9 Habits that feed our happiness
Everywhere I see, we are fed or more to the point, force-fed various messages. Typically, they can be summarised along the lines of buy this thing and you will be happy, fashionable, succesful implying that you won't be happy, accepted or cool without it. It got me thinking, wow, how far away from connecting to our own internal source of happiness we have strayed.
When I was a kid, it was very common to be booted out the back door after breakfast - to go and play outside. In my case, I had a broad range of friends and we would often go exploring on our bikes. When we weren't playing cricket, building bikes, riding to the chip shop for minimum chips and such, we were inventing games and of course, doing some chores. The fun was invented and very little was needed in terms of items needing purchasing. How is that story nowadays? So, I thought about what real happiness is and how to grasp it back from advertisers.
1) If you don't connect with and seize your own source of happiness internally you will be like a boat with it's sails not tied - subject to other people's whims, agendas and worse, their approval or dis-approval. Recognise this and accept it so you can see when a temporary source is being spruiked to you. If the source of your happiness can be taken away then it is not a true source of happiness.
2) Don't let other peoples expectations rob you of your own dreams. Searching the internet for "regrets of dying people" - no, it isn't a depressing subject, one of the higher ranking ones is exactly this. Along the lines of regretting not following their dreams and sticking it out instead in preconceived roles set by other people. Yes, these roles were probably thought of as obvious, right, logical or even responsible but what if your dream was something you would have been excellent at or even revered for? For every explorer, top author, amazing film maker, journalist, teacher etc is a million of people just going in to the work grinding away at given tasks. What a tremendous shame. What the world needs more than ever is people with imagination, passion, drive and excellence.
3) Create your own purpose. Find out what you are naturally good at. What your strengths are, what interests you and align something that needs to be done with those strengths of yours and then, do it. If you are deeply deeply into composing music then imagine how much better the world will be when you release all that talent, all that passion, all that labour of love in your song, building design, new solar cell, or a book? Your chance to shine is when you are at your happiest doing what you are excellent at. You'll be rewarded with ... a lot of satisfaction. Incidentally, this is when you are much more likely to be on fire, noticed , do your best work and, the world sorely needs every one to do their best with joy in their hearts.
4) Make that something, that purpose, deeply meaningful to you. When your skills and strengths are utilised in something you deeply care about, a deep well of energy opens within you. It is one of the biggest and longest lasting highs you can experience. Contrast that with buying some new clothes or even a new house. How long is it before even a newer clothes or shinier house pop up? Weeks, months? Immediately you are relegated to no longer new, flash etc category. It is a fact that a new car depreciates the most just leaving the showroom. Connecting not to things but to passionate projects with meaningful purpose changes your focus and the source of your worthiness and happiness. Inversely, seeking happiness in things undermines your heart every time you reach the post short burst of happiness and subsequently enter the disappointment cycle.
5) Nourish your own body. Not just with good food but also with stimulating company, interesting reading or studies, exercise, fresh air. Without good health pretty much every other activity in life become far more challenging. It is a well known fact that the most powerful antidepressant, the longest lasting and the only one with positive side-effects is.... exercise. Every aspect of movement, being outdoors, exertion, raised heart-rate, and deep breathing enhances every part of your being and you feel great. Maybe not on your first session but soon thereafter.
6) Pay attention to your words because certain words fuel certain moods. Positive perspective is fuelled by positive words and we do this to each other. We so need to see and hear positive stories so that we can rise above the mundane. So much more can be achieved when we are feeling happy and we are much more likely to see a different more empowering angle to events and circumstances.
7) Practice gratitude. We have so much to be grateful for but while our attention is directed and controlled by advertisers all we perceive is what we don't have. Yet, that is a matter of perspective, we may not have the latest car but to a person without one it is likely to be very desirable. We have our health, freedom, family, friends, community to be thankful for and, beyond that, what about that person that smiled, opened the door, the blue sky, the sunny warm day. The delicious food. Beautiful postcard and the fact that we can do and be all these things for others is incredible. It is all in our frame of mind and our focus. If the car takes us to visit our best friend it is a great day no matter what model or colour it is. Write down each day what you were grateful for that day. It may only be one thing or moment but reflecting on it makes it so much more powerful.
8) Help others. On top of feeling grateful for the acts and events in our day we can bring those acts and events into another person's day. Opening that door, writing a postcard, complimenting a stranger not only may make their day but ours too as it kicks off our own endorphins and happy feelings.
9) Practice mindfulness. That is a common term I like to refocus a little by calling it practicing being in the moment - the present moment, because, that is all we have. What has gone before is now history and what we are imagining may never eventuate. So, it is a deeply calming practice to drop stressing about the future (without taking action) or regretting the past (without ensuring it does not repeat). By letting go of these obsessive thought patterns and anchoring our mind to something like our breath and observing how the mind regularly jumps in and wants us to worry and stress for no good reason. By letting go of these self generated stresses we are calming our own minds so much so that when we actually need to think, the brain is sharp and clear so that we are aware how lucky we are, how many wonderful people are n our lives, how rewarding it is to give and help, how grateful we are for our healthy bodies and how much we love the work we are able to offer.
That is the gift I wish to leave you on this boxing day for you to contemplate over the New Year's eve and perhaps, the rest of your lives.
May your holidays be merry.
Want more ideas and inspiration? Maybe this article from last year might hit the spot.
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