The Art of Being Happy
Happiness can sometimes feel as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The art of being happy is actually big business these days with books and other forms of self help flying off the shelves. So there is obviously a shortage of happiness out there.
But as someone who has chased happiness for most of my life, I can tell you that is really boils down to just four things.
- Give Yourself Permission To Be Happy
- Be Grateful For What and Who You Have
- Ignore the Past and Future
- Learn to Truly Not Care About What Other People Think
I know this sounds a little too simple, but it can be quite difficult to change behaviors and ways of thinking that have become our habits. Sometimes our thinking patterns are engrained all the way back from our childhoods.
That’s why the first step is to give yourself permission to be happy. Everything else hinges on that one decision.
Give Yourself Permission To Be Happy
Everyone deserves to be happy. EVERYONE.
Sometimes we feel like we don’t deserve happiness in our lives for various reasons. Maybe someone else we know if a better person or does more charity work than us. Maybe we were treated badly as children and made to believe we were less than. However, there will always be someone “more deserving”, like Nobel Peace Prize winners, which most of us are not. That does not mean that you don’t deserve happiness too.
Think of it this way, if you become a super happy person, then you will spread that happiness to others and improve the world around you. Other people will be happy because of your good deeds, kind words, and general goodness toward all.
If nothing else, you could be a force to change the world just by being happy. That alone should be enough to give yourself permission.
Right now you are giving yourself permission to UNHAPPY. How much more energy would it take to change that?
Be Grateful For What and Who You Have
This can be difficult in the materialistic world we live in, but it completely doable when you change your perspective on things. I find that watching and reading a lot about minimalism and the simple life helps me stay focused and know that I am not alone in my quest. Other people are trying to close out all the noise of the world and work toward a simpler, happier life too.
This always leads back to being grateful. ALWAYS.
When you appreciate what you have, and I mean TRULY appreciate it, then you just don’t want as many other things.
Who cares what the neighbors have? They probably also have huge payments to go with it. While they are working all those extra hours trying to keep up all those payments, you can sit on the porch sipping a latte and reading a good book.
How can that NOT be better than having all that “stuff”?
It’s not the number of things/friends/achievements you have that makes you happy. We know this for a fact.
It’s the quality of the things/friends/achievements that matter. And how much you appreciate them.
You could be the President of the United States and it wouldn’t make you happy if that was not your thing, right?
Everyday, make a point of thinking through all the good things and people in your life and remembering why they are so wonderful. Your perspective will automatically change with no further effort on your part. It’s awesome!
Ignore the Past and the Future
For many years of my life I was guilty of living in the past and/or future. And I didn’t even realize it.
I alternated between thinking about stressful things from the past and dreading possible outcomes in the future. Or sometimes I was just planning for the future. (I am a huge planner, so it’s hard for me to just let things happen on their own.) But either way, I was never enjoying the moment that I was in.
Can you see how this could bring down loads of stress in a person’s life? In short, nearly all of my thoughts were stressful and caused tons of anxiety in my daily life.
I almost NEVER lived in the present moment, even though that is where happiness truly lies.
When I finally realized what I was doing to myself, I decided to make a point of living in the present. I started meditation (half the point of meditation is to keep you in the present moment), increased the amount of time I spent outside, started taking more walks, and I also just started reminding myself throughout the day to enjoy what was going on right then.
You can’t change the past. No matter how much you worry about it. No matter how much you replay it.
The future will come and you will usually find that no matter how much you planned for it – well, things just don’t go like we planned most of the time.
This does not mean that you don’t plan for your future. That would be crazy. It does mean, however, that you make a plan and decide what to do each day to work toward it and then put it out of your mind.
So give your brain a rest and only think about today for a while.
Learn To Truly Not Care About What Other People Think
Try as we may, most of us have a very difficult time with this one.
Society and nature have both programed us to care – and care big time! (What would the neighbors think????)
We often get our own self worth from what others think of us. If they think we are successful/smart/attractive/lovable, then we think we are too.
There are so many problems with that I don’t know where to start.
But …..let’s think of it this way. People around us are actually picking up signals from us. Not the other way around. So if we think we are worthy, then everyone around us will too.
And I don’t mean that superficial “I have more toys than everyone else” sort of mentality. I mean if you are a good person who does good things in this world, then you will feel like a worthwhile person and others will pick up on that.
People actually see us the way we see ourselves. It’s that simple.
So stop caring about what other people think and do what makes you happy and is important in life. You will be so happy and fulfilled in life that you will forget to care about what other people think.
(Although I’m sure it will be all good stuff.)
That’s it. Practice these four things everyday and your life will begin to change. It costs no money and is painless.
But if you would like some further reading, I recommend this book: