The happiness train. It seems to be a non-stop ride where we put a ridiculous amount of pressure on ourselves to be happy. Always. Or at least as often as possible.
Visit Amazon alone and find over 17,000 books on happiness. There's a reason there are that many books on the topic. It's the elusive mood that we all seem to be after.
This year I endeavoured to get "happier." I wanted to wake up every morning with a smile on my face, a glow to my skin and an overall positive attitude.
Many of the books I read proclaimed the benefits of exercise as a means to a happier disposition. So off I went and took up tennis and going to the gym three times per week with the goal of releasing those endorphins to help keep a smile on my face (and some cellulite off my thighs of course).
Next step was meditation. It helped create grey matter (and who doesn't need more grey matter!), it focussed my thoughts (okay, not for more than four seconds at a time but I'm working on it!), and it brought on a calm that truly changed the outlook on my day.
Then there was perspective. I read many books that highlighted how fantastic my life was relative to what goes on in the world and what people have had to endure.
I started listening to motivating audio books so the time spent in my car was not spent listening to the newest summer hit for the billionth time (yes, that really is a number!) but rather being continually inspired.
And then I came upon a book that really put it all into perspective for me. 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
What stood out about Dan's book? The ending. Spoiler alert! In fairness though, the title kind of gives it away. After years of emotional and career rollercoasters, drug use and an overall unhappiness, Dan Harris took up meditation and focussing on self-help and as a result, you guessed it, became 10% happier. I am of course oversimplifying the road he had to travel to get 10% happier but you will have to read his book to find out more (no, I am not his publicist, just a fan!).
Now 10% happier after a year of turning my life upside down seems like a pretty low return on investment. After all, I spent a fortune on the gym, tennis lessons, meditation sessions, self-help books and audio books so is 10% really a reasonable expectation? Shouldn't I be grinning from ear to ear and laughing all day long after all of this effort?
Here's the conclusion I came to. Many of the books out there (and there are many amazing one's, comment below if you want a list!) have fantastic advice. They are filled with many things that intuitively we already know but sometimes need to be reminded of. In fact, I find that if I finish a book with even only one idea that really resonated with me, then the book was worth it. Exercise really is a great way to relieve stress and feel good about yourself and more importantly stay healthy. Meditation truly does change the entire perspective on my day but my biggest lesson...ready for it?
Instead of looking to wake up one day and just feel happy all day long, I realized that the benefits I had instilled in my life over the last 12 months were all steps to getting myself 10% (okay maybe only 9%) happier. Life is going to throw its curve-balls, from health issues to work struggles to whatever is on our plates that overwhelms us. Your goal? o find a few key things you can do to get you a little bit happier on a daily basis. There is no one out there who has read a self help book and simply become happy, it doesn't work that way, but if you can find a few things that help contribute to making you smile everyday and maybe try to smile a few times more than you did yesterday, you will find that 10% could be the difference between a life well lived and a life simply lived.
Have you incorporated tips for living a happier life? List your top three in the hopes that it impacts someone's life today.
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