Happiness is a sense of joy, contentment and is linked to our overall sense of wellbeing. Often referred to as ‘the pursuit of happiness,’ the idea of this contentment has become somewhat elusive.
This is because happiness often feels like a desired destination, as opposed to a life long journey. The resulting problem is that we often feel inadequate if we are unable to reach this ‘happiness destination.’ Instead, we should view happiness as an ongoing process, or a process that needs daily practice. Start with these three practices that can boost your happiness today:
- Practice compassion
Compassion enables you to be kinder, more supportive and to understand other people’s world view. It’s your desire to help and your ability to notice how other people are feeling. Not only does compassion decrease the suffering of those around you, but it also boosts your mental health and is linked to living a life of purpose. So, make smiling, saying thank you, and being kind part of your daily practices. You can also volunteer or fundraise for a cause that you care about. Ultimately, it’s about recognising you are a part of a larger world outside of yourself and pouring some compassion into it.
- Be forgiving
Be forgiving of others and yourself. Forgiveness makes you healthier and happier and it’s an important part of personal relationships. Holding a grudge is bad for your blood pressure, causes anxiety and decreases your life expectancy.
Similarly, if you’re constantly beating yourself up, your sense of self-worth will be poor, causing anxiety and depression. As a leading expert on forgiveness, Frank Fincham of Florida State University explains that ‘forgiveness brings you peace and closure.’ Whether it’s forgiving yourself for making a mistake at work or deciding not to yell at the person who cut you off in traffic, your health and happiness will benefit.
- Be present
Many of us struggle to stay present in our daily lives and on average, our mind wanders 46.9% of the time, according to research from Harvard University. A wandering mind is often counterintuitive for your happiness as it indicates that instead of being mindful in the moment, you are worried about the future, or longing for the past. While it can be exciting to plan for the future and beneficial to reflect on the past, the reality is we only have the present moment. Therefore, learning to be mindfully aware and ‘in the moment’ can have wondrous benefits for your health and happiness. As it teaches you to slow down, stay grateful and connect with yourself.
These daily practices are not a magic solution and they require continual effort. So, see your happiness as an exercise that you can continue to practise, learn from and evolve with.
What are some of your happiness practices? Share them with us in the comments below.