Most of us are striving to be happier, healthier and live 'our best lives', and there is a lot of noise from people online (including me!) offering advice and solutions on how to get this. But what does it actually mean to be happy?
It’s important to remember that it’s not an enigma or an end goal, it’s about finding a way to live your life in a state of wholeness and contentment. To be able to embrace all our emotions and have a certain amount of control over them so that our mental health is not affected.
Our human emotions all count and are part of us or a reason - joy, melancholy, anxious, excitement - we just have to be aware of them and notice if we’re feeling anything for too long that starts to affect our mental and physical health.
My view is that you have to find a good balance of the following:
Living a life that meets your core values. Values are what matter to us; what’s important, what we focus on, they make us take action (or not take action) - they are part of our motivation. Values drive individual’s choices and decisions.
Make connections. While knowing how to enjoy your own company is a valuable skill, cherishing human connection is a vital component to a happy life.
Exercise. You need to figure out what form of exercise personally suits you best, whether you enjoy lifting weights or prefer spinning. Focus on using exercise to boost your mood and health, not for endurance or changing the way you look, as they can cause stress (and will come naturally anyway!)
Look up. Life can be busy and we can often be ‘head down’ wading through our ‘to do lists’ and commitments. Taking a moment to ‘lift your head above water’ for short Mindful Moments throughout the day will ensure you take a breath and are in a calmer state to deal with any negativity.
Go outside. Getting outside helps us connect with not only nature but ourselves too. It helps clear the mind and reset, and the fresh air does wonders to our immune system.
Have a positive mindset, more of the time. If you notice that your thoughts, actions and behaviours are more negative than positive, you need to do something to shift this. There are many things you can do to change this, there’s not one rule for everyone, but this is what I help people discover thorough coaching.
Focus on yourself. Taking self-responsibility for your happiness is not about being selfish or self-consumed - it’s about being self-focused.
Kindness towards others. Help others where you can, even something small like giving up your seat for someone on the bus or buying someone a cup of coffee gives your happiness feeling a buzz! You never know how much of an impact a small act of kindness can do.
Experience fulfilment. To be fulfilled in life gives you confidence, contentment and passion. All great ingredients to be happier, more of the time. Finding something you truly love doing, whether work, hobby or home life, is essential to live a happier life.
If that all seems overwhelming, or unattainable, it doesn't have to be. By taking a breath, and stepping back for a moment, you can work out some small, easy changes that will start making big differences to your positivity and happiness!
If you're super busy, a good place to start is with a morning routine.
Having a regular morning routine for you and your self-care - at the same time, in the same place, every day - has many benefits for you.
1. It creates a habit
2. It trains your brain to think of yourself first, before others
3. It allows you to quiet your mind before a busy day starts
4. It makes you feel good about looking after yourself more
5. It prevents burnout
6. It gives you more energy
I could go on....!
Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual (it will be worth it, I promise!)
1. Wake up, head to the kitchen, make a cup of your favourite morning drink
2. Get comfy in a seat you’ll make 'your place' for 'your time' each morning, and have your phone, headphones and a pen/paper with you.
3. Choose a short guided mediation to listen to from Insight Timer. Download here: https://insighttimer.com/
4. Sit in the quiet for 5 more minutes with your thoughts, writing down anything that comes to mind or list for the day ahead.
You’ll then be ready to tackle the day!
Notice how you feel each day from having that 15 minutes to yourself. There are many other things you can do in those 15 minutes - it's about finding what works for you - but the simple routine above is a great place to start!