Happiness rules! Everyone wants it, but not everyone is able to tap into it. There are many ways people seek happiness, but the simple truth is the secret to a joy-filled life lies within you. In other words, you bring into your life that which you focus on. If you focus your thoughts and actions on the good aspects of your life, this will create a more positive state of mind.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they choose to be.”
A state of mind
Life is full of two kinds of things, positive and negative. To create a life overflowing with happiness, you must practice a mindset that creates it. Learn to focus your thoughts around your blessings, love, passion, purpose and hope. Reverse thoughts of negativity by replacing them with their exact opposite. If you find yourself thinking or speaking in a negative way, try to be more aware of it and change this pattern.
Training your mind is the first step toward your pathway to happiness. Your thoughts create your actions. Remember that life isn’t just happening to you, but rather your life is being created by your thoughts, actions and responses. The way you think is a reflection of how you behave, which reveals the way you live. Negative thoughts are self-defeating and stop you from living your full potential.
In his book, “The Art of Happiness,” the Dali Lama is quoted as saying, “A positive state of mind is not only good for you, it benefits everyone you come in contact with, literally speaking, it has the power to change the world.” In other words, karma, good or bad, is contagious. Spread good karma (or good thoughts) and good will come back to you. You can begin to find your happiness through your thoughts and actions. Your mind is the ignition to your own happiness.
Happiness and pleasure are often confused but the major difference is pleasure is fleeting and happiness is a consistent state of being. Pleasure can get you into trouble because the senses or even the ego become your guide leading you toward self-gratification.
Think of a bowl of ice cream or another temptation that is sinfully delightful to the senses. That is pleasure. Many times we don’t feel so great after pleasurable indulgences once the sensations subside and our common sense kicks in. You meant to eat the ice cream but not the whole carton. Now that pleasure has turned quickly to guilt. Happiness is always present. It is a place of inner contentment. I like to call it the smile from the inside out.
People often confuse the two because of the way they feel while they are experiencing something pleasurable. Once the experience is over, they think they are unhappy again. Pleasure is not materialistic nor is it gratifying. It cannot be attached to anything. It is always there and available to you. What you need to know is if you want to be happy then be happy. True happiness is 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Elevating the mood
You cannot get happy, you can only be happy. Making that decision to be happy takes a certain level of desire. Sometimes you cannot help but feel defeated depending on what life throws at you, but how you choose to deal with it can make all the difference.
Learn to manage your moods, thoughts and emotions, and your level of health and happiness will flourish. One of the keys to happiness is through good health practices and self-love. If you take care of yourself, you are demonstrating respect for your life. Learn to love and accept yourself while continuing to work on being a better person.
Different things make people happy. Everyone is unique, so the trick is to find what works for you. The equation of my life is health plus love equals happiness. When you are in a healthy space – both physically and mentally – the greater your self-love is. This is directly related to your level of a consistent state of happiness.
Exercise plays a role in our level of happiness because it stimulates the release of endorphins. When we exercise, our bodies release certain mood-enhancing endorphins. These can trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. These feelings of euphoria, sometimes associated with a “runner’s high,” may contribute to our good feelings about ourselves and our lives.
Exercise boosts the brain’s feel-good endorphins, releases muscle tension, improves sleep and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It also increases our body temperature, which may have a calming effect. All of these changes in our mind and body can improve such symptoms as sadness, anxiety, irritability, stress, fatigue, anger, self-doubt, helplessness and hopelessness. I always say you are a workout away from a good mood.
Find your pathway
Start creating happiness today by living in the now. Living in your past or future can drain your spirit. You cannot change the past, nor can you worry too much about the future if what you desire is greater happiness. Stop living in the “would have, should have, could have, what if” world and start living in the world of “I am.” Now is the only time that matters. Don’t wait until something goes terribly wrong to be present. What you do today is a big part of what is being created for tomorrow.
Since the process of being happy starts in your mind, it must be created there. Then you seal the deal with an action. I teach people these four steps in their pathway to happiness:
1. Think it. Think happy thoughts.
2. Say it. Speak happy (positive) words.
3. Feel it. Spark emotions of goodness by thinking that way and talking that way and you will begin to feel that way.
4. Do it. Spend more time doing the things that make you feel your happiest.
Whether it’s spending time with friends, running in the park or reading a book, try to find those things that bring a smile to your face. Not sure where to start? Try creating a joy list. List 10 things you love to do that elicit those good feelings. By doing them more often instead of waiting around for your next vacation, you will create daily rituals to bring more joy into your life.
List things that are not dependent upon something that could create a barrier to achieving them. These are things in my life I can count on to bring feelings of connectedness, peace, love, inspiration, fun, beauty, self-respect and laughter. Create your own list and be sure to do more of the things that bring it into your life. You will be on your way to better health, deeper love and greater happiness. I wish you the greatest success in making all of your dreams come true. And never forget that if you want to be happy, the power is in you.
Keep your list full of simple pleasures. Here is mine:
1. A good workout
2. Alone time with my husband
3. Time in nature
4. An Epson salt bath with essential oil of lavender
5. A cup of tea and a good self-help book
6. My latest playlist on my iPod
7. Family activity with my kids like a hike, bike ride or walking the dog
8. My dog
9. A call to my 93-year-old grandmother
10. Time with my girlfriends
-Tammy Stokes has spent over 20 years in the fitness industry developing a unique, dynamic method of shaping attitudes, designing bodies and changing lives. She is the creator of West Coast Workout and the author of “Live Your Healthiest Life.”
10 ways to begin feeling better today
1. Know who you are and what you enjoy doing
2. Stay connected with friends and family
3. Do what you love for a living (or at least as your hobby)
4. Take care of your health
5. Set goals (however small) and complete them
6. Keep your pets healthy (a healthy pet is a happy pet and therefore a happy owner
7. Learn to like being alone, take yourself to lunch and enjoy being by yourself sometimes
8. Indulge your wanderlust and take a trip to somewhere new
9. Keep your mind active – try a puzzle, read a new book or visit a museum
10. Keep yourself challenged