Happiness is a merely a thought away. There are many similar quotes along the lines of happiness being a choice, and numerous studies and articles on how our happiness is internal and not being dependant on outside sources. Like some of the things i share here on my blog, i’ve come across and read numerous articles on happiness, and i have shared and tagged my friends in happiness quotes so annoyingly often throughout the years. Most of us we read alot of things and are constantly exposed to new knowledge so in theory we are more than well equipped to do remarkable things. And most of us either find it hunky dory and cant be bothered applying, have difficulty being uncomfortable and stepping out of our comfort zones, refuse to change our habits, or like all things human we choose the easier path. It takes a determined person to want to learn and be able to apply with discipline, or it takes a significant event in our lives that forces us to make that leap. I am the latter.
Happiness Is A Choice
I used to preach this: “The person who said happiness cannot be bought has never been poor and even if happiness can’t be bought, i’d rather be crying in my Mercedes than in a Proton.” The Jwan of today says: “Why cry in the first place?” I spent a good few months wallowing in my sorrows and lost in life not too long ago, during that time simple work phone calls would send me into anxiety attacks. My foray into finding happiness and the art of choosing happiness came about because i wanted my racing heartbeat to stop and i wanted to regain my sleep so badly. So i attempted certain practices and habits that i had read about and to my disbelief, it worked! I then adopted it and now consciously choose happiness. How? Here are some of the things i currently practice.
1. Be aware
I consciously keep an eye on my state of mind. What we allow in our head controls our lives, so i keep a close tab on what happens in my head. Consciously checking-in on myself, ensuring that my thoughts are controlled and remain positive. Being self aware and acknowledging your state of mind is key to ensuring sustained happiness.
If you are constantly aware of what is happening in your head, the moment a negative thought or anything that can dampen your spirits creeps in, you replace it with a positive thought or happy incident. The easiest and fastest way is to bring to mind the latest happy incident, even that awesome tasting coffee you had this morning or a silly joke your friend told you in the car, quickly bring it to mind. Make sure its as detailed as possible, the smell, the volume of the laughter, your expression, etc. Recognise and replace.
3. The Happiness Trigger
Think of one of the happiest times of your life, something or some incident not too long ago that sent you into fits of laughter or filled you with overwhelming joy. Remember that day? Now take 10 minutes to recall all the details, who was there with you, the smell, sounds, colours, laughter, how you felt, bring everything in vivid detail to mind. Now keep that memory in exact detail in your head and identify a distinct item or unique item in that memory, for example a unique smell or maybe a funny looking cup, now this is your trigger. Similar to #2 of replacing thoughts, every time you have a negative thought, you immediately bring this wonderful memory to mind, using that unique item as your trigger. This is like a more extensive version of “replace” and can be used to give you a quick boost in happiness. When you’re feeling down, run through this memory and feel instantly better.
Here’s my story. I was a pack-a-day smoker (or more) for many years, and i quit cold turkey one day and i have been off cigarettes for over 3-years and counting. Throughout the 3-years, i never even had one puff of a cigarette. While the majority who have attempted quitting will every now and then take a puff or a stick, or use excuses such as ‘i only smoke when i’m drinking’ or ‘its just one stick, i still quit’, i never took even one puff. How did i do it?
It was one morning about 3 days after i had quit smoking, i woke up wide eyed in shock as i thought i was in Australia or up in the mountains! I literally woke up to see where i was because i felt that the air was so crisp and fresh that i literally could not believe i was in my bed! As i took another few breathes, i felt as though it was the first time i was breathing, it felt like a shot of oxygen straight into my lungs (i’m guessing thats how it would feel!). It was so good that every time i felt like smoking i just remembered the sensation i felt that morning when i woke up and i instantly didn’t want to smoke anymore. In fact, i would suddenly feel disgusted that i even thought about smoking. The sensation i felt that morning was far greater than the pleasure of smoking and i kept that sensation in memory and used the visual of that morning as a trigger. I could go into a club, drink heaps and even though smoking is an awesome companion to drinks (smokers will agree!), i didn’t need it anymore and enjoyed the night even more.
A visual trigger to bring a happy memory to mind.
4. Gratitude Practice
I can’t stress the power of gratitude enough. Read about my gratitude practice here.
Remember #3? Humans are visually driven, hence the power of ‘The Trigger’, a visual key to a happy memory. Meditation controls and focuses the mind and if we are visually driven then meditation allows us to control and focus our mind on anything, including happiness. Meditating has helped me through sleepless nights and allowed me to enjoy my days even in troubled times. Before i go to bed, i run thru a list of things i am grateful for, visualise the next day being a happy day watching myself wake up in the morning and the day at work going smoothly, i then visualise how my life will be 5 years from now. Being detailed with the visualisation, from my dog running in the front yard to the furniture and the wind blowing in my hair as i walk out the front door. I go to bed smiling.
6. Morning Hype
Start the day right. Make a conscious decision to start every morning happy. The minute i open my eyes i make it a point to say “its going to be an amazing day!” and then open the blinds and look outside, if its sunny i tell myself “its such a beautiful day!”. Then i walk to the balcony, look outside and be grateful that i am alive to see such a lovely day. It takes force and discipline to set this habit in place, do it often enough and it will come naturally. Set the tone for the day right at the start of the day.
7. Smile & Laugh
There are numerous studies linking laugher to overall wellbeing, to me its very simple. A person who is smiling is so much more approachable and they give off a welcoming energy that you just can’t quantify. If thats the outer effect, imagine what is happening on the inside. A genuine smile not only affects those around you, it creates a shift in your emotional state. Minute as it may be, it does create a positive reaction within you. Throw in some laughter and your happiness level goes skyrocketing! So smile and smile often, don’t forget to smile when you wake up.
8. Happy Is Life
This should be #1 on the list, simply because this is the first thing you should do. Choose to be happy, decide that life is meant to be filed with happiness, make happiness a requirement. Make a commitment to happiness being part of your life and allow happiness in. Choose Happy.
So be aware of your state of mind, recognise and replace, create a trigger, practice gratitude, meditate, start your day right, smile often, and commit to a life of happiness. Waste not another day and embrace happiness! Life is too short to be unhappy.
Here’s a powerful video i came across on the simplest way to raise your happiness. And it works.