Everyone is always looking for the elusive way to be happy. People create thousands of distractions to increase their happiness. There are thousands upon thousands of books on how to be happy, and yet there are so many people out there that are still unhappy. The numbers of unhappy people are increasing on a daily basis. We can look at the divorce rate alone, 50-60%, that shows our general disillusionment of life itself. We look for happiness in people, money, things, careers, vacations, and even TV shows and we find the same thing, these shoes, this show, this beach vacation, and this corner office hasn’t made me any more happy than I was at 7 years olf licking an ice cream I just got fro, the “ice cream man” while drying on a sidewalk after a great slip and slide run.
Is it that the book don’t work…no. Is it that the world is a very unhappy place…NO. Is it that humans weren’t suppose to be happy (heard this from a doctor of psychology)….no. Is it that peopel have forgotten how to be happy….possibly. Possibly.
So how do we become happy?
Ron Gutman, CEO and founder of the interactive health company Healthtap, writer, and speaker states in his amazing Ted talk: Smile: “The astonishing power of a Simple Act states that the 1st step to happiness is smiling.” He goes on to say that, “the endorphins and dopamine’s that are created by the simple act of smiling is equal to that of someone winning the lottery.” So every time you smile, you are feeling like you are winning the lottery. But…wait…why don’t I “feel” like that. Why don’t I get that over the top amazing “I’m so happy!!! feeling? It c0mes down to desensitization. We don not conenct smiling and winning the lottery in the same way. We have trained our brain to decide that some events and moments in our life are more important and more joyful than others. This is not reality…this is what we have trained our brain to see. However, those that smile…have a better life. (also proven and stated in Ron’s youtube video). In fact, peace and nonviolence educator, author, and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains that, “just the small act of smiling can be the source of your joy alone.”
Try this: Walk through your day smiling, its amazing how this one act increases your happiness even if you’re not.
2. Do good for people
The small act of doing good things for people and wanting better for others increases ones mental condition immediately. As soon as you begin to think of others, and get out of your own little bubble your entire life and world is put into a different perspective. According to the study done by B. Heady in 2010 they found that, “Doing good, is proven to increase how you feel. Helping others increases “happy cells” (brain cells specific to happines and the dopamine receptiors)”.
This is especially true if you volunteer in a place where there are many people that are less fortunate than you. (I know, you’re very busy…how are you going to fit volunteering in.) It’s doesn’t take much, and any amount of time you can provide most places is much appreciated. Remember, many homeless shelters, food kitchens, domestic violence shelters, and hospitals are grateful and immensely thankful for whatever help they can get and rely on this help to survive. Before you know it, you’ll be happy that you’re helping and become thankful for everything you have.
3. Give thanks
What is this thanks giving? No.
Whenever you are going about your normal day pay close attention to the people around you and the stories the people are telling you. You’re sitting there eating lunch with your co-workers when they begin talking about a relative that just had a heart attack. Everyone says wow, you say the normal “oh, I’m so sorry for you” comment, and then move on talking about the cute guy in receiving.
Next time this happens, take 3 seconds and give thanks that your heart is working fine and dandy. Thank you heart! When you’re driving home from work, and you see someone on crutches, in a wheel chair, without a limb, etc take a moment and give thanks that you are doing as good as you are doing. After about 6-9 of these giving thanks sessions, you’ll realize you are happier and happier each day.
BTW – Every single person(yes every one!) who has changed the wordl for the better, every single happy person, every single monk, every single revolutionary, and every single world changing author or politician woke up/wakes up every day and gives thanks for all the things they have and will have.
4. Find positive things
Turn off the news! Turn off negative whiners (we all have those people in our lives that want to complain and whine about everything in the world. They call it venting. I call it negativity.)
Search out positivity. Facebook is great for this. (I know, facebook has gotten a pretty bad wrap lately because of cyber bulling and such..but it doesn’t have to be.) Go into the search bar and put any positive message you can think of: Positive thoughts, happiness, optimism, joy, etc. You will suddenly be greeted with hundreds of pages that will fill your news feed with positivity, optimism, and in a word…happiness. According to a Princeton study in 2011, all you need to be happy and positive is to create a 3 to 1 ration of positivity to negativity to create a tipping point where you are more happy than unhappy.
5. Happiness is the way
Happiness is around us all the time. Positivity is around us all the time. Just like the song of the bird in the tree outside of your house, but you can’t hear it till you listen…happiness is there you just have to watch for it and look for it. We are taught to be unhappy, see ourselves as things to be improved rather than improving. There is something positive in every moment and every action. There is nothing that is going to create or develop or show us what happiness is. Happiness is inside of you. Tell yourself you are happy…and keep telling yourself this. Be happy. Find some memory, some idea, some thought that makes you happy. If all else fails, look for a movie, music, etc that will increase your happiness, and revel in it. The more happy you are, the more happiness will exist in your life.
Happiness is the way.
As they say in relationships, the only way to have someone love us is to love ourselves first. The Tao Te Ching, the oldest philosophical book known to mankind says, “There is no way to happiness, happiness sis the way.” Simply put…be happy.