Saturday, 02 Feb 2019
The Lesser-Known Ingredients of a Happy Life
By Dr Becky Spelman
When people talk about leading a happy life, the usual clichés are rolled out of living in the moment, letting go and practicing mindfulness. And while there is truth to these sayings – they’re clichés for a reason – they don’t offer much concrete advice. They remain somewhat intangible.
How we implement these lessons sometimes gets lost or overlooked.
A practical shift you can make immediately is realising although you’re the centre of your own world, and not the focal point of everyone else’s.
People don’t care about you anywhere near as much as you might believe. The world isn’t conspiring against you. Everything isn’t always about you.
If someone is acting abrasive, the chances are there is a long list of problems that have led to their moment of frustration, which you’re now the unfortunate recipient of. The negative emotions other people project are rarely a reflection of your standing with them.
When you adopt this perspective, you accept the limitations of others and cease to be triggered by their behaviour. It allows you not only to show more empathy, but to get on with your own day without feeling victimised.
That is the true essence of letting go.
Taking responsibility is another area that many people have trouble with, which can also see the mindset of victimhood taking over. But the simple fact is, if you’re not happy with your circumstances, it’s up to you to do something about them. YOU are the lead writer, director and main character of your own story.
So if you don’t like the current narrative, it’s time to think up another one.
It’s up to you to make the decisions that will take you from passive mediocrity to success and happiness. Because the longer you fail to have your own plan, the longer you’ll remain part of someone else’s.
Get clear on what you stand for, or if that isn’t immediately apparent, figure out what it is you won’t stand for. What don’t you want?
Take a sheet of paper, and write down your core values. What is your moral code? Create a vision board, containing pictures of your goals, and place it in a prominent place you’ll pass it every day.
Having a clear sight of what you want to achieve is a powerful tool for manifesting the life you want. But ensure that it is what you want and not a compromise based on your self-imposed limitations.
And most importantly.
Find what happiness means to you. Not some vague notion of what you think you should be doing based on the societies expectations. Start getting serious about what makes you happy.
If that happens to be settling down with a wife, two kids, and a dog, feel no shame over that, but likewise, if you’re the ‘black sheep’ of the family and want to travel the world indefinitely, it’s your sovereign right to so. No one else has to live with the decisions you make except you.
However, don’t become disheartened if this doesn’t happen all at once.
One of the biggest reasons people endure such unhappiness is the need for instant gratification. We become so intent on chasing experiences, we sometimes forget it’s not about the destination, but how we get there.
Everything happens in its own time.
Life is the ultimate master of challenging you at the level at which you’re ready to grow. If something hasn’t arrived in your field yet, it’s only because it isn’t relevant.
So take stock of what you do have, give gratitude for what is already present in your life, and try not to define happiness as a graduation event when you achieve a certain milestone.
You can lead a happy life right now, right this second.
You just have to make the decision that everything you need is already right in front of you.
Your happiness is a choice, not an event.
***If you would like to speak to someone about any difficulties you may have around leading a happy life, one of our specialists would happy to provide you with an initial consultation to determine how best to assist you.