HEALTHY WAYS TO CULTIVATE HAPPINESS
How many of us are “waiting” to find happiness? Waiting on finding the right partner, waiting for that extra 10kg to fall off, or the classic: waiting for the weekend to be happy? With all this waiting, I have to ask, what are you doing until then?
When we are constantly waiting for happiness to come to us, we will often use this as our excuse as to why our life is not how we would want it. This source of happiness is stuck in the future, leaving us forever waiting and wondering when our happiness will arrive. But putting all your happiness eggs in one basket is, well kind of silly. What if (heaven forbid!) that extra 10kg takes another 7 years to come off. Will you just wait around in your happiness-lacking life until then? Sounds like an awful waste of a life!
The truth is, your happiness is always within your control. If you are waiting on one particular thing or person to make you happy, you will probably be waiting a very long time. And who is to say that this person or thing will actually truly make you happy? What if you have waited all this time to find out that what you thought might make you happy actually doesn’t: and in fact, you really are not that much happier than you were without it.
Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, (a New York Times bestseller which has been translated into 20 languages since first published in 2006), says that
“our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong”
So if our beliefs on what we think will make us happy are wrong, then how on earth do we become happy?!
A big part of creating happiness in our lives, is understanding that there is not a one time quick fix that will magically make us happy for the rest of our days. If we are unhappy in our day to day lives, then that is where we need to start.
By daily practice we can cultivate an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’, producing a mindset and habit of being happy. The idea of “being happy” can be overwhelming for people, especially if you have a belief that you do not deserve to be happy, or that happiness cannot find you. So let’s start small. By doing small things every day, we can re-train our mind and body to connect and recognise happiness in even the smallest things.
We ourselves are so powerful when it comes to creating happiness in our lives. For me personally, I have found that to be happy, I needed to let go of other people’s ideas of what happiness is, and to work within the natural flow of happiness. When we have the right tools, we can work with our body and mind, to build a life that has a strong foundation in happiness.
5 TOOLS TO CULTIVATE YOUR HAPPINESS
1. Practice Gratitude
The number one tool I have found that helps to create happiness in my life, is practising Gratitude. Something that can often block us from feeling happy is the thought of what we don’t have. Our LACK OF. When we practise Gratitude, we are helping bring awareness to what we do have in our lives. We are celebrating the blessings around us, and this helps us to connect with love and happiness to our day to day life. For more about having an attitude of gratitude, check out this post here.
2. Be in Nature
Our bodies are designed to be in nature. We thrive on being in a natural setting; taking in Vitamin D, breathing in fresh air, and connecting to the natural beauty/ecosystem around us. So many people these days are stuck indoors, eyes glued to a screen. When we are surrounded by technology/WiFi etc, this can effect our natural balance with our body and mind. Our energy field gets saturated with positive ions which can interfere with our brain function and suppress the immune system causing symptoms such as; anxiety, breathing difficulty, fatigue, headaches, irritability, lack of energy. Being outside, we can re-balance our body with negative ions. Find time every day to go outside. Sit in a garden, go for a beach walk, and take some beautiful deep breaths of all that fresh air.
3. Eat for Happiness
Food is such an amazing way to balance the body and create happiness in our lives. Yet many people have a negative relationship with food, or choose foods that do not nourish the body and mind. A few tips to help you eat for happiness:
- Choose fresh and in season produce. When we eat in season, we align ourselves with the natural flow of the earth, helping to create balance and peace within the body and mind.
- Avoid frozen and fast foods. These meals, according to Ayurveda, are lacking in Prana (life force energy), and will do little to nourish you. Not to mention they are often full of preservatives and chemicals… eww!
- Listening to your body. So often we listen to the latest “food fad diet”, and feel guilt and frustration when these do not work out for us the way we want. The best thing to do is to listen to your own body. Is it hungry? Is it satisfied with what you are feeding it? How do you feel afterwards? When we tune in and listen to our own body we are able to really satisfy its needs, helping to bring balance and happiness into our mind and body.
- Eat Mindfully. Say grace in thanks for your meal (this puts positive energy into your meal and prepares your body to receive the food. Check out this post about ‘the power of saying grace‘.) Take the time to actually sit down and enjoy your meal. Chew your food and savour the different flavours. If you can, make time to sit down for a meal with family and friends at least once a week. Not only will this satisfy our human need for connection, but we are more likely to take the time to savour not only our food, but the whole meal occasion.
4. Move your Body
Exercise is such an amazing way to help increase your overall feelings of happiness daily. When we exercise we release Dopamine, a chemical that is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is essential for the feelings of pleasure and happiness. Exercise also is a stress reliever – which is so important as stress is usually a huge road block along the road to happiness. So get out there and move that booty! Just 20 minutes a day has the power to make a big difference in your daily feelings of happiness.
We as humans crave connection. Science has proven that one of the biggest indicators of our happiness is in the quality of the relationships we have in our life. Yet these days our face to face interaction with each other is decreasing, as we connect more via technology (Facebook, texting, Instagram etc). Having our connections through technology is important, especially if loved ones live far-away, yet nothing can ever replace the feeling of connecting with the ones we love in person. To engage in the same energetic space, to touch and smell etc: our senses help us to connect to each other. Did you know that hugging helps to increase the levels of Oxycontin (our “love hormone”). When we hug for 20 seconds (or more), Oxycontin is released which helps to calm your nervous system and boost positive emotions in the brain. So make sure you are connecting with loved ones every day, and remember to give them that 20 second bear hug! Your happiness levels will thank you... as will theirs!
These are just a few simple ways to help increase and boost your happiness levels each day. Why wait for something to come into your life to be happy, when you can be happy each and every day!
The power is yours, and that should make you truly HAPPY!
By Emma Fitts
The Gratitude Butterfly