Happiness is something that we all seek, but something that most people find hard to define. Rather than the permanent, exaggerated state that we see at the end of Hollywood movies, true happiness comes in brief moments, when we take time to notice it. Most importantly, it is something that we can create for ourselves. Follow these steps to progress on a path to happiness.
Pleasure versus happiness
There is an enormous difference between pleasure and true happiness. Pleasure is a wonderful thing but is the equivalent of sugar; we receive an intense burst of delight, but it doesn’t last. Happiness is a state of contentment and emotional wellbeing, which comes from living a balanced life.
Find your happiness
Define what happiness is to you. Write down your perfect day. What would it involve? It could be walk in nature, playing sport, learning a new craft, spending time with your family, or going to the beach. Forget about the practicalities for the moment and just imagine.
Find the time in your life to do the things that you love. It is all too easy to get caught in a cycle of being ‘too busy’. Half an hour each day less in front of a television or computer screen would get you over 182 hours back every year. Think what you could do with that time!
Say yes more!
A feeling of discontentment often comes from being stuck in a rut; feeling as if life is passing us by. Shake things up a little by saying yes to more opportunities. Nudge the edges of your comfort zone by going to events that you might not have previously attended. A trip to an art gallery, taking part in an open mic night or learning a new sport might not seem like your preferred way to spend time, but you might just find your new passion!
Taking time to be grateful is enormously beneficial to our well-being. If you are able to eat three meals each day, have shelter and can drink clean water, these are wonderful things to be appreciated.
Be generous with compliments, smiles, thanks and praise. Include yourself in this, and congratulate yourself when you do something productive, brave or difficult. Give yourself time to read, to dance, to relax and to look after your own needs. Be patient and forgiving with yourself and others.
Pay it forward
Acts of kindness are a great way to increase endorphins naturally. Come up with random acts of kindness every once in a while, to brighten someone else’s day. Plant wild flower seeds, make hats and scarves for a homeless charity, put enough money for a cup of tea in an envelope and hide it for someone else to find. Passing on small moments of happiness to others is a sure way to improve your own emotional wellbeing.
Choose your tribe
Often, we are thrown together with people that we wouldn’t necessarily choose as friends. We spend time with people through habit, or because we have known them for a long time. The saying is that you can’t choose your family, but you also can’t choose your peer group at school or your work colleagues! There is always room in your life for new friends. Surround yourself with positive, kind hearted people, who love without judgement and who make you feel good about yourself. Know that it is okay to move on from old friendships if they are making you unhappy.
Happiness is not a permanent state of being; rather it comes in moments, where we notice that we are contented. Practising mindfulness is a wonderful way to increase your happiness, as it trains your mind to focus on the present moment, rather than worrying about the past or future. However scary the world can feel, there are always moments of wonder to be found, especially in nature.
The trick to achieving happiness is to play the long game. Like a muscle, the more you focus on happiness, the stronger it will become. You don’t go to the gym once and expect to be fit forever, and happiness comes from working, long-term, on your emotional fitness. Self care, showing kindness to others, being grateful for what you have, spending time in nature and following your heart will all lead you on a path to contentment and true joy.
Enjoy your journey!
All the best,
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