I thought of beginning my post journey with some thoughts on Happiness. While Happiness is something that motivates all of us and directly or indirectly all our actions are motivated by it, not many of us understand what maximizes it and what facilitates it in our life. Many a time our happiness tends to be dependent on something external. This takes it out of our control and makes it conditional to these external conditions. We think, if he/she talks to me nicely, then I will be happy or If I have enough money to buy my favourite car then I will be happy and many more of such conditions separate us from our inner core of Happiness.
Is Happiness really Conditional?
If it was the case that some expensive materialistic possessions in life gave us our Happiness, we would never encounter people with least of resources and still leading a happy and fulfilling life. I have personally witnessed this multiple times, but a memory that I still carry is from a friend’s house where I saw their very old domestic help, maybe in her eighties. She was poor and old but so much full of happiness and contentment that just a glimpse of her made me feel happier that day.
Source of Happiness
Now, when we say it is not coming from any of these materialistic possessions, what is it that it comes from. Inside of us is the short answer. That is why when we experience any sort of meditation, we tend to feel happier from within. De-linking Happiness from external factors and understanding deeply the ways to enhance the inner source of Happiness is all it takes to have an unconditionally Happy Life.
The 10 points that take you deeper towards this inner core of happiness have been detailed below
1. Being Self Compassionate
Self Compassion is something we all need but we never think to be important. The basic definition of being self-compassionate is to talk to yourself in tough times in a consoling tone, something that you would expect from a best friend or a close family member. Often in these tough times, we become self-critical and instead of helping ourselves come out of the situation, we push ourselves down the negative spirals of guilt and despair by constantly criticizing ourselves for whatever happened. While it is important to realize the mistake and never repeat it, it is equally important that our inner voice does this in a consoling friendly tone. Appreciating what good qualities we have and explaining what needs to be changed in future helps us come out of the situation much faster. Be your best friend and you will be able to sustain your happiness without needing any external help.
2. Choose Happiness
Every day when I wake up, I have 2 choices, Be Happy or not be Happy. I choose the first one. Simple isn’t it. One may argue, that this is a very vague way of looking at it. Maybe it is, but it does allow me to be happy no matter what. Looking at the bright side of things always is a habit we need to develop and this exercise is just another way of enforcing this habit. Finding good in every situation makes it all really simple. You may choose to do this small exercise for the next 4 weeks. Keep a journal and at the end of the day write 3 good things and 3 not so good things that happened today. For things that did not go as per the expectations, think for a possible bright side to it. What could have been the possible positive implications of that thing in your life? Answering this will help to change from self-critical mindset to Self-appreciative mindset.
3. Be Grateful
This is something that can fit in on almost every list. Gratitude is the key to Happiness. Being Grateful for every small thing around and appreciating the small acts of Kindness of others really makes us happy. Following are the reasons why Gratitude leads to more happiness:
- Being Grateful strengthens our emotions
- Being Grateful makes us more optimistic
- Gratitude reduces materialism
- Being grateful makes our memories happier
- …and so much more ( we may take this topic for another post maybe 🙂 )
4. Be with Happy people
Many psychological studies conclude that your emotional state is the average of the emotional health of 5 closest people in your life. So choose your company wisely.
5. Help someone unconditionally
The impact of our small act of kindness goes far beyond the person receiving it. It creates a vibe of positivity and kindness in the atmosphere. As they say, what you send out is what you receive, the impact of helping someone without any reasons takes the kindness a long long way and helps us feel happier.
6. Explore Creative ways of doing things
Many psychological studies have proved that creativity lowers stress levels and gives a sense of purpose to life. In a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology 658 volunteers were requested to maintain a journal for 13 days and write how creative they felt during those days. Creativity was defined as coming up with new ideas, spending time in artistic pursuits and expressing oneself in an original way. They were also asked to rate their happiness levels. The results showed that each day the participants reported an increase in their creativity and happiness showing an upward spiral in their state of well being. Hence, engaging in some sort of creative pursuit of your liking would really help attain the goal of unconditional happiness.
7. Have a good night sleep
As simple it may seem, sleep is one of the most important factors in our state of overall well being. A sound sleep with 4-5 cycles of deep sleep is something which should be termed as good enough sleep. The sleep and wake times also play an important role here. One deep sleep cycle comprises of 1.5 hours, so the ideal sleep duration should be with 6 hours or 7.5 hours plus an additional 15-20 minutes buffer time before we fall asleep. For example, if you are going to bed at 9:45 pm, ideal wake time could be 4 am(4 sleep cycles), 5:30 am (5 sleep cycles) or even 7:00 am(6 sleep cycles). Waking up at the end of the sleep cycle is very important. Because, if you wake up in the mid of cycle during deep sleep, you are most likely to feel sleepy throughout the day and not feel fresh in spite of long hours of sleep and hence not allowing a state of well being or happiness. You may refer to Sleepyti.me for setting up the same.
8. Practice Mindfulness
Needless to say, the most important and easiest step you can take towards a more happy and fulfilling life is by starting a meditation practice. Mindfulness meditation here refers to the present moment awareness meditation in which we as per American Psychological Association, even in the situations which are supposed to cause a lot of pain, a mindfulness meditation practitioner is more likely to be more calm, composed and in control of the situation.
9. Find your true calling- Experience Flow
When we are engrossed in some task so much, that we even forget the passage of time is something that is referred to as the state of flow. As per a research published in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology Flow is a state of complete absorption in the present moment which lies at the core of Positive psychology and Happiness.
10. Shift away from distractions
Often, when faced with challenges and situations in life, the mind wants us to take a break, go for a movie, a holiday or a long vacation. But these are just distractions from the core problem but by no chance a solution. Most likely, once we are back from the break/vacation, the situation still exists and we still need to face it. There is no running away from the situation that can ever help subside it. It is only when we face and attempt to resolve the situation/conflict that we will be able to deal with it. It is not that taking a break is wrong. But only thing is that the motivation behind it should not be avoiding current situations/problems in life.