Would you like learn how to be happy? Let me show you how in 3 easy steps.
Does this sound too good to be true? Finding happiness really comes down to whether we are open to the possibility that we can have happiness. The steps are easy and simple to understand. I caution you to not just read this article but rather take it as an exercise and apply it into your own life for the next two weeks.
Make sure to journal your thoughts every morning or evening. Nothing lengthy, just a quick check-in: "Friday 25th - Hmmmm, yesterday I started the morning off with my gratitude journal, played a cheerful song on the drive to work. Stress level about 4/5".
After about two weeks, I can quite confidently say that not only will your stress levels go down but your feelings of wellbeing will elevate too. You can only really notice a difference if you are tracking it in some way.
The Three Components of Happiness
- Something to Do
- Someone to Love
- Something To Look Forward To
Something to Do
Spend time doing work that gives you a "feeling of personal significance". And when I refer to Work I am using it in a very broad sense. Work can be an activity, hobby, social group, a charity you spend time on or family-time at home. Thus work is an activity you spend time on that gives you a sense of purpose and makes you feel good. If you have a hobby that interests you and lends a sense of meaning to your life, that then is your true work.
Work can be anything that appeals to you, golf, time with your kids, a crafting group, being a contributor for Wikipedia or even gasp!, your actual job.
How does this work in the real world? For me, personally I write a blog about well being and yoga. I worked hard for months on the website with a readership of just 2 per month (my mom and neighbor). That tiny hobby project gives me a real sense of personal significance. When the readership grew to well over a thousand, it put a smile on my face that you can see as far away as Mars.
Someone to Love
I don't mean someone to send a card to on Valentine's Day. I'm talking real love. Here is a definition that really resonates with me by Gordon Livingston, M.D: "We love someone when the importance of his or her needs and desires rises to the level of our own."
Our desire for self-preservation is strong, hence we know it's love when we are able to consider sacrificing ourselves for another. There aren't many people I would take a bullet for. In fact it's a very short list - my mom and children. The new guy in marketing definitely is not on that list. I'm not talking about just flowery words either I am referring to demonstrable actions. We show people we love them in all our actions even the most mundane and we are willing to spend a good amount of quality time with them. The point I am making here is that love is demonstrated behaviorally. Mankind is a pretty verbal species and often times the sale-pitch does not live up to the product at market. We deceive and we lie. Yet we all yearn for a real love. Go out there and love someone.
Something To Look Forward To
You get what you expect:
"Whether you think that you can, or you think you can't, you are usually right." Henry Ford.
This is not a quick fix, happiness takes time to cultivate and once you have it you are unlikely to go back to the way it was before.
Pessimists often refer to themselves as realists and have a pretty cynical outlook towards life as well as people and they are seldom disappointed. They validate this view because of their own past experiences of loss and heartache. Memories are often just distorted stories we have told ourselves about events.
Usually when someone wants to be happy, they are really just asking for release from feelings of anxiousness, anger, emptiness or general apathy.
A good question to gauge whether someone suffers from these feelings is to ask them "What are you looking forward to this weekend?"
Those who are overwhelmed by hopelessness or unhappiness often have no answer. Ask yourself the question now.
What am I looking forward to this weekend?
Think hard here about your answer. Think of at least four things you can look forward to. I don't care whether it's the fact that you get to switch-on the television when you get home, the newspaper that gets delivered on Saturday morning, the extra hour you get to sleep in or the fact that the kids have a sleepover at Grandma's this weekend. It's important just to have something to look forward to.
In the real world: a Gratitude Diary is a wonderful way to make a start. I began one last year, a month before Thanksgiving. Each day I wrote down ten things I was grateful for. At first I was grateful for the usual things: my health, family and the delicious after dinner dessert.
About ten days into the diary I began to be grateful for things I formerly took for granted like my car, my ability to hear sounds and the two hands I use to type with.
Then something incredible happened. Fifteen days into the project, I began to be grateful for the things I previously despised: the awful coworker who picks his nose (also packs away the clean coffee cups from the dishwasher every morning), heavy metal music and those clouds that form on cold coffee.
This simple exercise had an incredible impact on my life. All the ‘stuff' I previously hated, I was now was very glad to have been exposed to, so that I could appreciate what I have in my life now. All the heartaches from the past - Poof! Sorrow - gone! Heartache - whoosh! Fear? See ya later.
Remember, happiness is just an attitude we choose to adopt where we look forward to doing the things we enjoy, with the people we love. I hope this article has helped you in some small way. If you have any thoughts or comments drop us a line on our Facebook page or Twitter.