Everyone is on the path to finding happiness. It is what we all aim for – that feeling of true happiness that allows us to feel free and alive.
One of the common misconceptions is when people look for happiness in short term solutions. Perhaps a movie or video game will keep you happy for today like a fish would, but you ought to learn how to fish. Changing your mindset will allow you to beat boredom, a serious stress creator, and replace your negative emotions for positive ones.
I’ve rounded up some simple ways to have a lighter happier life. Five steps are enough to begin the movement to a more joyous place which will allow you to radiate happiness and affect those around you.
1. Enjoy the moment – Appreciation
Think about getting a piece of cake. Most people eat it decently, newly weds stuff it in each other’s mouths and there is always one person just picking at their cake. Does that cake piece look anything like the delicious piece they got initially? No – because it has been picked apart like a carcass by a vulture. If you eat slower, you will be less likely to crave another piece as quickly.
There are so many people constantly searching for something or someone that will make them happy but the moment they find it they will continue their pursuit.
Mindfulness is key to enjoying your here and now. I admit I also wonder what is next and think about what the future holds, it is natural to think about it – just don’t let it define you. If I look back to my plans, most haven’t played out as they should’ve but I am better for it.
When you notice yourself focusing too much on the future, try to centralize yourself to the moment. Do something physical (it lets you use the side of your brain focused on the now rather than the future), close your eyes, think about why you are in this very moment and try to smile. Smiling sends your mind messages that you are happy and will trick your brain into producing happiness related chemicals.
If all these things don’t work, you may be in a bit of a pickle. For example, if you are doing a dead end job to make ends meet, you may have trouble finding the joy. You have to keep questioning your motives and if you remain unhappy, try to find some hobbies or see if you can get an alternative job.
One of the problems in our society today is that we hugely lack jobs with passion; the true careers. This is why it is vital to find something that gives you joy and entertainment to avoid boredom. Why avoid boredom you may ask. Boredom causes your brain to work faster, making time seem slower and also creates cortisol, your stress hormone. Keep yourself happy and you won’t end up in this state of stress. You want to avoid chronic boredom.
2. Take joy in the smaller things – Gratitude
This step is commonly told but not commonly exercised. My tips are : make life a game, be your own entertainment and create positivity around you.
My brothers escape reality by gaming, but I try to make a game out of real life activities. People love games for all sorts of reasons including strategy, competition, structure and most importantly, entertainment. When my father desires his car to be clean and I am around, I offer. I make it a game and variety is good all together to keep your experiences free.
Do you know that feeling when you are waiting? Possibly in a waiting room, for public transport or for a friend? What is the first thing that appears – some form of electronics in most cases. But what if you lost your electronics? We wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. It doesn’t help that most waiting spaces are extremely neutral and don’t inspire any thinking or creativity.
In those situations without our quick fixes, we are confronted with a problem. Time to create a solution. This is when we must find joy within ourselves and start out positively. Maybe this is the perfect time to organize yourself or let your creative outlets roam free.
Another situation would be social interactions. Those small daily interactions with others have a major effect on your experience of the moment and the day. If you are happy, kind and patient, you will usually experience positive interactions with people around you.
There will always be people that are having a bad day or generally a bit pessimistic, but you can also positively change their day. Bus drivers usually get a lot of negative energy and people being unfriendly. Showing appreciation to a good bus driver will help you as well as them.
3. Letting go of things that don’t matter – Acceptance
Those daily social interactions can also negatively impact your day to a certain extent. If you get a tsunami of negative emotions, you chose whether to let it flow over you or keep it in you. Why keep it? Attaching emotions for longer than reaction time is mostly pride, stubbornness and you poisoning your own well.
Suppose someone cuts me off whilst I am driving. I may react, I may honk and feel feelings of anger. If I keep it for five minutes, that should be enough. We didn’t crash, the other party won’t spend their night restless, why should I?
Now I have spent more time letting go of smaller things and it is easier for me to do so. But try shrugging off something that will only affect the moment you are in. It will feel good because you didn’t let your negative feelings get a hold of your demeanour. Happiness is a state of mind and once you are in it and embrace it, it will be hard to get you out of it.
4. Less planning for tomorrow, more embracing what you can do today – Proactivity
Think carpe diem. How cliche right? I know, I know. When we are using the planning side of our brain, namely the right side, we eliminate our right now focus. Naturally there is some need for the planning side, we want to be able to have a home over our heads and all the other securities which Maslov’s pyramid indicates on the bottom two levels. If you are more busy planning than enjoying, you will be missing out on the beauty of now and the beauty of life.
A friend of mine is looking at the future constantly. He lives in excitement for when he is forty, will own a restaurant and be married with kids. What happens when we focus like this is that we are stuck on a fantasy and no longer focusing on using short term to create the long term dream. Preparation is the best prevention of failure.
I would say live like you have five years left. It inspire you to be more proactive without becoming reckless. Create your future today by combining your dreams of tomorrow with your actions now.
5. Let go of pride, regret, fears and shame to make room for love, happiness and fulfillment – Evolve
We are programmed to assume the worst and prepare for it as humans which you can see by simply looking at the news or the amount of pessimists (they prefer to be called realists) compared to optimists.
How come it is so easy for a pessimist to bring an optimist down but not the other way around? Is it how we are programmed – then it makes sense we spent all our lives looking for happiness since when we do find it, many of us will just be picking it apart until it is gone.
Pride is problematic. It causes wars, feuds and will not keep you warm at night. Pride is a feud with yourself, you will always lose somehow.
If you let your fear of consequences, your responsibilities and pride define your actions, “Nothing ventured nothing gained.” So called mistakes are actually tests of character and important learning points. You may regret them initially, but humans mostly adapt and change only in extreme circumstances. Now the question to you is: do you want to evolve?
I believe we have a certain amount of energy a day that we can either use for negative or positive. I would like to use mine positively majority of the time, as those useless negative emotions do not add.
Of course there are situations where we get depressed, melancholy or something similar. Break ups, losses, etc are all situations that can have emotional reactions. It is important to embrace it when it occurs. When you feel like crying, cry. When you feel angry, let it out by writing it down or through sports. Find a way to accept the emotions and try to enjoy them. Sadness indicates something has touched you deeply and everyone goes through some stages of loss/mourning when letting go.
Tip of the day:
Once you find what you search for, appreciate it and allow it to make you happy instead of looking further. Find joy in the smaller things and embrace what you feel to grow stronger and happier.
If you want to be like an optimist then just have faith and hope that things will work out for the better. They will 🙂