Is there a secret to being happy? I used to think that happiness was a property possessed by people, places, things, habits and distractions. I used to think that to be happy, I had to have all of those things in my life. Imagine my shock and surprise when, the more I tried to cram ‘happiness things’ into my life, the less happy I felt.
Now that I am a little older and wiser, I have learned that happiness isn’t a property of anything outside of myself. Happiness is a property of me- if I choose it to be so. And happiness is a property of you- if you choose it to be so.
Happiness is a lens that you click over the camera of your consciousness. It is a way in which you choose to see the world. Happiness is a repetitive choice- if you wanna be happy, you gotta keep choosing to be happy, and here’s something that was a real revelation to me:
You can be happy, and still give yourself permission to feel other emotions. Happiness is NOT the repression of other feelings: it is the loving acceptance of all your feelings (and your beautiful self, more generally!)
The thoughts you choose to think influence the way you understand the world: fact. If you wake up in the morning and immediately think, ‘I’m tired.’; ‘I’m miserable.’; ‘ I’m stressed.’; ‘I have too much to do today.’; ‘I don’t want to go to this meeting.’; ‘I don’t like my job.
‘I’m dreading getting stuck in traffic.’; ‘ I’m always running late.’; ‘I look bloated today.’, etc. etc., then you are creating your world within a framework of negativity. A good technique to encourage happiness into your life is to bring positivity into your morning routine. Consider ‘deliberate positive thinking’ as important to your daily routine as brushing your teeth! Deliberately think about something positive right now. ‘Today is going to be a great day!’; ‘I look beautiful today.’; ‘I am a walking success!’; there’s a few to get you started! My personal favourite right now is simply:
I deserve happiness.
Go ahead and try that one on for size. Thinking positive is like going to the gym- it might take some time for you to get into the habit of it, but keep practicing. Every time you choose to think positively, it’s a win for ‘happiness’. Think of it as those one or two extra reps at the gym – they are a worthwhile effort.
So what about when you don’t feel happy? Well here’s a thought: Worry, for example, is a state of mind that can only be achieved when thinking about the past or the future (as is fear, disappointment or anger). We worry about what has been, how we’ve been treated, how we’ve reacted. We worry about past events, people in our past and past decisions we have made.
Or we worry about the future. We worry about the rest of the day, the rest of the week, month, year- we worry about the rest of our lives that haven’t happened yet!
If you are worrying- or experiencing any fear-based emotion- then you are either living in the past that cannot be changed, no matter how much you worry about it, or, living in the future, and worrying about something that has not happened yet, and may never happen! Fortunately, there is a place where worry does not exist. You’re in it right now. Right here, right now, in this present moment.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath, feel your whole body relax: everything is at peace.
When you catch yourself worrying or getting stessed out, bring your mind back to the present moment. Take a few deep and natural breaths, and focus on your body, your breathing, your heartbeat. In the here and now, there is nothing to worry about. When you begin to worry, focus your mind on something beautiful in the present moment; look out the window at nature, think about something that makes you laugh, think about someone that you love. Happiness and contentment come very easily when we give ourselves permission to exist in the present moment.
What does your inner critic say about you? In order to be happy, you must have a good relationship with your inner ‘self’, perhaps you call that ‘self’ your ego. Be aware of what you think about yourself. When you criticize yourself, you bring your energy way out of alignment with happiness. If you think negative things about yourself, then you are thinking in a way that suggests that you don’t feel you deserve happiness. Don’t be an enemy to yourself, instead, be your own best friend. Think, speak, and act towards yourself, the way that you would act towards someone you love very much. Look in the mirror. The person looking back is a person with feelings, who is vulnerable, who will flourish like a flower when watered by love. You must count yourself amongst the people in your life that you love. Speak to yourself in the way that you would speak to your best friend. You wouldn’t criticize them, speak badly of them and be unsupportive of them, would you? Of course not! So why do those things to yourself?
Every day, look in the mirror and say, ‘I love you.’ And really mean it.
Choose to focus on your good qualities and the things you like about yourself. Think about those instead of criticizing yourself. If you catch yourself thinking something critical about you, then you have to think three positive and genuine things that you love about yourself to balance up the scales of happiness (hey, I don’t make the rules!). To make the most of the happiness that the world has to offer you, you must also think happy about yourself.
It is scientifically proven that being kind to others, receiving kindness from others, and even watching people be kind to each other, is good for your health! To be happy, you must be kind. Perform an act of kindness every day. It need not be a massive gesture, kindness comes in many forms, and as little effort as it takes to smile at someone in the street can help them remember their own inner happiness. Take a moment to reflect on the kindnesses that you have performed, because, guess what?, even thinking about being kind is good for you! As you consciously make kindness a part of your life, happiness will follow. Kindness and happiness are siblings who do everything together.
A great way to make room in your heart for happiness is to practise forgiveness. Believe it or not, making mistakes in life is allowed! It may also surprise you to know that when you make a mistake, you are not obliged to replay it over and over in your mind and hang on to it for the rest of your life!
Forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about things. It wastes your energy and does not help you to feel better. Unforgiveness actually prevents you from experiencing happiness! For more on this, see my post on forgiveness. Forgiving yourself allows you to move forward into a place of increased happiness as you let go of some emotional baggage.
If you feel yourself getting stressed, worked up, unhappy or angry about something in your life, that is ok. Accept the emotion, forgive the emotion, and just breathe! There are many mental, emotional and physical benefits achieved just from taking a nice, deep breath. Breathing helps you to become calm, it allows more oxygen to your brain and brings you back into the present moment. For a quick fix of happiness, no matter what is going on around you, just take a nice, deep breath, in through your nose, expanding your ribcage and your tummy as you do, and out through your mouth, visualizing all your stresses being expelled by your breath. Repeat a few times, and feel calmness and happiness return.
The best way to bring happiness into your life is to be grateful for what you have that already makes you happy! When you get snuggled into your pyjamas and get warm under the duvet, take a few minutes to list the things in your life that you are grateful for. For more on this, see my post about gratitude. What are you grateful for today?
Until next week: Do one thing every day that makes you happy. Do it with gusto. Savour it. Enjoy it. Appreciate it.
Next Week: H is for Healing.
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