Often when I start working with people, one of the things they tell me they want to experience more of is happiness.
Ahh, sweet, sweet happiness, where art thou??
The first step is to understand what brings YOU happiness. It is different for each of us so the copy-and-paste approach may not work. It’s a bit like ice-cream – you and I both love it but my favourite flavour (rum and raisin) may make you gag! You could be more of a chocolate person or a cookies and cream kinda gal/guy.
You have to find your flavour– the one that leaves you feeling fulfilled and satisfied. The one that tastes so good on the way down and has you eagerly looking forward to your next visit to the ice cream shop.
It sounds like such a simple thing, but many of us have created lives where we feel pulled, stretched and constantly behind the eight ball – a place where happiness tends not to reside. Something else I often hear is “I’m not quite sure how I got here”.
My response is: “You chose it”. Maybe you didn’t consciously choose it, but you unconsciously chose it by making or not making the decisions you made.
It’s like being in front of the ice cream cabinet and your friend asks “so what flavour do you want?”. There are so many to choose from that you decide to follow their lead and get the same flavour as them – hey, it’s just easier that way! If you were with me, you would end up with a rum and raisin ice cream cone and I’d be grinning like a cheshire cat!
You don’t necessarily hate rum and raisin but it’s not really floating your boat. In your not choosing, you chose. You got something that only half satisfies you and after a while it might actually become dissatisfying.
More importantly, you chose to let someone else call the shots: you chose to live your life from the sidelines and decided to be the passenger in the ice-cream-ride-of-life. How can one be abundantly happy when they CHOOSE not to CHOOSE?!
My belief is happiness is actually very simple to experience. The first step is to make it easy to feel it. If we have a whole pile of rules around feeling happy then it becomes much more challenging to experience. Also, if we only have a couple of ways to experience happiness then yep, you guessed it, we experience a lot less of it.
A great life motto exists in all this: being happy is easy!
Below are 10 very simple things I do to feel more happiness in my life. Again, this is my “flavour list” so take what resonates and then build on it so that you have your very own.
Kate’s Happiness List:
- Do something that encourages growth– read, listen to podcasts or TED talks, have interesting conversations about things I don’t know much about.
- Move my body. I know I always feel better after exercise. It doesn’t have to be hardcore, sweat-inducing activity, (although that is good too!). Gentle stretching in the morning or some yin yoga in the afternoon leaves me feeling happy and clear.
- Talk with positive people. It doesn’t matter where I find them – in the workplace, with friends, or someone sitting next to me in a cafe.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal. I write down four to six things I’m grateful for every night before I go to sleep so that my last thoughts of the day are about how blessed I am.
- Get outside. Get some sun on my skin, wind in my face, and greenery around me and I am one happy camper (not necessarily a literal camper!). Being in the ocean brings me immense happiness too.
- Physical contact. Get a hug from someone, roll around on the ground with kids, or have a massage. Human touch is full of joy for me.
- Laugh. Even if I have to force it! Laughing releases endorphins and those bad boys are medicine for the soul! They are a natural painkiller and they make everyone feel great.
- Hang out with an animal. My favourite animals are dogs but any animal would do. Watching the birds, stroking my friend’s cat or staring at fish in a fish tank all bring happiness to me. Dogs though – whose love, in my experience, is never ending – are exceptionally good at bringing me happiness.
- Talk to someone I love. My family and friends bring me happiness. Full stop end of story. If the people in my life didn’t help me feel good I wouldn’t spend time with them.
- Practise a ritual of self love. Mirror work is my number one way of expressing love to myself. Saying kind things and having my own back when looking into my own eyes seems to make everything okay. In winter time, it’s hot baths with a good book. In summertime, it’s getting in the ocean and cooling down. It could be making a beautiful meal or treating myself to something that I’ve wanted for a while.
Happiness, like all the other emotions is a choice. Having many vehicles to experience happiness is one of the keys to success. Aside from that, practise is important – we get better at things the more we practise so get happy and keep at it🙂
Wishing you a week of happiness and I would love to hear some of the things on your own happiness list!