What does “HAPPY” mean to you? I know that when some people think of a blog about happiness they conjure up the critical image of air head people seeking a magical life with constant laughter, singing cheerful songs and merrily skipping through life without a care in the world. A sort of heady, fairytale existence where nothing goes wrong and everyone loves each other unconditionally all of the time. I know some people see happiness as the pot of gold at the end of the illusive rainbow. They think that finding such happiness is an unrealistic and naively idealistic quest, only for the foolish. Well, according to the dictionary, (and to me), to be HAPPY is to be or have contentment, pleasure or joy. So when I ask are you happy, I am not asking if all aspects of your life are paradise or bliss. I am not asking if your every experience is enchanted and that you fantastically live a life beyond your wildest dreams. No, when I ask if you are happy I am asking if you have contentment in some aspects or your life. Are you able to find joy and pleasure in your day-to-day life and are you mostly positive about your life and your future? We are all human and have our ups and downs, we have hits and misses and we all have stressful/trying periods in our lives. But that does not mean that we cannot also be happy. You don’t need to be happy 100% of the time to be classed as a happy person.
Research has shown that there are a few key factors that affect our happiness levels and that these contributing factors are: Our Health and well-being; Connection to others; Gratefulness; Self image; Forgiveness; Organisation and our stress levels. If you hadn’t guessed already these are all of my headings that I post under. So let me ask on each of these topics how you fare?
Health and Well being: I read a saying today “Those who can’t find time to be healthy will surely end up having to find time to be sick” Are you content with your efforts to be healthy? Would your happiness improve if your health improved? If so DO SOMETHING to change it! Even baby steps are steps in the right direction.
Connection to others: Money doesn’t buy happiness but friendship, positive relationships and social connection sure do. If you are doing a random act of kindness for someone, chatting over the fence to a neighbour, joining a class, going for a walk with a friend, having a laugh at work or sharing a cuppa with a friend you are well on your way to being happier. Being socially connected boosts our happiness levels no end. Quality not quantity is the key here. You are better to have a few positive interactions rather than dozens of uncomfortable, unmeaning or negative interactions.
Gratefulness: In a nutshell, being grateful equals positivity and being ungrateful equals negativity. Now I am not suggesting that you float about all day naming 100’s things you are grateful for (even though you really are not!). Just try to think of a few things a day that you are truly grateful for….believe me it won’t hurt a bit.
Self Image: Are you too hard on yourself? Do you talk to yourself like a best friend or do you run yourself down? Now we all have parts of our self that we don’t love but we must try to improve what we can, accept what we can’t and get over the rest. We are all unique, special people who deserve good things and we must believe this. We also must act, speak and think in ways that are true to our self. When we are not true to our self we encounter a sense of uneasiness which can hamper our happiness. A good sense of self equals a happier outlook.
Forgiveness: Nothing like dragging a massive grudge around to make you feel miserable, angry or agitated. Remember my favourite forgiveness saying” Forgiveness is not something that you do for others but something that you do for yourself to be well and to move on” Is it time to let go? You don’t have to like what happened or accept it but you do need to move on at some point. Reducing the anger will increase the happiness.
Organisation: Is your life a jumbled up disorganized mess or do you feel somewhat in control? Are you running around putting out little fires all over the place but not seeming to achieve much? Do you seem to waste a lot of time getting nowhere? Spending a little bit of time planning can make all the difference in making our day/week more enjoyable and more contented.
Stress: Stress and tension are total happiness killers. It literally affects our body, our health and our minds. When stress takes hold it can be hard to even contemplate being happy. Try to find ways that reduce your stress. My favourites are walking, catching up with a friend, Zumba, cooking and music. What works best for you?
Happiness is not an elusive dream. We are all capable and absolutely deserving of being content, experiencing pleasure and feeling joy. Remember ‘Each individual is the master of his or her destiny: it is up to each person to create the causes of happiness” The 14th Dalai Lama.
So again I ask you….Are you happy? What can you change to make you happier?