I think my main message through writing this blog is to bring home the idea that habits are the key to happiness. It’s often something we hear over and over again especially if we’re trying so hard to find and create that sense of ease and happiness in our lives. But sometimes in our frustration it can land on deaf ears or these habits start to become so cliché.
Starting the intention to change can be the hardest step. We’re comfortable in our routine habits, mindsets and beliefs yet we rarely see the connection between each one. Each one is feeding the other and so creating our lives.
It really is starting with little habit changes and realising how we’re choosing to show up in the world through the way we think.
This week I thought I’d post a Lifehack article I wrote a while ago highlighting the common negative thinking we’ve been conditioning ourselves towards and the need to drop them 🙂
There’s immense power in writing things down. It’s very easy to think about our hopes and dreams, or positive and negative emotions but in the act of writing them down, our brain is forced to process the feelings more intentionally. It’s this process that can generate a type of therapy or create a sense of excitement within us that helps towards that all-important happiness.
There are several ways the power of writing things down can increase our happiness.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal – The combination of writing and feeling gratitude is extremely powerful. The act of doing this allows us to think back through our day in a positive way. Our brains are wired to look for the negative in order to survive and keep us safe so we need to make that extra effort to think about the positive aspects. Physically writing our blessings down means you’re able to look back over what you’ve written and further make you realise the wonderful things currently in your life. So each night write out the best thing that happened to you that day (even if it’s as simple as a free coffee or a smile from a stranger!) and then list out 10 more things you were grateful for happening. Keep this up and you will feel it getting easier and easier to find things to be grateful for 🙂
Lists – We can often feel overwhelmed with the amount of things we need to do each day so writing these tasks down is a wonderful way of organising them in our mind. Crossing each one off helps the feeling of productivity and raises your feel-good worthy vibes.
Writing Out Affirmations – Each morning get out a pen and paper and write out a few meaningful affirmations and use them as your mantras throughout the day: I am worthy, I am loved, I am a successful person, I am capable of anything!Keep them in your wallet, write them on your mirror, or stick them on a post-it note to act as reminders. Take the time to really think about what you need to hear from yourself – it may feel corny as you write them out, but they feed you that little bit of positive reinforcement throughout your day and slowly creates a more positive mindset from within rather than validation from other people.
Keep a Daily Journal – You might associate journals with teenage girls but journal-keeping has come a long way since the 80s! Writing down how you feel is a good therapy session. If it’s negative it can help get it in the open because physically writing it out and re-reading can give you further perspective on the subject. It allows you to really reflect on why you feel that way and find a way to change it. You can also just use a journal to set out your positive intentions for the day and helps keep tabs on your productivity keeping you aligned with your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. I personally use The Daily Greatness Journal but even just getting a plain notebook and doing it ad hoc is still very powerful.
Writing things down helps with awareness. Most of the time we’re on autopilot and don’t structure our daily routines. This means we aren’t always being mindful of how we live our lives. By writing things down, we can start to understand how we think, why we think the things we do, challenge these perspectives, know ourselves better and see the world in a more positive light. So get out that pen and paper and harness the power of writing things out 🙂
There’s a lot that man’s best friend can teach us. Not only are they loyal companions but they have the ability to be mindful in the moment. This means less overthinking, less negative emotions and more appreciation for the world around them.
Here are 10 things we can learn from our canine companions!
Enjoy the Present Moment. Dog’s are simple creatures which is probably the main secret to living a happy life. They’re able to focus on one thing at a time and enjoy it whether it’s a nap, eating their dinner or their morning walk. They can go from sleeping one minute to barking at the postman the next showing the ability to let go and move on from each moment and being present in each one of them.
Don’t Hold Grudges and Love Unconditionally. As humans, it’s easy to hold grudges and judge others for their actions but this only comes from our fragile ego. Dogs, however, even when they’re left for a few hours, don’t hold it against you. Instead they’re more focused on being happy to be reunited with wagging tail and nothing but love.
Celebrate Success. Acknowledging our successes is really important to leading a happy life and dogs do this all the time. Doing what their owner tells them to and getting a treat for it is their way of celebrating a positive success.
Be Excited About the Little Things As Much As The Big Things. A walk, a new person, a bit of chicken, seeing you come home, a different smell – it’s an endless attitude of gratitude in a dog’s mind. Being thankful and finding the wonder in the small things is what happiness is all about.
Trust. Dogs put their entire trust and faith in us to look after them and they do it with endless love. There’s no doubt or judgement in our capabilities which is something many of us struggle to do with each other. Having a little more faith in others builds a better connection and less resentment in relationships.
They Show Themselves Compassion. When dogs are tired they’ll sleep. This may seem obvious but how many of us will work ourselves to exhaustion not looking after our health and minds. Dogs know what’s best for them and they do it because they instinctively rarely go against their needs for optimum survival.
Don’t Judge Others. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your skin colour is, your religion or what job you have (unless maybe you’re a vet!) a dog doesn’t care or judge. They see everyone as the same. Dogs feed off peoples’ energy just like us but humans sometimes let preconceived ideas get in the way too. We all need to be more like a dog and be more accepting.
Mindfulness. Dogs are so in tune to everything around them whether it’s a leaf falling or a squirrel running across the garden. They are aware and mindful of what’s going on and usually without the overthinking and hundreds of distractions we have. Mindfulness is another important key to being present in the moment and appreciating one thing at a time.
They Enjoy The Journey. We’ve all been told happiness is the journey not the destination and dogs are a great example of this. They don’t tell themselves that they’ll be happy once they get to the park. They are enjoying the car ride there, the getting ready to go, the anticipation of knowing the park will eventually turn up. They enjoy each moment right up until they see that park through the car window. This is what a happy life is all about.
Don’t Take Things So Seriously. Dogs live like every day is their last. They will have fun, spend hours playing with a stick or an old tennis ball – they aren’t worrying about what they’ll be doing tomorrow. Fun is the aim of their life.
We can’t all live a dog’s life but we can learn from how they choose to perceive the world around them and inject more of these principles into our attitude and daily habits. Next time you see a dog, let it be a reminder to you to be more like them!
If you’re an animal lover then having a pet is a great addition to your life. I’m a self-confessed dog lover. I love everything about them. I love their endless ability to be happy no matter what’s going on and the abundance of love they seem to dish out at every opportunity. I really think we can learn a lot from their unconditional state.
But what are the roles that animals play in our happiness? Pets in general can supply us with an amazing amount of happiness and here are some ways that the furry addition to your life can enhance your overall well-being.
They stop us from being lazy. Especially if you have a dog, getting outside and walking is a great benefit. Studies have shown that walking with a dog makes us walk 28% faster than if we were walking with a person resulting in dog walkers having higher fitness levels.
They make us healthier. Aside from keeping us active, exposure to animals at an early age can lower the risk of developing allergies. Petting animals produces a higher level of antibodies in our systems that fight off allergies later in life.
They help to heal us. Having a well-loved pet can lower stress levels resulting in less cardiovascular problems and lowering blood pressure caused by stress. Even people who have had heart attacks have been known to recover quicker when owning and interacting with a pet.
The ability to unite. Having pets diffuses tension resulting in more unification within squabbling families. People tend to laugh more and be more playful around animals and therefore creates a more harmonious environment.
They provide emotional benefits. It’s no secret that having a companion helps relieve loneliness and elevates our mood. Pet owners have found to be more physically fit, less lonely, suffer less from depression, are more conscientious and less preoccupied than non-pet owners. They also trigger a larger release of oxytocin which we all know is the feel-good hormone and therefore leads to a larger sense of happiness and well-being.
Any dog or cat owner can tell you how happy their pet makes them. There’s something about coming home to an excited wagging tail and the feeling of something wanting to genuinely spend time with you. There are countless benefits to having a furry friend in our life.
How often do we just accept our perspectives on things?
Our perspectives come from our beliefs – the beliefs that are formed from the people around us or the experiences we’ve had. But we hang on to these perspectives for dear life believing that how we see things is the correct way.
I think if we want to be happy we need to question the way we choose to see the world around us.
Everything in this world is neutral. Every situation, circumstance, object or person is neutral and it’s only the label we put on these that cause them to mean something to us.
I can’t remember where I read this but there’s a good analogy about a rainy day. A rainy day is not good or bad. A couple on their wedding day will see a rainy day as bad yet a farmer wanting his crops watered will see a rainy day as good. Neither is a right or wrong perspective but you can guarantee which set of people will be experiencing a more stressful day as a result!
The importance of this is that it can be applied to anything in our own life. We can choose to see a positive perspective or a negative one. We are the ones doing the labelling and whatever we choose will also condition and train our mind over time to see these different situations and circumstances in the same way.
Once we label something it has the tendency to stick. If you always associate a rainy day as ‘bad’ then there’s more chance of you always associating a rainy day as a negative in the future.
So how can we use this to increase happiness in our lives? Every time you choose to label something happening to you as ‘negative’, stop and question yourself. Is it really negative? Could it just be the way I’m choosing to look at it? How could I spin it to a positive? Even doing this in a small way will condition your mind to see the good in even dire situations and you will start to see more positivity around you and feel it within yourself.
Once we do this we can also start to understand other people in a more empathetic way. We can realise others are seeing things and reacting to things based on their limiting beliefs, their current life circumstance, thoughts they’ve created from other people, or the culture and society they live in. Understanding this means we can detach ourselves from getting upset or offended so easily by others.
So remember, everything is neutral and you are the one giving it meaning. To live a happier life, start to see things in a more positive light and question why you are giving certain negative meanings to things. It can be a good step towards leading that happier life 🙂
We all want to improve ourselves in some way. The start of a new year seems the perfect time to re-evaluate ourselves and think of ways we can make our outlook on life more positive.
It’s easy to set goals such as getting fit or getting involved with different activities and these are great ways to increase our happiness. However, without consistency, achieving happiness in this way can only be short-lived.
That’s why setting goals around improving your energy is a much better way of cultivating the happiness we all want to have.
By energy, I mean the way we feel about things, people and situations. Asking yourself what is the energy is behind what you want to do – are you feeling good about it or are you feeling forced and reluctant?
Getting more in tune with our emotions is hugely important in guiding us on the right path. Many of us choose to ignore our gut feelings or dismiss our intuition about things but it’s exactly this that is routing us to a better direction.
Energetic goals could be anything from changing your mindset, trying to be more understanding about other people’s situations or opinions, being more open with people or more vulnerable with your feelings, or just not giving in to the comparison game. All these things involve your inner energy and emotions and effect how you feel which, in turn affects how you act and make others around you feel.
In fact it’s a massive circle that starts with you. If you change your mindset and outlook to a more positive and open one, it will radically change how you feel about yourself, those close to you, strangers you come into contact with, your reactions to negative situations and rubs off on everything around you.
So instead of trying to lose 10 pounds or vow to make more money, try evaluating your energy and set your goals around how you feel. How do you want to feel today, this week, this month or by this time next year? By doing this other areas of your life will magically transform for the better and increase your ability to see and feel happiness all around you 🙂
Life is full of ups and downs and the way in which we react to them are very different depending on our mindsets. But something we can all be guilty of is feeling sorry for ourselves.
While it’s normal, natural and healthy to feel our negative emotions to a situation, when it becomes too persistent and prolonged – even a habit – then it can have a detrimental effect on our happiness and well-being.
Do any of these describe you?
You tend to complain about life not being fair
You feel like you always have bad luck in life
You often think and feel the world or other people are out to get you
You think people who have great lives are the ‘lucky ones’
You struggle to find anything to be truly grateful for
As human beings, we are always drawn to the easier route and in this case it’s easier to feel sorry for ourselves than to pick ourselves up and face our problems. We can let our overwhelming feelings of pity get in the way of moving forward, creating a better mindset and better perspectives.
The problem with this is, we never really allow ourselves to reach our true potential of happiness.
It can blind you to the good that is right there in front of your face. You can push people away with constant ‘glass half empty’ chatter because, sometimes without knowing it, negativity can spread like wildfire to others around you.
None of us are perfect and we all throw ourselves a pity party every once in a while but to be more consistent in our personal discovery of happiness it’s really important to make a conscious effort to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and move forward.
More often than not, negative emotions will breed more and more creating an everlasting circle and it’ll become a destructive habit. We believe it takes too much effort to start changing our thoughts, beliefs and perspectives – that they’re too ingrained in us and something we have no control over – but it’s not true and to change our thoughts is never as hard as you think it is.
Next time you notice a prolonged period of time where you feel nothing ever goes right for you, just stop and take note of it. Make a conscious choice to see the opposite perspective. The people out there who are ‘lucky’ are no different to you and me other than the way they choose to see the world.
Make your happiness a choice…it’s not always something that just magically appears but does needs cultivating and consistent habits in order to achieve it 🙂
It’s probably become a bit of a cliché to say that you should be yourself no matter what. But authenticity is a major factor in achieving a more peaceful, happy way of life.
We all have our little insecurities and hang ups whether it’s the way we look, certain parts of our personalities, how we sound or the way we walk. We often harbour beliefs about ourselves that can stop us showing others how we really are but by doing this and not embracing ourselves warts and all, we are shutting ourselves off from a lot of happiness potential.
Being yourself attracts more authentic people. When we are our true selves we are putting ourselves out there – we are being vulnerable and doing it anyway. We attract what we give out so by being as authentic as we can will attract others who are being authentic.
We will attract the right kind of people because they are seeing who we really are. By not fully embracing ourselves we can’t be fully embraced by others and the relationships and friendships that will bring us the happiness we need.
It will also deter the people who won’t fit into our lives and this isn’t a bad thing. Never worry that by being yourself others will see you and all the faults that you see in yourself – these are only a figment of our paranoid imaginations anyway!
Loving yourself is the best thing you can do. To be your authentic self you need to learn how to love yourself. Some people may need more work on this than others depending on the false beliefs and perspectives they have of themselves but you have no idea how many of the negative problems that occur in your life can be resolved by just seeing how amazing you are.
You don’t have to be successful, rich, give all your money to charity and help everyone but yourself until you’re stretched and exhausted, to be an amazing person. You are unique and wonderful just for the sheer fact you are alive and the sooner you realise this the better 😉
Learning not to be a people pleaser. How many times do we say yes to people out of politeness or not wanting to let them down? While this is good sometimes, you are putting yourself at risk of lowering your authenticity every time. You are going against what you truly want to do or say which only keeps up the pretence and illusion and may even cause you stress in the process.
Learn to say no and love and respect yourself more to not chase after people in order to please them. That doesn’t mean being rude and offhand – it’s about respecting your boundaries and asking others to respect them too.
Make peace with how your life is in the present moment. We’re all guilty of chasing after the happiness that will come when something happens and a lot of the time that something either never comes or doesn’t bring us the happiness we craved.
To be authentic means to live in the present moment; to appreciate right now and not be constantly living in the past or the future. We are not the person we were in the past nor are we the person we will be in the future. Embrace how you are right this second, go with the flow of how you’re changing and adapting to life’s experiences.
Don’t be who other people want you to be. Society has managed to inflict rules upon us that cause us to act, speak and often be people we feel others think we should be. By bowing down to a way of life that doesn’t truly match our inner selves and passions, we are shutting off our full potential.
Life is too short to live according to how others feel we should. Most of the time the beliefs that others have are from their own limited idea of the world and it’s these limitations that have the potential to stop you from showing yourself as you really are and reigning in your happiness in the process.
Don’t compare yourself to others. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, comparisons are only detrimental to you. You can’t compare yourself to someone else – a completely different person with different perspectives, beliefs, thoughts and limitations. Doing this damages your ability to embrace who you are in the present moment and making peace with your own unique journey in life.
So remember, for your happiness to truly flourish you must make yourself your number one priority.This isn’t about being selfish, it’s about going to the source and creating the means to living a life you want. Loving yourself and being authentic can only affect others around you in a happy and positive way so it’s the least selfish thing you can do 🙂
I think we can all be guilty of this. When life isn’t quite going our way we focus on just that – that life is not going our way! What about what is going our way?
It’s become a bit of a cliché when it comes to happiness – be grateful and appreciate what you have in life – it goes over our head because we’ve heard it a million times and we stop applying it to our own lives.
But there’s great power in how you focus. There are times in life when everything is moving along perfectly and there are times when, well, it just isn’t. However, the way in which you step back and look at what is going on – the bigger picture – really can be the difference between feeling positive and just feeling crappy.
If your life is taking a turn or you are struggling to see how life is good try to steer away from focusing on the lack.
Our minds are naturally drawn to focus on lack and what we don’t currently have in our lives that we would like to have. If we want the perfect job but feel we don’t have it, we may focus on our current job and what’s wrong with it like the annoying boss and the boring work, but instead try and focus on what’s good about it. Maybe your commute is short and trouble-free, you have fun colleagues, the pay is enough to deal with your bills. The more you focus on the good things about a situation that’s less than ideal, the more you can cope with it.
Remember every situation is temporary and we’re continually moving forward. When we focus on the better things, our mind fights us and thinks we’re trying to accept a situation we hate and thinking about the negative aspects is somehow helping us, that focusing on what’s not there but wish was is somehow going to help us change the situation – but it’s not!
Focusing on the abundance rather than the lack isn’t about giving in. It isn’t about just accepting the situation and desperately trying to be happy about it. It’s not about accepting it’ll never change; it’s about changing your inner thoughts which, in turn, will gradually change your level of happiness. It’s when you’re in this better state of happiness that you’ll be in a better state for moving forward and inspired action will present itself to you – that perfect job will suddenly appear in the strangest of ways!
So next time you find yourself focusing on something you don’t have like a relationship, perfect job, perfect house or enough money, try to change your thinking to that of abundance – the love of your friends and family, a job that pays the bills for now, a roof over your head (maybe a small one but a roof all the same!) and the money to buy you what you need.
Remember focusing on abundance is about putting that monkey mind at ease and allowing it to enter a more positive state that will go towards opening up paths to new opportunities that frustration, apathy and depression from focusing on lack can block.
So perhaps try noticing how much you focus on lack and change your perspective to that of abundance. Make it a conscious, consistent habit and start seeing the positive changes to your happiness 🙂
I came across this quote recently that really struck a chord.
“The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life.”
People always tell us that to be truly happy we need to live fully in the present moment. But while this is true, we can still find ourselves living in the past – longing for past situations, believing that we were happier then than we are now or maybe thinking about negative things that have happened to us and not quite being able to move past it.
I completely agree with this quote. How can we honestly say the past was better in some way when we weren’t fully aware of those present moments? If we constantly live in a state of desperately wanting the past how are we truly living in the now?
The past does matter but only in so much as it has made you into the person you are today. The past has its place, in that, you are the person you are because of what has happened before. This is to be cherished both for those good times and those tough times but to move forward you have to release on past situations.
The future will one day be your past. This shows that nothing actually matters other than the present moment. If the past has happened and the future will one day be your past, you only really have the present moment to be truly happy.
Realise you’re not the same person. If you find yourself longing for the past or the person you once were, remember that you aren’t the same person anymore. You probably have different perspectives, beliefs and ideas that wouldn’t serve you back then. Embrace your growth and know you are always moving forward in the right direction.
Know the importance of letting go. Guilt, anger, bitterness and resentment all stem from past experiences that, no matter how much we hang on to them, don’t serve us in our quest to be happy. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean condoning what happened, it just means letting go of the situation and the negative feelings surrounding it in order for you to move on.
A lot of our current negative beliefs are based on our past. It’s hard to change our mindset or perspective on something when we’ve had negative experiences connected with it but remember to think of each new present moment as a clean slate. We have the power to change our negative beliefs at anytime and not be a slave to the past.
As I said, the past has its place. The awareness of the past can lead you to a further understanding of the present but never dwell on past situations or experiences – process them, move forward and be happy in the here and now 🙂