Yesterday evening, I watched a documentary called Happy. This film explores what makes people happy. It was a welcome reminder of what happiness really is and all the ways we can work on and maintain happiness in our lives.
Interestingly, our genetic makeup determines 50 per cent of our happiness. Some of us are just born happier! Circumstance (where we live, our job, life events) only contributes 10 per cent towards our happiness. So we have a whole 40 per cent to work with. We have the power to boost our own happiness. It’s a personal choice. And one well worth making.
So because it’s always good to be reminded of how to be happy, and especially coming up to Christmas, I’m going to share a few of the best ways to promote happiness.
1. Gratitude: Recalling all the things you’re grateful for really makes you appreciate all you have. I’m currently keeping a 30-day gratitude journal where I write 10 things each day that I’m grateful for and the reasons why. Afterwards, I read them aloud. So by day 30, I’ll have 300 wonderful things to read. I’m only on Day 6 but already I’m feeling the change in my mood and my energy. And it’s making me more aware of the abundance of things I have to be grateful for as I go about my days.
2. Compassion: Caring for others is guaranteed to make you feel good too. Try completing a random act of kindness. Give a stranger a free parking ticket, donate clothes to the homeless or volunteer to work with the ill or the elderly. Helping others unites you with your fellow man. Doing meaningful things with your time fills you with a sense of purpose and pride. Another way of bringing compassion into your life is to do a Loving-Kindness meditation where you focus on sending love and kindness to yourself and to others. This form of meditation has even been known to help with depression.
3. Flow: Do things that bring you into a state of flow. When you’re in flow, you’re totally in tune with what you’re doing. You’re present. Time stands still. For some people, this could be painting or playing piano. It could be scuba diving or upcycling, surfing or sewing. Uncover your passion, get your creative juices bubbling and enter the flow.
4. Dopamine: Dopamine is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In simple terms, it’s a feel-good chemical. We release this chemical when we perform rewarding activities like eating and having sex. However as we age, this hormone is produced less and less. The good news is that the more we show our bodies that we need this chemical, the more our bodies will continue to make it. It’s like a muscle that gets bigger the more we exercise it. Aerobic activity is great for stimulating dopamine release. Interestingly, if we work out in novel ways, even more dopamine is released. So instead of your usual jog, sign up for The Color Run. Rather than hitting the gym, go rock climbing or white water rafting. Replace walking around the estates with a hike to a spectacular location.
5. Mix it Up: Following on from the previous tip, another way to prevent yourself from sliding into monotony is to change things around. Take an alternate route when you’re walking your dog. Try out a different café. Attempt a fresh recipe from that book that’s been collecting dust ever since you received it three Christmasses ago. Join an adventure club. Attend a Meetup outing and make new friends. Travel to a destination on the opposite side of the map. After watching Happy, Bhutan is now on my bucket-list. Bhutan is a place located on the slopes of the Himalayas that officially uses Gross National Happiness as an indicator to measure quality of life in holistic and psychological terms. Now that’s my kinda country!
As you can see from the list above, the road to happiness is simple. And it’s free. In fact, once our basic needs are met, money does very little to increase happiness.
Happiness is sharing a meal with your loved ones. Happiness is laughing over a latte with friends. Happiness is being present with your children. Happiness is being astonished by the beauty of nature and the miracle of life. Happiness is when you realise just how rich you really are.
Posted in Personal development, Positive Thinking
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Who knew I’d be inspired by watching Knocked Up? Please desist from turning up thy noses. Because it takes a certain sort of genius to make people laugh. And you can’t beat a good Apatow flick. And Seth Rogen’s laugh is priceless. But none of the above reasons are what got me writing this post. It was the thought-provoking scene, where married couple, Pete and Debbie, played by Paul Rudd (I so would) and Leslie Mann, have a huge argument.
Debbie is furious because she’s just found out that Pete has been sneaking around and lying to her. But he’s not cheating. He’s playing fantasy baseball league with his friends. Which is worse than infidelity to Debbie because it means that he would rather hang out with his nerdy mates than be with his family. He can’t understand why she can’t understand that he just needs space. He simply cannot fathom how his wife loves him so much that she wants him around all the time. And that is their biggest problem.
Basically, he just misses his male camaraderie and she’s being controlling. Sound familiar? So many married men would do anything to get away from the old “ball and chain” as often as possible. But what about the women? Don’t they want to get out and party with their gal pals too? Or is it presumed that just because they’re female, they’re clingy?
I was in a relationship once where I could never quite figure out whether I was being needy or he was just a commitment-phobe. I wanted to spend time with him. He wanted to play sport.
Admittedly, there are a lot of women out there who drop their friends, their hobbies, and their nights out the moment a half-decent dude shows up. They throw their everything into making the relationship work. Can you blame the overwhelmed partner for itching to get away from this co-dependent woman, who’s rapidly gone from being passionate and smart to whining and insecure?
It’s funny how, when describing matters of the heart, you can’t avoid terms of violence… I love you to death. All’s fair in love and war. She loves me to bits.
Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean you have to give up who you are and what you enjoy. If you don’t believe in relationships, don’t join one. But if you do want a partner, you’ve got to realise that compromise is a necessary part of a partnership. The trick is to find someone you’re compatible with. Because that is half the battle.
Images: http://www.graphicshunt.com/wallpapers/images/lots_of_hearts-7088.htm; http://break–my–heart.skyrock.com/1.html
Posted in Love
Tagged argument, break ups, co-dependecy, comedy, compatibility, dependency, film, friendship, genius, hobbies, independence, insecurities, judd apatow, knocked up, leslie mann, love, marriage, men, movies, nights out, passion, paul rudd, relationships, seth rogen, women
I was out for dinner the other night when I spotted the waitress approaching a family at the next table. She asked one of the children, “Have you made your Santa list yet?” The little girl responded in a giggling baby voice, “I want a supwise.” Her mother patted her on the head approvingly. I had heard the child speak earlier and she hadn’t sounded like that. Already, at such a young age, this girl was changing herself and the way she behaved in order to gain approval.
This simple scenario reminded me of a number of similar moments throughout my life…
At five years of age, talking to the insects in the back garden, then hearing my parents say: “Wow, look at her! She’s so into nature!” I stayed out there for much longer than I wanted to because I was sure my parents would like me more if I did… Pretending to be into a certain genre of music as a teenager just so I’d fit in… Pushing myself in school and college so I could be the perfect student and daughter… Hanging around a guy I liked and hiding parts of myself because I thought it would make me more desirable… Losing weight because that’s how “beautiful” was sold to me… Pretending to know the politician/author/website my co-workers were talking about so they wouldn’t think I was stupid… Feeling I didn’t belong in an expensive boutique because surely the sales assistants would stare at me for not being skinny/fashionable/rich enough… Marrying a Muslim, changing pretty much everything about myself, and still feeling crushed every time he criticised me… Only enjoying the hobbies I was good at because I couldn’t stand being anything less than perfect…
Most of us are unfortunate enough to care about what others think. Add that on top of a cruel addiction to the drug of approval and you’re guaranteed a hellish existence. How many of you have turned vegetarian just because your boyfriend turned up his nose every time you scoffed a burger? Would you be brave enough to leave your iPod playing in shuffle mode when other people are around even though you have a seriously embarrassing secret penchant for The Backstreet Boys? Do you squeeze yourself into skinny jeans because that’s what all your style crushes/college friends are wearing? Do you observe yourself behaving differently around different sets of people? You don’t curse and you use words like “potentially” and “ostentatious” when you’re around Group A. You laugh uproariously at dirty jokes and innuendo (“In YOUR endo!”) when you’re with Group B. You discuss politics and current affairs/spirituality and health/psychology and literature/celebrity gossip and makeup tips with Group C, D, E and F, while sipping on a skinny latte/shot of wheatgrass/large glass of merlot/Flaming Sambuca.
"Lean too much on the approval of people, and it becomes a bed of thorns." Teysi Hsieh
These days, I kind of hope I’m not good at stuff because maintaining perfection is a lot of pressure. It’s exhausting trying to keep up the facade. I just want to do things because they’re fun and I enjoy them. From now on, I’m going to leave excellence to the experts. I’m delighted that I’m not going to live like that any more. It’s a relief to finally let go and just be. Yes, sometimes my reactions are automatic (it’s hard to break the habits of a lifetime) but when I stop and ask myself, Do you really care what they think?, the answer is a resounding NO!
It’s about time you found out who the real you really is. Get to know yourself and discover what it is that you want and like and need. It is a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding process. However, I’ll bet that most people are too afraid to even ask themselves the question Am I being true to myself? because they’re terrified of the answer. Change is scary and a hell of a lot of hard work.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to waste my life pretending to be somebody else, putting myself under constant pressure, striving for perfection, caring what others think, and giving my power away to everybody else. This drug of approval has lost its appeal. Yes, it will try to claw its way back in. And I will be sorely tempted to give in, just to avoid the crippling withdrawal symptoms. But I am determined to finally kick the habit.
Featured Image: http://www.graphicshunt.com/search/6/butterflies.htm
Images: http://www.imageblogs.org/fabulous-child-photography-to-remember-childhood/fabulous-child-photography-to-remember-childhood-9; http://trendland.net/julia-fullerton-batten-photography/#; http://www.flickr.com/photos/19722425@N02/3890967883/; http://novacaine-kills.xanga.com/?uni33319937-direction=n
Posted in Personal development
Tagged addiction, alcohol, approval, backstreet boys, body image, celebrity gossip, childhood, coffee, college, criticism, current affairs, fashion, fear, fitting in, friendship, health, hobbies, individuality, intelligence, islam, literature, love, makeup, men, music, muslim, parenting, peer pressure, politics, pompous, pressure, psychology, relationships, school, self-consiousness, self-discovery, shopping, spirituality, stupidity, vegetarian, weight, wheatgerm, wine