True happiness doesn’t have to be elusive.
Think of a time in your life when you felt truly happy and optimistic. Was it just a fleeting moment? The good news is that learning how to find happiness that lasts is possible. The answer is right within you.
In our irrational world, it’s easy to get caught up in the pressures of daily living. You are constantly bombarding with messages from social media and advertisers that you need more to be satisfied. You need more to be good enough. You need more to be a success.
True happiness always seems to be just out of reach because you focus on what you don’t have, rather than what you do have. You get caught up in the materialism of our time that tells us, over and over, you need more — more money, more stuff, more accolades — in order to be happy. In order to feel genuinely glad, you need to do get back to the basics.
My own personal definition of happiness is this:
- A sense of well-being
- To feel loved and accepted for who you are
- The ability to do the things you like to do
- To feel healthy
- To know your purpose in life
Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory which asserts that humans universally share these five basic needs:
- Psychological needs: You need food, water, warmth and rest. If you live In North America, Europe, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, you most likely have your basic needs met.
- Safety: You need security and shelter. If you are facing any form of violence, please get help from the police, non-profits, doctors, and therapist.
- Social: You need Intimate relationships and rest.
- Esteem: You need respect and a feeling of accomplishment.
- Self-actualization: You need to achieve your full potential, including creative activities.
If you have a good life, but still don’t feel happy, take a moment to reflect on how you meet your own needs. Are you getting all of the crucial ones met? If one of these is missing, how can you work on it?
Happiness is a choice. And in order to make that choice, you must learn how to be more present.
Begin slowly with a few minutes every day. There are many resources and apps out there to help you. One of my personal favorites is an app called Insight Timer.
2. Stay active
Do something you enjoy that helps you stay healthy, such as walking, singing, dancing, gardening or whatever renews your energy.
3. Breathe deeply
It is easy to get stuck in shallow breathing when you are under stress, but just a few deep breaths can relieve stress quickly.
4. Start a gratitude journal
Every day, write down what you are thankful for. It is hard to be miserable when you are feeling so grateful — a practice I call ‘radical gratitude,’ which changes the way you experience the world.
5. Risk following your heart
Find ways to do what you love. If you can’t find a job that enables you to do this, find an outlet outside of work.
6. Spend time in-person with a good friend
Social media is not enough. Have them over for a meal, go for a walk, or enjoy a meal out together. Be real with them. Let them know how you are doing, and listen with an open heart and mind when they tell you their story in return.
7. Find your purpose
When you’re down on yourself or feeling like something is missing in your life, strive to find out what it is. Do you know your purpose?
When you have difficulties, access help through a coach who can help you to discern what it is. Nobody but you can do this vital work, but you. You are the only expert on yourself.
8. Create a community
An excellent way to find more happiness and enjoyment in your life is by being part of some community, such as a club, church, synagogue, mosque, or temple. You are not meant to live alone. You need others to help support and encourage you. You need others to help you celebrate life.
9. Tap into your spiritual self
Remember that you are a spiritual being. You don’t have to be part of a religious institution to be spiritual.
Spirituality helps you to acknowledge that you are part of something more significant. It reminds you that we all are interconnected and that you are not alone. There are family, friends, spiritual communities and professionals to help support and encourage you. There is always someone else telling you that you are not going to be satisfied without something: more money, more makeup, a more beautiful car — the list goes on.
But once you begin to slow your mind down and become more present, you start to recognize all the goodness in your life and can celebrate every day. You find the courage to follow your dreams. You celebrate every moment of your life. You can choose to be happy every day. When you make this choice daily, the world will look and feel like a different place.
However, being happy doesn’t mean life is going to be perfect. It means knowing you have been given another day to fulfill your dreams and make a difference in the world.