Let's be clear about a couple of things. First, no one can be happy every minute of every day. And, secondly, no two humans or no two frogs will find happiness in exactly the same way. All that said, experts agree that find true happiness is possible. But being happy does require some sacrifice. We must give up our assumptions about what it is we THINK makes us happy. The world's wisdom traditions, from Buddhism to Christianity and beyond, all agree on one point. And that is that true happiness doesn't fit into the West's capitalistic views of happiness; that money and things and more stuff will ensure our happiness. But let's be clear on one thing. Pleasure and happiness are not the same things. Having stuff can, temporarily, give us pleasure. At least until we desire some other newer, brighter, shinier thing; the latest gadget, handbag, or car. That temporary feeling of pleasure isn't, and will never be true happiness which comes only when we can learn to reside in a deeper place. What follows are ten ways that you can help to move from the superficial pleasure (which is good and has its place) to residing in a place of true happiness or bliss. The move requires a few lifestyle changes.
1. Live close to nature's rhythms and cycles. This means getting good sleep and spending time, as often as possible, outdoors and in nature.
2. Reduce external stressors. easier said than done, I know, but we have to try. make a serious effort to live and work in a positive environment.
3. Make time each day to relax. Playtime isn't just for children. So stop the madness, get off the hamster wheel, and have some fun! Every single day. Make it a priority...because it really is.
4. Let your brain experience the quiet inner state that is the gateway to higher consciousness. yep. That means meditation. But there are other techniques that work the same way, too. if meditation isn't for you then try Hatha yoga, contemplation, self-reflection, or prayer. It's up to you and what works best for your life.
5. Limit the toxicity of alcohol, tobacco, and adulterated foods. You know the kind I mean. Processed foods that taste really good but, boy howdy! are they bad for you. Eat healthily (organic if you can), drink plenty of pure water, and breathe pure air.
These tips are, so far, pretty easy to do! Moving on...
6. Dedicate your primary relationship to mutual happiness. Work together so that your partner's happiness feels as fulfilling as your own.
7. Avoid the daily temptation of negativity. This includes gossiping, dwelling on bad news (that's not easy, I know), venting our anger, and blaming others.
8. Take responsibility for your own happiness. If you don't, who will? No one else can make you truly happy. That comes from within...no from without.
9. Aim for the highest kind of happiness. That kind of happiness is a spiritual one that is devoid of ego. And, finally....
10. Enjoy the lifelong project of building a self. Happiness is a DIY project. If we commit to doing a little bit each day, we can enjoy the fruits of our labors by enjoying our life more, having better/fulfilling relationships, and finding and keeping true happiness. I don't know about you, but I really do enjoy DIY projects!
Spiritual guru, Deepak Chopra had this to say, "Despite the disappointments you've already experienced, happiness is achievable beyond anything you've imagined. The secret is to realize that happiness isn't a mood, it's the most natural way to feel, something we all knew as children. Life becomes more complex as we grow up, but that fact doesn't take away our birthright. It just means that we must apply our awareness, getting past the obstacles that hide the underlying happiness that is always there, waiting to be awakened."
I hope you'll join me tomorrow for the fourth, and final installment in my April spring flower series. I'll close out the month with a look at the heavenly hyacinth. Until then, I'm hopping off to spend a little time in nature.