Some people think happiness is something that just happens or comes naturally. It is widely believed that it is elusive and needs to be chased, but cannot be created. Many people view it as a temporary state, something to be achieved and worked to maintain. Each year, people spend millions of dollars and hours of labor trying to achieve things they think will make them happy.
However, happiness is found within. Some of the happiest people in the world have very little in the way of material wealth, yet they live in a state of serenity. The Kingdom of Bhutan even accounts for its people’s happiness before installing new public works. Happiness is a state of mind, and while it does need to be maintained, it’s not as elusive or fleeting as you think!
Here are seven ways to find your bliss:
The old adage says “You are what you eat.” This is actually true. The foods you ingest release vitamins and minerals into your body that trigger the release of hormones, for good or ill. Many processed foods and refined sugars cause the release of stress hormones on the body, which contributes to low mood and larger health problems in the long term. Eating leafy greens and drinking a lot of water is better for your mood because stress hormones are not released by eating them.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that teaches us to observe our thoughts and emotions in a non-judgemental way. There are many types of mindfulness practices, such as meditation, yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi/Qigong, and martial arts. These practices help build emotional intelligence, called EQ, which is the ability to observe, identify, and appropriately express emotions. Building EQ can help teach us why we become unhappy and how to cope with those feelings.
Often we take the things we see every day for granted, making it difficult to realize how important they truly are. Many spiritual traditions practice gratitude, and while the simple act of saying “thank you” may not seem like something that will usher in happiness, it is actually one of the most powerful methods of building happiness. Even just writing a few sentences of gratitude in a journal each day can go a long way.
Happiness is not a secret that has been kept from people or a prize that is difficult to attain!
Be in nature
Exposure to plants, flowers, and natural light has been shown to release stress and have a calming effect upon the mind and body. Even having a photograph of plants and flowers was shown to increase productivity in offices that had no windows. Getting outside for some fresh air can also provide a literal breather from dust and mold that can collect indoors. Having plants inside the house or on the desk of your office can bring a little of the power of flowers to you when you can’t get outside.
Get some exercise
Whether at home, at the gym, or around the neighbourhood, getting plenty of exercise is a must for a happier you. Exercise has obvious health benefits, such as burning calories and building muscle, but even a little exercise each day can also help reduce stress. This happens in two ways: first, exercise burns off the stress hormone cortisol, which raises blood sugar and pressure in preparation for an emergency, but stores fat and sugar when released over a long term. Secondly, muscles (as a result of cortisol) hang onto tension and become tight; exercise releases that tension naturally.
Play with pets
Our furry, finned, and feathered friends can bring a lot of joy to our lives. Pets have been used to assist people suffering from illnesses such as blindness, epilepsy, diabetes, PTSD, and anxiety disorders for years. More recent studies found that caring for a pet, even temporarily, teaches children compassion and empathy, and reduces bullying in schools. Having and playing with pets can bring a long term happiness to the whole family.
Go offline for family
Social support is an important coping mechanism for social animals like humans. It means getting together in person with friends or loved ones and talking about your feelings, problems, and happiness, and listening to others do the same. Family is one of the best ways to connect socially because they are the first agents to teach kids to socialize. Listening to and connecting with family can offer a powerful alternative to the fleeting happiness of television and digital devices. Empathizing with and being compassionate in person is one of the best ways to be happy.
Happiness is not a secret that has been kept from people or a prize that is difficult to attain. It is the product of simple practices that cost very little and can be done by anyone. It is easily within your grasp, so be your happiest self by practicing happiness.
By: Freelance writer Ashley Smith