive, I had experienced happiness and unhappiness—and happiness felt better. It was a pretty simple choice then and it still is. And when I did grow up, I found that as I met plumbers, golfers, and engineers, some of them were happy and some were not, and it didn’t seem to be their choice of profession that determined their happiness. I also encountered a lot of single people and married couples, some who seemed happy and content while others were miserable, so it seemed obvious that marital status did not singly determine people’s happiness either. Over the years, as I spent time with wealthy friends and others who had very little, I found that having things made little difference as to whether people smiled or frowned each day. I also noticed that I enjoyed spending time with the ones who smiled.

No one else can choose happiness for you, nor do you need anyone’s guidance to find it. Happiness is a personal choice you make dozens of times each day, from the time you open your eyes in the morning to the time you close them at night. The choices you make about every event affect how you feel—and how you feel affects everything, including your happiness.

Chapter 5

“If you walk into a glass door, give thanks you can walk.”
—Thomas Huling

For the entire first chapter of my life, there was no greater feeling than descending the stairway into our living room on
Christmas morning. It was like being magically transported to Santa’s workshop, a winter wonderland far greater than anything Mr. Walt Disney could have imagined in his most creative hour. As we stepped into the living room, we were greeted by a dazzling display of bright, blinking lights and the smell of fresh pine. Gift-wrapped boxes with colorful bows overflowed from the living room into the dining room, where nine red stockings all hung neatly on the fireplace mantle.

Christmas was, by far, my favorite day of the year, and each year my love for Santa continued to grow. That is, until the tenth year of my life when I learned the truth about Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and awakened from my childhood dream of Christmas to the reality of Christmas. Sadness quickly consumed me. All the “spirit of Christmas” and “Santa Claus lives in each one of us” talks only served to dishearten me further. I slept fitfully, dreaming of crashing sleighs, unemployed elves, and red noses extinguished for all time. Feelings of sorrow replaced visions of sugarplums that no longer danced in my head. Joy to the world? I felt none in my world. The magic of Christmas no longer seemed magical, winter wonderlands were devoid of wonder, and silent nights were far too silent.

Although learning the truth about Christmas was one of my most traumatic childhood experiences (right up there with my first day of kindergarten), I was eventually able to accept the “big boys’” version of Christmas. Once I realized that my parents’ intentions were not to deceive me but rather to add joy to my life, I knew I had a choice to make. I could continue to think about what I had lost when I learned the truth about Christmas, or I could focus on all that I had gained during those amazing and memorable times: ten holiday seasons filled with laughter and smiles and warmth and wonder, ten Christmas Eves wrapping gifts with my mom while listening to Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole Christmas carols, and ten magical Christmas mornings sharing gifts and stories and the spirit of Christmas with people I love. What began as one of my greatest challenges turned out to be one of the most important gifts of my life for which I will forever be grateful.

Chapter 6

“An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind.”
—Mahatma Gandhi

Every time you let go of a negative feeling and redirect your thoughts toward a better-feeling one, you add a moment of joy
to your life. Every time you forgive someone or back down from an argument and care more about being happy than about being right, you add another moment of joy to your life. As you focus on adding moments of joy to your life, you elevate your life. Peace and happiness become your objectives and a way of life for you and your loved ones. When you practice forgiveness, you add peace to the world and to all the people in it, including yourself.

On the other hand, when you let thoughts of resentment and anger inside you, you ignite small fires that burn in your heart. Stop fanning the flames. Only forgiveness can extinguish the flames and give you peace. Resentment and not being able to forgive diminish us, while forgiveness helps us expand beyond our current state.

In 2005, I walked into a big glass door! Along with approximately two hundred other investors, my wife and I were defrauded in the largest real-estate scam in the history of Missouri. Having to tell my wife that we had lost our life savings on my watch and that we would have to move out of the new home we had spent years designing, building, and personalizing was one of the most difficult conversations of my life. Forced into a bankruptcy after many months of sleepless nights, I found myself at forty-six years old having to start over. If challenging times define us, I was getting ready to be extremely redefined.

While many of those swindled blamed the owner of the real-estate company for their situation and expressed anger and
resentment, my wife and I resolved to move on. We chose to take responsibility for having blindly trusted the owner rather than performing the proper due diligence and taking better care in overseeing the day-to-day activity of our investments.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity and carrying around feelings typically associated with being deceived, we chose to forgive and
to focus on the things we could control moving forward. I am not suggesting that forgiveness happened in one miraculous moment, but rather it occurred over a period of time as we continued to remind each other that forgiveness would give us peace whereas harboring ill feelings would keep us stuck in a darker place.

Chapter 7

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
—Scott Adams

I believe each of us is born with an inherent desire to be kind. When we practice kindness, we not only benefit others but also nourish our own need to be kind.

The Parable of the Spoons

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what heaven and hell
are like.” The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors, and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew that smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water.

The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles, and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stewand take a spoonful, but because the handles were longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.

The Lord said, “You have seen hell.”

They went to the next door and opened it. This room was exactly the same as the first one.

There was the large round table with the large pot of stew that made the holy man’s mouth water.

The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons,but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, “I don’t understand.”

“It is simple,” said the Lord. “It requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other.”

Sharing kindness is very gratifying. I recommend you try it often.

Chapter 12

“To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring— it was peace.”
—Milan Kundera

We work hard and fast to get good grades in high school in order to get into the best college, where we work even harder to
be at the top of our class in order to maximize the chances of securing a high-paying job. If we are fortunate enough to accomplish that, we kick it up another notch and work long hours in order to maximize the possibility of promotions and pay raises or to become a partner at a prestigious law firm, where we will take on additional work and responsibilities. We move as quickly as we can now in order to be able to slow down and relax later. We live in a fast-talking, fast-moving, fast-thinking world, reacting quickly to the variety of seemingly important responsibilities with which we task ourselves. Unless we choose to slow down and look around, continuing on at our current pace will be a long and endless plight. Pumping your brakes and allowing yourself a few moments of stillness often improves your sanity, your health, and your well-being.

As children, my siblings and I were fortunate to spend our entire summers at our lake house in New Hampshire. Surrounded
by majestic pine trees and pristine mountains, we enjoyed a landscape painting with the deepest and most vivid blues and greens imaginable. Evenings were spent relaxing in rocking chairs listening to echoes of loons, birds that screamed their affection for one another across the lake. Mesmerized by the warm sun and cool lake breezes, we consumed full days swimming and boating until our mother, fearing we might sprout fins, summoned our waterlogged bodies from the lake.

At the end of the day, with a beach towel wrapped tightly around my shoulders, I sat transfixed at the end of our driveway
enjoying the warmth of the sun. Slight breezes sent chills through my body as sunshine replaced lake water evaporating from my skin. My heart was no longer racing from earlier activities, and my mind was no longer focused on where I needed to be or what I was going to do next. I was grateful to be back in Eden, if only for a short time, relaxing and enjoying the sweetness of doing nothing.

With stillness and a quiet mind come creative thoughts and solutions. Practice slowing down your thoughts and enjoying the
sweetness of doing nothing. Slowing down and adding more silence allow you to hear your inner voice more clearly. Following this voice will allow your happiness, which exists within you, to emerge.


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