“Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” – Aristotle.
Happiness is a state of being. Every single one of us wants to be happy. So how do we find this elusive thing?
Usually we turn to external sources to provide us with happiness – a higher paying job, a new car, a bigger house, designer clothes, etc. Of course these things make life more pleasureable, but they are not what truly makes us happy. Generally as soon as we achieve one of these things, we start searching for the next – in the hope of finding happiness. Eventually though, we end up surrounded by all these lovely things, but still wondering why we are not happy!
The same for power, fame, and prestige. We constantly see Hollywood stars who seem to ‘have it all’, but who are miserable, have repeatedly broken relationships, drug and alcohol problems, and depression, etc. They are prime examples of money and fame not buying happiness.
Our perceptions and experiences are what determine our happiness. So it is important to remember, as no two people perceive things the same way or have exactly the same experiences in life, what makes one person happy, may not make another. Happiness is therefore very individual.
There are some things though which are known to provide happiness:
- Mindfulness (being in the now), and meditation.
- Connecting with your authentic self – finding the ‘true you’, and ultimately fulfilling your potential.
- Connecting with others.
- Connecting with nature (e.g. gardening, walking outdoors, spending time in beautiful natural surroundings).
- Connecting with animals – and in particular sharing your life with a companion animal.
- Focusing on the good things in your life.
- Good health – looking after your body, and feeling physically and mentally well.
- Exercise (releases endorphins, improves confidence, and increases physical and mental strength).
- Working in a job you enjoy.
- Setting and achieving meaningful goals.
- Having a sense of purpose (e.g. family, rewarding job, being an advocate for something you believe in).
- Helping others (e.g. acts of kindness, charity work).
- Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
- Reducing expectations of circumstances and others.
- Practicing acceptance.
- Being compassionate and forgiving – towards yourself and others.
- A belief system (e.g. spiritual, religious, nature, energy, etc).
- Slowing down and not leading a fast-paced life.
- Challenging negative thoughts, and focusing on the positive in a situation.
- Living in line with your values.
- Being grateful – taking time every day to think about what you are grateful for.
- Smiling and laughing – this boosts endorphins, resulting in a more constant state of feeling happy.
- Believing you can be happy.
Of all of these things, probably the two most important are mindfulness, and connecting with yourself. It is when we forget who we are and are not in-tune with ourselves, that we start to look for happiness from external sources. As soon as we are searching, it means we are not content with where we are now.
Physically we live in the present, but mentally we mostly do not; often we are dwelling on the past, or thinking where we should be in the future. Hence we can be left with negative feelings such as regret and anxiety. Instead we need to swap our focus from doing, to that of just being. Unfortunately this can be easier said than done! With a little practice though, it is possible.
“If you want to be happy, be.”
By caring for your mind in this way, and providing your body with healthy nutrition, exercise, and sleep, you are guaranteed to lead a fuller and happier life.
Personally, my happiest times are when I am with my dog, Poppie, and am living completely ‘in the moment’, and I know she is happy. If you want to find the best guide in the world to teach you how to just ‘be’, simply look to a dog.
If you would like further information on mindfulness, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and generally leading a healthier and happier life, please contact me for your free consultation.
Bye for now,