I promised in my last blog to write about what can make us happy. Everything below is pretty simple. Why? Because (1) we’re living in a simplified time with reduced “noise” from “regular” life and (2) simple things are what make us happy.
And I know you don’t feel like doing any of the things below. I struggle with it, too. Fight through those feelings, if you must. But don’t feel ashamed if you have a moment of inaction. Just pick yourself up and start again in the only time we have – the eternal, non-judgmental moment of now.
First and foremost, if you want to be happy, you have to connect with people. Disconnecting produces unhappiness. It’s that simple and that important. Every time we humans lose connection with other humans, the result is misery and suffering.
Nobody is born angry or depressed or ashamed. Nobody is born needing to “score points” against others. Nobody is born needing to prove themselves. Nobody is born looking for outrage. Nobody is born desiring consumer shit.
ALL of us are born needing sustenance and connection. Every single one of us. We are born needing to bond, to feel contact, to feel love, and to be nurtured. Those are the things we need in order to be happy. Our consumer lives are so noisy that we can lose focus on these essentials.
Now I know it feels harder to connect with others right now as we’re all separated in quarantine or lockdown or whatever you want to call it. (How about calling it “lifesaving”?) But (1) this is a huge thing to remember when we come out of quarantine – don’t go back to the oblivious way we were – and (2) there’s plenty you can do right now to connect through empathy. Just stop, breathe, and consider what somebody else may be going through. When you laugh at them on social media or post your outrage, you make the disconnect worse. That makes for more unhappiness. And don’t start with that “he started it” bullshit. That’s for six-year-olds. It doesn’t matter who started it. What matters is what you do about it. Show some empathy, consider what the other person’s struggles are, offer some kindness, and connect.
OK, so connect. What else?
Be actively thankful for what you have. For who you have. Appreciate those around you who make your life better. For those who work in grocery supply and health and government that you take for granted, or worse complain about. Be grateful for those who supply your internet (and most of us haven’t a clue how it even works, yet we take it as a birthright). Be grateful for those who grow your food and those who put it together and bring it to you. Don’t forget them or flip them off when regular life resumes. They’re not beneath you. We’re learning just how vital they are. Be grateful for water, shelter, food… all the essentials.
Gratitude is an active, daily practice. Gratitude = happiness.
Slow down and uncover your best self. Use meditation to reveal your true purpose, your true passion, so you can pursue it. If you don’t know how, others can show you.
Be kind. Offer compliments. Help those who need it. Just do it, don’t wait for permission.
Stop talking and listen to people, without judgment and sometimes without any comment. Your relationships will improve and your connection with others will improve when you simply listen to them.
It’s a vital way to feel better. During this quarantine, there’s been a big run on processed foods like pasta, pasta sauce, canned foods, frozen stuff, cookies, chips, even cake mixes. Meanwhile, there are loads of fresh fruits and veges. You don’t need doughnuts or deep fried shit or chain restaurant vomit promoted by companies that don’t care about you and just want your money. It’s just processed food, not love or happiness. Food should be fuel, not a debilitating vice.
Move your body
Move it around to raise your heart rate. It releases endorphins. Teach yourself that exercise makes you feel alive and then be grateful for it.
And move your body in the…
Get out in nature. If you don’t know its importance by now, where have you been?
With proper exercise and health comes better sleep – a huge element for happiness. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, so we may as well make it as good as possible.
Speaking of sleep…
Put your devices away
Do this regularly each day, especially at bedtime. Using electronics right up to sleep time is terrible. Scrolling through social media and news feeds every day is a recipe for misery. Posting outrage, seeking conflict, and arguing online are recipes for misery. Searching for validation through your online activity is a recipe for misery.
It’s up to you to control your devices. It’s also your choice to be controlled by them. Many of you probably have arguments and excuses already forming in your minds about electronics. Whatever. It’s your choice. You can choose to be happy by finding some balance or you can make another choice. You always have a choice.
Get professional help when you’re unhappy
There is no shame whatsoever in seeing a mental health professional. It’s a smart and healthy thing to do. Get over those thoughts that tell you they can’t help… or that your situation is beyond help… or that they don’t understand… or that you’ve tried and it didn’t work… Every one of those thoughts is unhappiness talking.
Learn to forgive
This is a huge one that is part of getting mental help. Forgive. Let go of grudges and old hurts. Many of us don’t know how to do this. That’s why we need to see professionals who can open up new pathways for us to walk down. When we forgive, we are free.
Regular breaks. Many of us have been given a break right now. It’s a ridiculous and unhealthy myth that we have to be busy and productive all the time. How about we aim to feel well instead of proving our worth? Look after you so you’re feeling well. Be happy. When you’re truly happy, you have nothing to prove.
That’s it, really. Happiness is simple. Not easy, just simple. Anything else on top of all these things is a bonus.
We all have to work at being happy. It’s not a thing we can buy and it’s not a destination we can reach and then kick back and enjoy. It’s a daily practice, a daily responsibility.
What could be more important to you in your life than to be happy? What is more important than your mental wellbeing? The answer is nothing is more important. Your physical wellbeing ranks alongside your mental wellbeing as an equal. But there’s really nothing of greater importance.
Quarantine is an incredible opportunity for you to work on being happy. Start on the journey to be actively happier and watch your entire life change.