Everyone dreams of different things. Love, money, fame, success, peace… it goes on and on and on. We seek all this to get one thing though. Happiness. A constant chase, a constant longing to be happy. And it’s just within a reach of a hand.
Happiness is a skill of focus. It’s a skill of choice. Do you focus on the bad things that happen in your life or on the good ones? It’s not always easy, in fact, it’s usually hard. So many things don’t go our way, so many things can go better. But being happy isn’t all about getting what you want. It’s taking what you have and making the most out of it. It’s appreciating both the big and the little things. Happiness is sitting in a park and watching the dogs run around. It’s a child in a fountain playing with a leaf and having the time of his life. It’s a cold lemonade on a hot day.
I can’t give you the recipe for happiness. I can only share what I do to keep my mind in check, to prevent it from sliding down, to fill it with light.
For me, being happy equals being grateful, satisfied and calm. Let’s break it down a bit.
I know, I know. Everyone is talking about it. Not without a reason, though. Gratitude makes you look beyond yourself and appreciate people, events, and circumstances in your life. You don’t have to go great lengths with it and compose a list with thousands of points on it. Being grateful for a sip of cold water on a hot day is as good as being grateful for a raise at work. Also, don’t force yourself into it. Don’t think “I should be grateful for this and that”. It’s ok if you don’t feel it at the moment. Instead, find something that warms your heart.
For me, the easiest way to spark gratitude is to think about my friends and family. I have countless beautiful memories thanks to those amazing people and lifting myself up when thinking about them takes no time at all.
This one is always the hardest for me. I purposely hold myself back from being fully satisfied. It keeps me going, setting goals, learning. But it is important to look at your life as a whole picture of the past, present, and the future. That way I realize that all misfortunes, bad decisions and hurt always lead to something good. Love, laughter, and successes take the bigger share of the pie.
Think about all the goals you have achieved so far. I try to look not only for the big moments in my life but also appreciate small victories that add up to a satisfying picture.
How do you feel about your future? Are your decisions leading you in the right direction?
I definitely recommend trying new things in life. Not only in terms of going to a new place or trying a new hobby but also in terms of beliefs or social norms. I do have strong core values that I worked out so far, but I try to keep my mind active and open. Understand first, judge later. Not everything that works for me will work for you and vice versa. And it’s completely alright, at least we tried.
Tune your life to yourself. Satisfaction is not so much about being happy at the moment, but to be happy about your life in general.
It’s hard to feel happy when you’re anxious, angry, stressed or tense all the time.
Calming my mind is a constant working process for me. There are two components to it.
First one is exercising. It’s a great way to release some of the tension. The only catch is that you need to enjoy it. I read, watched and listened to plenty of those “lifestyle coaches” that are plaguing the world and every time one of them told me to get up at 5 am and go for a run I was done. Since I was 7 I did, or at least tried, swimming, ballet, horse riding, hip-hop dancing, skiing, windsurfing, Jane Fonda’s style fitness classes and crossfit. Right now I’m settled for Brazilian jiu jitsu and yoga. Find something that is fun and you look forward to.
Second is meditation or rather, compassion towards myself. It is a great tool to find balance and relax. I learned a lot about myself and I became kinder to myself. It helped me to switch from being my worst critic to being my best friend. I definitely sleep better. I often lay awake in a middle of the night and feel anxious about all the things I need to do. There is also the sense of guilt that I didn’t do as much that day as I promised myself. Meditation helped me to forgive myself for that. It made me realize that I am not a machine. I get hungry, I get distracted, I get emotional, I get tired. And I forgive myself for that. Tomorrow is another day.
One last tip: put yourself first. This is your happiness we’re talking about! You can never please everyone around you. Do what feels right for you. Do what, after reading the points above, makes you say “That’s me”.