As a healthcare practitioner, I try to actively listen to my clients.
And not so surprisingly, sometimes it’s the things that people don’t say that stand out the most.
People have no problem telling me why they aren’t happy: maybe they aren’t satisfied with work or maybe they don’t have the personal life they would like to have. They don’t feel understood. They may even be at a crossroads and are unsure of what they actually want.
The list can go on and on.
But what happens when I ask them what would make them happy? More often than not, I get complete silence, at first. Sometimes, in that space of unknowing, you can see the light go off for them as they begin to verbalize what it is they truly need to be happy. But then there are those that truly don’t know.
Being happy seems to be an elusive thing, especially in today’s society where many people base their “happiness” on what they own, who they know, how they are perceived by others, or what type of job they have. And on top of that, we live in an external society that is bombarded with social media, texting, and television.
Reality and fantasy are often confused. And finding time to care for ourselves can be daunting. Finding time for inner reflection can seem impossible. We get lost in the shuffle and sometimes lose our perspective on what actually drives us. And let’s face it, you can’t know what’s going to make you happy if you don’t even know what you really want from life.
Because of this, many people don’t even know where to start in order to be a happy person. And unfortunately, there is no one secret formula that will lead to happiness. It’s like one big science experiment. You have to pick a starting point and just keep trying until you see the results you want.
As I said, happiness is not an exact science. However, here are a few suggestions that might help point those at a loss in the right direction.
1. Be honest.
With the people you meet. With your family and friends. And with yourself. The truth brings a higher level of integrity into your life and the relationships that your form. There is no room for misunderstandings or the famous he said, she said. It offers clarity and allows you to make clear decisions. For this to be true, you have to be honest with yourself—about who you are and what you want. The truth may not always be pleasant or what you want to hear, but there is wisdom in the old saying, “The truth shall set you free”.
2. Do little things for others.
Often times the joy we bring to another person will reflect back onto us. A generous spirit brings joy to all those in her presence. But remember, don’t mistake generosity for not being able to say no and letting people take advantage of you.
3. Be kind to yourself.
Most of the time we treat our loved ones better than we treat ourselves. And let’s face it; many of us do without to provide for others. Sometimes we need to stop and put ourselves as the number one priority. So start treating yourself like you would treat a special loved one. And at least once a week do something special for yourself. Take yourself out to dinner. Book a spa appointment. Send yourself flowers. Write yourself a thank you note for all you do. You deserve it!
4. Be compassionate.
Not just to others, but to yourself. Forgive any mistakes you’ve been holding on to and start each day with a clean slate. Embrace your imperfections. They are what makes you unique.
5. Do something fun every day.
Don’t get bogged down. Take time out on a daily basis to do something that you enjoy and brings a smile to your face. It could be as simple as an afternoon walk. It might be that morning cup of hot tea. Maybe it’s dinner or a movie with a friend. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Start simple. Tell a joke. Laugh for no reason at all. If you don’t know what fun is, fake it till you make it!
6. Be grateful.
Make a gratitude list. A great journaling exercise is to sit down every day and list at least five things that you are grateful for. It just might make you realize just how good your life is. You might already be happy and not even know it yet!
7. Just “Be Happy!”
Sometimes we try so hard to be happy that we make ourselves miserable trying to meet the requirements we set for ourselves. So stop trying so hard. Enjoy the moment. Just be.
These tips are just starting suggestions for a lifelong journey towards happiness. Use them as jumping off points to learn about yourself and find out what makes you tick. The more you know about yourself and are in touch with the real you, the happier you’ll be.
However, with that being said, each person’s version of happiness is going to be different. Don’t get stuck in what you think should make you happy. And if you’re having to actually think about whether or not you’re happy, you probably aren’t. Happiness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. You’ll know it when you see it.
Just remember, happiness isn’t about a specific destination. It’s about the journey and your state of mind. You can have everything handed to you on a silver platter and still be miserable. Or you can open your mind to all life’s possibilities and enjoy the journey for what it is without undo expectations. More often than not, we find happiness where we least expect it. And sometimes, when we forget about the destination and just enjoy the journey, life hands us unexpected, but much needed, surprises.
So take a moment, or a lifetime, and find out what makes you happy. Then embrace it for all its worth!
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Editor: Travis May
Photo: Wiki Commons
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