Notice the title of this is not how to be happy but rather how to be happier. Nobody is always happy or always anything! Life is always changing. Change is the only constant in the universe. Life doesn’t happen it is happening. We do not become happy, we are always becoming something. And then we are becoming something else, and something after that. So consider making your goal becoming 1% happier today. Create a state of continuing progress towards becoming happier. As the proverb says life is a journey not a destination. We who seek to be the best possible versions of ourselves are engaged in a process of improving and creating our circumstances rather than reacting to them.
Everything is transitory in life. Nothing lasts forever. The feelings we have, the events we experience, these things come and go. Everything in life right down the tiny atom that is the building locks of life is in constant motion coming into existence and retreating into the past. So realizing this when we experience unhappiness remind yourself “this too shall pass”. People become prone to despair when they believe they are stuck in some negative event or circumstance from which there seems no way out. But we know that everything always changes. We know that our life changes when we do.
So when we are moving through our lives not getting stuck in any one thought or emotion, we are going with the natural forces of the universe and that creates greater health. Keep moving forward, taking actions or making choices even if the choice is to rest or to accept what is.
One of the tools people use today to produce greater happiness and overall wellness is the practice of Mindfulness Meditation. This can best be described as the experience of experiencing our life. Unlike other types of Eastern meditation practices in mindfulness meditation we do not try to empty our minds or chant a mantra like ohmm repeatedly. The idea is to become aware of our thoughts and feelings so that we can experience them without being at their mercy. Feelings and thoughts are great servants but poor masters.
If we are aware of our thoughts and our feelings we can have a moment to pause and choose what we want to do about them. Instead of reacting to something a friend, spouse or some stranger says out of emotions or instincts, we can take a breath and a mental step back and observe it then choose how and if we want to respond. That choice brings with it greater inner peace and for many who work at this practice it brings a sense of happiness.
You do not have to go to a meditation center to meditate or even sit cross legged on your floor. You can sit in your chair at work and simply take slow deep breaths in and out focusing on each breath as you do. You can feel your chest rise and fall as you breath in and out, feel the air move through your nose into your chest and out again. Become aware of how your behind feels against the floor or chair and your hands feel as they rest on your lap. If you hear a phone ring you do not have to answer it. You can observe, ah the phone is ringing and then gently remind yourself to focus back on your breathing in and out again. When your mind drifts to some thought like “am I doing this right?” or “should I have answered that phone call?” just notice the thought and again gently remind yourself to focus “back to your breath” in and out slowly and deeply.
Simply breathing in slowly and deeply triggers signals in the brain that you are safe and it slows your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. Doing this for ten or twenty minutes a day has been shown to reduce stress, improve an overall sense of wellness and improve ones ability to deal with problems.
OTHER HAPPINESS MINDHACKS
These are all things you can add to your daily routine to add to your happiness quotient.
As I mentioned life is about moving. As such going outside to walk each day is a great practice to add to one’s routine of building a happier life. Even if it is just for a short walk down the block and back commit to doing it every day! Take in the sights and yes even stop and smell the flowers. Notice the beauty around you. Say hello to those who walk by or past you and smile. Smiling reduces healing hormones in the brain that are good for your body and when others see you smile it has the same positive effect for them. So get outside! Walk and smile and breathe.
Unplug for a while. We are all plugged into tweets and posts and texts not to mention a million emails a day! This keeps us in a sense of expectation and increased tension wondering what we are missing online. Meanwhile we are standing in line at the market, bank or pharmacy besides very nice people and if we give them a chance and start a conversation we could enrich our lives a little more each day. When we connect with people from a sincere thoughtful authentic space, we tap into a deep reserve of wellness. So take an hour or two off from the electronic world or a day!
Inspire yourself. Seek out inspirational books, videos on the Internet, movies and people and really give yourself over to inspirational ideas regularly. There are some very remarkable human beings out there who have learned valuable lessons in life and have shared them with others. It’s as important to feed your mind healthy stuff as it is to feed your body healthy stuff. One great source of inspirational videos is Ted.com a network devoted to speeches on “Ideas worth sharing!”
Find a group of people to get together with on a regular basis. Being involved with a group of people who share a common interest is known to increase ones sense of wellness. One website we found that helps people find others to gather together with is called Meetup.com. You can sign up free, put in your postal zip code and find local groups meeting on a large variety of topics. You can even start your own meetup group about something you really enjoy or care about and promote it with your friends and neighbors.
You might also start a gratitude journal or list. Being grateful for the good things in our lives is a tried and true tool for increasing our own happiness. You can start by writing down one or three things each day and reading it before you go to bed at night or when you rise in the morning.
Reach out to people in your social media groups or in your circle of friends and family and offer to help them. Become a mentor and share what you’ve learned in life with someone. Teaching is a great way to keep learning about yourself and any subject matter. Helping others connects us to a higher purpose in life beyond our own desires and has been shown to increase overall health and happiness.
MEANING TO LIST
Make a list of the things you know you’ve been meaning to do but you’ve been putting off and commit to doing one of them now. No matter how small, doing something you’ve been putting off gives you a sense of relief and accomplishment that builds momentum to achieve more and feel happier about your life.
Listening to your favorite uplifting music has been found to reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness. You know the music you love, the songs that you experience as helping you feel good. Use these songs like happiness vitamins!
These are a few strategies and tools for becoming happier. I hope you’ve found some of them to be useful!