In 2015, Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, was declared the happiest person in the world. This was based on a study by the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience in Wisconsin, where Ricard’s scores were sometimes off the charts. Being a monk is a life calling that not many of us will pursue, and being in the “regular” world does have a different set of challenges you may argue. But surely, attaining happiness should be possible for everyone. Happiness is a state of mind so like any other state of mind, it can be adjusted. However, we get so caught up in how miserable we are, that we do not have the ability to see that being happy is as simple as – well, being happy!
Here are 5 proven ways to increase your overall happiness today:
Find your purpose and follow it
A lot of the unhappiness in our lives comes from doing what doesn’t make us happy, every single day.
This definition of insanity is very applicable here. If your work doesn’t satisfy you, if you go in there every day thinking that today will be better, then you might be an optimist. But you are also unhappy and according to Einstein, insane. Think back on what you did naturally, what you were drawn to do, when you were a young child. How did you occupy your days? Did you have a fascination with making plans and executing them? Or were you always designing something new and wonderful, or planning the next big thing that can make you money? In these juvenile past-times might lie the key to your true purpose, that one thing that you enjoy above all else. Find your purpose and follow it. It is essential to your long term emotional health.
Eliminate negativity from your life
Negativity has never harboured happiness. By listening to and participating in negative conversations, you only take on more negativity. Some people love to complain, about anything and everything. Don’t spend time with these people, they drain your energy. Surround yourself with positivity and you will also be more positive. Make it a state of mind. When a negative thought comes up, don’t entertain it. And when you catch yourself saying something negative, rephrase it to turn it around. Soon you’ll notice that the world is a much better place!
Find joy and spread it
There is joy to found everywhere around us, and often it is in the small details. Like the person who allows you cut in front of them in the traffic, or savouring that early morning coffee while everything is still quiet and calm. Learn to recognize the joy in the everyday and you will start to see it everywhere. Equally important is bringing joy to others. A small favour, or a bigger-than-accepted tip, a kind word or a compliment. The little things all add up to make life happier for yourself and for those around you.
“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness”.
Stop Talking and Start to Listen
We tend to spend our days spreading our opinion and trying to matter. And a lot of that conversation is in our heads. Stop the constant chatter, inside and out, find a quiet spot, and listen. The happiest people in the world are those that have learnt to listen – whether it is meditation, prayer, yoga or another practice. In the silence, that which what acclaimed life coach Martha Beck in her book, Finding Your Own North Star, calls wordlessness, we often find peace, answers and happiness.
Sleep well, eat well, live well
Your body is a very real extension of what is going on in your mind. Look after your body by feeding it the right nutrients, by getting enough sleep and by purposefully taking time for physical activities. Not everyone loves doing sports, but even playing with your kids or dogs or choosing to walk to the corner shop instead of driving will make all the difference in your mood.
With these simple tools to increase your overall happiness, go and seek out happiness all around you – because it is there!
“If you want to be happy, be.”
Photo credit: Brandi Redd