The Dalai Lama shares a very simple but important message “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” It would seem that happiness does have a pretty important role in our lives. In fact, our happiness can have a huge impact on the way we approach our day to day, how we relate to others and most importantly on our overall health.
One thing is for sure, we all want more happiness in our life. And in order to find more happiness you need to define what happiness looks and feels like for you. Take a minute and ask yourself are you happy? I mean really truly happy. Are you happy with the way your life is right now at this present moment? Or do you have a running mental list of things you think you need in order to be truly happy? You are not alone if you feel like you are always chasing happiness. A recent study from NORC at the University of Chicago found that that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy.
What is Happiness?
Defining happiness is difficult. It means and feels something different to each and every one of us. Perhaps the best place to start is to understand what happiness is not. Happiness is not losing ten pounds. Happiness is not a bigger paycheck. Happiness is not right around the corner. Happiness is right in front of you. Happiness is the warmth of sunshine on your face. Happiness is the joy you get from helping others. Happiness is the hug you receive or give to a loved one. Happiness is the satisfaction of time well spent. In this this sense happiness comes from a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. It is a sense that no matter what life throws at you — life is as it should be. Happiness is not about never feeling sad or challenged. Happiness is not about feeling happy at every single moment.
Happiness is Good For Your Health
Studies show that happiness really can influence health. We feel happiness in a variety of ways. It can make us feel relaxed, euphoric and content. When we are happy we tend to take better care of our physical and emotional needs. We find the time to move our bodies, eat well, stay connected and get good sleep. On a cellular level, when we are happy, there is a lot of important stuff going on. Some of the benefits of happiness include:
- Happiness boosts the immune system
- Happiness fights stress
- Happiness lowers risk of cardiovascular disease
- Happiness promotes longevity
- Happiness promotes a healthier lifestyle
The best advice I have ever received in my life is that happiness depends on you. It depends on the internal dialogue that you are having with yourself. Your spouse, your shiny new car or your new career is not going to provide happiness for you. When you open your mindset to this new way of framing happiness – you will find that happiness has always been there waiting for you — right under your nose.
Happiness and joy become illusive when we attach it to an external force and when we give that external force power over our emotions. Finding happiness is not easy, but the steps to happiness are simple. Here are a few steps to get you started to a happy, more fulfilling life:
Step One: Acceptance – The key to happiness is accepting where you are today. Accept where you are at this very moment. Love yourself and be kind to yourself. If you have gained ten pounds, so be it. Do those ten pounds make you any less loveable? Should it make you any less happy? Accept that some days will be harder than others. Accept that life will have emotional and physical challenges and hurdles. Accepting life as a winding path with detours will allow you to have space to embrace the joyful, happy things that life throws your way.
Step Two: Choice – Remember you own your feelings. You have the choice to be happy or angry or sad. Take the time to do things that you enjoy. Surround yourself with loving supportive people. Draw boundaries around things in your life that need boundaries. Focus on the positive and make a conscious effort to have gratitude for the little and big things that life brings your way.
Step Three: Coping No one ever said that life is easy. Times will get tough. You will have challenges. What are the tools and resources that are there for you to help you through difficult times? Stress is not always unavoidable. It can build up. What daily routines can you incorporate to manage your stress to make more room for happiness. Nurturing a circle of supportive friends can help you feel happier and less stressed in many facets of your life.