As I sit in my office, I hear many people say, “I just want to be happy”, “Why do things always go wrong for me?”, “Everybody is always so happy, except me”. On and on it goes.
So, it seems that everyone just wants to be HAPPY! Like my clients, I am asking you what happiness is? Think about it for a moment!
Have you come up with an answer? Probably not!
So what is happiness?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, happiness is a “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”.
My definition of happiness is an overall feeling of contentment in different areas of one’s life. We cannot always be happy every minute of the day. Emotions go up and down and if you think about it, are you going to be happy if you are sick? If there is some bad news? Or, if you are going through some difficulties in life? The simple answer to these questions is a clear NO! However just because you may be going through a hard time or something has happened, doesn’t mean you are unhappy.
If you are looking for that overall feeling of contentment that is HAPPINESS, forget thinking that you need to be walking around all the time with a smile on your face and try these five things.
1. Silence that inner voice that always wants to win
One of our biggest obstacles to being content with our lives is the negative voice inside us. Yes that voice, telling you that you’re “no good”, “you can’t do this”, “you’re never going to get this”, “you’re hopeless”. Moreover, there’s much more and on and on it goes. That inner voice likes to overpower any realistic thoughts and likes put us in a bad mood quickly. Well, the good thing is that voice is your own thought, and it is not true. Simply put, stop believing a thought you have come up with that is negative. Look at other thoughts about the situation. For example, if you are running late for work because of unexpected traffic you can start to feel angry, annoyed and stressed. That is because you are probably thinking “of course this has to happen to me” or “now my day is ruined” or “this is the start of a bad day”. Then as the day progresses you look for other things that have gone wrong to reaffirm to yourself that your thoughts are true, however, have you looked at things that are going right? Probably not!
One thing to know is the mind can be a brainstorming machine. When you are with a group of people discussing ideas, you do not always grab the first one you wait to see what other ideas people come up with. Well, this is the same with your thoughts, you need to allow the mind to come up with other thoughts. With the running late to work example, other thoughts may be “oh well I can’t do anything about the traffic today and be annoyed isn’t going to get me there any faster”, or “I’ll just ring work and let them know what’s happened”, or “I don’t usually run late, so work will be understanding”. Changing these thoughts to more realistic ones will have a more positive effect on your mood.
2. Everyone has a story
While you may think that everybody around you is happy, you do not know what personal issues they are dealing with. Stop comparing yourself to others, when you do not know if they are truly content.
The outside façade is different to the inner turmoil. Everyone has a story.
3. Practice gratitude
You can achieve that overall feeling of contentment in life by being grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you do not have. Keep a gratitude journal and write at least one thing every day that you are grateful for.
Practising gratitude allows us to put things into perspective. It makes it possible to focus on the good and helps us to lessen the need of always wanting more.
Try being still for just 10 minutes a day and specifically focus on your thoughts coming and going but more importantly on the things you are grateful for.
4. Start caring for yourself
Answer this question. When was the last time you did something for yourself? You probably think that is selfish. Well, it is not!
You need to know you are the most important person in the world, and if you do not look after yourself, how can you look after others?
Self-care is about looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Start by getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals, do some regular exercise, do something you enjoy once a day, for example, reading, pampering yourself, catching up with friends, watching your favourite movie.
5. Living life according to your values will allow you to write the happiness journey
Values are the things you believe in that are important to you in the way you live. They represent who you are and what you want to be. Knowing what they are make’s life easier and helps us to make important decisions. We need to move in the direction of our values continually. They are a part of our journey and not merely a destination. Life can be much easier when you acknowledge your values and make decisions that are in line with them.