One thing that is universal, one thing we ALL have in common, is our eternal search for happiness. Regardless of who you are or where you are in this big and crazy (but exceptional!) world, we always seem to be seeking more in the hopes of finding a greater level of happiness.
For some, happiness is success. Whether it be success at work or success in sport. For others, it’s financial stability or materialistic possessions. For some it is quality family time or spending weekends with friends. Sometimes it’s a hobby. Sometimes it’s a pet. Sometimes happiness can be something as simple as a hot cup of take away tea whilst watching the sunrise at the beach, or it can be as weird as eating ice cream out of the tub in the shower!
It’s only natural that we become addicted to that feel-good sensation of being happy, but for some reason we seem to believe that external sources will bring us the most happiness. We think if we “have this” or “look like that,” then we will attain an ultimate and unrivalled happiness.
“If I’m skinny, I’ll be happy”
“If I get that dress I’ll be happy”
“If I’m HIS girlfriend, then I’ll be happy”
“If I have money, I won’t need to worry and I’ll be happy”
Especially as a young, impressionable and naive teenage girl, I looked at what OTHERS were doing, and compared my own life and happiness to theirs. I wanted what THEY had, because I didn’t realise my own potential and beauty. I was so focused on other peoples happiness, that I was subconsciously denying myself the pleasure of feeling my own. I used to deceive myself into believing that my IF’s and WHEN’s could bring me fulfilment and purpose, satisfaction, joy and happiness.
What I failed to understand, was that happiness is not something you find or attain. It is already within us. It’s simply about recognising and becoming aware of it!
You see, if you’re watering someone else’s garden, their flowers will obviously be brighter and stand taller. However, if you nurture and nourish your own garden, your flowers will be as fresh, bright and colourful as you desire! The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it!
And now, as someone who has not only been through the typical adolescent to teen, and teen to adult transitions, but who has also been through deepest depression and anxiety, I cannot help but want to share and spread my own happiness and help others find their OWN happiness!
So with no further fuss, here are some tips and ideas for creating some AUTHENTIC happiness for yourself.
My top 10 tips for true happiness
1. Forgive yourself.
We are only human and we make mistakes, but we also have the ability to make up for our mistakes, say sincere apologies and give forgiveness. This goes such a long way, not only with others, but also (and ESPECIALLY!) with yourself. So you stuffed up? That’s OKAY! Tomorrow is always a new day – embrace it!
Scientific research has proven that even forcing a smile helps to improve your mood! Whether it means intentionally going out for coffee with someone you know makes you laugh a lot, smiling at a stranger, or faking a smile in the mirror each morning for 20 seconds, a simple smile has the power to go a LONG way… AND you may even make someone else’s day!
3. Stay active!
In the words of Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods, “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.” As little as 20-60 minutes exercise 3-7 times a week can help boost your mood and overall happiness more than you know. Plus you might even find yourself consequently becoming stronger, fitter and more energised… win win!
4. Eat balanced and healthy
Because you LOVE your body, not because you hate it. Respect and reward your body.
5. Become mindful.
Take time as often as you can, even if it is just once a day or a few times a week, to consciously become aware of yourself, your mood, your senses, your behaviour, your body. Take time to eat your meals slowly. Go to yoga. Meditate. Wash your hair carefully. Get a massage. Notice the way certain materials feel against your skin. Think of the sounds you can hear outside. Which ones are close, and which ones are further away? You’ll find becoming mindful not only increases the awareness of yourself, but also your awareness of others, the environment and may even help you to concentrate!
It is not your enemy. You are not working against it, but rather working WITH it. Become more time savvy and know what your priorities are. I bet you’ll find if you know what you have to get done, and actually get your head down and do it, you’ll release a lot of unnecessary stress and mental tension from your life, feel a sense accomplishment.
7. Compliments go a long way.
It is something so simple and easy, yet can make all the difference in the world! Compliment yourself. Compliment your family, friends and strangers.
8. “How are you REALLY?”
Ask yourself this question. Are you really just “fine?” Be truthful. If you’re not okay, that’s okay. There is no shame in asking for help. Allow those who care, to support you and nurture you. Be compassionate and supportive of yourself and others. Be the same kind of support to others, as you would like them be to you. Listen closely to their answer, explore their troubles with them, problem solve and strategise WITH them on how they can find a solution. Help them de-clutter their mind of stress, grief, regret and guilt. Helping them will inadvertently help you. It’s not often we take the time to truly ask ourselves or others how we really are, and you’ll find that by doing so we are able to become more emotionally open, free and intimate with both ourselves and others.
9. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself
“self silliness” as I like to call it. Shake it off, and let loose once in a while! “You’ve been criticising yourself for years. Try approving of yourself and see what happens” – Louise Hay.
Start acknowledging your unique positives and your individual strengths, rather than getting stuck in pessimism. Also keep in mind that criticising or putting down others, won’t raise your happiness levels either.
10. True happiness will not necessarily be found by adding something tangible to your life.
Getting that promotion, having a partner, paying off your mortgage, hitting that goal weight does not automatically equal happiness.
By guest blogger Sjana Earp