I don’t want to look back upon my life and think “wow what an amazing life I have truly lived . . . . if only I had actually been mindful of it at the time”!
I don’t want to live with an absent mind, a mind that looks back on my past so often that I forget to notice the ‘right now’. I don’t want to spend hours lost in worry, or sleepless nights stressing about what is to come, that I don’t see the joy that is right in front of me in this moment! As the quote by Colette says
“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner”.
-Sidonie Gabrielle Colette
As a teen I was very preoccupied with my future, I worried way too much, and spent a lot of time scared of what bad things would happen. I was always waiting for the happiness bubble to burst. But what if the happiness bubble wasn’t about to burst? What if the only thing stopping my happiness was actually me sitting around worrying that one day I wouldn’t be happy? What if “I” was the only threat to that bubble bursting!? After all, thinking I was going to be unhappy because something bad was going to happen made me look for those potential bad things? It made me question all the good things in my life. Were they actually good? Did I deserve anything good? Was this guy I was dating really genuine, or was he going to hurt me? Was this opportunity really as good as it appeared? How could I be this lucky, surely something bad must be going to happen to end this lucky streak? I was constantly looking for what was going to go wrong! When we do this it almost becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The more we search for bad things, the more we are likely to find them, because ultimately we are attracting negative energy!
It may seem illogical, because who would actually want bad things to happen? Why would we openly attract negativity? We don’t mean to, in fact it is logically the last thing we want! We don’t want our fears to become our reality. But unfortunately unhappiness attracts unhappiness, and negativity attracts negativity.
Happy and positive people live happier lives. The thing is we often think it is because of things they own, or where they live, or because they are just lucky. The truth is two people can have pretty similar lives on paper. Take for example two women who live in the exact same street. Both are healthy, married to a devoted husband, and have one healthy child. Both have the same car, and both love their child and husband very much. They both go to work 3 days a week, they both have one living parent, and one not. They have the same cultural background, and both have a group of friends with whom they see regularly. But something is very different. One is happy pretty much all the time, she rates herself on a happiness scale as a 8.0. The other lady is not as happy, in fact she rates herself as a 5.5 on the happiness scale.
So what separates them? Their outlook on life! The way they view their life, who they compare themselves with, what value they put on the relationships in their lives, their gratitude, and their belief that they deserve to be happy!
The happier lady believes that she is so lucky to live where she lives and to be blessed with a beautiful, healthy child. She values her friendships, and is so grateful to have one of her parents still in her life. And even though she misses the other dearly she cherishes the time they had together. She trusts her husband and even though she wishes her came home earlier, and would hang his towel up once in a while, she really does appreciate all the wonderful things he does which means she greets him almost every night with love and a smile.
The lady who rates her happiness at 5.5, wishes she lived in a more expensive area, and she wishes her friends were a little less boring. She is grateful to have her child, a handsome husband. She wishes she wasn’t so snippy with him though, but it drives her crazy that he leaves his wet towel on the floor, and it really gets to her that he works late, it makes her question if he is cheating on her. So even though she hates doing it she checks his phone when he is not looking, and sometimes even checks his emails. She is grateful to still have one of her parents in her life, but it is hard for her to move past the others death. She doesn’t believe that her life is as good as it should be, and she mostly thinks this is because her husband doesn’t earn enough.
The happier we are, the happier we act. Happier people are more positive, they make people want to be around them, and they are grateful for the good things in their lives. They treat others kindly and they greet people with a smile. They make others feel welcome and wanted. Now of course no one is happy all the time! And no one expects you to be happy all the time! Good, healthy relationships support both ups, and downs. But it is easier to be around people who are mostly positive.
“Now I want to make clear that I am not talking about mental illness when I am talking about being negative, mental illness is just that, an “illness”! Depression and other mental illness is not something you can just cheer up, or snap out of! If you are finding yourself unable to enjoy life, feel like you are in a fog, crying a lot, feeling lost, or withdrawing from friends and family please speak to your doctor and close friends. Depression is something that you can get through, but please seek support. If you know someone is struggling please support them and help them get treatment. Here is a link that can help you know what to say. Beyond Blue, what to say and why.”
So just what can we do to be happier? Well in reality there is no magic set of things I can tell you here that will make you happier today, because happiness is very personal, and it is a journey that each of us have to take individually. When it comes to personal happiness there is “no one size fits all“. What we value, what we want out of life, what our purpose is, is different for all of us. I wish I could tell you what you could do to be happy, but only you have the answer to that! The true question you have to answer is “Are you willing to figure out what will make you happier?”
Happiness is very personal, as discussed above what makes one person happy, does not always make someone else happy. If you want to figure out how to become happier you will need to take time to figure out what things you truly value in life, and perhaps the things you have been putting value in, that no longer make you happy.
A great place to start though is gratitude, it is something that is often mentioned, but just kind of forgotten in the everyday moments and busyness of life. But gratitude has great power! I truly don’t believe we can be happy if we are not grateful for what we have. But it goes beyond being grateful for the people in our lives, and also the material thing in our lives. What is often not talked about when it comes to gratitude is having gratitude for ourselves. When was the last time you thanked yourself for all you do? Seriously think about it, when was the last time you thanked yourself for taking care of you!? Taking care of ourselves and respecting ourselves is one of the keys to being happy in life! So next time you cook a healthy meal make sure you thank yourself for nourishing your body. If you exercise thank yourself for caring enough to look after yourself. If you go to work thank yourself for the effort you put in, and the money you earn. If you have a child thank your body for working so hard to grow this tiny person and to bring him, or her safely into the world. If you walk thank your legs for carrying you. If you write thank your hands and fingers. When you read thank your mind and eyes. Our bodies and minds are amazing, yet we forget to be grateful for them! By noticing all the amazing things we are capable of each and everyday just by being alive, we start to respect and love ourselves more, and this in turn leads us to greater happiness.
By beginning with caring, and being grateful towards ourselves we also start to demand more happiness from other areas of our lives. We begin to realise that we actually deserve to be happy! We start being more present, and more mindful, and we start to treat others better too. Have you ever noticed yourself getting mad too easily? Snipping at your partner, getting annoyed too easily with your coworker, or yelling at the kids more than you’d like? If we are unhappy with ourselves and don’t treat ourselves with respect it is harder to treat others with kindness, and patience. I am sure you have heard before that finding happiness within leads to more external happiness and I totally agree. I have witnessed this in my own life many times. When I am happy and treating myself kindly my children always seem to behave better and play happier. When I in a grumpy mood, even when it is nothing to do with them, and even if I am not even saying anything, they are all grumpier, they pick up on my energy and seem to be more snippy with their siblings. It is the same if my husband comes home and is in a grumpy mood, I instantly feel my energy lessen and my tension rise, even though he is not negative towards me, or our kids I just feel the mood of our home shift. We have a profound effect on the people we are around, as they do on us. So on days where I am happy and hubby comes home unhappy, I can give him a huge hug and smile, and let him know I love him, my happy mood will improve his mood. Sure we can’t fix everything by being happy, but we can sure make it more bearable for others and ourselves.
There is so much more I could touch on, but I will leave it here for today. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment below. Do you agree, or disagree with what I have said? Do you have any tips on living happier? Do you believe living with more gratitude can make you happier?
I will write more on this topic in future posts. You may like to read this in the meantime “Let The Stresses of Today, Melt Away“.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
For today I ask you to go away and write a list of things you are grateful for. Try to write at least 3 things you are grateful to your own body or mind for, and 3 external things you are grateful for.
Thanks for joining me, love Mac xx