How to be happy
Maybe the oldest question in the world. How to be happy.
Happiness (pleasure) and sadness (pain) are part of the duality in the world as we know it. We could talk endlessly about why this is so, but that is not the angle that I want to take in this article. I want to talk about “what to do to be (more) happy when you’re not happy”. This while you’re perfectly aware of that continues (and unavoidable) swing between happiness and unhappiness.
Keep on moving
If you’re unhappy you probably have the tendency to “freeze”, to withdraw from your partner, from your friends, or even hide from the world. Well, an important way to be happy is, to recognize this, and to keep on moving (your energy). Consciously stepping -again and again- into the world, towards your partner and/or friends. Always keep on moving. You don’t have to, but staying (as a victim, in a frozen state) won’t help you to be happy either.
Slow down and relax
Maybe it sounds contrary, but if you’re so busy working, doing, trying, always busy, you don’t have the time to be happy. Working a double shift, taking care of the kids, sick family members, lots of hobbies, maintenance jobs, etc., constantly doing, thinking, only gives you stress and unhappy feelings. Happiness thrives more in a balanced state. So if you’re too busy, restore the balance, slow down and take some personal time. Do less, slow down, relax and enjoy all the good stuff that is in your life.
Clean up your home/act
In theory, you can be happy anywhere. In practice, you will be happier in an environment that supports your happiness. So clean up your (tiny) home. Throw out all that doesn’t make you happy. Fill your life, your relationships, your home, your work with the things you really like. Stop doing those things you hate so much. Happiness happens when you fit with your life. So focus on happiness. Live a more appropriate, simpler but happy life. And remember… less is more (happiness).
Be rich and happy
Wealth can be measured in different ways. If you want to be rich moneywise then you have to compromise (and probably work very hard). Know, however, that there are very few rich people that are really happy. Money can’t buy happiness. The rich and famous that are happy, made a career of their passion/talents, of the things they liked the most. They didn’t go for the money but for the gratification, that inner joy, that arises when you “live” your dreams. So (find your talent and) do what you love to do most and enjoy doing it. Wealth then is defined by happiness. And happiness is an inside job. So set your priorities straight.
Learn to deal with pain
The ego, the defense mechanisms that you developed in early childhood, can’t stand rejection, pain and can’t deal with unhappiness. However, by suppressing so-called “bad” or “negative” thoughts and feelings, you are not going to be happier. On the contrary, you are pushed away from happiness. So better you acknowledge them, accept whatever is, and move on to better times.
How to be happy?
Happiness happens when you fit with your life
Feel good, always feel better
Whatever state you’re in, you can always feel better. I wrote a separate article about this. Key idea is that everything is temporary. You can’t be angry all your life. You can’t be deep grief-stricken for long. Your mood is always on the move and you can decide in what direction it moves. So think or do something that makes you (more) happy.
Know your hearts desires
If you don’t know what makes you happy then you probably get what makes other people happy (and maybe makes you unhappy). So know what your heart’s desires are. What makes your heart tick? What is your passion? What is your longing in life? If you don’t have a clue then do some soul-searching. Doing an inquiry (on your own or with a good friend) could help.
99 ways to be happy
A little less “spiritual” but very helpful are the practical things that make you happy. Make a list of what makes you happy. Look at that list every day. Get inspired by it, make sure that you do the things on your list. It can be big things, can be small things. Having that dream holiday, enjoying that gorgeous cup of Cappuccino. Let your list grow over time. Even a list of 99 items is too small. Think big, think in abundance.
How to be happy?
Happiness is an inside job
Unmask, live more authentic
Millions of people live a life where they act precisely as they are supposed to. Sometimes, however, the structure you live in (society/work/relationship) is very rigid. You are put on a pinching mask (set of conditions) that defines how you have to behave. You (unconsciously) play all those “rolls” (as a father, husband, employee, righteous citizen, and many more) but YOU are not involved. You live robot-like, or as a big pleaser. Or only giving, giving… There comes a time that you will get very unhappy because of this. I am not saying that you should throw away all the masks, but I do say that you can live more authentic. Showing more of yourself, adjusting the masks to your flavor. At times even being where ever you are, without the masks.
Nourish your body
Happiness is a feeling in the here and now. It’s not a thought, it’s a feeling. What helps (me) is to be in the body. Live more bodily. So if a don’t feel so well, I start (again) to cherish and nourish my body. Taking good care of the temple I live in. Sleeping well, eating what is good for my body (find out), I do Masunaga exercises, regularly take a massage, go to the sauna, take a break. Whatever nourishes the body.
Embrace your senses
If you’re connected to your body, you can also use your senses to be happy. The world is full of beautiful things. In nature, in the city, even in the ugliest place there is always something magical. Listen to the birds, smell the morning breeze, really taste your coffee and food. Look around and see the beauty in the world. Open up and feel the world. Touch (lovingly) and let yourself be touched.
Love is a good feeling, love makes you happy. But to me love is also a verb. So practice love. Act as lovingly as you can. Start with yourself. Don’t criticize yourself so much! Love yourself a bit more. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are good as you are. The same is true for others. See the beauty in others and express that. Isn’t it great to be loved? Doesn’t that make you very happy?
Focus on your heart
Your heart is the source of infinite love. Your heart is the gate to that ocean of love. In fact, you are that ocean of love. The separation we are used to is the only blockage that prevents us from meeting that overwhelming joy of being in the heart. So if you want to be happy, even go beyond happiness, focus on your heart. Make heart meditation a big portion of your daily life.
Rise in Love
If you’ve ever fallen in love, you know that it brings ultimate happiness. It’s a state of being that is very close to a blissful state of being. When you are together with your lover time and space disappear, life seems infinite. Rising in love is similar but instead of “falling”, you rise to a higher level. It’s difficult to explain with words but falling in love is directed somewhere outside of you. Rising in love is more inward. It’s being in your heart and entering the vertical dimension. You “rise” into the depth of your love. Eventually tantric (heart) mediation brings you there.
So, how to be happy?
Happiness happens when you fit with your life
Happiness is our natural state of being. When our mind gets involved duality enters and human happiness gets split into pleasure and pain. Being happy stays a choice, however. If you’re unhappy: change, move to happiness! You can change the outside influence on happiness by changing where you live, where you work, whom you are with. Chose the surrounding where you can be happy, do the things that make you happy. Happiness happens when you fit with your life.
Happiness is an inside job
Even better, you can (also) balance the inside, live from your center (authentic self). Happiness is an inside job. When you are in order, the world is in order. You can live a happy, even blissful life. So clean up the house, get the real YOU involved! Less thinking, more feeling. Less in the head, more focus on your body and heart.
Practice love and grow in awareness. When you are in love, living with an open heart, having lots of free-flowing life energy in your body, when you’re radiating love in every direction, it’s very difficult to be unhappy.
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