Are you happy?
Bet that sounds like a loaded question, doesn’t it.
In this moment, on this day, I am happy. Very, happy.
But it hasn’t always been this way. I’ve definitely had my fair share of unhappy times. In my case, it wasn’t for any ground breaking reasons, but more so because I was playing the same sad song on repeat (literally & figuratively). I lacked the tools to get me through the “harder” times.
But I can tell you with all confidence, that I’ve learned to be (much) happier…and that if you haven’t already, you can too.
Happiness isn’t only for a lucky few who were born with horse shoes up their you-know-whats.
Happiness is a skill that can be learned and improved on. You have the ability to train your brain to be happier – and like all skills, the more you practice, the better you get.
By practicing mindfulness, a state of relaxed awareness, you can (and if you try this, you will) increase your happiness.
Happify, an online platform designed to train your brain for happiness, uses the acronym STAGE to describe 5 key elements for happiness.
Here’s a breakdown (in my own words) of the S-T-A-G-E (s) to learning and cultivating happiness:
Savour: Consciously taking time throughout the day to look into the eyes of someone you love, feel the breeze on your skin, hear the sounds of nature, taste the flavours of your food – and basically, appreciate the present moment. Savouring allows us to get out of our heads and our incessant thoughts of worry and add small bursts of joy, to what may otherwise seem like any ordinary day.
Thank: Studies continue to rack up the evidence that creating gratitude lists, even mental ones, not only increase happiness, but they’re also an excellent exercise for people recovering from addiction (and when you think about it, aren’t we all recovering from some kind of addiction? Addiction to worry, addiction to gossip – addiction to something that feeds our ego). Gratitude and appreciating what we already have, no matter how much or how little that may be, yields more things and moments to be grateful for. It’s not magic. It’s opening our eyes and shifting our perspectives.
Aspire: Optimism not only makes you happier and more pleasant to be around (unless of course, you’re sitting next to a die-hard pessimist who finds your zest for life just absolutely irritating), but a high level of hope and aspiration are also directly correlated to how well you perform – and therefore, how much you express your greatness and how much closer you get to your goals. Aspirations make us dream big, live big and love big.
Give: Giving can be anything from a gift, to a smile – or even a silent compliment. The point is to keep the channels open for giving and receiving, so that they become as natural to you as a plant that takes in carbon dioxide, and breathes out oxygen. Giving and receiving are our natural states, and when we block one or both, we block our happiness.
Empathize: Empathy is the ability to feel for others and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s one of the greatest skills for building fruitful relationships. Not to mention, it gives you a well-needed opportunity to take yourself out of your annoyingly insistent mind. Empathy allows us to be less frustrated with people, and in turn, a whole lot more patient.
There are definitely times that warrant deep feelings of anger, sadness, frustration. And there’s a wide range of emotions that we as humans need to experience, because without the contrast, how would we know what happiness really feels like, what it really is?
You don’t have to choose happiness all the time, but overall, living that way is pretty freaking great. So just know this one thing:
Your happiness is in your hands.
Peace, love and happiness,