Count your blessings.
The first of our tips on how to be happy is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Both lack and abundance exist simultaneously in our lives. In each moment, we are free to choose where we wish to put our attention. We can either focus on what is missing in our lives or be thankful for the things that we already have.
It is like tending a garden ...we can choose to water the weeds or the flowers. Which type of garden we wish to create is our own choice. If you are focused on gratitude it is simply impossible to be unhappy at the same time.
It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us happy. Gratitude is a powerful tool for transforming your life.
2. FORGIVENESS... RELEASING YOUR PRISONERS
Another tip on how to be happy harnesses the power of forgiveness.
Is there anyone in your life that you are holding prisoner? Not literally holding hostage in your cellar but holding resentment or grudges towards. This lowers our own vibration and ability to be happy.
Releasing your prisoners through forgiveness frees up an enormous amount of life energy. Finding inner peace is difficult when there is someone you refuse to talk to or harbor feelings of anger towards. Why not phone them up right now and end it?
I love what spiritual teacher Anthony de Mello has to say on the topic. He says that before enlightenment everyone is an ass! The next time someone upsets you or you are accused of upsetting someone else, simply say "What do you expect from an ass?"
3. ACCEPTANCE/ NON-RESISTANCE
Our suffering in life comes, not so much from the experiences we encounter, but from our resistance to them. Non-acceptance of "what is" creates pain and thus the third tip on how to be happy is to say "YES" to each moment, however it unfolds.
You may be familiar with the expression "what you resist persists?"
Pain and unhappiness do not come so much from the thoughts, feelings and emotions which arise by themselves and simply are as they are.
The mind creates problems out of the experience by labeling it as good or bad, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable. The biggest secret on how to be happy lies in being dropping our resistance to what is.
When we consciously choose to allow the feeling to be as it is, without judgement, we wrap it in peace. There is no need to fix it or change it. Simply be aware of the tendency to push it away and say "Yes" instead. What happens then? The astonishing truth is that finding inner peace is possible even when you are feeling down.
4. YOU ALONE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR EXPERIENCE
Fill in the blank in the following sentence:
If only ............... changed/happened, then I would be happy.
If only I had more money, if only I had married someone else, if only I had a different job. It is an illusion to believe that if these things were to change, that authentic happiness would suddenly appear.
If you were to put an unhappy person in paradise, it wouldn't be
long before they found something to grumble about. It is true that certain things can make our lives more comfortable, but not necessarily any happier. Happiness is an inside job, a state of mind, a way of being.
Abraham Lincoln once said that: "Most people are about as happy as they decide to be."
In truth, happiness is a choice and, until we learn to be happy here and now, with whatever is going on, we will continue to postpone it through seeking to rearrange the furniture.
Our fourth tip on how to be happy is therefore to recognise that you alone are responsible for your happiness. Nothing has the power to make us unhappy unless we choose to allow it. Seeing ourselves as a victim of circumstances or the actions of others can be hugely disempowering, whereas accepting full responsibility for our own happiness makes us powerful creators.
5. THINKING LESS AND BEING MORE PRESENT
For most people, thinking too much is the number one barrier to experiencing a happier, more fulfilling life - particularly if we are plagued by fear, doubt, worry, anxiety or self-judgement thoughts.
Learning how to stop thinking so much and to engage more with the present moment (which is where happiness is too be found) is undoubtedly the most important single step we can take to increase happiness in our lives.
I have also written "Kick The Thinking Habit", a 157-page e-book which is a comprehensive guide to changing the relationship with the mind to experience peace now.
When we are down we are self-absorbed. Looking for ways to contribute to the happiness of others shifts our attention away from ourselves and opens us to the simple joy of giving.
A great tip on how to be happy is to regularly ask yourself "What can I bring to this situation which will enhance everyone's enjoyment and fulfillment" as opposed to "What can I get out of this for me?"
It could be as simple as giving a flower, a compliment or a hug. The gifts of caring, attention, affection, appreciation and love are some of the most precious gifts and they cost you nothing. Without exception, happy people give more than they take.
If you are feeling down, ask yourself "Where can I give more?"
7. FOLLOW YOUR BLISS
The heart knows how to be happy but few people listen. Our spirit thrives on adventure. The mind, on the other hand is fear based and always seeks security.
So ask yourself "What excites me? What do I feel passionate about?" Take steps now to bring more of these things into your life. Be bold and follow your bliss. If you are in a boring job or unfulfilling relationship, change it. Feel the fear and do it anyway. This step requires courage but the rewarding feeling of expansion and joy is immeasurable.
I have discovered that every time, without fail, that I have followed what feels joyful and expansive - despite the fear and without having a clue how things are going to work out, that magic happens.
Unexpected events appear out of thin air. Staying within the confines of our comfort zone may feel safe but it also kills the aliveness of our experience.
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