You may have heard the phrase that happiness is a way of life and not a destination to be arrived at. Yet what does this mean to those who hate what they do for a living, struggle to pay their bills, or constantly feel stressed out by their everyday lives?
The clue lies in our relationship to what happiness means to us individually. For many years I thought that I was happy because I had a high-paying job, good health and great friends. To me, happiness came from the feeling of security that I got when everything seemed to be going smoothly.
That all got shattered when I was made redundant from my work and ended up having panic attacks for the first time in my life. After several months of declining confidence, health and finances, I couldn’t even remember what happiness was, let alone make it a part of my daily life.
That’s when I decided to study what I now call the art of being happy. I call it an art because like anything that we want to get good at, there is a learning curve involved.
Here are my top 3 takeaways that transformed my life and got me back onto the road of absolute happiness, health and aliveness.
1. Make happiness a choice
Here’s the thing – we have far more power over our happiness than we give ourselves credit for. One day, when I was feeling especially sorry for myself, it dawned on me that it is my choice whether I am happy or miserable. Since that day, every morning when I get up, the first thing I decide even before I open my eyes, I say to myself, ‘what am I going to choose today?’ Misery or Happiness? And since then I always choose happiness.
If this seems overly simplistic to you then you are right because it is. We are so used to giving the power of our happiness away to anyone and anything around us that we have forgotten that we are in charge of our mind and body. As soon as we make happiness something we can choose to have anywhere and anytime we want, then it becomes possible. The alternative is to believe we are powerless and then what hope is there to be happy.
2. Look for your source of joy
The real source of joy in our life comes from within,it’s just that we get so distracted by our thoughts and emotions that we forget to focus on it. One of the simplest ways to change this pattern is to remind yourself each day to become aware of your inner joy. Just like when you see a friend and suddenly feel a joy rising in your heart, focus your attention on this joy. Feel it, and become it, all the while meeting with your friend while staying aware of the joy filling you up on the inside.
This can be done in a multitude of situations where you have a feeling of a rising joy energy coming from your heart. It could be while watching a sunset, sitting on the beach, looking into your child’s eyes, or even just thinking about a happy memory. It doesn’t matter what triggers it for you, the opportunity is to stay centered in these moments of joy so that it spreads through your entire body and fills every cell with happiness.
We have these moments all the time but we go on missing them because we become object focused and give the power of that joy to the person, place or experience that we just had. This reinforces the idea that joy is coming from outside us. Instead, we start to remind ourselves that the joy we are feeling always comes from within us, and that the outer experience has helped remind us that it is there.
3. Be mindful of you
While doing anything such as walking, eating, looking, touching, hearing – step back from your mind and thoughts and simply be aware of what you are doing. It may sound easy, but the mind is a tricky thing and even when doing something as simple as washing our teeth, we can forget to be present.
Think of it more as getting more in touch with what you are feeling at any given moment without thinking about what you are doing. The moment the mind kicks in with a thought or an opinion, then we are lost again in the mind. When walking, be aware of your feet connecting to the ground and then lifting up, as well as the movement of your body, the wind blowing, the sun on your body – so much to be aware of. Don’t ‘think’ about it – be aware of these things, almost as if you are an observer on top of a mountain watching the world go by underneath.
Being more mindful really means just being more present and alert from moment to moment. When this happens, then stress and tension naturally falls away and clarity and calm arises in its place. Try it for just a few minutes each day and see just how powerful being present is to bring more happiness and joy into your life.
Ultimately, being happy is as natural as the sun rising and setting each day and each of these takeaways will help to remember that you have the power to be happy – all the time. Pick the one that resonates with you most and get started with it today and prepare yourself for the happiest time of your life!