Be happier and bring some lightness into this crazy world! Finding and increasing happiness is a fundamental human desire. In fact we could say that being happier is part of our life’s purpose. We have physical requirements – food, shelter and so on. Then there are emotional needs such as feeling loved, nurtured and appreciated. Happiness is more than the satisfaction of these needs. It may include them but essentially is a state of mind. We may be loved and well but can still be unhappy and feel sorry for ourselves.
Be happier: improve the mind
Improving the mind is essential. This doesn’t mean we have to study a foreign language or spend our leisure time doing endless brain exercises. It means seeing ourselves, and consequently others, in a different light. Before we can do that, our mind has to become clearer. But how?
A major problem most of us have is that we think too much. Our minds are cluttered and that is uncomfortable. To avoid that discomfort, we think about something else. Let’s book a holiday. Or buy this. Or eat some chocolate. Any dream will do. Then the mind starts getting busy again and we are back on the treadmill.
The mind needs to be calmer. We need to become calmer. That’s easier said than done, you may say, and you’d be right. But it’s not that difficult. Not really. We just need to ease our foot off the accelerator (that’s the gas, if you’re on the other side of the pond). Apply a little gentle pressure to the brake. In fact, take a break. Just slow down and allow your mind to be at ease.
Once is never enough
To improve our quality of life, there needs to be more than just an occasional top-up of greater calmness. There has to be some adjustment to how we approach life. Learning how to be happier is a process of forming new habits and dropping some old ones.
Seven easy things that will increase your happiness
- Slow down your activity. Although it is not possible for many of us to slow down all our activity, it is surprising how much we can adjust and actually perform what we have to do better simply by slowing down. Sometimes do something deliberately slowly, in slow-motion almost, and this will help to break the habit of doing everything at a fast pace.
- Slow down your thought processes. Rapid-fire thinking is not helpful because it agitates the subtle energies and creates tension in the body. Try to think calmly and clearly and on one thing at a time.
- Be aware of the breath as much as possible, even in activity.This will help to slow the mind down and it will increase awareness. This doesn’t mean we should concentrate on the breath – simply be aware of it in the background.
- Live in the present moment and do whatever is in hand with full awareness. If you are eating, for example, be fully aware of what you are chewing and not thinking about the next mouthful, the next course or what you have to do next. If you are listening, listen fully and give the other person your full attention without the mind wandering. If you are walking, enjoy feeling your steps.
- Smile. Smiling releases endorphins in the brain, increases the sense of well-being and helps to promote stillness. Just a light smile is enough – we don’t have to walk round with a fixed grin!
- Ensure you have some time each day by yourself. For some people, that may not seem so easy but if we are constantly in the company of others, it drains the energy and keeps the mind over-stimulated.
- Do something that you feel good about each day. This helps build self-esteem and calms the mind.
Inside not outside
Remember that quality of life depends not so much on external factors but on how we feel inside. In discovering how to be happier, the aim is not to become artificially still by cutting ourselves off from everything. The emphasis is gradually to bring more and more stillness into what we do. If we can achieve that, we will begin to touch the deeper parts of our being. Life rises from still waters rather than noisy, shallow rapids. We have more to offer life. In return, life offers so much. Happiness is restored.
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