I must admit that I’m longing for the longer days and warmer temperatures. That said, I’m a firm believer that our lives are made up of our present, so come rain or shine, light or darkness, it’s up to us to make it the best possible, using every little step along the way. If we have too much focus on the future, we miss the enjoyment of the present.
Which brings me onto the subject of happiness. Central to happiness is peace of mind – the confident knowledge that we are ok. Sounds simple perhaps, but for many not so easy to achieve.
This is partly because emotions are fleeting. They’re not a constant that, ones we’ve found them, are set and stable.
So what we need to do is to learn to effectively savour positive emotions. Notice them, appreciate them and focus on them. That’s when you’ll enjoy more stable happiness and peace of mind. The hit chaser runs around, often at the expense of ever really enjoying the good bits, because they’re on the run to the next one! Instead, stop and notice what’s good, fun and enjoyable along the way.
To achieve this, you might like to give my 7 Steps to Lasting Happiness and Peace of Mind a try. Here they are:
1. Enjoy the moment
The concept of mindfulness is about engaging fully with the reality of your life right now, giving each moment your full attention. This is a powerful way to avoid thoughts that tangle us in negativity and even depression. Techniques to help you with this include mediation, gratitude and deliberate focus on the people you enjoy having in your life (rather than those you are missing or who are somehow causing you upset).
2. Don’t try to be a psychic
We often have a tendency to imagine something happening in the future. We have a difficult conversation in our head before a meeting or event; we imagine how we’ll respond when the job promotion is turned down, when we argue with our spouse, when our friend lets us down. In our minds, we’re often quite vivid in our imaginations. We start to believe them and feel the emotions attached to these experiences. STOP and consider these three points:
- We’re not psychic and our fantasies are probably way off the mark.
- Our thoughts trigger emotions that make them feel true. But they are just thoughts. Nothing more.
- Even if we get it right, we won’t feel any less pain or disappointment when the actual events happen. We’re just experiencing the discomfort for longer.
What an unnecessary way to interrupt our peace of mind, right?
3. Take responsibility & let go
A big happiness fighter is resentment. If you have relationships that have broken down, it’s important to look for the part you played in what happened. There’s a dynamic in all relationships, that both parties contribute to. Rather than blaming the other for their part, take responsibility for yours. This isn’t necessarily about forgiveness and certainly not about taking the ‘blame’, but rather empowers you away from the victim role, liberating you to let go and move on!
4. Let go of entitlement
When we feel inherently entitled, like it’s our birth right, to have something or be treated in a certain way, we leave ourselves vulnerable to negative emotions, such as disappointment and regret. We also set those around us, invariably those we love, up to fail (as they can’t read our minds). Moreover, when they do or give us the things we feel entitled to we don’t really enjoy the emotional benefits as we took them for granted even before they were given! Instead, adopt an attitude of gratitude and appreciation, accepting the gifts as gifts and have greater focus on those around us than ourselves.
5. Be grateful for people, not just things
It’s great, and valid, to be grateful for things. May that be the sunshine, beautiful nature or a brand new car. But the fact is, things simply don’t care about our gratitude! The sunshine won’t shine any brighter because you’re grateful for it. This is not true of people. People glow in gratitude. Saying thank you makes the other person happy and will strengthen the emotional bond. Gratitude feeds gratitude – so the chances are that we will glow in the reciprocal gratitude before long. With lots of positive emotions associated with feeling appreciated, feeling close to someone and feeling lucky (rather than entitled)!
6. Compliment others
Look out for opportunities to complement those around you, such as a job well done or a stranger’s beautiful scarf. Look them in the eye and say it with a smile. You’ll bring them joy, as well as yourself!
One of my favourite things to do, and encourage others to! Here’s why: try feeling miserable whilst smiling. It’s very hard! Smiling is also contagious, and when someone smiles at you it’s very hard not to smile back. And your smile is not only contagious to those around you but also to yourself. When you’re smiling you activate the zygomatic muscle in your cheek, which signals to your brain that you’re happy. Which in turn encourages you to smile even more!
Off you go and enjoy spring with a spring in your steps!
PS. The picture above is one that, for me, equals being in the moment and feeling grateful and makes me smile every time I see it. It’s of my daughter and her grandmother having a peaceful moment, quite unaware of my presence behind them, along the gorgeous coast of Northern Ireland where we had an adventure together last summer.