I admit that happiness is not something I fell into naturally. It was easy to feel tossed about by an ocean of circumstances rather than feel directed by my own internal rudder. Like everyone, I am a work in progress, but the below have helped me find a more resilient oasis of inner happiness and peace.
Happiness is a state of being. Happiness is the canvas of life, not the paint.
Notice that each of the below is an action that originates within yourself, as a choice.
1) Stop seeking the next happiness “fix”. Happiness is not gained through things you have or things you do. Much of what we acquire is not necessary, and only complicates life. Be satisfied with the amazing life you have now, in this moment: air, trees, sunshine – all priceless yet free. If you have personal well-being, the closeness of loved ones, and the time to follow a passion, you are rich indeed. Remember, too, that happiness is a highly individualized experience. Your happiness will look different than my happiness, so, as they say, follow your bliss!
2) Truly let go of things you can’t control. I have a tendency to worry, so honing my ability to “let go” has been a real breakthrough. Let go of worry about the future, because these things might never happen. Let go of regret over the past, because these things are immutable and are no longer happening. Deeply know that anxiety will not resolve a situation, nor will it affect its outcome in a positive way. Instead, redirect energy to focus on situations you CAN change.
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” – Dalai Lama
3) Forgive. Forgiving others is a wonderfully selfish act that sets your soul free, even if no one else knows you did it. The passage of time often causes things to become heavier than they need to be. Forgiveness sets down things you don’t need to carry. And don’t forget to forgive yourself.
4) Notice the moment, and live in the moment more fully. Beauty is a quiet thing, and perseveres even during difficult times. Truly, each moment is a mixture of good and bad. Challenge yourself to lift your eyes each day and notice one good and beautiful thing. Goodness and beauty hold at least as much weight in the universe as anything else. Challenge yourself to experience the moment of now, the only thing that is truly happening.
5) Honor your journey. Your path may have been harrowing or treacherous at times, but it was part of the path that brought you to where you are today. Your life experiences rendered a hard-won wisdom, strength, and perspective. I wouldn’t see the sunshine as clearly without the rain. By definition, I have survived every obstacle that has come my way, and the power of that is integral to who I am.
6) Own your happiness. Childhood often tricks us into thinking that life is something that happens to us. It takes a retraining of the mind to realize that we are our own wellspring. One of the great secrets of happiness is that if you believe you are happy, you will be happy, and others will increasingly respond to you as a happy person. Happiness has a tendency to feed upon itself. So start believing!
7) Mellow out. Nurture a perspective of knowing what matters and what doesn’t matter. If it won’t matter a month or a year from now, it doesn’t truly matter. Be the daytime Moon and defy expectation, particularly the unnecessary expectations you place on yourself.