Happiness is different things to different people. Philosophers believe happiness is about living a good life and flourishing, not simply defining the term as an emotion. Western culture leads us to believe that a happy life is full of money, cars, fame, and fancy clothes. Actually, happiness really comes about by living a meaningful life.
Eckhart Tolle, international best selling author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, explains in his blog:
“The more unconscious you are, the more you are identified with form. The essence of unconsciousness is this: identification with form, whether it is an external form (a situation, place, event or experience), a thought form or an emotion. The more attached to form, the more unsurrendered you are, and the more extreme, violent or harsh your experience.”
The more we attach ourselves to being happy and living a happy life, the more unhappy we become. A happy life is a by product of living a meaningful life. In order to live a meaningful life we must explore different ways to do so.
1. Accept what is.
We perceive our own reality. We can fight our way through life or we can accept what’s happened. Upon acceptance, we can work out how to manage and learn from those challenging experiences.
2. Identify your values and beliefs.
Many of us don’t know our values or beliefs because we’ve never actually identified them. Take time, think it through, and write them down to create your own mission statement.
3. Don’t compromise those values and beliefs.
It’s important for us to stand up for what we believe in. Our values guide, motivate, and inspire us to change.
4. Maintain emotional flexibility.
People who live their lives with rigid rules and standards are setting themselves up for a lot of disappointment. The same can be said for people trying to live a happy life. By maintaining behavioural flexibility, we allow ourselves to be more open to change, which will effectively allow us to deal with it a whole lot better.
5. Connect with nature.
Most of us live in concrete jungles. The closest we get to nature is a house plant. However, we should be connected to the world around us and try to become one with all living things. The deeper we dig ourselves into artificial lifestyles, the farther we are from connecting to a deeper meaning of life.
6. Find something that makes you tick.
Whether it’s your job or a hobby, find something that sings to you. Create purpose in what you do. Whatever you do should make you feel good!
7. Give back.
What are you doing to contribute to the greater good of humanity? There are thousands of volunteer opportunities out there. Just one-hour of your time per week or every fortnight can change someone else’s life forever.
8. Be grateful.
Gratitude is a way of being thankful for what you have. It also allows you to return the favour of kindness. A life without gratitude is not worth living. Take these following words of wisdom and run with them.
Eckhart Tolle said, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
Oprah said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Buddha said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
9. Use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to deal with difficult thoughts and painful feelings.
Dr Russ Harris, M.B.B.S., author of The Happiness Trap, takes a different approach when dealing with challenges. ACT gets it name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of your personal control, and commit to action that improves and enriches your life. The aim of ACT is to maximise human potential for a more meaningful life. I highly recommend reading his book!
10. Know your strengths.
Instead of dwelling on what you don’t have or can’t do, think about what an amazing person you are, the things you are good at, and all the people that love you for it.
11. Don’t force a happy life.
We shouldn’t try to live a happy life because we think we’re supposed to. Happiness has been shoved down our throats for quite some time now, but it’s up to us to realize that’s really not what life is truly about.
Featured photo credit: Kenny Louie via flickr.com