I think we can all agree that if someone walked up to us right now and asked us what we want out of life we will all say just one thing: I want to be happy.
"Too often we find ourselves caught up in our life situation without really focusing on what it is that is going to make us happy.."
Even if we say otherwise, like I want a new car, or a new job, or I want my children to be safe, what we are really saying is “I want this emotion (desire, frustration, fear etc) to be released so I can return to being happier”.
It’s odd how that works, but it’s true.
Here’s the deal:
Too often we find ourselves caught up in our life's negative situation without really focusing on what it is that is going to make us happy. Without this compass and sign we find ourselves thrown this way and that by large waves, directionless, in danger of toppling over.
In today’s post we’ll discuss how to find that compass again and what you can expect when you do.
The truth is, when you re-calibrate your goals with the big picture in mind (to be happy), you see how easy it is to confidently pursue them without stress.
It’s as if someone has finally taken your chains off and you have nothing left to lose, except nothing in your external situation has changed. In fact, most scientists now agree that the best way to be successful is to be happy and content with life.
It’s a buzz, not to mention a privilege, to feel such courage. I’m grateful for it everyday, by virtue of what it has done for me.
Here’s how you can do it too.
Living a Simple Life: The Answers on How to be Happy
Go back to basics because it’s the simple things that count
How to be content with our lives?
In today’s day and age it is easy to find yourself buried in complexity, even for something as simple as being happy.
In terms of convenience, advanced science and research papers are only a click away which, whilst being informative and beneficial, can leave us thinking our goal might be outside of our reach. Once you realize all you need is the air in your lungs, food to eat, and company of family and friends to mingle with you’re on your way to answering the question; How to be happy.
This brings us to an important lesson:
With any project you desire to undertake, it is important you don’t overthink it.
Anybody can read twenty books on a subject and be no closer to doing anything (here’s looking at you wantrepreneurs). The key is to take action. For something as simply profound as happiness, we have to go right back to the fundamentals.
Do you love eat too much during the day to keep your energy levels up? Do you hit the snooze button on your alarm when what you really want to do is get up and hit the gym? Just small things like this have a huge impact on our day-to-day happiness levels. Make a list of all the things you do, and then all the things you would like to do. Then start to replace the first list with the second.
It doesn’t have to be anything crazy - examples like the above are just fine. After all, happiness is not crazy and it doesn’t require extreme effort. It is simply a choice and a change.
However, if you do find yourself indulging in anxious thought and excessive preparation occasionally, don’t beat yourself up. Recent studies suggest that overthinkers also have the most vivid and powerful imaginations.
Act before the emotion is present
Performance psychologists and coaches have known for years that emotions follow action. Therefore, if we can act as if we have something already, our emotions will catch-up and mirror that ‘fact’ too.
Athletes and high-performers in all fields use this technique constantly. For example, a basketball player will go through the motions of throwing a shot before actually doing it.
A businessman who is feeling under the weather may force himself to put on his best suit, forcing his mind and emotions to sharply U-turn and prepare for a hugely successful day (which will surely happen now), even though nothing else has changed.
Choose happiness right now. Decide to act happy today. Smile at the people you meet and see. Be quick to laugh. Be enthusiastic and positive about where things are heading. Know that today is going to be a good day.
This will take work in the beginning because your mind isn’t used to the thought patterns it is now playing host to. Don’t worry, though, and don’t get discouraged.
The mind is pliable and just takes a bit of time to warm up to new opportunities. Thirty days of acting the part will see some huge changes in your inner and outer world, so stay the course.
Use your money in pursuit of happiness
Many people confuse learning how to be happy with learning how to make more money.
This is an easy mistake to make. After all, haven’t we being taught since we were children that making money is the key to everything? Wasn’t it our parents and caregivers who encouraged us into well-paying careers, or to strive for ‘the best’?
With so much advice about money floating about it is easy to confuse its accumulation with happiness. The problem is, it’s only a half-truth.
Here’s what most of us don’t get:
Money in and of itself doesn’t bring happiness. Those little paper slips don’t bring much of anything. Even Ferraris and Beverly Hills homes don’t bring true happiness.
What money does do, however, is given us the freedom of choice. The freedom to stay in bed, or to dream, plan and discover. Money brings choices.
Check this out:
To marry the concepts of money and happiness together you must commit to using the money you have in the most constructive way possible.
Use it to buy healthier foods, or to buy rewarding experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Use it to help others, or to help yourself by investing in your self-growth. Don’t worry too much about that new car or Chanel handbag.
If you can afford it too, go for it, but it won’t make much of a long-term difference anyway. Cutting-edge research, undertaken by Harvard University in 2016, backs this up: according to science, health and relationships are far more important for happiness than money or ‘things’.
Release your tendency to be a perfectionist
In the pursuit of happiness it can be easy to fall into the trap that things have to be perfect in order for us to be perfectly happy.
That means the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect home and the perfect children and friends. On the surface, this sounds reasonable. After all, aren’t these things important?
While creating your life as you want it to be is an important part of self-expression, happiness is more closely related to how we react to the things in our life. If we can react positively to whatever arises, without emotionally withdrawing, we can turn almost any situation into a chance to be happy.
Even the death of a loved one - considered the ultimate in human grief - can be transformed into a celebration, and a time of intense gratitude for the experience of sharing our life with that person.
And here’s the best part...
Learning to react with happiness costs nothing and requires only your determination to override outdated thought patterns.
Over time, our commitment to happiness makes the world look different. Things look brighter. We feel more at ease with ourselves and the world around us.
When we learn to do this we realize something extraordinary. We’re free. Always were.