I have often thought about what happiness is and it can be hard to define but most of us know what unhappiness is as that is easy to define, it is negative things such as anger, stress, jealousy and worry.
My definition of happiness is being content, living a peaceful life. It is feeling secure, not having worries or stress, but I know in the real world we do have worry and stresses but may be we need to look at how we deal with those. Once we have the skills to deal with them then we can begin to experience happiness more often. I have noticed that the things that take away happiness comes from inside of us rather than circumstances outside of us. I want to just share some thought on how we might live a happier life. As you read this think about what makes you unhappy, may be something in this blog might help.
This might seem like an odd thing to put at the beginning of a blog about happiness but I just want to talk with you something I discovered. I have had times of stress and even bouts of low mood (mild depression) I always wanted to find that magic bullet that might make me happy. I have been prozac, citalopram and mirtazipine. when I took them I hoped that they would suddenly make me a happy person again. They helped me stabilise my mood and helped with anxiety but they never made me happy. Medication is good for people suffering with depression and anxiety but they won’t make anyone happy. One thing that I did discover that did help to bring me a sense of peace, which in turn made my life happier was discovering mindfulness. I am not an expert on it but what I did learn really helped. I learnt how to breathe. This may help you, I attended a mindfulness session through work and what we learnt was to breathe and concentrate on living in the present. I learnt that by concentrating on my breathing I could reduce my stress an anxiety. Try this some time, find a quiet place if you can, that can be in your bedroom, living room or even in your car. Remove your shoes so that you can feel the ground under your feet and are relaxed. then begin to breath deeply through your nose the exhale through your mouth. be conscious all the time of the breath going into your lungs and then the breath leaving your lungs. Do this for about 5 to 10 minutes a day. you can also try this as I have done in the past. when you breathe in say to yourself (it doesn’t have to be audible) “Peace within” and as you breathe out say “All fear has gone.” you don’t have to say that if you don’t want to it isn’t compulsory. You may find doing this will help you let go of your stress an anxiety. It worked for me but if it doesn’t work for you then you haven’t lost anything.
Take time to appreciate your surroundings
There have been times when I have been so involved in what I am doing that I forget where I am and I don’t lo
ok around me. When i drive to my appointments each day I become familiar with my routines. I am watching the road, what the traffic is doing around me but then I realised that there is more that just road and traffic, There are trees, fields, people and animals all around me and I don’t see them for looking. today when I was driving to my appointment I began to think to myself “Hey the sun is shining, we don’t see that often!” the leaves on the trees are coming out again. there are bluebells along the side of the road and as I looked and appreciated what was around me the stress of driving left me and I had a smile on my face. Try that sometime when you are walking, sitting, cycling or even driving. Begin to appreciate what is around you. Do you like people watching? Then do that notice the people around you. Do you like going to a coffee shop? Then notice the aroma of coffee, the atmosphere in the coffee shop. look up from your laptop, put your phone away, when someone walks past you catch their eye and smile at them. Focus on your surroundings, enjoy them moment and realise that you are a part of that moment, it is happening to you but you are participating in that moment.
Do one thing that you enjoy each day
Did you ever watch Twin Peaks? it was a quirky murder mystery that was on back in the 1990’s which was written by Mark Frost and David Lynch. The actor Kyle MacLachlan played the FBI special agent Dale Cooper. Dale Cooper had a lot of memorable sayings but the quote that stuck in my mind the most was “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present.” I have never forgotten that. Try giving yourself a little present everyday, for me that would be going to my favourite coffee shop and having a latte. or it might be buying myself a magazine. It doesn’t have to costly just do something that will bring a smile to your face. I am going to say it, spoil yourself in some way each day.
Accept yourself warts and all
I am too fat! I am too tall, too small, too skinny. I am no good at anything, I will never be like them, I will never be successful. The wonderful truth is you are unique. there is no one else like you and there never will be again. how many times have you heard people say “He is just like his dad!” or “she is just like her mother” it isn’t true you are you, there might be similarities. I notice I walk like my dad, with my hands clasped behind my back, I feel comfortable walking like that. I might like walk like my dad but I am not my dad I am uniquely me. We all have failings but we are all a work in progress. We are growing and developing as people throughout our lives and that only stops when we stop living. Go easy on yourself accept who you are. If after reading this you forget everything I would ask you to remember one thing and that is you are unique there will never be another one of you in the whole history of the world and when you realise that you will be bit happier with life.
Take time to appreciate the people who care for you
I have two children whom I love very much, they have been my world for many years and though they are not perfect I appreciate them very much. The day I became a father was one of the happiest days of my life, it was at that time I understood what unconditional love was because I loved them for being them not for what they could give me, they were babies they had nothing to give. sometimes we need to stop and appreciate the people who cares for us. I am fortunate because I have a partner who cares for me, is concerned about me and ultimately loves me. After a time people can take that for granted, when that happens we need to stop and appreciate the people around us who cares for us. It may not be a husband, wife or partner it could be a brother, sister, work colleague that appreciates you. Take time to show that you care too, there is a saying that when we give to someone they we get back also. when you show love to someone they will love you back, when you offer friendship to someone you will get friendship back. When you take time to appreciate someone you will make them happy and in turn you will get happiness back.
Learn to forgive yourself
have you heard, no one is perfect? we all get things wrong. We make mistakes and sometimes we can become so bogged down with guilt we find it hard to get up again. It can take away the happiness out of life. Do you know why we make mistakes? so that we can learn from them and not repeat them. while we are repeating them we are not learning. If you have got something wrong then forgive yourself and move on from guilt. If you have done something wrong to someone else then apologise and move on. If they don’t accept your apology then still move on because by apologising you have put the ball in their court. If you have upset, offended or wronged someone and you can’t put it right with them then settle it in your own mind, by acknowledging you have done something wrong to another person then you can begin to forgive yourself and move on.
If I was still a Minister Of a Church and you came to me saying that you weren’t very happy and that you can’t stop worrying I might be tempted to quote to you what Jesus says in Matthews gospel “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” whether you believe the bible of not the words are nevertheless true, in fact it has been proven that worry and stress can shorten your life. Let me ask you a question, how can worry change your circumstances and situations you face? Worry and stress can make someone very unhappy and it causes us to focus on ourselves and our problem. It can make the problem bigger than it is. How do you stop worrying? Well my first advice is to breathe. Concentrate on the here and now and not what has happened or what might happen (that is crisis thinking). Change what you can change and accept what you can’t. Pull a fake smile (it can be done in private) and see if that changes your mood.
Smile? What have I got to smile about? May be you haven’t got anything to smile about but did you know that just moving your mouth into the smiling position can have an effect on you mood? if you don’t believe it try it now! You can Google the question “Does smiling make me happy?” and you will find a ton of websites in fact look at this website about smiling http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/smile-it-could-make-you-happier/. Even if you don’t feel like smiling pull a fake one and see what difference it makes to you.
What things makes you feel unhappy? what do you do to improve you mood or make you life a little bit happier? I would love to hear what you think and what advice you have.
[pullquote]When you’re smilin’ keep on smilin’ the whole world smiles with you and when you’re laughin’ oh when youre laughin’the sun comes shinin? through but when you’re cryin’ you bring on the rain. So stop your sighin ‘be happy again keep on smilin Cause when you’re smilin’ the whole world smiles with you. Larry Shay, Mark Fisher and Joe Goodwin [/pullquote]