This is Why Practice Will Make You Perfectly Happy!
Life, it’s a busy and often hectic adventure. The demands on our time and attention can be intense, so we climb into bed at the end of the day feeling tired and…what else? Stressed and overwhelmed, or fulfilled and happy? Can we end each day and start the next with less stress and more happiness? Happiness experts say that the answer is a resounding yes, but like most everything good in life, it takes practice – happiness practice!
When we are chasing our dreams, taking care of our responsibilities, solving problems, and living our lives, happiness can seem elusive. When you think back on your happiest times, what comes to mind? Weddings, births and other family events, parties with friends, holidays, and special events bring great joy as we recall them with a warm heart. It’s easy to capture happy feelings when we are in the middle of these special moments. That happy feeling can then fade when the demands of our day-to-day lives take over. Do you find yourself looking forward to a special event ahead on your calendar because you know you will get that happy feeling back? We all do! It’s called the Pursuit of Happiness. We find ourselves chasing after, and waiting for, happiness to return.
There is another way to experience happiness. One that offers the opportunity to capture happiness every day, instead of relying on big events or even purchases to provide it. Wedged in between all of our tasks, responsibilities, commitments, and daily stressors are the hidden joys and gems that, when uncovered and captured, provide happiness. Happiness experts tell us to stop manufacturing and pursuing happiness but rather discover it in the small, quiet moments of life on a daily basis.
Like Dorothy learned in the Wizard of Oz, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.” At the end of her long journey to Oz, she realizes that her happiness was always with her, she just had to see it. We can all learn from Dorothy, and join her in discovering that happiness is nestled in our own unique, wild, and beautiful lives.
The path to uncovering and capturing happiness starts with really understanding the nature of happiness and where it comes from. When people are asked what makes them feel happy, they frequently reply, “spending time with my family and friends,” “doing something fun,” and “helping others.” That shows how the path to true happiness is through a feeling of connection with others, a recognition of the good things around us, and a sense of gratitude for what we have.
Connection, goodness, and gratitude can be experienced daily – it just takes practice! Here are some great tips to help you start your happiness practice:
Connection: We can’t help but be connected to family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances. Each of these connections provide the opportunity to increase our feeling of wellbeing and fulfillment, which is the foundation for greater happiness.
Daily happiness increases when connections with others, from family to mere acquaintances, are mindful and meaningful. When we first focus on connecting and then the task at hand, we increase our sense of wellbeing and fulfillment.
PRO TIP: Use the S.M.I.L.E. technique when you connect — you will be amazed at the results!
Make eye contact
Listen with purpose
Experience true connection
You can practice your happiness by placing photos and mementoes of happy moments you’ve had with your loved ones in areas where you spend time completing chores or where you fulfill obligations. Your work space, the laundry room, at the kitchen sink, in your car, and your bedside are great places to have reminders of why you do what you do. Places that may be mundane or generate stress will become places where you smile with joy.
Goodness: Being mindful of the good that you have created around you is essential to increasing a sense of overall happiness. It takes practice to train our minds to focus on the good over the stress. You can start by, well, stopping! Pause for a moment and actually look for the goodness around you. We wake up with our minds on what we have to do, our commitments and problems that must be solved that day.
Practice waking up putting all of that on hold for a moment, and see something that is good. It can be the comfort of your bed, a plant you have potted that is thriving, or that beautiful tree outside your window. Do not get up until you have uncovered three things that make you smile when you think of them.
Next, in front of your bathroom mirror, vocally tell yourself all of the good things you have to look forward to that day. This practice will put your mind and body in a happy place and it will set the tone for the rest of your day. For example, “Hi beautiful, how awesome is it that you get to take your amazing kids to the school they love and then go to that great job you have? There is that potluck to enjoy today!” It may sound corny, but practicing out loud and with gusto will increase your happiness. Uncover three things that are good in your life before you leave your front door.
Gratitude: Feeling grateful for the all of the meaningful connections you have and the good things around you is the cornerstone of your happiness practice. It requires you to find a few moments each day to recall connections you’ve made and the good things you’ve uncovered.
Some people use a gratitude journal to document what they are grateful for; some use meditation to experience gratitude. Others simply create a gratitude mantra that they repeat before sleep, “I am grateful for the people and good things that were in my life today. Thank you.”
Now that you have some tips and ideas on how to uncover happiness each day, how about capturing that happiness…in a jar to be exact. Creating a Happiness Jar helps you to grow and nurture your new found daily happiness. Here’s how:
Choose a jar that brings a smile to your face. It can be a vintage Mason jar or an everyday pickle jar. The key is to find one what makes you smile;
Decorate your Happiness Jar with items that, again, make you smile. Stickers, ribbons, twine, leaves, flowers…make it your own unique creation. Be sure to clearly label it, “My Happiness Jar;”
Choose a small token that you can add to your jar each time you have a feeling of happiness take over. The token can be a penny, sea shell, a button, or even a colorful, dried bean;
Place your jar where you can see it grow full as it blossoms as a testament to the happiness you have uncovered in your everyday life.
Just remember, happiness is not a destination or an event to wait for. Happiness is all around you, every day. Share your happiness practice with others and watch it grow. Whether it is a special event day on your calendar or just another Tuesday, you will have the happiness you deserve and need.
PRO TIP: Of course one of the best ways to increase your happiness is by giving to others, and there’s no better way to do that than by supporting the Vietnam Veterans of America by donating your unwanted clothes and household items. Schedule a donation today — then be sure to add another memento to your Happiness Jar!