1. Choose For It
Many people leave happiness to chance. When we get what we want, we are happy. When things don't go our way, we are unhappy. Why not make happiness a deliberate choice rather than a chance happening?
Let the following intention be your daily mantra: "Today, whatever happens, I choose to be happy." What you focus on grows. The more you focus on happiness, the more of it you will attract into your life.
2. Take Responsibility
Blaming life or others for our woes will forever keep happiness out of reach …and out of our own hands. People act as they do. Life serves up what it serves up. How we choose to respond is entirely up to us. We can choose to see ourselves as powerless victims of circumstance or as powerful creators of our own reality. Recognise that you, and you alone, are responsible for your inner experience.
3. Keep Things In Perspective
If you are prone to allowing minor irritations to get under your skin, it may be helpful to keep things in perspective. Recognise first world problems for what they are. Being told over and over by a machine that there is an 'unexpected item in the bagging area' or that 'your call is important to us', is not the end of the world. The end of the world is the end of the world. Let the small stuff go.
4. Drop "Stuff" Quickly
If you feel you have been unjustly accused, criticised or blamed, don't make a big deal out of it. Choose for happiness through hitting the reset button and swiftly moving on. What others think of us is none of our business. We will never find inner happiness if we continue to brood over stuff once it's over. This only serves to pollute our inner space. Nurture the habit of letting go and returning to the here and now. Ask yourself: "What is more important right now? To be right or to be happy?"
Which brings me to the next point:
5. We Are Only Human
When people accuse, blame or criticise, they are merely projecting their own fears, self-judgements and inadequacies outwards. They only act like this because they are suffering inside themselves. Have compassion. We are all doing our best. Acting like a jerk, screwing up and getting things wrong are simply part of being human. Go easy on yourself and others. Don't beat yourself up for not being perfect.
6. Slow Down and Be Present
It is easy to get so caught up in the frantic pace of modern life, in rushing from one appointment to the next, that we fail to notice the miracle of life that is happening all around us in every moment. As The Beatles said: All the best things in life are free … the birds, the trees, the wind, the sky, the stars. Take regular breaks throughout the day to stop whatever you are doing and tune in to the moment. Find inner happiness through being fully present with what is. Learn to be mindful. This is why small children are so happy.
7. Think Less
Spending our days lost in mental movie-making is the main cause of unhappiness for many people. Replaying the past over and over, worrying about the future or anticipating imagined outcomes is highly unproductive, creates stress and prevents us from finding peace in the present moment. If we wish to find inner happiness, we need to learn to think less and be more present in the moment.
Check out my book Kick the Thinking Habit
8. Relax - Nothing Is Under Control
Guess what? You have no control over anything in your life, apart from your own inner reactions. You can't control the people around you, the traffic, the weather or whether the bus comes on time or not.
Being attached to outcomes that we have no control over is a recipe for agitation and unhappiness. As long as we pin our happiness on things being a certain way, we will forever be disappointed. Struggling against the flow of life is exhausting. Why not relax, give God his/her job back and just let things be as they are?
9. Do More Of What You Love Doing
Walking on the beach, exploring rock pools, playing in the woods, climbing things, dancing, building fires, colouring in, getting muddy, going ice skating …these are some of the replies people came up with to the question: "What do you love to do?" on a recent course I ran.
Playing is an important part of being happy. Dedicate at least an hour a week to doing things you love. If you don't have time, then you had better make it 2 hours a week!
The more simple and uncluttered our lives are, the more space there is within for happiness to flourish. How many things in your life - your possessions, your activities, your relationships - add real value in terms of happiness?
Simplifying is very much a personal thing. My idea of simplicity could be someone else's idea of hell (especially if I were to suggest getting rid of the TV or throwing out the smart phone). For me, to live simply means to have minimal possessions, a flexible work schedule and plenty of free time to do the things I love to do and to nurture my relationships with friends and family.
11. We Are What We Consume
In India, they use the words, Sattva and Tamas, to describe and categorise the various foods, attitudes and activities which come within the sphere of human living. Overeating and over sleeping, for example are tamasic activities which lead to sloth and unhappiness. Exercise and meditation are sattvic activities which promote happiness.
To find inner happiness, it is helpful to reduce tamasic influences as much as possible. Read spiritual books instead of newspapers, avoid negative people, seek the company of happy people and meditate rather than watch TV.
12. Spiritual Practice
Happiness research shows a strong correlation between regular spiritual practice, such as meditation, and happiness.
True, authentic happiness is experienced through coming into contact with our original, unconditioned selves - the eternal you which is untouched and unaffected by all the doubts, fears, self-judgements and neuroses which make up our conditioned self-image. Regular meditation practice can help us connect with that part of ourself which is ever at peace, ever happy. see Mindful Meditation
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