It's easy to put off being happy. It sounds silly doesn't it? We all strive for happiness in our lives so why would we consciously put it off into the future? Well, does any of the below sound familiar to you?
I'll be happy when I've lost 5 kilos
I'll be happy once I've saved $5,000
I'll be happy once I've finished my degree
I'll be happy once I find my perfect partner
I'll be happy when I've bought my new house
I'll be happy when I get a new job
Somewhere deep inside many of us, we have that belief that life has to be perfect before we can be happy; but do you know what? There's no such thing as perfection! At least not in the way most people choose to think of perfection. Perfection is balance - not the total lack of anything negative. This means we take the light with the dark; the good with the bad; summer with the winter. So when we put our happiness of until our lives are 'perfect' we're actually creating ourselves an unachievable goal.
Thankfully we can learn to be happy - at least most of the time. It's not always easy, but read on to discover 7 Habits that Happy People use to keep them bouncing through their day.
Happy people choose to focus on what they already have whilst they are working towards more of what they want and gratitude is one of the fastest ways to feel happy. So often we are busy with work, life and commitments that we forget to stop and remember all of the good we actually already have in our lives. We're always looking for more, working towards the next big ticket item or worrying about all of the things that we don't have in our life right now and we miss all the things that are already in front of us.
Do you have food on the table tonight - do you even have a table to put food on? Will you be sleeping in a comfy bed with blankets to keep you warm? Do you have someone who loves you . . . do you have someone to one - a friend, a partner, a family member? Do you have good health or the resources for medical assistance if you need it? There's always someone that's worse off than you and taking the time to remember all that we do already have in your life will keep you feeling pretty good about life in general.
Create yourself a gratitude journal. Each night before bed, spend 5 minutes writing down 5 things you are grateful for and something good that happened for you today.
Following on from feeling grateful, giving is another incredible way to make yourself feel good - that is if the giving is done with no strings attached. Giving to someone and expecting something in return doesn't count. Giving reminds us of how fortunate we really are, as when you give something to someone it shows you what you actually have and that you're free to also share that gift with others.
You can give time, money, support, donations of unwanted clothes & household items - the list is endless. More importantly though, you can give of yourself to others. Take the time to help an old lady cross the street, spend a few moments speaking with someone who seems lonely, remember to smile at the person who was just rude to you because you know that they're probably going through a rough patch right now. All these things can make a difference in the day for someone else, but they also make a difference in your life too.
The swelling in your heart that comes from knowing you've made a difference in someone's life cannot be expressed - it's something that can only be experienced.
Meditate / Taking Time for Yourself
Life is busy - we all know that and it only appears to keep getting busier. We have jobs to go to, housework to finish, meals to be cooked and lunches to be made, gardening to be done, kids to be dropped at sport, committee meetings to attend and businesses to run. Before long it can feel like you're spinning your wheels and not actually achieving anything and then you start to feel grumpy. You snap at your partner, your kids and your work colleagues. You no longer smile at the bus driver as you get on to go to work; you're too busy caught up in your own thoughts and recycling in your head all the items on your to do list and you're certainly not feeling happy in this state.
Taking some time to be selfish (yes you read right) is actually very important for your own happiness. Trying to be everything for everyone else only leads to resentment, so when you take some time to spend on yourself, you're giving yourself the opportunity to recharge your batteries and refresh your soul. Plan a day to yourself, book a facial or a massage, read a book or just spend a few hours doing whatever feels good for you. Make a regular booking in your diary for weekly or even monthly dates with yourself and make sure you treat it as importantly as you would treat an appointment with anyone else.
Meditation is a wonderful way to help clear those thoughts and stresses from your mind. Even if you can only manage five minutes to start, you'll begin to notice amazing differences.
If you've never meditated before, guided meditations such as my Rainforest Meditation are great places to start. Before you know it you'll be able to meditate for half an hour easily.
We have relationships with all kinds of people. Our family, our work colleagues, or friends, strangers we meet in the street and most importantly ourselves. Although we have all these relationships though; it doesn't mean that they're actually quality relationships. A quality relationship comes from investing time, love and patience and being genuinely interested and involved with these people. Know that you can be there for someone in need and knowing that they will also be there for you, gives such a deep sense of contentment and happiness. Invest in your relationships to make sure that the people you have in your life are genuinely interested in your well being.
Make time to exercise and preferably do it outside. Exercise helps to lift your energy levels, gets the blood flowing, supports a healthy body, keeps you feeling alert, reduces stress and helps you sleep better. Not only that, but you feel better in general knowing that you're treating yourself well.
Exercising outdoors or in nature also has the added bonus of filling our lungs with clean, fresh air and also has a calming effect on you. If you can take a walk in the bush or a run along the team, take the time to enjoy the beauty surrounding you.
One of the biggest stresses people have in life is over money. By making a commitment to regularly save money into a 'Freedom Fund' you'll give yourself the comfort of knowing that you have a pool of money saved for emergency situations. If your air conditioning was to break down on a 40 degree day; if you needed some medical treatment that wasn't covered by public health care; if you needed to hop on a plan to be with a friend or family member - all of these situations would be a lot less stressful if you had money in your 'Freedom Fund.' You'd have the Freedom to repair your air conditioner without the guilt of putting the cost on your credit card. You'd have the Freedom to say to the doctors to go ahead without having to check your bank balance and you'd have the Freedom to say to your loved one "I'll be right there!"
Re-look at your budget and see where you can find some extra funds to start putting into your Freedom Fund on a regular basis.
Enjoy the Simple Things
It's easy to think that only the big things are amazing and to overlook the simple things that really add up to being the big things. Every day life has beauty and wonder but because we're so busy, we forget to see that. Take time to notice the colours of the world; the green of the trees, the blue of the skies, the brilliance of the flowers. Notice the clouds in the sky and the smiles of the people you meet. Appreciate how excited your dog is to see you when you get home for the day. Feel the sensations on your tongue as you enjoy an ice-cream.
As the saying goes; Stop and smell the Roses. Being happy means finding the joy, beauty and appreciation in the little things in life and feeling grateful for all the good that you have right now.
Let Go of Things you can't Control
It's really easy to get frustrated when things don't go your way. Maybe a friend lets you down when you were looking forward to a night out. Perhaps you missed the bus because your child was dawdling or maybe you're aching for a coffee but the line is huge. Things like this are always going to happen, but when they do just stop and take a breath. You can't control these situations and getting angry or upset won't affect the outcome in your favour, so just let them go and remember that sometimes things happen for a reason.
Whilst you're waiting in that long coffee line you may find someone to have a great conversation with; not going out with your friend may have saved you some money and also given you the time you actually needed for some self-indulgence. Always look for the positive out of any situation and let go of things you can't control.
Keep Working towards your Goals
Whilst it's great to be happy and content with what you have and where you are; you still need to be working towards your next goal. I love the saying 'You're either green and growing or ripe and rotting.' Which one are you?
Having a goal that you're not actively working towards just makes it a pipeline dream and in the end can actually make you unhappier because you keep seeing this goal as unachieved or unachievable and always out into the future. By working towards your goals you have a sense of achievement and you feel more satisfied with your life and yourself. Look back on your life say 5 or 10 years ago. Are you in a different position now to what you were then? How would you feel if your life was exactly the same as what is was back then? You'd most likely feel frustrated and annoyed at not having moved forward. As humans we're designed to grow and working towards our goals gives us that growth we need.
Always Live the Life you Love
How often do you hear stories about people who have gotten towards the end of their lives and are full of regret? They wished they'd spent more time with family and friends; they wished they''d gotten the degree they always wanted; they wished they'd travelled more when they had the chance. Don't let yourself be that person. Start today living the life you really want so when you're 95 and are looking back, you can look back with pride, satisfaction and fulfilment of a life lived well.
Now I don't mean start spending money you don't have on travel you can't really afford; or to quit your job to start a fantastic world adventure, but you CAN start putting in place things that you do really want. If you want to travel, start planning where and when and work out a budget to save for it. If you do want to quit your job, start looking at and developing opportunities for alternative income flows so you can leave your job in the future. There's always something you can do to work towards your dreams.
Okay, so that was actually 10 Habits of Happy People, but I couldn't narrow it down to 7.
Always remember to invest in yourself, continually push yourself to grow, develop and learn and most of all, remember that in most cases happiness is a choice. Simply waking up and deciding to be happy is the best habit you can develop.