Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Sometimes joy is the source of your smile. At other times, your smile is the source of your joy.” For ages, spirituality and science have been trying to understand what really makes the human heart sing. Finally, there seem to be some answers! For starters, there’s some truth is old clichés like “money can’t buy you happiness.” Apparently, once your basic needs are met, all the delightful frills do little to raise your sense of satisfaction. Youth? A good education? High IQ? No! In fact, older people are usually more satisfied and less prone to dark moods. While people with higher IQ usually have higher levels of angst and disappointment. So what about marital status? Researchers feel that though some married people may be happier than singles, it’s probably because they were happier to begin with!
So, how can we become happier? What's the art and science of happiness? The Dalai Lama says, “Happiness can be achieved by systematically training our hearts and minds and reshaping our attitude.” Here are 10 proven strategies to get you sprinting on the path of happiness.
1. Enjoy small pleasures
Indulge in small pleasures, savour them. Like a yummy meal, a healthy body, a comfy bed. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Write down at least one thing everyday that you are grateful for. From drinking a perfect cuppa to meeting a good friend. Be creative and avoid repetition.
2. Give generously
Giving makes you feel good about yourself, resulting in a “helper’s high.” It increases self worth and creates a greater sense of connection with others. It distracts you from your own existence. So go ahead and give with an open heart. Feed the neighbourhood stray or join a volunteer programme, because in the words of Buddha, “Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
3. Say Sorry, Thank you, I Love You
If you wronged someone, no matter how long ago –apologise! It’s amazing how good you feel once you let go of the guilt. Next, thank someone who did something for you, that you never took the time to appreciate. Express your appreciation in person, if possible. And finally, express your love to the ones who count. Don’t just expect them to know it. Say it in words!
4. Learn to forgive
Living happily-ever-after starts with forgiveness. Everyone experiences hurt, betrayal and disappointments, but you can't keep carrying it around and hope to be happy. Practicing forgiveness releases you from the past and changes your future. So, if someone has really hurt you, write a detailed letter of forgiveness to him or her. Read it. Then burn it. After that -- let go.
5. Invest time in family & friends
Strong personal relationships are one of the biggest factors that determine happiness. So make sure you don’t take you close ones for granted. Invest time in them and add to your own bliss.
6. Take care of your body
Eight hours of sleep every night combined with regular exercise makes you healthier, helps fix depression and mood swings. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, increases stamina and creates a sense of accomplishment.
7. Keep the faith
There is no escaping the hard times, but there a way to survive them --- by keeping the faith. Belief in a higher power gives you strength, as do sayings like “This too shall pass.” But you need to believe in them. Know that no matter how bad the situation, it WILL change.
8. Avoid Comparisons
According to the Bhagwad Gita, “There is nothing noble about being superior to another person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.” Accept that you are unique. Stop comparing yourself to others as this can be damaging to your happiness and self-esteem. Instead, focus on our own personal growth and achievements.
9. Be Present and Practice Mindfulness
In English, the word "present" has three different meanings: "here", "now" and "a gift." Realise that your most precious gift is the present moment. Break the pattern of spending time either hanging on the past or worrying about the future. Start by enjoying the NOW with full-blooded passion and enthusiasm. Be mindful of your thoughts, feelings, consumption, patterns, behaviours and actions. Practice mindfulness and meditation on a daily basis and make it part of your regular routine.
10. Make a fresh commitment
Ok, so the skeptic in you may wonder if people can just become happier through deliberate acts-of-kindness? Or by keeping Gratitude Journals? Can a hardened pessimist learn to see the glass as half full? Can you actually learn to become consciously happier? Yes, you can. Here’s how. RENEW YOUR COMMITMENT, EVERYDAY!
In the words of Groucho Marx, “Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.”
Happiness and love,
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