Six Skills That Will Increase Your Happiness
1) Adopt Gratitude
In a world filled with so much angst and trouble, it pays to ‘prime’ yourself and actively look for the good things in life. Whether it’s because the sun is a shining or that you got to sleep in for an extra hour, write it down or mentally make a note every day. Focusing on the positives alters brain chemistry and can make you a happier person in general. The outside world is like the canvas and you are the artist with the brush and colours – you can choose the perception you want to add to what is going on. Choose thinking that helps your mood, not hinders it.
2) Nurture a sense of adventure
Experiences can create so much joy, helping you to feel alive, much more so than material possessions – the acquisition of which is always short lived. Try new things regularly and push yourself out of your comfort zone. The wider your comfort zone the greater your experience of comfort – it’s common sense. Don’t live in a tiny comfortable space where there are many limits to feeling at peace – push yourself and enlarge your comfort zone. Would you rather live in one tiny room or have a whole house to yourself? See your comfort zone in this way and you will be more likely to actively expand it.
3) Be true to yourself and don’t compare… comparing dilutes focus
We are socially conditioned to work and behave. Be polite, stay late at the office..do what everyone else is doing. Forget that nonsense. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it and don’t give in to pressure from others. Live each day being as true to yourself as you can possibly be. I am not talking about being selfish, just honouring your own needs when society wants you to conform and do what’s expected. We are brain washed into thinking we need to work 9-5, work long hours to get ahead and conform for an easy life. Examine these attitudes – many of them have been bestowed upon you and might not actually be who you really are. When you change too much to please and placate others, you being to dilute your very essence and lose yourself in the process.
4) Connect and spend time with positive inspiring people and people you love
When someone else shares a moment with you and you ‘get each other’ it’s a wonderful moment of connection with another being. It can be so rewarding and help us to feel part of the bigger picture. Seek out people who inspire you and offer your positive energy. This is like recharging your batteries – filling up those positive reserves. Always be aware of energy flow – what is coming in and boosting you and what is flowing out and draining you (difficult people, life challenges etc)…maintain balance.
5) Cultivate a sense of purpose
An overarching purpose is important to increase your happiness. We all need a sense of meaning in our lives and it will take its toll if we spend each day plodding with no end in sight. Figure out a plan and create a few goals. Give back to the community or spread goodwill in some way. It doesn’t have to be a huge project but it pays to give back in some way and feel that you are making a difference. Even to one person or living creature.
6) Positive Psychology
The stories we tell ourselves about the world will create our reality for us. If we have a belief that the world is bad and people are bound to abuse us or mislead us given the chance, we will adopt behaviour to accommodate these beliefs and try to keep ourselves safe. Perhaps we will be more guarded with others and not show our vulnerabilities. Others will find it harder to connect with us and what we believe may come to pass – a self fulfilling prophecy. So be careful what you believe about the world. When we believe something, we automatically (sometimes below our awareness threshold) look for examples to confirm our beliefs..”aha, I was right”. It makes us feel in control of our lives.
To increase your happiness, try a positive belief and make an effort to look for examples of this – you will be amazed at the things you notice that may not have made it on to your ‘radar’ before. For example, if you have believed in the past that women between the ages of 25 and 30 are generally selfish, career focused and mean…(perhaps due to a past experience) try the opposite belief and actively look for examples where women between these ages display kind, considerate behaviour. This is just one example – but it is a powerful process. Give it a try.
When it comes to happiness and peace of mind, my philosophy is “do what works”. Whether that’s avoiding negativity by reducing the amount of time I watch the news on television or not engaging in negative thinking about my life and the world in general – I am keenly aware of my inner and outer world and how they influence each other. I use the above skills to promote happiness and I hope they will work for you too!