‘Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions” – Dalai Lama.
We all have choices in life. You can choose to live an unconscious, influenced-by-others type life, or a more expanded and soulful one. You can choose between allowing your ego to lead you through life, or your divine spirit.
Research shows that happy people have modest levels of expectation and aspirations, they do what they enjoy and enjoy what they do. They don’t do it for money or power. They also know how to avoid disappointments and how to generate pleasant surprises. This is because they strive for realistic goals and are generally happier within themselves. Whereas unhappy people never seem to get what they want and are not happy with their lot.
There’s no point being stuck in a job you hate, surrounded by unfriendly colleagues just because the money is good! People sometimes forget that they are allowed to be happy at work, too. Many spend the best years of their lives trying to make money, sacrificing their health and family in the process.
We get our happiness from other people, and from supporting other people. Just as other people can make us happy, we are also ‘other people’ to someone else. With this awareness we can cherish people who are important to us.
Here are some soulful choices you can make to bring more joy to your life.
Be your own person and allow others to see you exactly as you are, by saying what you think and feel, without being concerned by what others think of you. Being oneself makes one feel free and authentic Embrace your emotions, hurts, pains and life’s story, this is what makes you, ‘you’.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Look for the humor in situations. Far too often we add unnecessary stress, pressure, and negativity to situations with our attitude of “seriousness.” One of the best things we can do is laugh, at ourselves, at the situation, or in general.
Bottling up emotions and bad feelings creates psychological distress and physical discomfort. Make sure to get things off your chest by talking to your partner, friend or by writing down your feelings on paper and then throwing it away. Get rid of them before they get rid of you!
Learn a simple meditation technique that you can do for 15 minutes each day. This can be a mindfulness exercise that concentrates on the breath in order to bring your mind to stillness.
You can repeat a mantra to yourself – ‘I know I’m breathing in” – ‘I know I’m breathing out’. As you become more relaxed with the breath you will become aware of silence. Listen to it, notice it and pay attention to it. Listening to silence awakens the dimension of stillness within yourself.
Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. Simply be in the present. Don’t dwell on things that went wrong before or previous failures. Similarly, don’t worry about what hasn’t happened yet. If you can’t be happy today, why should tomorrow be any different?
When we are grateful for something we are showing a sign of appreciation and thankfulness for what is valuable and meaningful in our lives. Those who practice an attitude of gratitude experience more feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
Staying grounded and grateful can be difficult in our current world of distracting influences such as TV, youtube or your instagram feed. Nevertheless there are ways you can cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude in your daily life.
Getting outside and spending time in nature is one of the most grounding experiences. It helps us to connect with the bigger picture of life and puts our problems into perspective.
The contemplation of nature can free you of that ‘me’ person, the great troublemaker who encounters too may negative thoughts, fears, anger, envy, greed and ego.
Start developing a sense of awe for the world around you by practicing being in the NOW, meaning bringing your mind into the present moment.
The air that you breathe is nature, as is the breathing process itself. You can reconnect with nature in the most intimate and powerful way by becoming aware of breathing and learning to hold your attention there.
Listen to the sounds around you, feel the warmth of the sun on your skin or the breeze against your face. Bring your attention to a tree, flower or an animal and hold it in your awareness, notice how still it is and in doing so notice how the same stillness arises within you.
You can sense how deeply it rests in `Being’. It is completely at one with what it is and where it is. In realizing this you too can come to a place of rest deep within yourself.
Look up more! When your day is fraught, in traffic or in the office look up to the sky and the clouds, notice how huge the universe is. By maintaining a vast view of the world in the midst of our day-to-day lives, we are more able to see things for what they really are and to appreciate the life that we have.
Start taking note of the little things in life that make you feel more joyful. The friend who makes you laugh. The person who helps you out, when they don’t have to! It may sound harsh but nobody is obligated to do anything for you, which is a reminder for you not to take anything for granted.
Joy is what makes life beautiful. Joy heals our wounds, inspires us to greatness, and fills our souls with goodness. Let go of ego-based living and embrace a joyous transformational and more soulful life.
Annie Moore ITEC, ITHMA founder of Vidatherapy Spa, Advanced clinical massage therapist, Yoga Alliance tutor and meditation practitioner.