“If you are unhappy with your life and the state of the world, the best place to start changing things is within yourself.” – Bryant McGill
One of my feel-good, “make me happy” activities is my morning walk/run. I love being amongst the trees and flowers in the park, or watching ferries on the river as the walkway hugs its banks. Some months back while I was running, I felt my knee give way. Ouch!! That pulled me up very smartly. I knew there was trouble ahead, healthwise.
Several trips to the doctor and physio later, I was feeling quite miserable. My daily routine had been shattered. My happiness levels had plunged. I was focusing on that knee and couldn’t believe that such a small thing had changed my view on life as much as it did.
Is happiness so fragile a state that one small life change can threaten it? I decided to examine my life to understand if my happiness really depended on running. Or was the injury a catalyst for bringing to the surface a range of emotions that needed to be dealt with? I thought I was unhappy because my morning running activity was under threat. Running was only a small aspect of my life, so why was I entering a period of doom and gloom over just one event?
In my search, I discovered that I was killing my own happiness. What a disastrous discovery! Or maybe it wasn’t so disastrous, because at last I had been forced to see things under the surface that I hadn’t faced before. I also found that I didn’t really know what happiness was.
If you are not really happy with your life, maybe you, like me, are KILLING your own happiness. So I’ve written down what I found out, in the hope that it might help you to get the happiness that lasts.
Happiness is NOT . . . . .
- It isn’t the ability to feel fabulous every moment of every day.
- It isn’t dependent on regular spikes of extreme joy.
- It isn’t a place where you’ll be content for the rest of your life once you get there.
- It isn’t regular partying or the buzz we get from exhilarating experiences.
All the above can be associated with pleasure, but they don’t constitute happiness, though they might contribute to it.
Happiness IS . . . . .
A point at which you are satisfied, fulfilled and contented with your life, with yourself as a person and with your environment. Internal and external factors define happiness for us — how we live, where we live, our involvement in the world, our relationships, our genetics, our outlook on life, . . . . . . .
However, there’s not just one way to define happiness because it means different things to different people. Happiness is not something that’s easy to understand, or simple to explain in one sentence.
What did I discover about myself?
I was embarrassed to think that my world revolved around running. I concentrated on myself and my own pleasures. Maybe it was time to do a few things to give back to the world and give of my expertise to benefit other people. I also found I was quite a negative person, so I looked for some ways to change negatives to positives.
It wasn’t necessary, in my opinion, to give up the exercise I loved so much, but I needed to tweak my life – steer the emphasis away from myself. Following are my 5 top tips towards living a life that is satisfying, fulfilling and happy. If you are unhappy with your life, I hope these tips will be beneficial. As Bryant McGill reminds us, the best place to start changing things is within ourselves.
1. Adopt a gratitude attitude no matter what happens.
Say 5 things you’re grateful for every morning. This helps to maintain happiness levels throughout the day. As the day ends for you, reflect on 5 things you are grateful for that happened that day. Smile as you appreciate and value the small, simple pleasures and special moments of the day. You’ll fall off to sleep satisfied and contented.
2. Be a giver.
Giving makes people feel happy and good inside – the giver, too and not just the recipient. Give smiles to people you pass. Give to others by saying something happy or positive to brighten their day. Give a friend a lift by sending a “happiness” text message or email. Give of your expertise to benefit the lives of others.
3. Take time to enjoy the company of others to satisfy the social need within you.
Find special people you can spend time with – people who will lift you up because they value what you are trying to achieve. Forget those who drag your spirits down. They won’t do anything for your happiness levels.
4. Be a positive person.
As soon as you hear a negative comment in your head, change it to a positive. For example, your mind might be thinking, “When is this knee going to heal?” Stop the negative chatter by changing immediately to something that makes you happy or that is positive. “I’m grateful that my knee is healing little by little, every day.”
Cultivate a positive frame of mind. Improved positivity leads to a more confident feeling about yourself, improved creativity and a more successful and productive experience when you are working.
5. Eat well, sleep well and be active.
Watch what you eat most of the time so that you are nourishing your body. Follow a regular sleep schedule – mostly.
Do up to 30 minutes of exercise 3 or 4 days a week. When you exercise regularly, “happy chemicals” are released into the brain. Start slowly and build up. Over time your body is better able to handle the general stress of life.
If I’m feeling anxious, going for a walk outdoors is a great pick-me-up that I recommend to anyone.
Final thoughts: make happiness a habit and get the happiness that lasts.
My body has healed and I’m back into regular jogging again. Early yesterday, in the local park, I passed a mum and son feeding the ducks. The boy looked up as I went past. “Good morning,” he said. His mum smiled. I think the happiness went deep inside me because a kid of about 8 years old was so spontaneous with his greeting. It warmed me all over. That’s the happiness that lasts, I thought.
Anything in life that is worthwhile requires effort. Living in a happy state is no exception. Practice creates a habit of happiness. You’ll feel healthier and – of course – HAPPIER. The benefits will far outweigh the attention you have to give to developing this state. You might even be more successful in lots of areas of your life.
Of course there are more things you can do, but this post avoids overwhelm.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t welcome your ideas. Please comment below. I’ll enjoy hearing from you. So what keeps you in a state of happiness? Or how will you change so you can get the happiness that lasts?
Photo by Rory MacLeod