5 Tried-and-True Ways to Increase Happiness in Daily Life
We all want to be happy, undeniably.
For some people happiness comes easier than others, but what we’re starting to understand is that happiness, that sense of connection and ease of appreciating the good moments and being more graceful and resilient during the difficult ones, is a skill and strength that we can all build.
Here are Five Simple Ways to Increase Happiness in Daily Life
(Note: Set all judgments aside when you read this, practice them for yourself and let your experience be your teacher).
1. Practice happiness for other people’s happiness – When you see someone doing good things for themselves like exercising, laughing with a group of friends, or celebrating an accomplishment, practice being supportive to them in your mind. Say things like “good for you for taking care of yourself” or “glad you’re having a moment of joy,” smile in your mind at them or just say “Yes!”
2. Practice non-violent communication toward yourself – We’ve known for a long time we’re our own worst critics and the way we talk to ourselves has a major impact on how we feel. Being a little self-critical is okay, but most of us experience it all too regularly. That has to be nipped in the bud as a practice. See if you can label any of that self-judgment and in that moment flip it to actively thinking about things you like about yourself.
3. Practice non-violent communication toward others – When feeling frustrated it’s natural for humans to employ sarcasm, contempt, or to manipulate other people to get what we want. However, this type of communication toward others is like poison for our well-being. Whenever you notice any of this poison arising in you, take a few deep breaths and exercise restraint, you’ll thank yourself later.
4. Relax your nervous system – We happen to live in a world that is very fast paced, it’s no wonder that stress and anxiety are on the rise. It’s important to consciously relax our bodies a few times a day. Take a deep breath, scan your body to find where you can soften or stretch the muscles that are tense. Make this a practice, you’ll be surprised how much this can help.
5. Be aware of the good – There’s a lot of “Bad” news out there that dials up our nervous systems and makes us want to keep coming back to hear more, which only feeds a “nervous” system. Instead, create some balance, your brain is less likely to see all the good, so you have to intentionally pay attention to it. When you notice a good moment, notice it, “this is a good moment, in life there are good moments, can I allow myself to linger in this for a few seconds?” Let the neurons fire together and wire together.
Of course there are all kinds of other things that can support our happiness including sleep, exercise, time in nature, and play. Although these are all important factors that can contribute to our well-being, the above five ways I’ve shared are all simple habits that take no extra time out of your life.
It becomes not so much about time management, but attention management.
Here’s the simple instructions:
Practice this for one week. Perhaps you’d like to go down the list and just focus on one per day, then see what you notice at the end of the week. As a bonus, emotional contagion is a real science and so as you practice this, imagine the ripple effects your happiness has on those around you.
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Has it ever occurred to you that you can only love when you are alone.
What does it mean to love?
It means to see a person, a thing, a situation, as it really is and not as you imagine it to be, and to give it the response it deserves. You cannot love what you do not even see.
And what prevents you from seeing? Your concepts, your categories, your prejudices and projections, your needs and attachments, the labels you have drawn from your conditioning and from your past experiences.
Seeing is the most arduous thing a human being can undertake. For it calls for a disciplined, alert mind, whereas most people would much rather lapse into mental laziness than take the trouble to see each person and thing anew in present moment freshness.
To drop your conditioning in order to see is arduous enough. But seeing calls for something more painful still. The dropping of the control that society exercises over you; a control whose tentacles have penetrated to the very roots of your being, so that to drop it is to tear yourself apart.
If you wish to understand this, think of a little child that is given a taste for drugs. As the drug penetrates the body of the child, it becomes addicted and its whole being cries out for the drug. To be without the drug is so unbearable a torment that it seems preferable to die.
Now this is exactly what society did to you when you were a child. You were not allowed to enjoy the solid, nutritious food of life: work and play and the company of people and the pleasures of the senses and the mind. You were given a taste for the drug called Approval, Appreciation, Attention, the drug called Success, Prestige, Power. Having got a taste for these things, you became addicted and began to dread their loss. You felt terror at the prospect of failure, of mistakes, of the criticism of others. So you became cravenly dependent on people and lost your freedom.