Happiness is very subjective. Each of us will have our own definition of what constitutes ‘being happy.’ True, authentic happiness is something that is an innate experience – one that often needs to be cultivated over long periods of time. We need to sow the seeds of our own happiness, water them, watch them grow, tend to them as we would a garden.
Yet, for some of us, happiness remains – or appears to remain – forever out of our grasp. It’s always just on the horizon. It may be that our happiness is misplaced. It’s ascribed to things, people and events rather than simply being happy with who we are and giving ourselves permission to be comfortable and secure in our own skin without any external stimulus. Happiness has become dependent on what we can use to make us happy rather than being own source of joy.
Creating False Identities of Attachment
A large part of what prevents us from accepting the happiness we can offer to ourselves is the over-externalising of it. This has been going on for many decades now since the advent of modern consumerism in the 1950s. The only difference being the progression of modern technology from black and white TV to iPhones. Happiness has become so much about a state of acquiring and of being outside of ourselves through these narrative’s of attachment, we’ve forgotten how to just be with ourselves.
The Happiness Paradox: Happy to Be Unhappy (Settling)
In short, people are happy to be where they are in life. It’s common that many people will simply ‘put up’ with their lot and figure that this is as good as it gets – why rock the boat? People are happy being unhappy without even recognising that’s the narrative they’re playing out, but it can all be changed with the power of choice.
The Key Areas of Happiness
So, if we’re not to externalise our happiness, how do we go about cultivating true authentic happiness? It’s actually quite rudimentary and many of the areas below may seem like they’re ‘slap you in the face’ obvious. Focus your attention on these aspects of your life, and you’ll build the foundations of true happiness:
Health: Health is your true wealth. It’s an old saying, but it’s something that can often only be appreciated when you’ve experienced the absence of it. Maintaining our health is something that we must constantly be vigilant about whether in the physical, mental or emotional sense.
Self-Esteem: Probably the most foundational part of happy life is self-esteem. It is, in fact, the very essence of happiness. How much – or little – we value ourselves is at the very core of why so many of us are mired in self-defeating mindsets.
Goals: Without the ability to look forward and challenge ourselves, we’ll never experience victories. Without having those moments of celebration, we never get to self-congratulate and build up a sense of who we are by the things we’ve achieved. Saying this, one should not evolve all of their actions based on that attainment.
Abundance: Abundance is often used as a by-word for money, but it’s so much more than that. True abundance extends to all areas of life including: family, friends, opportunity, health, love and so on.
Fulfilment: If you’re in a state of perpetual unfulfillment, you’ll most likely be stuck in the cycle of mediocrity of just doing enough. Or, to put it another way… if you don’t have your own plan, you become part of someone else’s.
Recreation: Happiness is always about striving. There needs to be a balance between work and play. Recreation is something that should be hardwired into our daily lives. It’s a right, not a privilege and something we should all have more of.
Learning: When people think of learning, they often think of it in the institutional sense and all of the baggage that comes along with the burden of going to school. However, real-world, self-directed learning is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and the true passport to happiness.
Creativity: The creative spirit is one that must be nurtured in all of us. And it can mean anything you want. It doesn’t have to be related to the arts if you’re not inclined that way, it can be the way you present yourself, the way you speak and relate to those around you. The only limit is your imagination.
Love: Love is the traditional one-stop answer for how to cultivate happiness, and it applies to all of the above. You need to bring a sense of love to what you do, who you spend time with and how you interact with the world. The love you extend is dependent on the love you offer yourself.
Smile: Behavior can affect attitude. This has been scientifically tested and it has been shown that when people smile they activate their ‘happy face’ muscles and tend to find circumstances funnier than when their ‘happy’ muscles are not activated. Because one is already smiling it is easier to elicit a similar physiological response, which consequently will impact your emotional state and thus your attitude.