Our desire to be happy is a powerful driving force in our lives. We chase after happiness, often in the wrong direction, believing that what we have or do not have plays a significant role in our ability to smile. Sometimes, we just need to look at our life from a different perspective in order to experience happiness in our lives.
There are times in our lives that we may need to actually pursue happiness. It is in those moments that we must strive to adjust our disposition and a true feeling of contentment will visit us with less resistance.
Here are a few ideas to make it a little easier:
Be an Optimist
The first step to finding happiness is to stop focusing on the negative aspects of your life, especially the ones that we have no control over. While writing his book, The Blue Zone, Dan Buettner traveled the world and found the areas that had the most living centenarians. He looked for consistencies in health and lifestyles among these people that have the longest lifespans from Loma Linda, California to Okinawa, Japan. One of these consistencies was their outlook on life.
Optimism was a common personality trait in each culture that boasts longevity and positive aging. Studies show that an optimistic approach to life can actually improve your immune system, boost your overall health and increase your lifespan. There is always plenty to complain about, but if you focus all of your attention there, the good stuff remains hidden beneath the surface. Remember, what we put our attention on grows; remind yourself that how you see your world matters and keep your attention on the pieces of your life that you want to cultivate.
Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.~Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden
Begin a Mindfulness Practice.
Studies show that developing a solid meditation practice can create a reset and increase your tendency towards feeling happy, even when the chips are down. Studies on meditation’s positive effects on the brain have shown an increase in the gray matter density in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for self-awareness, compassion and memory. There was also a decrease in the gray matter density in the amygdala, the area of the brain responsible for stress, anxiety and fear.
The bottom line: there is plasticity in the brain and meditation can alter your brain enabling you to actually live a less stress-filled life. When we are capable of controlling our response to perceived stress and we begin to nurture ourselves from a place of peace, we begin to see our life from a happier and more tranquil space.
Choose your friends wisely
Our lives are deeply affected by the company we keep. Surrounding yourself with people that seek happiness in their lives will increase the odds that you walk through your days feeling more content and satisfied. A recent study determined that people that are happy have a tendency to boost the level of happiness in those directly connected to them.
You would think that your emotional state would depend on your own choices and actions and experience, but it also depends on the choices and actions and experiences of other people, including people to whom you are not directly connected. Happiness is contagious. ~ Nicholas A. Christakis, a medical sociologist at Harvard University
Have Fun, Be Silly, Be You
Find ways to have fun and play. It is in those moments that we let go of the preconceived notions of how we are supposed to behave that we begin to live our lives more fully. In other words, stop taking yourself so seriously. When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? Make it happen. Let go.
It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how. ~ Dr. Seuss
Learn to express and embrace gratitude every day. Keeping a gratitude journal helps to bring our attention to the things in our lives that we often look past. Each day, write down at least three things that you are grateful for, reminding yourself that it can be as simple as a warm bed and a full belly. In the very chaotic pace of our days, we have a tendency to place our focus on the negative aspects of our lives. We fail to acknowledge that we are blessed in so many ways. Create this shift and begin to breathe life into the beauty instead of the pain.
Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Of course, there are people that suffer from clinical depression and this blog, respectfully, acknowledges that fact. Not everyone is capable of stepping aside and initiating this change on their own, without the help of medical intervention. However, sometimes happiness simply requires digging deep inside to determine what is holding back your smile. Take a good look at your life and make a decision to focus on the present moment. Remember to give thanks, smile more, and spend more time with people that lift your spirits, because sometimes happiness is a choice.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. ~ Wayne Dyer
What can YOU do to create more happiness in your life TODAY?
If you are interested in meditation and live in New Jersey, check out our events page for weekly classes.
Articles of interest:
The Blue Zone
Happiness Can Spread Among People Like a Contagion, Study Indicates
Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress
10 Reasons Why Gratitude Is Healthy
© 2017 Balance Your Life
Judy Banks, Stress Management & Mindful Lifestyle Coach
All right reserved- Reproduce with Permission only