Saturday 13 April 2013

The How, Now and Wow of Happiness

Following on from my post on Lilly Pulitzer - a woman who literally made being happy her business (happiness as a style choice?), it struck me how, due to the complicated nature of our lives these days, enjoying our own happiness can seem like a Herculean task at times. Do we sometimes need to be reminded of how happy we are and how much we have going for us?

Photo: Pinterest

Whilst I'm not really one for self-help books or the like, back in January when I was thinking about my plans and goals for 2013, I noted down a list of 12 things happy people do differently (taken from Sonja Lyubomirsky's book The How of Happiness), and hopefully, with only a dash of 'psycho-babble' (thank you English Gent), I thought they were worth sharing:

Photo: Pinterest
  1. Express gratitude:  If we are grateful for the goodness that is already present in our lives, then we will feel a deeper sense of happiness.   
  2. Cultivate optimism: No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we have to try to put an optimistic spin on it. Then failure becomes less of a setback and more of an opportunity to grow and learn. 
  3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison: Comparing ourselves to someone else is unhealthy and ultimately poisonous.  If we must compare ourselves to someone, then we should look at an earlier version of ourselves.
  4. Practice acts of kindness: Being kind to others make us feel better - FACT.  Serotonin gets released and does more for us than a packet of pills ever could. Plus, if we're doing good, other people around us will also feel better by association.
  5. Nurture social relationships: The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Happy = love. Being connected and having an active circle of good friends whom we can share our experiences with is vital to our existence. Loneliness is definitely bad for the soul.
  6. Develop strategies for coping: We all know there are going to be bad days and bad times - and how we respond to them is what makes us ultimately stronger and braver people. S**t happens - cue Forrest Gump and his box of chocs. What do you do when you get the orange cream?
  7. Learn to forgive: Nothing is more toxic than hanging onto negative feelings - seriously bad for our well-being. Like anger, hate is a totally negative emotion - just let it go.
  8. Increase flow experiences. – Flow = being mindful - when we are completely in the now and at one with what we are doing. Yoga is great for mindfulness, but just taking 5 minutes to breathe and connect with whatever we are engaged in during the day can be just as beneficial.
  9. Savour life’s joys:  We have so many demands on our time we often miss the little things that can be the most rewarding.We need to slow down and quite literally, smell the roses.
  10. Commit to your goals: When we fully commit to something, this gives us a great boost - both mentally and physically. We have no choice but to just get on with it and when we have a purpose, this makes us happy.
  11. Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. Connection, enough said.
  12. Take care of your body:  A bit of a no-brainer really - if we're in good shape physically, then our mental energy (our focus), our emotional energy (our feelings), and our spiritual energy (our purpose) will be boosted and our happiness levels will soar.

Photo: Pinterest

OK, so none of that's rocket science and we all know what makes us happy.  But maybe just sometimes it's good to have a reminder of what we need to take stock of and what we may need to change in order to be the happiest we can be - or indeed we can just celebrate where we are at.  I know that if I'm feeling good about myself and my lot in life then that rubs off on the rest of the family and if I'm not, well, they all know about it.... So here's to sunshine this weekend and happiness all round, in whatever form it takes (a BBQ and cocktails anyone?)

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