When most of us think about what makes us happy, we do tend to focus on the “things” in life that we crave or long to own. These things may be concrete consumables or they may be intangible resources, such as “time,” “inner peace,” or “true love.”
We all do live in a world of instant feedback and conspicuous consumption. It is amazing how many “things” everyone seems to have in their lives and how many more things we might desire that we believe will make us feel even better about ourselves in relation to how we think others feel about us.
Let us look at the following terms such as “Down-sizing,” “Right-sizing,” or “De-cluttering all of which reflect the same realization that is gaining momentum of possessions by simply not bringing lasting happiness to our lives. Happiness is certainly a state of being, not a pile of muffled things.
In fact, the Big Four practices that can change our life for good are friendliness, cheerfulness, compassion, and even gratitude.
Let us break these down to the fullest:
- Friendliness Come First
Some people can be described as “the type of person who’s never met a stranger.” These are people who meet the world with a pleasant temperament and an openness to new people and new experiences regardless of who may be placed in their path on any given day.
Friendliness is about offering the warmth and good humour to those around each of us.
Human beings are actually the social creatures and being kind is a lot more likely to help one build the “tribe” than showing the indifference to or say a disinterest in the people that one might someday need for support or even assistance.
- Be Totally Compassionate
Offering compassion to others is another charitable act that positively influences the giver. When we accept others’ shortcomings or cut others slack for their own missteps, we are actually valuing humanity over someone else’s personal flaws and traps.
Most of us are truly doing the best we can at any given moment. In fact, on some days our “best” is way more than “enough,” and there are days when we know that we are guilty of giving less where we probably must try to be harder to give more.
No one is at 100 percent of their game every day. However, if one can accept the shortfall of another, the windfall for one is a happier life.
- Offering Gratitude
Whatever that we have in life and wherever we are, one can find some reason to be completely grateful. Today, one may be anxious, but still showed up, for instance.
Acknowledging the good fortune, no matter how seemingly slight or minimal at the moment one can actually enhance the overall well-being.
Being truly grateful for what one can have does yield important physical benefits that ensure we sleep better and enjoy better relationships!
Not only that, in fact it can be found that the level of gratitude is inversely a proportion to the level of being immersed in depressed feelings or sadness.
The more grateful one is in life, the better the chances are that one will actually enjoy what one has!
However, one might realize the value of instilling these four practices into the daily life if one can realize that choosing to engage in health-promoting behaviours will positively influence the very satisfaction with life as well as of the lives of those around them!
One just needs to do four things:
- Meet the world with a positive attitude
- Smile at and befriend others
- Cut us all a little slack
- Be consciously grateful for all that one can do; rather than worrying about why one does not do it
Be happy-just do it. Let us look at the 18 Secrets to Living a Happier Life
Our brains are focused on survival. Anything more than that, you have to work for it.
There is an unfortunate reason why happiness is often elusive. Our brains simply are not wired that way. Instead, our brains have evolved to survive, to protect ourselves, to keep us safe. We do have the moments of elation and periods of contentment and bliss. Many of us are plagued with persistent negative emotions; we are all just plain stuck in the “blahs.”
How do we find more joy in our life?
Like anything else, it takes practice to cultivate ongoing happiness. In a sense, we have to reset our baseline. It will not happen overnight, so here are the top 20 things one can do every day to discover the secrets of being happier.
1. Focus on the positive
To find long-term happiness, you need to retrain your brain from a negative mindset to a positive mindset. Try these things: Spend one to two minutes looking for positives in your life. Do this three times a day for 45 days, and your brain will start doing it automatically.
Choose a positive mantra for the day — something you will repeat to yourself, such as “Today is beautiful” or “I feel grateful for all I have.” And when things go south, take a moment to try and see it from a positive light. Never underestimate the importance of recognizing the silver linings in life.
2. Celebrate little victories
Life is full of ups and downs, but in between we have a lot of little victories that go unnoticed. Take a moment to celebrate these small wins.
Did one check off all the things in the to-do list that one has been procrastinating on? Take pleasure in all these little achievements. They do add up!
3. Find the work–life balance
Work takes up a lot of our day, but it must be the only thing we do. It is important to pursue activities and interests beyond our job. Does one have a hobby? Is one spending time with friends and loved ones? Is one getting exercise? Creating balance in your life will reduce stress and gives the other outlets to express and have fun.
4. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness mediation works by bringing in the awareness and attention to the present moment. It is about being non-judgmental and accepting how one is feeling. Practicing mindfulness means being present, aware and curious. Accepting what we are going through decreases stress and helps one see situations for what they are. Through mindfulness, we can find peace and affirmation in ourselves.
5. Be creative
One may think of artists as being moody and depressed, thereby showing engagement in creative activities on a regular basis actually making one happier. Those who spend time using their imagination and being creative have more enthusiasm and are more likely to have feelings of long-term happiness and well-being. Such creative activities can include writing, painting, drawing and musical performance.
6. Accept imperfection
Many of us strive for perfection; we desire to push ourselves to be our best. In order to be truly happy, one must embrace the imperfection that is part of life. Perfection is impossible, and holding ourselves and others to these standards is completely futile. We will always end up feeling let down. Accept that life is imperfect and recognize that there is beauty and grace in that total imperfection.
7. Do what one love
It is pretty hard to maintain happiness if one hates the job. Do not waste the best years of the life in a joyless job, even if it is paying the bills. What one is interested in? What one is truly passionate about? Focus on building a career in an area that motivates one and will provide a high level of satisfaction, and work on the happiness factor that will go up exponentially
8. Spend wisely
It is tempting to believe that the more money one has, the happier one be. The reality is, it is how one can spend the money that helps one feel happier. The key is to do it quite wisely. Spending money on experiences that do include travel, dining, concerts and so on that can make us happier because we are sharing those experiences with others. Happiness connected to material possessions fades, but experiences help us define our purpose and more so passions in life.
9. Live in the moment
Our thoughts and feelings often revolve around the past or the future. Reality is what you are experiencing in this very moment; what you are going through right now. Sometimes we want to escape that reality. But when we stay in the present, we are fully engaged in our lives. Endeavor to live in the moment, and you’ll begin to have a deeper appreciation for your life.
10. Cultivate gratitude
Find ways to cultivate gratitude on a daily basis. Giving thanks and being grateful for all you have will make you happier and more content. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you have received in life. Those gifts may be tangible or even intangible. When one spends time, each day acknowledging all that is good in life, one will see there is better than one can realize, and one will find that sadness, anxiety and depression are diminished.
11. Give back
Be generous with time and money. Give to others in need. Give to those one loves and care for. Those who give back have a sense of selflessness and humanitarianism. Those who are generous in spending money on others tend to have a good health, perhaps because giving has a feel-good effect that lowers blood pressure and stress.
12. Surprise yourself
It is hard to feel happy if one is are bored or feeling blah about life. Part of feeling happy is feeling stimulated, interested and a little surprised by life. Do surprise oneself by setting goals outside the comfort zone. Put oneself in new or unexpected situations. Set goals for oneself and then work to achieve them. And remember to totally enjoy the ride!
13. Listen to and engage with music
Listening to music lifts our spirits. It makes us feel better, in part because listening to music causes our brains to release dopamine, a neurochemical connected to pleasure and reward. Those who engage with music through dance or through attending concerts report high levels of happiness and a sense of well-being.
14. Build meaningful relationships
Happiness, love, friendship and community go hand in hand. As humans, we have a fundamental need to interact and connect with others. We naturally do seek our tribe; the people who will support us, understand us and be there for us through life’s roller-coaster ride. Without any meaningful relationships, we are lonely and isolated. We are happier when we pursue happiness with others.
15. Stop worrying
Constantly worrying about everything creates toxic anxiety, where your mind is steeped in negative plus spiralling thoughts. Worries plagues the mind and makes one afraid and apprehensive about things than often have no control over. Sometimes we believe that the when we worry enough, we can keep bad things from happening. The truth is, one cannot experience joy or even contentment when one is consumed by worry.
16. Hang out with happy people!
Ever hang out with a gloomy person and leave feeling bummed? That is because moods can be contagious. It turns out that feelings can be transferred from one person to another, and the more we share experiences with one another, the more our emotions and behaviours do become synchronized. One secret to long-term happiness is surrounding yourself with others who are also happy.
17. Spend time in nature
It is believed that in today’s ultra-wired generation it is actually suffering from a nature-deficit disorder. The more time we spend in nature, and the more we relate to the natural world around us, the greater our sense of happiness. Our connection to nature also plays a role in maintaining positive mental health.
18. Reminisce over happy memories
Why do we love all things retro? Perhaps because nostalgia makes us happy. Nostalgic feelings, or reminiscing about our past, can help us reconnect with feelings of love and a sense of wonder and fulfilment. Please make a good mental note that our past shapes us and defines our identity. When we do remember good times and happy memories, we can increase our self-confidence and feel closer to those around us.
“A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.” — Seneca
Let us delve into a biological take: certain hormones are known to help promote positive feelings, including happiness and pleasure.
These “happy hormones” do include:
Dopamine. Also known as the “feel-good” hormone.
Serotonin. It helps to regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
Oxytocin. Often called the love hormone oxytocin is essential for childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. This hormone can also help promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships, and oxytocin levels generally increase with physical affection like kissing and cuddling.
Endorphins. They are the body’s natural pain reliever, which the body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Endorphin levels also tend to increase when you engage in reward-producing activities, such as eating, working out, or having sex.
So, happiness is a combination of these few chemicals.
It is just that we are not aware of what and in what quantity of these hormones our body is producing and what does affect their production, how they do increase and decrease.
They say that some diet, sunshine and physical activity, meditation, yoga, going out, keeping a pet, and meeting with friends are related to their production but most of the time we are not at all bothered.
We do not give any importance to these happy hormones as we are busy correcting our thyroid hormone, maintaining cholesterol and blood sugar and always worried about blood pressure and instead of going out to enjoy sunshine, we try to fix appointments for our routine body check-ups!
So, we can state that the secret of happiness is no secret, it is just the right levels of these few happy hormones that keeps one happy so feed them what is wanted and they will keep you happy in hot summer, cold, winter and on a rainy day.
Do believe that you will feel happy in whatever you do, you will laugh at silly jokes, you will fall in love with the most unexpected person, you will not complain and you can even sing and dance and in order to make others happy.
We all know that money cannot buy happiness though many a times we do act as if we will be happier with a bit more money. We are thereby conditioned to want to be rich (when we know the rich are not happy either). We are trained to want the latest gadget or style that television tells us to want. We want to earn more money because then we will have the good life! Or so is our said assumption.
It is vital to note that none of that will bring us happiness. No matter how much we earn, no matter how much we have in the bank, no matter how nice our clothing or cars or toys, none of it will make us happier. The sad thing is that it could take us decades of pursuing wealth and luxury items before we do realize this.
So, what will bring us happiness then?
As Aristotle (384-322) said, “Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot” and Erasmus (1466-1536) believed “The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.”
It cannot be emphasized enough that the contentment with the self provides the foundation for happiness to emerge. That is evidently the key essential.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR :-
Trishna Patnaik, a BSc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. A self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years. After she had a professional stint in various reputed corporates, she realised that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion that is painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, “It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to everyday.” Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities of India.
Trishna is an art therapist and healer. She works with clients on a one on one basis in Mumbai.
Trishna fancies the art of creative writing and is dappling her hands in that too, to soak in the experience and have an engagement with readers, wanderers and thinkers