In a world of ever-increasing materialism, greed, and selfishness, it takes effort to be. To be happy, to be conscious, and to be yourself.
Perhaps early in life you were told you’d be happy if you walked a certain path. Follow that path and the happiness would flow forevermore, but deviate from that path and your happiness would cease to exist. But what if someone with a successful career and extraordinary wealth told you otherwise — would you listen?
According to Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and multi-billionaire, happiness doesn’t come from success or money. Instead, his business success and wealth stem from his happiness. For Branson, happiness is all about finding the perfect balance between doing and being. Certain actions can make you happy, even if only for a moment, but when you combine those actions with genuine consciousness, you can create your own happiness, not dependent on outside influences.
Sir Richard Branson’s beautifully penned ‘Dear Stranger’ letter has given us some wonderful insights into being happy, and here they are, broken down into 11 bite-sized chunks.
1. Think consciously about it.
Act, don’t react, to the happenings around you. To be happy is an exercise in consciousness and self-awareness. Are you making an effort to be a happy individual or are you letting life happen to you? Conscious attitudes and behaviors can turn your act of happiness into an actual state of being.
2. Allow yourself to be in the moment.
Ground yourself to this very moment — feel each step you take and each breath you breathe. Don’t be afraid to engage in your current situation — the worries of tomorrow will still be there tomorrow, so don’t bother yourself with them today.
3. Don’t stress about nominal things.
When the sun sets for the last time in your life, what will you look back on and remember most? Stop thinking about the trivial stresses of life and focus that energy in a more useful, fulfilling way.You will look back on the moments that matter and may regret all of the moments of worry.
4. Stop and breathe.
Take it all in. The sights, the sounds, the scents, and the feelings. Breathe in, and just be, breathe out, and just be. There is a lot to appreciate when you take the time to notice the world around you.
5. Be healthy.
Take care of yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. You cannot be there for others and take part in your own life if you yourself are in poor health. Your work product can actually be a direct reflection of your health.
6. Be around your friends and family.
Make the memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoy the family dinners, the late night conversations, and the inside jokes. But most of all, enjoy the people you’re with and be grateful for that very moment in time.
7. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you.
Giving a piece of yourself and, in turn, allowing someone to give you a piece of themselves, is one of the most intimate things human beings can experience. These connections are what make life worth living. When the chips are down, show up for the people that matter the most to you.
8. Be bold.
Put yourself out there and be the you you’ve always envisioned within yourself. Sometimes the best happens when you take a leap of faith and be bold.
9. Be loving.
Go out of your way to bring more love into the world. Even something as simple as a smile can make someone else’s day a little brighter. Take note of your coworkers, pass along that extra cupcake, or even smile at people you pass in the store to make a difference in people’s life.
10. Be grateful.
Finding gratitude, even in the smallest of things, is an act of happiness that can soon become a way of life. It takes practice and perseverance, but the payoff is absolutely worth the effort.
11. Be helpful.
Helpfulness can show itself in a number of ways, but simply asking yourself, “Is what I’m doing helpful in this very moment?” can turn you into a person that people admire and want to be around. Are the words you’re saying and the actions you’re doing helpful or harmful?
12. Just be.
Be yourself, living in this very moment. A bold, loving, grateful, and helpful individual who sees happiness for what it truly is — a conscious effort and an act of being.
You can’t put life on hold while you take the time to find happiness, but you can find a balance between doing and being. So, in the words of Sir Richard Branson, “Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too.”
Featured photo credit: Happy School Children Playing And Looking At Camera/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com