21 Sep How to practise true happiness :)
“You must understand the whole of life, not just one part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies… why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.” ~ Krishnamurti
What is happiness?
If there is one thing that we know about happiness it’s that we want it. We definitely want it. But what ‘it’ is is less obvious…
Marilyn Monroe famously said ‘a smile is the best make-up a girl can wear’… but what if the smile isn’t real? Appearing happy almost seems as important as being happy. If you can just convince people in an Insta post, through the right outfit, the right angle, maybe you can convince yourself…?
We know happiness goes a lot deeper than that. But what is it?
Finish the sentence… ‘Happiness is…’
Isn’t that easy, is it? We know the things that make us happy, but not exactly what happiness is.
True happiness is bigger than moments or things we can buy.
Have you ever found that when you really want something and then you get it, after you’ve got over the initial excitement, you feel kinda empty?
You want something else.
No matter how much we have, we’ll always want more, even if we could click our fingers right now and have everything we desire. And that’s because that part of us, the ego – the part that wants and fears, and the part we think of as ‘I’ – can never be satisfied: the ego always wants more. True happiness comes from much deeper inside.
True happiness = gratitude + peace + self-understanding + kindness
When we are truly happy we might not feel overjoyed all the time. Instead, happiness becomes the quiet, humble power to deal with unhappy situations with kindness to ourselves and others. Our moods and feelings change like the weather, right? Suddenly, dramatically… And that’s okay. True happiness is being grateful for the good times while remembering that bad times aren’t forever. In other words, true happiness can always be with you, even when the clouds block out the sun 🙂
So how do we practise true happiness?
If you want to be happier, you need to watch your thoughts closely, because your thoughts affect your speech – how you speak to other people and how you speak to yourself – and your speech affects your actions …
Once we become aware of our thoughts, we start to see that our thoughts are not who we are but energies that pass through us. We can then see negative thoughts and negative self-talk for what they are, and learn to be more compassionate towards ourselves and others.
Happiness is already within you, it is already who you are. For the Buddhists, there is no path to happiness: happiness is the path. Life itself, right now, is happiness. Happiness comes from realising the wealth we already have. Life is made up of little moments – the feeling of sun on our skin, a kiss, a taste, a smell, freshly washed sheets. Noticing these things, and being grateful for them makes us truly happy. People who practise gratitude are proven to be happier than people with money, fame and beauty!
- Keeping a gratitude journal to give thanks for the good things at the end of each day or week.
- Write a thank you letter to thank someone who’s helped you recently. Aim for one letter each month. Once in a while, write yourself one too, being grateful for exactly who you are, as you are, right now.
- Make a list of the little things that make you feel happy and safe. A cup of tea? A favourite film? Lighting candles? A long bath? Putting on clean PJs? Calling your best friend? Come back to the list whenever you are feeling sad and choose something to do from that list. Gratitude helps us see the little things that are so important in our lives 🙂
Meditation has been proven to increase happiness and reduce stress. It quietens ‘the monkey-mind’, the stress and chaos, and lets us see the world, and ourselves, more clearly. If you don’t want to sit on a cushion, you can meditate out in nature, or meditate going about your day!
- Stop, and be still, listen to your breath. Clear your mind. Watch the thoughts coming in and out, like you’re watching a video. Know that you can push these thoughts gently away.
- Look at a flower or a tree for as long as you can. Just look at it. Keep the mind still.
- Go for a walk in nature. Look at plants and animals and insects, as if you’ve never seen them before. Stop, and see how the light moves on leaves and water, how life moves.
- When you walk in nature, imagine being one of the trees, looking back at yourself. Notice how you are a part of the scene, how the water and elements in your body are also outside of you.
- Even when you’re suffering the worst heartbreak, use meditation to watch your thoughts and know that the pain isn’t the same thing as you. Think about the fact that you are not your mind. Watch how the emotions feel in your body.
Happy feelings = acts of kindness + enough sleep + exercise + laughter + friends
Acts of kindness
Ever noticed how giving a present feels better than receiving one? Doing things for other people without wanting anything in return is one of the best ways to increase your own happiness.
- Making a list of all of the things you can do for someone else to make their day.
- Giving your time. It’s great to give away to charity, but your time is a greater act of kindness. Who can you help today? Why not make an extra sandwich to give to someone who’s hungry out on the street, pick flowers or bake cookies for someone who needs cheering up… Or do that thing your mum has been asking you to do for her for weeks…?
- Make a vow not to kill anything. It seems like a small thing to squash an ant or kill a fly, but making a promise to yourself not to consciously kill a living creature is a good life lesson in respecting all other living beings. Like you, they are just trying to survive, and be happy 🙂 And you’ll be happier for it.
Some extra tips:
- Make a bedtime ritual to get you nodding off earlier. Moon milks, soothing oatmeal baths, self-massage, and crystals like amethyst by your bed will all help
- Try eating more yellow foods! Did you know that studies have shown that yellow foods cheer you up? Try adding pineapple, turmeric, bananas, lemons, and sweetcorn to your meals for added serotonin, the happiness hormone! (They’ll also help your manipura chakra, which brings wellbeing and wisdom and self-confidence!)
If you want to get creative…
What would happiness look like, for you, if you drew it? Not as things or scenarios you want, but if you drew happiness itself? What colour(s) would it be, what shapes? What kind of energy would it have?
Love yourself and know that you, like everyone & everything, deserve to be happy!
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