“Hope Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”― Alfred Tennyson
This is part 2 of the 2-part series on ways to rediscover your natural center of happiness. You can read part 1 here.
11. Take Charge Of Your Energy
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”― Nikola Tesla
There is a lot of emphasis in the field of self-excellence on time management but I think a more effective strategy is to manage your levels of energy along with your time. When you have a high level of energy to face life, you are happier and experience more well-being.
Understanding your natural circadian rhythms and energy cycles and playing to your strengths will make you a lot happier.
Taking charge of your energy involves the plugging in of energy leaks and sinks in your life when you find them.
Energy leaks can be:
Physical: Too little sleep, no exercise, too little water and non-nourishing foods.
Mental: Erroneous thinking and brooding.
Emotional: Experiencing emotions and feelings in the body that do not enhance your energy and mental lingering on the emotions that sap your energy.
Relational and Locational: People and places…are they bringing your energy down?
Spiritual: Is the lack of a connection to a spiritual practice.
As you begin to take charge of your mental, physical, spiritual, relational and emotional energy leaks and sinks and choose options that enhance your well-being, you experience greater happiness.
Think thoughts that make you feel great.
Do practices such as meditation and exercise that make you feel great.
Consciously block the energy of energy vampires and choose uplifting interactions.
Redecorate and declutter your surroundings to reflect your personal taste and that makes you feel great.
Choose to feel great! Smile, a lot!
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” ― Aristotle, The Philosophy of Aristotle
12. Practice Mindfulness And Awareness By Engaging All Your Senses And By Unitasking
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Stepping into Freedom
How can we be more mindful?
Look at things from the eyes of a beginner…
Practice deep breathing…
Gently bring yourself back to the beauty and joy of a simple moment in the present and choosing to not live entirely in the past or the future…
Eating and walking gently and with consciousness..
Labeling your thoughts and watch them as they come and go as clouds…
Allowing the present moment to be and allowing resistance and judgment to fall apart…
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz
13. Break Assumptions By Testing Everything For Yourself
“We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.” – Stephen Covey
Memes or mind programs are structures that we have created or set up in the form of neural networks that manifest as our behaviors and habits. The only problem is that not every belief that you hold about yourself and on the world may be entirely accurate.
We assume many things:
I cannot do it.
Someone did not smile at us…they do not like us.
A speeding car driver is arrogant.
An angry person is wrong.
I cannot manage money and there is no point trying.
Assumptions decrease the quality of your life and rob you of your happiness because they may be arguing for your limitations and why you should remain stuck.
The solution: Become a scientist in your life and test everything out for yourself.
If your conscious mind and beliefs are saying something about you, test them out in the real world.
For example: You are not a creative person. You should not even try.
Test this assumption out for yourself.
Was there a time that you were highly creative in any field?
Did you improvise a recipe to make a new dish?
Did you come up with an innovative solution to a problem at work?
Were you creative as a child? I am sure that you were!
Chances are that you are highly creative but have all sorts of assumptions about why you are not and you simply opt-out.
Experiment and test everything that you believed that you could not do and you may just be astonished at the results.
Assumptions just fall apart in the face of data and results from life experiments. And you are the scientist of your own life.
“You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions.” – Denis Waitley
Test out everything for yourself. Be The Scientist In Your Own Life.
Do not buy into what your beliefs, memes and what others are saying that you should do. Test it out for yourself and then decide for yourself.
14. Complete Things Or Let Them Go…Incompletion Weighs You Down
“Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe.” ― C. JoyBell C.
Every little incompletion leaves a mental, emotional and physical blueprint of your lack and unwillingness to complete what you began in earnest.
When you either let go or complete projects that have remained in half completed status, you give the room for novelty to come forth in your life. If you are too pre-occupied by incomplete clutter from the past, how can you make room for new ideas and things and advances to come into your life?
Incompletions have a way of weighing down upon you and you feel like you are carrying a burden too great to bear.
“The greatest step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Take an incompletion and make sure that you see it to completion.
Complete things or let go of them. Do not stay in the middle.
15. Drop The Perfectionism And Your Impossible Standards
“You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.” ― Lisa Kleypas, Love in the Afternoon
One of the quickest and most effective methods of becoming instantly happy is to recognize where you are getting stuck because you have impossibly high standards.
Perfectionism is a great quality to have but when it reduces your happiness, it may be time to go for excellence. Do the very best that you can with what you have and then do not worry about it.
The habit of trying to make things better when they are already fine may have deeper causes such as a low self worth and value and feeling inferior to others.
When you value yourself and your work, you allow perfectionism to fall away and become satisfied with the best that you are doing instead of aspiring for a standard that is impossible to reach.
Replace perfectionism with personal excellence.
Become worthy in your own self-image, love your work and approach life from that viewpoint.
Lower impossible standards and replace with “good enough.”
16. Challenge yourself: High skills And High Difficulty
“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.”― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Paradoxically, the reason why people frequently do not feel great happiness in their lives is because they have become victims to “the zone of comfort.” Slowly and steadily, they habituate themselves to a life that looks remarkably similar day-in and day-out.
Gone is the feeling of thrill, excitement and anticipation of novelty. Once you get good at a skill, you set the thermostat to a comfortable range and then forget about it.
Research from the field of Flow from the seminal work of psychologist and scientist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has shown that a state of optimal experience or flow is achieved when we engage a high difficulty level with a high skill level. It turns out that humans love a challenge and the engagement and subsequent solving of the problem causes intrinsic motivation, satisfaction and happiness.
“Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.”― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Consider the following:
Difficulty+High Skill level +Involvement+ Focused attention =Flow and accumulation of flow events = Happiness
Improve your skills and then challenge yourself continually and focus your undivided attention.
17. Make Time And Space For Your Creativity To Be Unleashed
“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”― Robert Henri
I believe that at our deepest cores, we are all creative geniuses. When you were a child, your enthusiasm for creative ventures and your belief in your abilities were boundless. But then others convinced you that you might not be “the creative type.”
The best solution is to rediscover and embrace your innate creative genius. Set up a creative space and allow yourself to unleash your creativity. It could be at work or at home but the idea is to come up with satisfying and novel synthesis with the knowledge and understanding that you have.
The most important reason why a lot of people do not pursue creative work is because of the lack of priority. You will need to carve out some time from your schedule and make it a habit to engage in your creative ventures.
If you would like to write, write frequently and set a time and place for it. Make creative expression a priority and not an afterthought.
Remember that the world needs your art. Launch your work out there even if you do not think much of it and do not feel like you do not have the time.
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”― Walt Disney Company
18. Drop The Self-criticism And Deprecating Self-chatter
“The biggest enemies of willpower: temptation, self-criticism, and stress. (…) these three skills —self-awareness, self-care, and remembering what matter most— are the foundation for self-control.”― Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct
One of the quickest ways to experience personal happiness is to let go of the critical and exacting mind. Your beliefs and your mind may attempt to constantly remind you of your inadequacies and that you are a failure. Every successful and happy person knows not to get carried away with self-criticism and ends up not placing too much importance or consequence to the chatter.
Happy people choose to tune out of self-deprecating talk and choose to flood their system worth empowering and enriching thoughts and feelings.
When you carefully choose the company that you keep and ignore mental noise, you are choosing to not engage with chatter that does not matter. Even the most successful people have moments of self-doubt and fear but they actively choose to ignore them and transcend them instead of being crushed by their thoughts and beliefs.
Instead of self-criticism, try self-inspiration and motivation towards personal excellence. Try a day and then a week of intense self-love and favorable thoughts and feelings and then see the difference in your happiness levels.
Do not take the adverse opinions of others and even of your own mind towards you very seriously. Reframe chatter with favorable opinions and refuse to get caught up in stories about how you are and should be.
Remember that you are worthy and you are good enough for this world and for yourself.
19. Do Not Hold On To Anger, Blame And Criticism Like Super Glue…Feel It And Let It Go
“Anger is like flowing water; there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you let it flow. Hate is like stagnant water; anger that you denied yourself the freedom to feel, the freedom to flow; water that you gathered in one place and left to forget. Stagnant water becomes dirty, stinky, disease-ridden, poisonous, deadly; that is your hate. On flowing water travels little paper boats; paper boats of forgiveness. Allow yourself to feel anger, allow your waters to flow, along with all the paper boats of forgiveness. Be human.”― C. JoyBell C.
Everyone feels anger, blame, criticism and a host of other emotions and feelings but everyone has the choice of staying with it or letting it go. While you are in the center of the storm of strong emotions, it is very difficult to let go and move on. However, it is precisely in this moment that you may need to feel the feeling and then let it go.
The most important reason why we find letting go to be difficult is because we might be feeling guilty and shameful of the anger, criticism and blame and resist the feelings. When we struggle with our feelings instead of maintaining a space of non-judgment and mindfulness, they become potent like super glue. The more we push them aside, the more they linger.
A better and more less used approach is: “thank you,” and acceptance of the feeling and then asking, “what can I learn from this?” Allow difficult feelings to be clouds in the sky to drift in and drift out. However, do not get too attached to your stories of anger, blame and fear because they will mask your natural wellspring of happiness if allowed to flourish.
Here are a few methods to let go:
Count to ten and breathe deeply.
Become aware of the original reasons and triggers of the difficult emotions.
Set up a new trigger or signal that reminds you that it is time to let go…use it abundantly.
Smile even if you do not feel like it…soon you will be back in your happiness center.
Change the topic and reframe in your own mind.
Try radical empathy and look at the situation from different perspectives.
20. Instead Of Measuring And Comparing, Choose To Get Fascinated And Inspired
One of the major reasons why you diminish your sense of unbridled happiness is because you may be constantly comparing yourself and your life to others.
We compare because we feel like the grass is greener on the other side. It seems like everyone else is having all the fun and social networks that constantly remind us of our inadequacies do not help either.
There is a better and a happier way. You may need to remind yourself that appearances can be deceptive and that everyone’s situation is unique. When you find things and aspects of your own life to appreciate and count as blessings, your life can transform.
Choose to regularly get fascinated and inspired by your life and the countless blessings that people take for granted.
You are highly unique and if you seek happiness in your own unique set of things, the comparison with others becomes one of apples and oranges.
Instead of constant comparing that diminishes happiness, choose fascination and inspiration…both from your life and from the life of others.
Appreciate the little things that you have to feel great happiness.
21. Get Off The Rat Race And Embrace Change…Choosing Meaning And Purpose
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”― Friedrich Nietzsche
Happiness depends on the choices we make and the questions you may need to ask yourself:
“Am I embracing or resisting change in my life?”
Am I choosing meaning and purpose or am I just trying to get ahead in the hedonistic treadmill of “more is better” and “I need to get ahead in the race?”
Research has shown that the best way to motivate yourself is to develop meaningful pursuits where you are able to address a higher purpose or calling.
When you have a great purpose, your reasons and your “why” transforms from extrinsic reasons to a source of intrinsic well being and flourishing.
Choose to get off the race and realize that change is inevitable. Allow yourself to grow and adapt yourself to the most flexible and happy version of yourself.
Define what makes YOU happy and what makes your life meaningful and on purpose. Write it down and refer to it frequently.
Realign your life gently towards your purpose.
Now over to you! Let me know in the comments below if this post resonated with you and how you find your center of happiness?