What does it take to be happy? Picture a line and on one side of the line is absolute bliss (happiness beyond measure). On the other side of the line is sadness or depression. Everyday run-of-the-mill happiness falls somewhere in the middle. Some people would say it is easy to be happy, others would say it is hard. Which is true for you? Would you agree that happiness does not come from the outside of us but the inside, and that makes all the difference?
Many people think that they will be happy, “if….” If they have a boyfriend, or girlfriend; if they get the next job; if they make more money, have a house, or drive a new car. I have found that these bring fleeting pleasure. I can never get enough things outside of myself to make me happy, but I find myself completely content when enjoying dinner with friends or riding my bike in the countryside. Happiness that lasts comes from connecting the part that comes out when we sing, dance or create art. Do you feel happy when watching puppies or small children playing? These things remind us of our connection with life itself. They speak to our inner creative selves.
So how do we practice being happy? This article covers three simple steps and with practice, can turn a “Blue” outlook on life around.
What makes you happy? What makes other people happy? During the discovery step you answer these two questions. Like the song in the musical “Camelot” the king and queen ask “What do the simple folk do?…. When they’re blue?” We all can learn from each other tricks of what we do to raise our spirits in hard times.
The processes that make us happy are often ones that start with our coming completely to ourselves. Do you agree that happiness often starts with taking a moment for yourself? For instance, I am a kinesthetic person, for me to feel centered I need to be aware of my physical sensations. Yoga is good for me for this reason. Others have that experience when listening to music, or doing aerobic exercise or weight training. To progress towards happiness we discover what process is takes us to what teachers call, “the present moment”, or “consciousness”. We have to be conscious to relax and let go. It is often much harder than we think it should be. Meditation experts will tell you it may be the hardest thing you ever do, but that it will change your life.
Once you have a few things you think may help you be happy, you move to both do them and measure your results. Why you may ask do you need to measure? Because without measurement we have no evidence to rely on that we are moving forward. Evidence helps us feel solid about the gains we are making, even if we doubt ourselves.
Daily happiness practice can change our lives, whether the vehicles we choose are yoga, meditation, prayer, or any other form of daily ritual, connecting with our own inner happiness allows us to help those around us do the same. The challenge with any of these ideas is forming the practice that keeps them up over time so that you receive the benefit of your actions. I recommend that you start a chart and mark down the day, what you did, and the result. For me, just having the chart going greatly increases the likelihood that I will keep up the practice. Remember it takes at least 21 days to form a habit – so plan on keeping up any actions you find at all pleasurable for a month and you will see the positive results you are looking for.
Once a week I take a half an hour and a sheet of paper to reflect on how I am doing in reaching each goal I am working towards – in this case building more happiness into my life. I note what I have discovered that week, what actions I took and their results, and finally I reflect on how this is going, my emotional state and what I intend to do next. I have learned that keeping track seems tedious at first, but quickly I feel stronger and more assured that I am building just the life that will be best for me. There has never been anything that I could not improve through using this process (called action research) and I hope this article helps you consider the three steps of discovery, measurable action and reflection as your key to finding greater happiness in your life.