|Sign-up, its free!||Close [x]|
As we all know, gentleness is not the absence of strength. It exists and is expressed in spite of it. Likewise, happiness is not exclusive to those without life's worries – for who is? It is the application of learned ways to deal with external issues which threaten our contentment. Here are five ways which bring us closer to achieving this state.
Inside each of us there lives a non physical being waiting for a chance to become the essence of our identity.
Most of us have shackled this being, handcuffing it to the darkest parts of our existence until after a while, it becomes imprisoned for life. We do it to our children's entity too. We structure every activity in which they are involved – dancing, horse riding football etc and we insist they keep at it because we have "already paid for the entire term". While I am by no means advocating that getting involved in these activities stifles our creativity, they do not, I am simply pointing out that we do need to allow ourselves a little time to let our imagination regenerate.
When we were children, some of the happiest, most satisfying and contented times we had were the ones spent making up games to play by ourselves, with friends or siblings. Remember how we talked to ourselves with abandon, making contact with who we intrinsically were? It is still possible to exhume that ability.
Delete the restraints we put on our creativity and set that being free. Let him/her into the forefront even for just two hours a week. Dance, write, sing, paint, garden, build, volunteer etc. Your inner being is steadily shrinking because there is something you refuse to allow it to indulge in. If we die inside, happiness has evaded us.
Truly connect with people. If no one loved you would you strive to stay alive? If you lived alone would you want a bigger house? If you didn't wish to look good for the people you meet, would you bother wearing nice clothes and styling your hair? If we didn't want to appear attractive to others would we even try losing weight?
It's our connection with other people, which make us want to be better ourselves. It's our sense of living at peace with others, which makes us abide by laws and not exist in anarchy. And it's what we do with and for others that ultimately makes us happy. If buying shoes encompassed the nucleus of happiness, we'd only ever need to buy one pair.
Assisting others whether it be volunteering at a care home or investing time with those who are helpless is what awakens the satisfaction that can only come when we admire our own humanity. We can then allow ourselves to love who we are because we see ourselves as someone we like to be, someone we have always aspired to be, and someone whom others seek to emulate. This self-admiration is not arrogance, and is never confused with it, for arrogance produces self-hatred. This instead is the epitome of the human being.
Even if at first we find it hard to look people in the eyes and really care, like everything else, practise makes perfect. Like daily sit ups make the stomach toned and the abdominal muscles stand out. Daily practise of making ourselves care about someone else's difficulty and taking time off to share someone else's problem will not fail to tone up our sympathetic muscles, and sharpen our caring skills.
Not all mothers immediately feel love for the baby to which they have given birth. But constantly feeding and caring for him, soon produces a bond with turns into desperate love. Like these mothers, we may be the kind of people who have got to get involved before we can feel, since how deeply we initially feel about something does not measure the level of our commitment or the outcome of our emotions when the job is completed.
Take time to smell the roses, literally. Plant a rose bush just outside your door in a pot or in the ground. In the morning when you're rushing off to work or getting the kids to school, stop and take one minute to smell the roses. It doesn't make you any later but it improves your outlook of your day 10 fold. Try it.
It is when we are at our most stressed that we need to take time out to release. Cordoning off our stress inside turns us into prisoners trapped in our own minds. Shake off the negative hormones which are short-circuiting our happiness by taking five minutes to be idle before work. (Maybe set the alarm to go off five minutes earlier if you feel pressed for time, our eight hours of sleep won't be affected if we had 7 hours and 55 minutes instead.) Run out into the garden to see what has blossomed today, stop at a flower shop on the way to the train and smell the flowers. (If you buy some once in a while, you'll be most welcomed, I'm sure) Smile at someone just to see the shocked look on his or her face. Flirt with someone you have no interest in and see his/her face light up.
Hum a crazy, happy tune to stick in someone else's head for hours. The crazier the better, like a summer hit in the darkest days of winter or a Christmas tune in July. People who hear it will smile with you or join in. You will have released your stress levels and they will have forgotten theirs even for a few minutes.
h3 Laugh at yourself.
Being uptight and not being able to laugh unless it's at someone else's expense suggests a low self-image. Allowing and encouraging others to laugh at us takes away the power that embarrassment has on all of us, it confines us to an existence of inflexibility being tossed in a dark cell of false, fickle, self-righteousness. We fear that if we slip off the tightrope of our perfected, affected lifestyle we would fall into the black hole of unattainable goals for which we have forced others to aim.
We have all noticed that if someone has done something really embarrassing, the harder we try not to laugh, the funnier the joke becomes. If the person himself laughs, we are finally allowed to, but then the urge doesn't seem that great anymore.
Relax, be a good person, abide by laws, love others and laugh. Mistakes aren't fatal. Be sorry, say so, learn and move on. Remember that if we voice what others are thinking when we mess up, they will invariably make the excuse for us, leaving us the freedom to laugh at the mistake with them.
If the embarrassment is so extreme that you know they must be thinking "what a moron" (which they probably are). Voicing it makes them laugh and forget that the thought actually came from them at all, or they try to make up for it by making an excuse for you. In the end, you have regained your self-respect and have stripped away all the power that embarrassing episode could have had on you - maybe for the rest of your life.
Laughter is good, laughing between friends is greater, laughing with siblings is totally hilarious and remains funny for decades, but laughing at myself and meaning it, is the funniest of all.
By all means we should strive to achieve our goals. We should save, buy a nice home, furnish ourselves with the comforts of life, and if we can still afford it, go on holidays sometimes.
That's on one hand, on the other hand, girdling ourselves with the rage of making more and more money at any cost or fettering ourselves to ambitions of achieving stardom, is in effect keeping our happiness in bondage. It is ironic that we find out this truth only after we have achieved the very white elephant we were sure would've brought us happiness.
Who loses touch with the meaning of happiness, the rich and famous or the average person? If happiness could be absorbed from wealth and fame, then the world would've found a solution to one of its major problems. Today, when millions can be earned in a few weeks, celebrities would never be lonely, would have no cause to take drugs and get drunk, and would never get divorced or need to cry, because happiness would enwrap them like their very skins.
Our strive should be for the freedom to be happy, not an up-hill sprint to determine who can feel the pressure of the thumb of a larger mortgage. Like our children, what we really need for all-round growth is love and attention.
There will always be someone with a faster car. Be content with one that is reliable, looks good, and is fast enough. Our neighbours' houses are forever expanding. Spend the summer giving yours a lick of paint, there is hardly a better makeover. Our friends' kids seem smarter than ours, spend time making ours happier.
True happiness never comes from outside ourselves, utter happiness is the ability to convert even negative external experiences into enriching assets for the mind. But then we all know this. It's the fear of being left behind by others who don't have the courage to believe it, which keeps us slaving in futility.
If we are as wise as we say we are, we will willingly shake off the chains with which we have anchored our lives and allow ourselves to ascend to the surface of a life that enables us the freedom to pursue pure happiness.
Finally, we have heard it said "sing when you are happy" perhaps a good thing to apply is to sing when you are sad in order to become happy. This is a tried and tested exercise. A word of warning is that it takes tremendous strength to do and secondly, you have got to really want to give up the self-pity that erects the divider between ourselves and our state of happiness.
Anne Lyken-Garner is a contributing writer for Fabulously40 Youth Project Worker, Writer, Television Support Actress & Occasional model.
To find more of Anne's work visit her blogspot
|Community Topics||View more »|