There's so much to worry about or be upset over lately, I feel the only way to fight it is with happiness and joy. What does it mean to be happy? To me, happiness is about feeling at peace. It's also about ensuring that I make the people I care about happy -- because that makes me happy too. I believe joy is the next level of happiness, and it was a New Year's resolution for me to experience more joy.
I know that we can't always be happy. But we CAN try to be a good person and the best version of ourselves. What I mean by this is -- if we are doing the best we can, then even on our down days we can at least feel that we are being authentic to who we are.
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." Mahatma Gandhi
I am currently reading The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles Of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success And Performance at Work. It says that we often believe if we can become more successful in life, then we will be happy. That if we get a better job, or a perfect marriage, or even the perfect body, then happiness will surely come to us. But this book teaches that our thinking is backwards. The only way to become more successful is to be happier. "Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work." I totally agree with this advice. The more positive energy we send out into the universe, the more opportunities come our way. In my favourite book, The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron calls this "synchronicity."
"Success is being happy." Sofia Vergara
Can we learn to be happier? This article, 8 Life-Changing Lessons From TED Talks on How to Be Happy, says you shouldn't expect happiness to be "one size fits all" -- meaning what makes you happy is not going to be the same as what makes someone else happy. So don't compare your journey to that of other people. And, like The Happiness Advantage states, you need to stop chasing things like fame, money and success. Instead, focus on challenging yourself and training your mind. Be generous, be grateful and tell the truth. And smile! There have been studies done that prove the mere act of smiling can honestly change our mood.
"Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open." John Barrymore
But what about our down days? Even happy people get the blues sometimes. I'm not suggesting you ignore all your negative thoughts, but Deepak Chopra gives some great suggestions about how to stop yourself from feeling sad when you are in that state. Things like don't expect someone else to make you happy, don't allow negative emotions to become habitual, don't ignore inner tension and don't equate happiness with "momentary pleasure."
"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition." Martha Washington
When I'm feeling blue, I make a list of everything I am grateful for. It really helps me shift my focus away from my problems and towards all the things I am happy about.
I really do believe happiness is something we have some control over and can cultivate for ourselves. I recently posted a quote on Instagram about the Habits of Happy People that really hit home for me. It was a great reminder about how we can cultivate our own happiness.
"Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions." Dalai Lama
Here's what the habits of happy people mean to me:
Ignore nonsense. Sometimes we let ourselves become affected by things that aren't that important. It can be easy to do when you're distracted from what truly matters. One way to deal with this is to make a list of what -- and who -- is actually important to you. And when negative things happen with people or events outside this list, don't allow them to bother you. You know what counts. Remember it.
Talk less. I think this means we need to listen more. Active listening can help strengthen our relationships, open our eyes (and ears!) to new perspectives, and keep us interested in the world around us. Check out Dr. Phil's 6 Rules of Talking and Listening.
Learn new skills. Because it helps you to get outside of yourself, and when you're constantly re-living negative thoughts in your head, this is an important thing to do. I often talk about how we need to be both interesting and interested, and learning new skills is one of the best ways to do this. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but it's never too late to learn new skills.
Help less fortunate. Giving back is one of the most important things in my life. It ALWAYS makes me happy to make other people smile. There's so many ways to give back; every little bit helps. What will you do to change the world?
Laugh. This one's easy! The next time you're feeling down, why not throw on a comedy or reminisce with your girlfriends about some funny memories? You'll have yourself in stitches in no time, and you'll be happier before you know it.
Wake up early. Many successful people start their day before everyone else. It's about beginning with intention. I personally love waking up early because it's when the world feels still -- before the chaos begins!
No entitlement. Feeling like the world owes you something removes your own sense of accountability for shaping your happiness. We always hear people say "I deserve it" but what do we really deserve in this life other than "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? It is our responsibility to actively pursue happiness -- not our right to passively receive it.
So let's make a conscious decision to cultivate happiness in our lives. The world could really use more happy people right now.
What makes you happy? How do you cheer up when you're feeling blue? Leave your comments below or tweet me @NatashaNKPR. I would love to hear from you!
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