Many of us think that happiness depends on external factors (often material: big house, good car, fancy trips), but the thing is:
Happiness depends on our own attitude towards ourselves and everything that surrounds us. This means that the road towards Happiness is the road of self-awareness and persistent practice. Sounds like loads of work? Yes, it is, because happiness is mentality and if you don’t have it, it will take time to switch from your current “unhappy” mentality to “happy” mentality. Of course, there are people out there who are naturally happy, but for many of us being Happy is a very hard task, and I am afraid there is no quick fix for it. So, take a deep breath and make a conscious decision to commit to your Happiness today:
Here are concepts, exercises, quotes I was collecting for years by reading dozens of books on happiness and mindfulness. Print them out, stick to a wall which you see every day and practice, practice, practice:
1. Come to understanding that no one owes you happiness
We often expect that others will make us happy (our spouse, our kids..),but in reality, the more we expect from others, the harder it is for us to be happy.
So, stop being a whiny kid and take responsibility for your own happiness. Take the ownership of being a happiness provider yourself and it will come back to you doubled. Before you have a temptation to escape that responsibility, remember this wise concept by best-selling author Jon Kabat-Zinn: Wherever you go, there you are . What it means is that you can change jobs, partners, places you live, but your problems will keep on following you because they are a part of you and will not stop occurring until you face them and decide to work on them.
2. Your thoughts shape your reality
Now it seems like a very simple fact to me, but 4 years ago my life was totally controlled by my unconscious mind. And many people still don’t realise how much their lives are ruled by their negative thoughts. It is good if thoughts are naturally positive, but if they are negative, we get into a trap of vicious cycle of constant negative thoughts.
To become a happier person, you need to become a boss of your own thoughts and shape reality you have always dreamt about. First of all, learn meditation. It will help you realise that you can detach yourself from your thoughts, you can modify them, shift them in whatever way you want.
I would strongly recommend to read the books of Ronda Byrne (for example, The Secret ). They will help you unfold your own potential in a way you can’t imagine and show you how you can create any reality you want.
3. Read positive affirmations
As a part of work on your thoughts and shaping your desired reality, pick up positive affirmations that inspire you and read them every morning and every evening, just before going to bed.
4. Release your self-importance
This one is a VERY POWERFUL technique that can change your life in a way you don’t expect: All our life we strive to prove ourselves and others that we are worth of something, fighting, attacking, defending. It is truly exhausting. Whenever you fight for your self-importance, it gives a feeling to others that you are not important, that is why you have to fight so hard. When you let go of your self-importance, things start flowing much smoother. You will start feeling that you are more centred and confident; that you first seek to understand others rather than prove yourself right; and that you are more relaxed. I have also noticed that I became more creative after I have released my importance: I am not afraid of making mistakes or failing because I don’t care about judgement anymore which makes me much happier than before.
5. Enjoy and appreciate small things
If you observe happy people, you will notice that they enjoy small things. Make a conscious effort to notice and appreciate small things. It might be hard at first, but you can make it a habit and you will feel the benefit of it. For example, When waking up in the morning, visualise that warm aromatic coffee which you are going to drink and smile that you have an opportunity to enjoy it. When driving in a car in intensive traffic, appreciate that you are in a comfort of your own car that many people don’t even have, that you can enjoy your alone moments, that you are protected from wind and cold weather, and that you can listen to a music or book you like.
6. Learn what makes you happy and be in the moment to enjoy it
In a rush of everyday life we don’t even realise what we like, and what is worse, we don’t take time to enjoy it. Find time to figure out what is it that you like and enjoy it being in the moment. Perhaps you like to take a bath, so take it seriously: put candles around, add some aromatic salt, put nice music on and enjoy it! Dissolve your thoughts in that warm water, aroma and calming music, don’t think about work and what you have to do after.
Or perhaps you like spare ribs or sushi. So, research restaurants that make best sushi/ribs, find pleasure in discovering these new places. When eating, enjoy smell, enjoy every bite and taste it gives. And don’t forget to be thankful that you can have this pleasure.
7. Be in the eye of hurricane when troubles hit
You know how distractive hurricanes are, they can swipe you away and grow bigger and bigger distractingeverything on their way. But every hurricane has an eye/center which is completely calm and still. Whenever you feel that hurricane is approaching take a perspective of being in a center of it and controlling the situation. Don’t let it to drag you into swirling. In other words, when people are stressed around you, boss is shouting, your plans go not the way you want; be in control, be still, it will allow you:
- to see things more clearly
- to be less dependant on outside factors
- and to be appreciated by your colleagues and family for being the one who stands the ground and finds solutions in most stressful situations
8. Be aware of your emotional state and learn to shift negative thoughts
Sometimes, when we feel sad and unhappy, we don’t even know why. Take time to slow down and askyourself: why do I feel sad? Many times the reason that made us sad is quite insignificant. However, because we don’t even realise what made us sad, we allow this sadness to rule our state of mind for hours. Therefore, identify what made you sad and shift: for example, you got stuck in traffic and it really pisses you off. You can shift your thoughts into more a positive stream. For example, think that now you have time all to yourself; you are protected from bad weather; and that you can listen to something that is interesting for you (a book or just music you enjoy).
9. Don’t sweat SMALL stuff or “Nothing matters very much and few things matter atall” Arthur Balfour
We often get frustrated about things that don’t really matter: a child spilled your wine; your cat pooed on your bad; your tyre got flat, etc. These are very insignificant things you should learn to let go within first 5 sec. Don’t let small things like these influence your mood. When you come to understanding that small things don’t matter, you can start working on “BIG” things which are actually small as well.
For example, you missed your plane to Seychelles. Seems quite disappointing, isn’t it? But hey, maybe you were saved from a plane crash or drowning in the ocean!
Read more about this concept in Richard Carlson’s book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life“ This book is actually a treasure box full of useful techniques that will teach you how to be a happy and relaxed person.
10. Detach yourself from other people’s opinion about you
This technique will save you a lot of nerves, especially if you grew in culture where you were always taught to look for approval of seniors. Understand that you can’t be liked by everyone, and that everyone has its own understanding of how other people should be depending on their own history (damaged or not).
It took me loads of time to learn not to take criticism personally and learn that people tend to attack and criticise others in a desperate attempt to protect their own self-worth or projecting their psychological problems on you. Next time someone criticises you, don’t be protective, ask a criticiser :
- to give you examples of your “flaws” and on what occasions they occurred
- to give a constructive feedback and actionable advise
If you are being criticised without a constructive feedback or explanation, consider that a criticiser doesn’t know himself what he is talking about and let it go.
11. People don’t want to hurt you on purpose
Most of the time people don’t want to hurt you on purpose. When hurt by others, try to understand what made them do that: perhaps their culture is different; something forced them into it; they meant one thing and it turned out to be the opposite.
Be particularly patient with kids. It is very painful for me to see when parents shout at their children for spilling or breaking something while they are just discover the world in the way they can. Nest time when your kid breaks something, don’t shout at him, but breath deeply counting until 10 and then ask: what have you learnt from this experience?
12. Hated/feared things will keep on coming back to you unless you let them go
You have probably noticed that whatever you hate in your life keeps on following you through the years. And the more you resist them, the more they persist. I will bring you an example: I always hated my boyfriends coming home late (well, late means after 11pm), so I would start irritating them by demands to come home earlier. The results: to protect their independence, they would continue to come home late, and every time later and later.
Solution: I have stopped being controlling and focused on myself. I have decided that it is actually nice to have evenings all to yourself and I started enjoying them. Whenever my boyfriend tells me he goes out, I am happy cause I can dedicate this time to myself. A boyfriend in his turn feels that noone restricts his freedom and all of a sudden wants to be oftener with you.
13. Set goals that truly matter
We live in such competitive environment that all our goals are about outperforming someone else and to get as many material goods as possible. However, as life shows, that is not that brings us happiness, well, not in a long term.
Therefore, try to set more meaningful goals for yourself which will make you a happier person and those who surrounds you. For example, set a Goal of being a kinder and loving person. Read books about it, practice acts of kindness, take time to show your loved ones how you appreciate them, etc.
14. Perceive problems as a way of learning something new
When something is not working out for you (you haven’t got attention of a guy you like; you haven’t got promotion, you missed your flight, etc.), come to believe that Universe/God is preparing something better for you or protecting you from something bad.
You have probably noticed yourself that if you didn’t get something you really wanted, later on you have got something even better. Trust life in giving the best for you in right time, and if it is still not time for you to get it, then you probably still need to learn something.
15. Listen to positive music
When we are sad, unhappy, we tend to listen to sad music which makes us even sadder and fall deeper into bad mood. Consciously choose and listen to positive music.
16. Read great books!
There are a lot of great books out there which can help you build your happiness: amazon.com/self-help , goodreads.com/sel-help, scribd.com/Happiness-Self-Help, etc. – are all good web-sites where you can find ratings of self-help books and choose one for yourself.
Here is the list of my recommended books which I have read myself. Since I read a lot of books, the picked ones are really the best of best. The list is called 10 BOOKS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
And here is the list of 10 best-selling Self-help books currently on Amazon.
And by the way, don’t try to find excuse not to read books because you don’t have time. Nowadays you can LISTEN to books while driving, walking, cooking, etc. Amazons’ Audible is the largest source of audiobooks, and in this article I talk about an app with which you can read much faster, so go and conquer your HAPPINESS!
Author: Anna Boroshok