Wednesday, November 9, 2011
10 steps to happiness
Happiness isn't about leading an obstacle-free life -- your life will always have obstacles -- instead, it's about learning how to change what you focus on and how you react to circumstances, regardless of whether they're good or bad. Happiness is a mental state of well-being that comes from focusing more often on the behaviours, people, and things that will enrich and inspire your positive physical, mental, and emotional growth. Here are 10 steps to begin living a happier life:
Yes, you've heard it before, but exercise is one small change that yields really big, life-changing benefits. For starters, it is a fantastic energizer, invigorating your mind and body. Exercise improves your sleep, and it's a natural anti-depressant that will help your attitude and outlook. As time passes, you'll gain the added bonus of being happier with your physical appearance as well. If working out is already a part of your life, great. If it isn't, commit to walking just twenty minutes every other day to start out. You don't have to join a gym, sign up for exhausting classes, and completely reorder your life to reap the benefits of this investment.
Take charge of your mind
If you want your thoughts and attitudes to be positive, you must fill your brain with encouraging ideas. For this reason, you may consider making motivational books and audio recordings part of your daily ritual, too. It sounds incredibly hokey, but listening to a motivational CD during your morning commute or reading motivational messages for 15 minutes can put you in a positive place all day.
Most people tend to focus a lot of mental energy on the things that went wrong rather than the things that went well. Instead of beating yourself up, start celebrating your many successes. Relax about the things that don't go perfectly, and celebrate everything that does. The cycle of negativity that focuses on failures will keep you from becoming a truly relaxed, content, and happy person.
Eliminate excess stress
Stress prevents you from living in and enjoying life. It can also cause negative long-term effects ranging from high blood pressure and insomnia to depression and anxiety. If you can't eliminate or change a stressor, such as a job you hate but can't afford to quit, challenge yourself to handle it differently. Decide beforehand how you will react in a more enlightened way when certain stressful situations occur. Having a game plan in place beforehand can reduce your negative reactions to stressors big time.
Live in the present
If you're ruminating on what's already happened or fretting about what might come to pass, you're not enjoying the moment. You're exacerbating your anxiety and unhappiness by choosing to dwell on things you can't change or control. Forgive others (and yourself) for any wrongs you might be holding on to and stop dreading the future. Over time, you'll start to live the adventurous, wonderful life in the present you were always meant to.
Hang around positive people
We influence and are influenced by the people we hang around. Gradually, you need to gravitate more toward the 'Positives' and distance yourself from the 'Negatives.' This might mean calling a positive friend and asking to meet up for coffee or a beer, or walking away from the water cooler when your co-workers begin to gripe and complain. Negative people will inevitably pass their unhealthy attitudes on to you.
Strengthen close relationships
It's always worth putting work into improving close relationships because the quality of the relationships you have with the people you are the closest to can make or break the quality of your life. Loving, supportive relationships will improve your outlook and well-being. Address any unresolved grievances and apologise for the things you may regret. Most of all, put more work into the relationship with your significant other than you do into anything else: This can make such a great difference in your emotional health, your stress levels, and your overall happiness.
Extending simple human kindness to other people can make a huge difference in their lives and in yours. Everyone on Earth is carrying some sort of burden. You can't make their pain, stress, or grief just magically disappear but you can make others feel just a little bit lighter and happier on their journey, even if only for five seconds. When you make friendliness a habit, you'll attract kindness and smiles in return, and you'll feel great about yourself for making a positive difference in the world!
It's true: It really is better to give than to receive. Giving doesn't have to involve money, either; your time, talents, and compassion are just as valuable as cash, if not more so. We're all busy but as often as you can, make the effort to do something nice to help another person or organisation. Whether you're giving time, energy, money, or encouragement, being generous will build up your self-esteem, broaden your perspective, keep you anchored in reality, and connect you to your blessings.
Yes, living with an 'attitude of gratitude' is a clich'd concept. But across the board, grateful people are happier and healthier; yes, studies have actually shown that thankful individuals are healthier too! It's extremely important to be aware of all of your blessings, and to honour and thank those whom you owe for them. The humility that comes from knowing you owe so much to so many others may, in turn, spur you to give back more often to those less fortunate than yourself.