What makes you happy; really, really happy?
Posted on 13th August 2014 at 07:30
It’s amazing the number of conversations we’ve had with people about our blog post a couple of weeks ago about mindset – What do you see, the rain or the rainbow? If you missed it, just scroll down to the picture of the rainbow.
This has led on to a more general discussion about happiness and what makes each of us happy. While we instantly know whether we’re feeling happy or not, it’s much harder to describe in words. Why is this?
For a start, happiness is unique. What makes me happy is different than for you.
The only way to find out what really makes you happy is to experience it for yourself. To go out and live your life so you can discover the unique things that make you happy.
Happiness is all about emotions and feelings. Not logic and thinking. At any moment, you either feel happy or you don’t. If you have to think about whether you’re feeling happy, then the answer is that you’re not!
Most crucially, true and lasting happiness comes from the inside. It’s a common mistake to think that happiness comes from outside, but this simply isn’t the case. How you react to something – positively or negatively – doesn’t come from the thing itself, but your own emotions and feelings about it. Whether you love or hate cats, this feeling doesn’t come from the cat itself, but your feelings about it.
It also explains why happiness can’t be bought with the latest “stuff”. At best it gives a temporary “high” quickly followed by a “low”. And why people who don’t seem to have much by conventional standards can still be happy.
The common thread running through all these discussions is that it’s the simple things in life that truly make us happy. The little things that happen during the day. Ephemeral and easily missed. A child’s laugh. Beautiful sunsets. Picnics with friends. A song on the radio. The list goes on and on.
And the best thing is that as you start to notice them, more come along. Your focus starts to change to the things that make you feel happy and, gradually, the things that don’t start to fade into the background. If this sounds too good to be true, just try it. It works!
Many people have said that being happy is our natural state. So why do we find it so hard to be happy?
An easy answer would be that we’re too easily distracted by our modern world. Too busy rushing around. Too busy worrying about the future or reliving the past.
We simply don’t spend enough time in the here and now to notice the things that make us happy. They are there for us to see them, if only we’re paying attention.
We forget to appreciate what we have, instead focussing on the things we don’t have. Or the things we have, that we don’t want.
Comparing ourselves to others and the things they have, that we think we should have too.
If we’re so busy seeing all the negative things around us, how are we ever going to see all the good things? Which brings us right back to where we started, What do you see – the rain or the rainbow?
Funnily enough, seeing the things in your life you don’t want, can help you get back on the happiness track. But only if you use them to help work out what you do want instead.
It may be as simple as going for the complete opposite or may require a little more digging to discover. Either way, as soon as you’re clear on exactly what you do want, your focus changes and that’s what you’ll start to see showing up in your life.
If this all seems a bit too abstract for you, here’s how it works in practice. Say you hate doing the food shop and think all the staff are unhelpful. So, as you go off to your favourite supermarket, all these thoughts are running through your mind. As is your negative mood. It doesn’t matter whether you’re conscious of this or not, it’s all still going on.
So what are you going to tune in to as you do your supermarket shop? The helpful staff or the unhelpful ones? And whichever type you come into contact with, how are you going to react to them – positively or negatively? Most likely the latter. It’s no surprise then that the end result is a reinforced negative mindset and so it goes on.
By way of contrast let’s say that going to the supermarket still isn’t your favourite job, but you’ve now moved to a more positive mindset. Perhaps it’s that the staff are doing the best they can. Regardless of the staff you come into contact with, isn’t this going to result in a more positive experience?
It may seem like a small change, but it makes all the difference as you go about your day. Just try it and see.
Even better, why not take time during your day to top up your happiness reserves by noticing the small things that make you happy?
You’ll be amazed how many of them there are, if only you take the time to see them. And if you feel that you just don’t have time to do this, then ask yourself why not?
To get you going, here are a few of ours:
Pottering in the garden, sweet peas, a child’s smile, a wicked sounding laugh, Bella the Bichon, walks by the sea, tea with friends…
As always, the choice is yours.
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