Today, I have a question for you:
What does it mean to you to be happy?
What are the things that impact your happiness?
Are you happy right now, in this moment?
Over the last decade or so there has been tons of attempts to explain what makes people happy.
And even though, there has been some understanding of what goes into the mix of a happy, content life – single individual perspectives on happiness differ quite a bit. You can easily check this for yourself and try and find a satisfying definition of happiness online. Let me assure you: it’s almost impossible.
But now let’s look at what is even more important and what we tend to forget during everyday life: happiness is also a choice. Happiness can be learned and manifested through habits. All of this combines the power of your mind(set) with the power of doing.
No matter what happiness means to you exactly, to cultivate it, train it and make it habitual you can start with the following:
Have you ever tried to meditate or implement mindfulness into your daily life? I know, it is really hard to be fully present in a moment. Typically, we start thinking about what happened a while ago or we begin to plan what’s happening in the future. What’s true for both, past and future: We don’t have an impact on these in this moment. What we can impact is what we do exactly now. So come back to the now and practice being present. That’s a great habit to start with.
Count your blessings
Start to consciously take some time every day and think of everything and everyone you are thankful for. Every day has tons of positive encounters. Also, there is some wonderful peaceful feeling in being content and thankful for those (tiny and also big) things we often tend to take for granted: having a home, this super good cup of tea you are enjoying quietly, a chat with a friend. What’s on your list?
A lot of the things we believe make us happy are actually pushed onto us by others. It’s crucial to try to free yourself from expectations and needs that society, family, work and friends might have for you. This might include material possessions, the job you should be doing, the life you should be living. If there is a thought of: “This is what I should do…” it’s potentially something you learned along the way and that did not come from you. Ultimately, you need to understand what YOU really want to be happy. Only then you can be a happy version of yourself (which will also benefit your family, friends and work).
Consciously choose long-term happiness
Take stock of your relationships: who are you spending most time with? Are these people more happy and enthusiastic or more negative? Jim Rohn (motivational speaker and author) says we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. If you want to make your own happiness a priority you could check upon your surroundings and choose to spend more time with those people you would like to be like – happy, content, satisfied.
But this is not just about others. What are habits of yours that actually stand in the way of your happiness? Do you tend to drink too much alcohol, coffee, eat sugar, spend a lot of time online? Well, these might give you nice dopamine hits short-term. However, if we are really honest, healthy nutrition, moving your body, spending time in nature or reading – amongst other things – make us feel much better. In the end, you need to spend some time to figure out for yourself: what is it that makes you happy continuously? Then integrate that more into your life step by step and choose long-term happiness.
Proactively change your perspective
Often we judge others or get annoyed if something doesn’t go our way. This morning, I waited at a citizen’s office with my partner. It seemed like taking forever. I guess, almost none of us likes waiting to get bureaucratic things done. You can get pretty wound up by the fact you’re waiting and waiting – while other people seem to skip the line… What we did instead was engaging in making jokes. This way, time passed faster and we enjoyed spending time together. A great way to make yourself happier is to work on how you perceive things. This is actually something you have power over: your thoughts about a certain situation. So ask yourself: What is the advantage of this situation? What are the positive aspects? There’s always something to find.
How about you: what habits do you cultivate to be happier?