1. CHOOSE FOR HAPPINESS
One evening a Cherokee elder told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside people. He said: "The battle, my son, is about the two 'wolves' that live inside us all. One is Unhappiness. It is fear, worry, anger, jealousy, sorrow, self-pity and resentment. The other is Happiness. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, kindness. truth and compassion. The Grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked: " Grandfather, which wolf wins?" The elder replied: "The one you feed." Abraham Lincoln once said that: : "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." and it is so true.
One of the most powerful things we can do to increase happiness in our lives is to make the conscious choice to be happy. Start the day by saying to yourself: "Whatever today brings, I choose to feed the happy wolf. I choose for happiness." Here is an exercise I like to practice upon awakening. Before getting out of bed take some time to look slowly around the room and, as your gaze falls on each object, nod and say "good" - either mentally or out loud. Happiness is an attitude.
2. BE GRATEFUL
There is a lovely scene in the movie: "Best Exotic Marigold Express" in which Tom Wilkinson's character, who has returned to India after many years absence, is asked: "What is it you see in India?" He answers: " The people here see life as a privilege, not as an ordeal to get through."
People who are unhappy tend to spend much of their time focusing on what is "wrong'" - with themselves, with others and with the world. Gratitude is a very good antidote. A great way to instantly feel happier is to make a mental list of all the things you have to be grateful for. Even if we don't feel particularly grateful, simply choosing to change our focus is a very good place to start if we wish to cultivate more happiness. We are free to choose where we put our attention.
3. GIVING - FOCUS ON THE HAPPINESS OF OTHERS
Show me a happy person and I guarantee they are also a giving person. One is not possible without the other. When we are feeling flat or unhappy there is a tendency to be self-absorbed and to take ourselves over-seriously. The absolute quickest way to raise our vibration is to look for opportunities to serve, opportunities to increase the happiness of others. Give a homeless person a sandwich, volunteer to help out in a soup kitchen, dedicate an afternoon to cleaning up rubbish in a park or planting trees. Stop moping and start giving. You might actually get hooked on how good it makes you feel.
4. DROP THE VICTIM STORY
If we want to be happier in our lives, it is helpful to stop blaming others or the world for our woes and to instead, take responsibility for our own own inner state. People, situations, circumstances and events, although often challenging or difficult, do not, in and of themselves, have the power to influence our happiness. Let me explain before I get into hot water!
When we say things such as: "I am unhappy because of my job, my partner's behaviour, my mother's nagging or corrupt politicians, it is not really these things that cause us to be unhappy but our response to these things. Happy people face exactly the same situations as unhappy people. Be aware of the tendency to blame or put the responsibility for your happiness on others and acknowledge that, if it wasn't this person or that circumstance that was causing you to be unhappy, it would simply be another. The mind will always seek (and find) evidence to support whatever it believes to be true. If we choose to believe we are victims, we will find plenty of evidence to support that.
Holding grudges, resentment or being in the huff with someone are not conducive to being happy. As long as we are holding people prisoner, we need to feed them and told them our awareness. Forgiveness is the key to creating the inner space required for happiness to take hold. To forgive is not to condone what another has done - it may be truly horrendous - but to reach the point where our inner peace NOW becomes a greater priority than holding onto past grievances. If there is someone in your life who you see as the 'enemy' , I invite you to call them right now and end it - at least from your side. Your ego may be screaming out: "NEVER!" at the thought but who cares what ego says. The ego will always stand in the way of our freedom. Do you want to to be right or to experience peace? That is the important question.
6. ACCEPT WHAT IS
You may have noticed that life is full of ups and downs. This is an unavoidable part of being born a human. We each have a little character in our head I like to call the labeller. Every thought, feeling, emotion or situation that we experience is (unconsciously) given a label - good/bad, right/wrong, desirable/undesirable etc. We don't suffer because of the experiences themselves but because of the labelling. What happens to a feeling of sadness for example, without the label that says it is 'bad, wrong or undesirable? What happens if you can just allow the feeling to be there without trying to fix it, change it, understand it or do anything at all with it? Any time we are unhappy, we are resisting something. The quickest and most direct route to experiencing ongoing contentment in our lives is to allow, as best we can, everything to be as it is - to drop our resistance to the moment as it is.
7. PUT HAPPINESS FIRST
Many people, in my view, get the happiness formula the wrong way round. We believe that … once the kids have left home, I get the promotion, I have more money, I meet the right partner …. then I will be happy. This is an illusion. As long as we believe our happiness is dependent on certain conditions being fulfilled, it will always remain one step out of reach. Once the desired situation has arrived, we will already be imposing the next condition on our happiness. I find that it works far better the other way round (and makes life infinitely more enjoyable). If we focus FIRST on that which makes us happy, we become magnets for 'the good' and tend to attract to ourselves all manner of favourable conditions. When we focus first on happiness, God smiles on us and showers us with gifts! So, focus on what makes you happy today. Which brings us to the next tip.
8. FOLLOW WHAT FEELS EXPANSIVE
Everything in creation, including ourselves, consists of energy vibrating. When our vibration is high, we call it being happy! When it is low, we experience feeling flat and contracted. The more we choose the sustenance and activities which lead to a higher vibration, the happier we become. Within each of us, there is an unfailing compass which indicates that which leads to increased happiness and that which doesn't. It is called our heart or our intuition. The heart will always prompt us to follow that which is joyful and expansive while the mind is generally fear-based and adverse to risk taking. Much of our unhappiness comes from giving far too much weight to that which our head tells us and not enough to our hearts. I love the expression: "Life begins where your comfort zone ends'." So the question is: "Where in your life are you compromising." What is your heart trying to tell you that you are not listing to?
9. DON'T THINK SO MUCH
Whenever we are unhappy, we are invariably thinking too much. Over-thinking and unhappiness are inseparable. People with the tendency to think too much generally fall into one of two categories - constantly caught in the past or always concerned with the future. Whenever we are thinking, we are NOT HERE, in the present moment, which is where happiness abides. In the state of no-mind, happiness is always present. That is why my teacher always used to say " Get stupid quick!" Give up all ambition for a better past. Whenever you catch yourself thinking about it, just STOP and be here NOW. Same with the future. Whenever you catch yourself lost in unproductive thinking about the future with it's million and one imagined outcomes simply choose to STOP! Look around you - be present.
Click on the link to download An Existence or A life, a chapter about learning to live your life effortlessly from a place of heightened intution rather than trying to figure everything out using the mind, which is pretty exhausting.