So many people are struggling to find happiness. From feeling “flat” and not able to get excited about anything a lot of the time to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. In a world that has so much to offer, why is happiness evading us? Below are eight things to know if you want to have more happiness in your life.
- Happiness is a choice. Happiness means inner peace and joy and is not dependent on outside circumstances. We can choose whether we want to be happy or not, no matter what problems we face. Sometimes we face extreme challenges such as grief and loss. At these times, it’s important to understand that grief is a process and we must go through it and truly feel it, but that doesn’t mean that happiness is far away or that we may still enjoy moments of happiness. When waking up each day, say to yourself “today I choose to be happy” and smile. The physical act of smiling sends a message to your subconscious mind that all is well, which can create a wonderful ripple effect.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. This is a sure way to make yourself unhappy! Comparison is the thief of joy. There is always going to be someone who is doing better than you, who is smarter, who is better looking … and there are also those who aren’t doing as well as you, are less smart, less good looking. Comparison comes from our ego mind. Pay no heed. We are each on a unique journey, here to learn about and experience different things, The only person you need to compare yourself with is the person you were yesterday.
- Don’t focus on “shoulds”. If you’re hearing yourself say such things as “I should have done that differently”, “I should have bought a property by now”, “I should be earning X by now”, that’s also your ego mind working you up. Whenever we hear the word “should” used by others or ourselves, it’s an indication that we’re focusing on others’ values and not our own. There are no “shoulds” in life! We are at where we are at, as simple as that.
- Be in the now. When we’re putting emphasis on the past or the future, we are not in the now, and we’re probably regretting (past) or worrying (future). Ego mind again! When we are fully present in the now, there is usually little to worry about. There may be tasks to attend to, so why not get on and do them with as much inner peace and joy as you can muster? Mary Poppins wasn’t wrong when she sang “in every task that must be done, there is an element of fun …” The problem is we judge it as boring or can’t enjoy it as we’re too busy in our heads racing towards the next thing that must be done! The present moment is always perfect. Be in it.
- Stop Wanting. Many of us think “I’ll be happy when … I go on holiday … I find a partner … I get that job”. Often times we attain that goal and happiness evades us yet again. Why? Because, as I said in point 1, happiness is not dependent upon outside circumstances. If we’re not happy now, we are unlikely to be happy when we get what we want. Sure, have desires, goals and dreams for the future, but detach from them.
- Stop wishing problems would go away. Problems/challenges are there to teach us something and to heal the parts of ourselves we need to heal. When we accept that they are a part of life, and fully embrace them, life gets a lot easier.
- Love yourself. Do things that you know are good for you – eat healthy food, get regular exercise, do things that are good for your soul and spend time in nature. Be kind to yourself and treat yourself the way a best friend would. Listen to the voice you speak to yourself in – if it’s not already, make it gentle, kind and non-judging.
- Practise Gratitude. So many of us are surrounded by abundance, and yet have a poverty mentality; others have little and yet have wealth beyond measure. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true! Happy people are appreciative people who savour the moment. True wealth has little to do with how much we own, how successful we are or how much we’ve achieved. Learn to enjoy the simple things – sipping tea from a favourite cup, taking a walk and admiring the trees and flowers, being truly present with loved ones and engaging with them. Find the sacred in everyday life. That’s true wealth. Stop focusing on what’s missing and focus on what’s right in your life.
And remember to smile