LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE... AND LOVE THE LIFE YOU LIVE! FIVE STEPS TO A HAPPIER YOU!
How often have you said the phrase, “I just want to be happy.” Yet have you ever stopped, even just for a brief moment to consider exactly what happiness really is?
What exactly, is this happiness you are wishing for? What exactly, does this happiness sound like? Feel like? Taste like? And look like? These questions and many more really do matter. It’s exceptionally hard for your wishes of happiness to come true if you don’t clearly understand what happiness actually is.
Live the life you love. Love the life you live! My ambition in life is to live as holistically, and as whole as I possibly can. And I use the word 'possible,' because in reality, we are all busy, preoccupied with trying to manage 10 projects at the one time. Running households, working, caring for others. And in all of that, doing our best to look after ourselves with whatever time is left over.
After facing a heartbreaking tragedy in my life almost 8 years ago, my journey to find true happiness was a massive struggle. I felt lost, unworthy of love and joy, and I wanted to simply run away and hide. Yet amongst all the hurt, I found hope. The hope that my faith in life would return. And with hard work, patience, determination and perseverance, it did! Now, my new found passion in life is to help, guide and teach others that they too have the same natural God-given powers to find true happiness.
So, what is Happiness? I guess the best place to start is by noting that what happiness actually 'is', and what happiness ‘brings,’ are two different concepts to consider.
Happiness is believed by most people to be having fun on a night out on the town, experiencing something new and exciting, the thrill and passion of adventure or the delectable tastes of a lovely meal. These experiences, as wonderful and exhilarating as they all may be in their own unique ways, I believe, are not the true meaning of happiness. They are in truth the physical environment in which we decide to put ourselves in that ultimately result in momentary pleasure and fun. Experiences that when all is said and done will all pass and come to an end, leaving us with only a fond, distant memory.
Everything we do in life, everything we try to achieve, all the actions we take, all the dreams we pursue... we do, because we think it will make us feel better. Everything we do is motivated by the desire of moving away from fear, pain, worry, doubt... towards true heartfelt joy, courage, happiness, gratitude. Wherever we are, happiness is always at the core of all we desire.
Before we explore the five easy steps to finding your true happiness, let me paint you a picture...
We have transported ourselves to an extremely poor village in poverty stricken Africa. Adults and children alike are malnourished, dirty and live in unimaginable constructs of housing to protect themselves from the elements of mother nature. Adults go beyond the struggles of trying to nurture their young, and those who can travel for kilometres just to get a small bucket of the cleanest water they can find. You have never felt such pain for humanity, yet when you look beyond the physicality and reality of what is, you surprisingly see smiles on people's face's that are just too beautiful to believe. You hear the giggles of children playing, and the laughter of men and women as they go about their duties for survival.
It is at this point you begin to question who YOU are as a person. How is it that in a world of so much pain and suffering, can people find the strength to smile and laugh? In truth, it is because happiness doesn’t have anything to do with the current circumstances in their life. And the environment with which they live is not a reflection of their true state of happiness. Happiness is an inner state of being, and we can access it anywhere and at any time.
We need to acknowledge and recognise, that it is entirely our own choice as to how we react to a specific event. Our perception based on our conscious belief system, and pre-existing experiences that have shaped our reality play a very important role. We can say: "This is terrible, this is really bad…" and repeat it again and again in our heads, only to fall into a spiral of negative thought patterns that get bigger and bigger. Taking this path will block the access to our inner happiness, and solutions to our problems will seem unattainable. Or, we can say: "It’s really not that a big deal, it could be worse. I will soon find a solution and most probably I will even learn something important from this experience." This already feels entirely different, and therefore we remain connected with our inner joy that will guide us towards a solution.
So…Yes! It is possible to access our inner happiness under any circumstances, and to move from the state of fear, doubt, worry… to courage, positivity, joy and even great happiness. Let's take a look at how we can take approach this new venture.
OPEN YOUR EYES
In this busy and crazy world we live in, more often than not we go about our days with our eyes closed. Obviously I speak of this concept not in the physical sense, but in a spiritual sense. We live in the age of distraction, where we go about our lives in a state of 'autopilot, ' unaware of the true and real everyday beauty that passes us by. Living as much as we can in the present moment.....the here and now, allows us all the opportunity to absorb and therefore acknowledge on a conscious level the smaller things in life that often go unnoticed and therefore unappreciated. The blooming flowers of a neighbouring house as you go for your morning jog. The laughter and banter of children in your street as you race to check your letter box. The clouds in the sky that gracefully hover above allowing our imaginations to run wild as we create images out of them. All of these and so much more are what we are blocking from our world to enhance our true sense of happiness
We need to constantly be reminded that life unfolds in the present. But so often, we let the present slip away from us, allowing each moment in our lives and time to rush past unobserved and unseized. The precious seconds of our lives dissipate as we worry about the future, and mull over what's passed. The beautiful and tranquil art of Mindfulness, or Zen, opens up a world of wonder to each and every one of us. And the best part....is that we can all do it multiple times a day! Wherever we are....whatever we're doing. I for example will do it whilst I wait at a red light or in traffic. Or when I take my children to the park. Sometimes I will do it whilst I wait for the coffee I've ordered. Or I will arrive to my destination 5 minutes early so I can stare at the world before me in all its glory. The colours...the people....objects and nature. I study the sounds closely, appreciate the multitude of colours I can see, and breathe deeply to truly take in the moment and slow down. In observing and soaking in the present, I also scan my body and become more aware of it. What I feel, both physically and emotionally, and listen to try to hear what my body is telling me. My needs, wants and desires. All too often we forget that we make up the world and environment with which we live. Just like we have a conversation with those around us, so too must we have a conversation with ourselves.
NURTURE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
If I were to ask you one question, I would ask you what you do to nurture your environment? On guessing, I would say that most of us recycle, put our rubbish in the bin, plant trees, keep our homes clean and tidy, and perhaps walk or ride a bike where and when we can. In truth, I have actually asked this question to many people. And these were the top responses given. Yes, these and many more are very true, practical, selfless actions we as a society adopt in order to care and nurture our environment. But we often neglect to see ourselves as part of the physical environment too.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves in life, is Love. When we love and nurture ourselves, we find an overwhelming sense of comfort and happiness. The physical you has a constant craving for nurture. When we eat a healthy balanced diet, we feel healthier. When we exercise, we feel more energised. When we get enough sleep, we feel more refreshed. These are all wonderful attributes to have and use when trying to look after ourselves.
It is not however until we begin to nurture our environment that both our physical selves and soul find true contentment and happiness. When we start to understand and realise that our physical environment, the world in which we live our day to day lives, is really a reflection of who, or what, we truly are, our understanding of nurture begins to take shape. Just take a moment to think about this. When your day is filled with the chaos of appointments or meetings and deadlines, running so many errands it makes your head spin out of control, and time is constantly of the essence, then physically we feel exhausted, confused, frustrated and short tempered. On the other hand, when we prioritise and follow our list of duties, schedule in only one or two appointments or meetings, take time out to eat lunch properly, and in all of this, allow time to be our friend and not our enemy, we feel the complete opposite to the manic upheaval of the first scenario. Our mental and physical reflection of this day is calmer, clearer, filled with clarity and compassion to not only those we meet, but to ourselves as well. Ultimately, we are happier! Happier within mind, body and spirit. And when we gain this knowledge and understanding, both our environmental flow, and physical and mental flow mirror each other beautifully. Our world in which we live becomes a place of natural harmony.
Sustaining this new found information and way of living also benefits us all beyond the good day too. Remember, as humans, we will always encounter hardship, sadness, loss, heartache and misfortune. But the more we strive to be, and live consciously within the present moment with open eyes and a nurturing hand at life, a negative lesson lived will always be a positive lesson learned. If we are happy in mind, body and spirit, then so too are the physical places we go in life.
KEEPING IT REAL
To be true to yourself means to act in accordance with who you truly are and what truly you believe. Yet there are always times where we dream or wish that things in our life were different. Whether it be changing our appearance because we don't like the look of ourselves. Wanting a bigger house or better car. Perhaps having that dream job that brings you more money. Sometimes we even go as far as making extravagant purchases to 'look the part' when in reality we can't afford it. We dress like people we admire to try and look the same in the hope that it'll make us feel better. However, in plain simple truth, there's no point in life being somebody that you’re not!
Living a life that is just not YOU is downright exhausting. And at the end of the day, the only person your cheating is yourself. The first simple step to keeping it REAL is learning to acknowledge and accept who you truly are. The beautiful, unique and amazing person who entered this world to live a life of wonder and fulfilment. The second step, is learning to LOVE yourself. The real magnificent you who works hard, has fun uncontrollably, and loves unconditionally. The you who on a deep, personal, intimate level is just bursting at the seams to explode in to a world of awe to shine and radiate with all that you have to offer. By allowing yourself the opportunity to be true and honest about who you really are, you ultimately allow the universe to give you everything you truly need and desire. To be true to yourself does takes courage. This I know for certain! It requires you to be introspective, sincere, openminded and fair. It does not mean that you are inconsiderate or disrespectful of others. It means that you will not let others define you or make decisions for you that you should make for yourself. Be true to the very best that is in you and live your life consistent with your highest values and aspirations. Those who are most successful in life have dared to creatively express themselves and in turn, broaden the experiences and perspectives of everyone else.
FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION
Sometimes it is referred to as gut feeling, sixth sense, innate wisdom, inner sense, instinct, inner voice, or spiritual guide. Nevertheless, your intuition will tell you intimate and important things nobody else will—and it will also tell you things your own mind will argue with. As a society, we have learned to believe that being rational is what should prevail when making decisions. But what about our “inner voice, ” our gut feeling—that “little something” instinctual from within, which tells us how we feel beneath those layers of logic? Tricia Brennan, intuitive counsellor and author of The Map of the Soul, says “Intuition is your means of getting information instinctively rather than through your rational mind and conscious reasoning.” The messages you receive through your intuition are whispers from deep within – the language of your inner self. Your unconscious mind communicates through your imagination and feelings, which is why you occasionally have intuitive flashes, strong hunches or 'gut feelings.'" Intuition can be either a moment where you instinctively know if something is right—or isn’t right. It’s our inner voice “that just knows,” and it does understand what uniquely, sometimes seemingly illogically, will make you happy. It bridges the gap between instinct and reason, between the conscious and unconscious mind. But here's a little fun fact for you...Did you know that science tells us that only 20 percent of the brain’s grey matter is used for conscious thoughts, while 80 percent is dedicated to non-conscious thoughts. Therefore, it is our subconscious mind that does the majority of the work. Depending on your personality, you will find it easier to access either your heart or gut over the other. People who tend to be helpers listen more easily from their heart than their gut. On the other hand, risk-takers who move quickly on instinct find it easier to listen from their gut rather than from their heart. Intuition is instinctive. As children we were all sensitive beings that were naturally receptive. Before our ego and rational mind fully developed, we relied more on our feelings and were free to explore the fullness of our imagination.
Although rare, some adults continue to be perceptive and use their 'sixth sense, ' however we have the capacity to hone in on that skill. It's just a matter of using those senses regularly to bring them to life. In order for us to strength our natural ability and to follow our intuition, getting in touch with our feelings, meditation, keeping a journal, and lastly, trusting your intuition are all imperative.
GRATITUDE. GIVE IT! FEEL IT! BE IT!
For too long, all of us at some stage or another have taken gratitude for granted. Yes, in an unfortunate moment, it’s hard to see positive forces when obstacles are blaring and fears are looming. However this is a good time TO BE grateful. Not grateful for what has us 'stuck' , but appreciating what doesn’t. Gratitude helps us see our situation in a way that can lessen panic, and could open up our thinking to new solutions. Yes, “thank you” is an essential, everyday part of family dinners, trips to the store, business deals, and the beautiful exchange of gift giving. That might be why so many people have dismissed gratitude as simple, obvious, and unworthy of serious attention.
But that’s starting to change. Recently, scientists have begun to chart a course of research aimed at understanding gratitude and the circumstances in which it flourishes or diminishes. They’re finding that people who practice gratitude consistently report a multitude of benefits ranging from stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure, higher levels of positive emotions, more joy, optimism, and happiness, acting with more generosity and compassion, and feeling less lonely and isolated. Through the constant daily practice and use of gratitude, we are able to put situations into perspective. When we can see the good as well as the bad, it ultimately becomes more difficult to complain and stay stuck in unfortunate situations we may find ourselves in. Gratitude also helps us realise what we have. From everything big and small, this can lessen our need for wanting more all the time. And above all, giving and feeling gratitude, and being gracious strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and, in general, makes us happier!