Changing our habits in the name of greater happiness is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves. And did you realize that taking control of your happiness makes everyone around you happier too?
Yes, happiness can be a bit hard to define; you know it when you see it, and you definitely know when it’s taken ahold of or left you. Life is never a straight line toward happiness and no matter your family history, finances, or even circumstances; it’s more about how you respond to what life presents you than anything else. You see, happiness is a choice – yours. Your beliefs mold your responses to life (actions and reactions). Taken over longer periods, we might call them habits. Here are some habits of behavior that can get you back into synch, on track toward your best or happy self.
Many if not most of these habits may seem obvious, but in my work, I find unhappy people avoiding them and instead doing the very opposite. A gentle shift to one or more of these habits can be transformational.
Find ways to serve others. I’m not going to tell you how or what to do to serve others. That’s for you to figure out for that discovery exercise alone will be a strong step on the road to true happiness.
Get out in nature. Nowadays many are apt to try to numb themselves with constant sources of technological distraction. Binging on television, the Internet, and the like are hardly valid prescriptions toward health and happiness, but only mask the symptoms. Observing the miracle of nature is a unique tonic and as we become aware, nature is the best teacher. Do it alone or with others. Take a hike or walking tour, enjoy a picnic, watch birds and animals, play golf, surf, ski or snow board, or photographing what appeals to you are some fun ways to start
Look to acquire more experiences and relationships over things. There is now an overwhelming abundance that “things” don’t buy happiness. Conspicuous consumption even screams out to others how insecure and emotionally disabled you might be, so it doesn’t even serve to impress others. Acquiring things is like looking at the horizon, you never get there. When you make a habit of chasing things, you are likely to become unhappy because, beyond the disappointment you experience once you get them, you discover that you’ve gained them at the expense of the real things that can make you happy, such as friends, family, and hobbies. Look for ways to enhance your relationships or develop new ones, and create interesting experiences that not only entertain, but stretch and grow you.
Doing and feeling it now. Procrastination is a fear-based activity and fear does not promote a happy state. It is also based upon the illusion of maintaining control. One of the best ways to overcome your fear is to take that first crazy step over the crack of procrastination and do it anyway. Once you make that leap, that old crack will never again own you in the same way. And there never is a “perfect time” to act. Don’t wait until “Someday I’ll…” You are the leading actor in your play, and you are also the write, director, and producer as well so just do it!
Learn, practice, and perfect the art of forgiveness. Begin with yourself. It is often stated that all forgiveness is self-forgiveness. The World’s great philosophies have all promoted this because simply, it works. You will elevate your own energy and vibrations so quickly when you become an expert at forgiveness… and literally with time and patience everyone can do so!
Accepting change and prepare for it. Fighting change is like trying to row upstream against the powerful current of life and again based upon the illusion of control. Resistance will beat you up and frustrate you to no end for as the saying goes, “What you resist persists.” Rather you often have to give up control to gain control so take your so-called oars out of the water and go with the flow. You can always still steer toward the left bank or right, but you have changed your need for control to something entirely more doable. So row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.
Stop comparing yourself to others and simply celebrate yourself. Comparing yourself to others is like traveling down a never-ending dark hole. It is different than observing, learning from and being inspired by others. Jealousy and envy are fear-based emotions incompatible with happiness. They shout out “I am not good enough, not worthy.” Instead, rejoice for other’s good fortune and then focus upon yours. At any dark moment, there are likely a billion other people around the World that would gladly trade their best day for your worst.
Express your feelings. Holding in and not expressing your feelings is like emotional constipation. That doesn’t imply that you express them carelessly, but you find the right time, place, and method of doing so. Life food, it is healthy to process our emotions. Some we may have to let go, others we may want to act upon, while others simply add to the richness of our life flow. Holding them in for fear of disapproval or whatever builds unnecessary toxins that will sooner or later make us very ill.
Practice optimism. The Universe is a veritable smorgasbord with every sort of variation of good, bad, right, wrong, happy, sad, etc. possible so why not focus on that which works for you? You inevitably get what you focus upon so why not choose optimism over fearful pessimism? It’s your choice and always has been. Some will argue that optimism can be foolish, but how wise is it to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of fear, worry, and bad things happening? Choose hope over despair.
Get out and mix with others. This can include worshipping, dancing, conversations with friends and like-minded people or even those of a different persuasion. Even us introverts among us can pick up positive energy in the company of others. Doing so also provides learning opportunities.
Learning and improving yourself daily. I choose to believe that our souls come into a physical body to assimilate lessons and grow. Maybe you simply want to stay vital. Well, in life everything is always in a constant state of movement or change. You either improve or you decline. It can feel so very fulfilling to acquire the vitality of learning and improving daily.
Participate rather than spectate. Get into motion. Why watch others (actors, musicians, singers, artists, athletes, etc.) chase their dreams while you could be chasing yours?
Give without expectation. Forget the “scorecard” of paybacks. Give as if no one is watching and you’ll immediately be granted psychic rewards that will astound you, but forget even that expectation. Simply give because in your heart you understand it is a love-based activity that always works for the common good.
Keep a Gratitude Journal. This is the best “short-cut” on the road to fulfillment and happiness. When you begin to exercise, stress, and yes strain your Gratitude Muscle, you will begin to recognize all sorts of good things and even miracles around you. Start with 3,500 things to be grateful for and list them. You may likely hit several plateaus where you can’t imagine any more, but then the flood gates will burst open and you’ll be adding as quickly as your pen can write… and your life will never be the same again.
Take pride in your healthy habits be they sleep, exercise, hydration, good nutrition, etc. Treat yourself like the high-performance vehicle that you really are and don’t avoid tune-ups and the best quality gas.
Meditate or quiet yourself. Don’t look to the outside world for answers for they are within you. You have genius quality within you, but you have to steady and quiet yourself if you want to access it. Just quieting yourself for a minute works as an invaluable reset. Resist the urge to judge the quality of your “quiet” or “meditation.”
Practice “Face Yoga.” Okay, that’s my term for smiling. Just smile. On your darker days when you absolutely feel the least inclined, plant the biggest, best smile you can imagine on your face for just a minute-and-a-half. Hold it. Now enjoy how good you feel. Very quickly your entire body chemistry may have been altered and how your state has changed for the better.
Notice that I did not purposely title this piece “Tips” or “Ways,” but rather “Habits.” These points are not occasional traits or activities, but must become habits if you truly want to transform your life. And with patience and persistence they most certainly will and your example will inspire others. Enjoy your journey!