The Importance of Mindset In Your Journey To Happiness

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Happiness is subjective – it can mean different things to different people. What will make one person happy may not make another feel the same way.

However, there are certain universal habits we can all adopt that will help us along in the journey to our own unique happiness and one of them is mindset.

Life has its ups and downs and we are inevitably going to come across hurdles and challenges – this is the reality of life. But how we choose to look at these times in our life can add to, or take away from, our personal happiness.

Mindset affects our responses to a particular situation or can, for example, determine how much effort we put into something and the strategies we adopt. Since we all have goals in life and situations we come across, mindset is particularly important in how we deal with life in general.

When it comes to our happiness, there are two types of mindset we can have – one is fixed mindset and the other is growth mindset.

Fixed Mindset – This kind of mindset damages our ability to experience happiness. A lot of us have it without even knowing and has been ingrained in us from a young age through the people around us.

A person with a fixed mindset believes everything is measurable and focuses on the goal outcome with an expectation of either success or failure with failure being the worst thing in the world. A person with a fixed mindset ignores the learning process, gets depressed and loses self-esteem easily becoming pessimistic (especially in the way they explain the world to themselves) if the outcome wasn’t as expected. They give up easily if a strategy or anything they set out to do didn’t work out for them.

Growth Mindset – This mindset is key to being much happier in our lives and for many is not a mindset we are overly familiar with.

A person with a growth mindset acknowledges that they will always learn from situations, hard times and challenges and be able to bounce back and be resilient. They believe that they are always growing and learning and that success in life (whatever that may be for you) is a continuous development of their skills. They reflect on strategies or situations and try alternatives if they didn’t work out. In essence, there’s no such thing as failure because it’s all about the journey, learning from mistakes and improving themselves.

 

So how do we adopt a growth mindset?

First of all realise you have a choice to change your mindset. It may not be an instant change but acknowledging you have the power to change your thinking, beliefs and perspectives is key to a happier mindset.

  1. Look out for your fixed mindset voice, it’ll say things like “What if you fail?”. We all have it somewhere – it’s pesky and undermining us!
  2. Recognise you have a choice to change it – we are all capable of changing and replacing thoughts to more positive ones (meditation is good for this!)
  3. Talk back to your fixed mindset with a growth mindset – the key to changing your fixed mindset is to challenge it: “are you sure you can do this?” “I’m not sure if I can do it now but with time and effort I can learn.”
  4. Act with your growth mindset and accept failure can happen and that it’s okay. It’s a process and a learning curve for growth – learn from setbacks and show yourself compassion.

Happiness is all in our mind and it’s our choice and our decision. It’s also subjective to each and every one of us but for everyone it’s important how we look at our journey to happiness. Bad things happen and it’s part of life, but we have a choice in how we look at them and interpret them.

Life can be challenging but with a growth mindset it’s about embracing your negative feelings and emotions but also not letting yourself dwell too much – understand that it’s an opportunity for growth rather than a setback.

Remember happiness is not luck, it’s a way of thinking 🙂

 

 

 

Are You Happy In Your Career?

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Happiness in our work and career is often overlooked. We are told from a young age that we work to make money and not to be happy but since the majority of us spend most of our lives in our job, isn’t it important to be happy while doing it?

While a lot of the time it could be a simple mindset change or creating a different perspective on our job, I think many of us fall into a career that we just don’t get excited about. We often get told that dreaming big doesn’t pay the bills and being successful in something that you’re passionate about or suits your ideal lifestyle is reserved for the lucky few.

We dream about escaping the 9-5 chains of the office, in a job that involves meetings, spreadsheets and endless back and forth emails. Whatever job you do, does it make you happy?

A lot of changes have happened in my life over the last few years – being made redundant from my 9-5 office job in London, travelling to China to teach English, moving to Norway for almost 3 years, and then making the decision to move back home. Career-wise, after a whirlwind few years, I suddenly found myself lost as to what I wanted to do and spent endless days searching for jobs I had experience in but wasn’t really interested in doing  – it was soul-destroying.

Until one day I realised I didn’t want to spend hours commuting to a job I didn’t want to do, in a place I didn’t want to be. I wanted freedom, I wanted to do a job on my own terms, I didn’t want to sit in an interview trying to convince someone I can do a job I ultimately didn’t want to do. It was a journey and one where I had to believe I could achieve what I want in life and life is too short to be spending it in an unhappy state.

I started this blog and from this I realised how much I loved writing. From no experience, I applied for a few writing jobs and I’m now turning this into a freelance career – one where I have the freedom to be creative and do what I love most – travel!! I’ve just come back from Paris and Prague which I wouldn’t have been able to do so easily if I had gone for that long-commuting office job. I don’t know where it’ll take me but I know I’m happy and that’s what counts 🙂

I wanted to write this for anyone who is currently unhappy in their job. If you are, I would strongly recommend you to read a wonderful book called Be A Free Range Human by Marianne Cantwell. It really helps you understand what you really want to do with your working life – it’s not a cliche book about how to find your passion but it’s about what lifestyle you want and focusing on what ultimately makes you happy.

So don’t think you can’t be happy in your job. We live in a time when people are breaking free from the jobs they hate and realising that it’s not all about slaving away until we finally retire looking back and wondering what we got out of it. You deserve to be happy all day every day so make it a reality 🙂

 

International Day of Happiness!

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Today is International Day of Happiness! The 20th March every year is the day that the United Nations have officially elected to be a day of happiness and to acknowledge that every person has a right to be happy and to experience happiness in their life.

Of course, happiness shouldn’t be experienced on one day just like all the other official or unofficial days throughout the year but it is a lovely reminder that happiness is out there 🙂

I thought I’d list the objectives listed on the U.N’s website as I think it sums up what the Day of Happiness represents 🙂

  • Do What Makes You Happy

Smile, share, eat healthily, exercise, be grateful, give back, think positively, spend some time with friends and family, spend some time alone, be mindful, dream, listen to music, say thank you and mean it, compete, be charitable, say “all the more” instead of “nonetheless” – you get it. Do what makes you happy.

  • Spread Happiness

While you’re doing whatever it is you do that makes you happy, don’t forget to do whatever you can do to make others happy! Happiness is contagious. A simple smile can make even a stranger’s day much brighter. You’ve seen the Coca-Cola commercial, right? It’s not a gimmick. Watch it; you will smile! Spread happiness.

  • Tell Everybody

There are more than 7,300,000,000 (that’s 7.3 BILLION+) people on this planet. Each one of them has the right to happiness, and not all of them know it. Tell them. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbours, your co-workers, and your boss – hold your government accountable for securing your happiness. Tell yourself, and remind yourself: happiness is a fundamental human right, and happiness for all is a fundamental human goal. Tell everybody.

  • Celebrate The International Day of Happiness

Article 2 of UN Resolution 66/281: International Day of Happiness

Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate awareness-raising activities.

Celebrate the International Day of Happiness.
Every March 20th, forever.

  • Support Campaigners

Since the International Day of Happiness was established in 2012, thousands of happiness initiatives all over the world have emerged to celebrate and promote its values. Happiness Day’s annually increasing success is due in every way to the organic uprising of mission-based organizations including NGOs, government programs, private sector marketing campaigns, and community-based movements. Support our campaign partners.

 

So go out today and do at least one thing that makes you happy and if you feel inclined, let me know what that is 😉

 

Is Low Self-Worth Ruining Your Happiness?

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We all struggle with ourselves sometimes. It’s part and parcel of being human. Am I enough? is a question that is pretty wide-spread amongst us all and can be found in even the most confident of people. Problems with self-esteem and self-worth can crop up in many areas of our lives. We live in a society where beauty, fashion and social media is consistently present in our lives. We are constantly bombarded with reasons to question our self-worth whether we realise this or not.

Low self-worth has become a habit for some. A person with low-self-worth has a brain programmed to interpret the world in a particular way despite what the reality is and don’t tend to think about questioning it. If good things are happening or nice things are being said the assumption will be that these are one-off events or people are ‘just saying that’ and it won’t resonate with them at all. Having low self-worth will even cause people to misinterpret others’ words and intentions and even go out of their way to see the insult behind the compliment.

But our sense of self-worth typically develops at a young age and we never grow out of the mindset. It can be affected by parenting for example. Particular positive encouragement from parents can create a sense of high self-esteem in a child whereas negativity can cause feelings of low self-worth even if completely unintentional (it’s interesting to note that you are highly likely to develop the same self-worth as a parent or an accumulation of both parents). Social status – what kind of neighbourhood you grew up in, friends you spent time with – can also be an influence.

A lot of the time it’s about individual thinking processes – people with high self-esteem, for example, will interpret new information about themselves as a positive no matter what that information is and people with a low self-esteem will immediately see something as a negative.

The way we perceive ourselves is very intrinsically linked to our happiness so if you feel you’re struggling with how you feel about yourself then what can you do to improve your self-esteem and self-worth?

The answer isn’t an overnight solution. It’s a mind shift but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we believe.

  1. Realise that what other people think doesn’t matter. Putting too much emphasis on others takes away your own self-worth.
  2. Don’t assume what people are thinking about you. Realise that how you think about yourself is only in your head. You wouldn’t want someone to assume what you’re thinking so why do this to others?
  3. Realise that no one really cares. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? But everyone is dealing with their own problems and their own thoughts and they’re really not focusing on what you said, how you look or what you’re doing.
  4. Don’t hold on to every negative. For every negative in our day there are 10 positives. This is a fact that we struggle to actually see. We are programmed to focus on the one negative thing that happened despite there having been plenty of small, great things too. For example, you always remember the nasty thing someone said to you one time but sweep away and forget all the compliments you’ve also received despite these outweighing dramatically.
  5. Realise that whatever has happened in your past is in your past. Every day is a new day to accept yourself for who you are. Whatever negative things your parents may have said or bullies taunted you at school about is nothing to do with you. For whatever reasons they also had low self-worth and projected this onto you and most likely onto other people too.
  6. Everyone has their strengths – even you! It’s important to reflect on your own strengths no matter how small you feel they are. Whether they are physical attributes, sides of your personality or achievements – these are all things people with high self-esteem focus on and they are absolutely no different to you…the only difference is their mindset!

These are only a few observations and there are many, many more. The key is really to realise that other people’s opinions are irrelevant when it comes to your life and your happiness. Happiness starts with you. Life is too short to live in a constant state of self-doubt and feelings of lack in ourselves. We all suffer from this to varying degrees (I include myself in this too!) but just getting on the road to feeling better about ourselves is a massive step in the right direction 🙂

Learning to Cope With Negative People

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Bringing more positivity into our lives can work wonders. Once we start getting into that happy mindset you can start to see the world through new eyes. But what do you do when you come up against negativity or, more specifically, negative people? You’re up there riding the positive wave and suddenly you can come crashing down from a bad comment or a bad attitude from somebody.

Whether at work, home or school we can come across these people quite often and it can have a detrimental effect on our happiness especially when we have to spend time with them or they are close to us.

It’s quite common to hear that spending time with negative people can bring you down while positive people keep you at that higher vibe for longer. The message we broadcast in our everyday lives have a profound effect on those around us. As social animals, we are extremely receptive to the people we establish relationships with whether they are colleagues, friends, family or even the barista we say hello to at the coffee shop. So as well as making sure we ourselves are not broadcasting a negative vibe to those around us, we must protect ourselves from the negativity of others.

We all know that person. The one that never has a positive thing to sayenters into a rant or always possesses a negative slant on everything. They may seem to be small things but they can lower our happy vibe very quickly.

So what can we do with the people in our lives that are constantly coming at us with negativity? The obvious answer may be to cut negative people out of our lives but this isn’t easy or necessarily something we want to do. Instead there is a strategy to lessen contact with these people that can be useful to combat these situations without going to extremes.

When someone is being negative and the situation is not allowing for positive communication to exist then the smartest thing you can do is follow these three steps…

Retreat. Spend time away from this person and away from their negativity. Whether that means stepping away momentarily or taking a longer break.

Delve into your positive resources. This is where your happiness habits really come in handy. Meditating, thinking about what you’re grateful for in your life, taking a walk, listening to a good song – anything that will get you into that positive state. These seem like small tips and tricks but what they end up doing is transforming the way our brain experiences its reality. The more we pull on our positive resources, the less impact a negative person can have on us and this is so important for our overall happiness.

Re-enter. If it’s someone you can’t avoid, have a plan about how you’re going to effectively communicate with them. Be positive with them and try not to spend time listening to any negativity. Smile, be pleasant and continue the positivity in small conversations and meetings with them. The aim is to create short, communicative bursts of conversation while maintaining a positive atmosphere. By doing this you establish a pattern of positive interaction where that person isn’t affecting you negatively as much and also, in turn, you’re positively influencing them as well.

Since we influence each other significantly in our everyday lives, it isn’t just important to lessen our time spent with negative people but the best way to combat this is by modelling the positive behaviour ourselves. By doing this we’re reminding people that there is that choice to have a more positive mindset.

Of course, spending time with more positive people is always a wonderful thing and finding that time to engage with them should be done as much as possible. It elevates us greatly and does wonders for our happiness. In our daily lives, it’s not always possible to avoid the negative ones so why not try and be an ambassador for positivity and teach them from your own happy outlook and mindset? If we’re not going to spread the happiness then who is? 🙂

 

 

Hector’s Lessons on Happiness

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I’ve just finished reading this great book Hector’s Search For Happiness by François LeLord which I found really insightful when thinking about what makes us truly happy, and thought it would be worth sharing with you.

If you don’t already know the story, it tells a tale about a psychiatrist called Hector who finds himself unhappy with life and unable to help his patients in a positive way. So he decides to up and travel the world to try and find out what makes people happy. He comes across many different people from all walks of life and asks them the all-important question – what makes you happy?

The following are Hector’s lessons on happiness. To know how he discovered them I encourage you to read the book (or watch the movie adaptation which stars the brilliant Simon Pegg) but in all I think that they help to sum up the notion of happiness and what happiness should mean to us – what do you think? 🙂

  1. Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.
  2. Happiness often comes when least expected.
  3. Many people only see happiness in their future.
  4. Many people think happiness comes from having more power or more money.
  5. Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.
  6. Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains.
  7. It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.
  8. Happiness is being with the people you love; unhappiness is being separated from the people you love.
  9. Happiness is knowing that your family lacks for nothing.
  10. Happiness is doing a job you love.
  11. Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own.
  12. It’s harder to be happy in a country run by bad people.
  13. Happiness is feeling useful to others.
  14. Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are.
  15. Happiness comes when you feel truly alive.
  16. Happiness is knowing how to celebrate.
  17. Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love.
  18. Happiness is not attaching too much importance to what other people think.
  19. The sun and the sea make everybody happy.
  20. Happiness is a certain way of seeing things.
  21. Rivalry ruins happiness.

Creating Habits For Happiness

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Since this blog is all about different ways of making happiness a habit in our lives, I thought I’d touch on the difficulties and importance of creating habits. Happiness is important and we all need it but we need to make it a habit and we all know starting a habit can be hard to do! But practising small daily habits can lead to building a better version of ourselves.

We usually start habits from a place of having had enough. We want something to change, we want something to be different. We have a picture in our mind of the goal we want to achieve, however this is where things can go a bit wrong. Our minds get seduced by the end goal and we are impatient to get there quickly. The idea of the goal fires up our enthusiasm which is great, but when the changes aren’t happening quickly we start losing the belief in ourselves and it can result in us giving up.

Change is hard – the brain has a built in mechanism which means we need to repeat something a lot for us to get better at it and after hundreds of repetitions (i.e thinking the same thought or learning new foreign words) our brains get faster at it. Unfortunately this is also how negativity has been ingrained in us from past experiences, thoughts and beliefs – it has almost become subconscious and this makes it hard to create new positive thoughts and habits that counteract this. But creating habits for happiness can be achieved.

So what is the secret to a successful habit? It’s all about understanding the importance of the present moment. We tend to take the present moment for granted – it seems insignificant and we believe the little things we do in the moment aren’t changing us.

For example, you want to learn something new and you read 10 pages of a book a day…if you read 10 pages today will you be more successful? No. If you don’t read 10 pages today will you be less successful? No. The difference between reading 10 pages today and not reading 10 pages today is insignificant in the moment but if you read these 10 pages every day for a year you will have read a lot of books and therefore changed your attitude and philosophy on the subject – it will have changed you.

You must invest in the small things over a long period of time and understand that you only have the moment you are in and although these moments seem insignificant when determining whether you succeed or fail at something, it is the combination of moments over time that achieve the big things.

This is especially important for bringing more successful habits of happiness into your life.  We need to stop looking so far ahead and not quit based on the day to day moments and realising the discipline to be aware that it is these insignificant present moments that ultimately achieve your goals.

It’s really important to realise that happiness is not about the big things that happen in our lives. It’s not about the money, the big house, the flash car, the perfect job, the perfect family – we tend to think we’ll be happy once these things are here but it’s actually about the little habits that you do consistently and persistently in your present moments. It can be something that takes 5 or 10 minutes in your day like taking a walk, being grateful and thankful for things in your life, ringing up a person you love for a chat or deciding to go for a run. These things gradually build up a mindset of happiness and improves our outlook on life sometimes without us even realising.

We are all on a different happiness journey but for all of us it is about choosing to make a habit of these moments and little things that can shift the way we feel and think. It is inevitable that we have our bad days and negative thoughts so don’t feel like you have failed when you have these down moments. A bad day does not cancel out a good one. Never dismiss the small moments that bring us joy as unimportant – that walk you take, that good chat with your friend, meditating, the 10 minutes you take cuddling your pet – it all adds up to a happier mindset and better life in the long term 🙂

 

The Art of Positive Thinking

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Us humans are funny, aren’t we? We are always striving to live happier lives yet we actually spend a lot of the time focusing on the lack rather than the abundance.

We have a tendency of seeing the negatives rather than the positives in a situation. We look at the things that are going wrong in our lives rather than what is going right.

And I don’t just mean on a large scale – our everyday thinking and perspectives on things can cause a huge impact on our mood and general emotional wellbeing. Choosing to purposefully see what’s good in a situation really does have an amazing effect on our minds.

For larger parts of our lives, maybe you don’t love your job but you have a good boss and you work with great people. You might be single but you’re able to have the time and freedom to do activities that you love, or meet up with good friends.

Positive thinking is a mind shift and an easy one really. When things don’t seem to be going right in our lives, that in itself is just a perspective that we choose to see. We have the power to change the way we perceive things and the situations going on around us. We can choose to see the negative or we can choose to see the positive. It’s really that simple. And which one would you rather do?

I can’t stress enough how we only have one life. Why choose to spend it worrying and living in a constant state of lack and unhappiness? (ok, it might not be that bad, but we probably tend to do this more often than we think!) Why not shift the thinking to a more positive spectrum? If this will guarantee a happier life then it seems the logical way to go. And the more we think positively and the more we radiate it, the more it will affect the people around us, our relationships with others which, in turn, will bring more positivity into our lives.

So in your daily life, just note how you react to things. Are you thinking in a negative way or a positive way? Also, notice the words that you speak. Are you speaking with a negative slant? Are you always complaining and moaning about things rather than talking about things in a good light? You may be surprised at how much the negativity is apparent in your daily life and this may just be fixed with a simple mind shift. Try and stop yourself when you find the negative chatter coming in and think of a way to spin it around on its head. A rainy, miserable day is only that because you’ve chosen to see it that way. I’m not saying to pretend it’s beautifully sunny but life and plans don’t have to stop because it’s wet outside. If it wasn’t for rain, we’d be living in a barren desert. Find ways to enjoy the rain or just embrace it more. If not, then at least find a more neutral way of looking at it.

So maybe make a habit of thinking more positively. Experiment over a couple of days and see how it changes your general outlook. And remember…you can’t live a positive life with a negative mind 🙂