Written by: Flora Bami, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
March 20th is the International Day of Happiness, a United Nations designated day "to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world." Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. The happiness we seek is our birthright. Everyone wants to be happy.
Although everyone wants happiness, most people suffer from mistaken ideas about what brings it. Looking at our possessions and priorities, our society, and media, makes it very apparent that most people believe that will bring true happiness; things and lots of them. And we have them all now, an endless list of things and possibilities. Are we happier having them? What happens when we obtain them or lose them? How attached is our happiness to them? A belief that “bigger and better” leads to a happier life, results, paradoxically, in less of it.
It would help to approach it from another angle, less attached to others but more connected to ourselves.
Happy people still feel the whole range of human emotions, anger, frustration, boredom, loneliness, and even sadness. But even when faced with discomfort, they know how to embrace those emotions, and let them be without attachment, without becoming them. Happy people have an underlying sense of optimism and resilience that things change, evolve, and flow, and that’s ok. All challenges, problems, and emotions are gifts that we learn and grow from. And this is how being happy becomes a way of being.
Here are 10 practices that could help you to attain lasting happiness.
Savoring is a beautiful state that combines gratitude, thankfulness, enjoyment, appreciation, and mindfulness at the same time.
“Savoring is about learning to live presently to fully enjoy the gift of each moment, to give that moment the space and attention it deserves. It takes practice, but it’s a delicious practice. As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise, you will miss most of your life.” Buddha said.
Immerse yourself in the sights, the sounds, the smells, the emotions, the taste, the colors, the smiles, the beauty of nature, the wonder of life. These are in our daily lives, but we often forget to take them in and truly appreciate them. Appreciating life’s small simple moments, such as a beautiful, sunny day, spring flower blossoms, a warm cup of tea, the sound of the river’s flowing water, the soothing taste of our morning coffee, teaches us to be more grateful for what we have, especially during moments of stress and discomfort. Savor simple, everyday moments.
I like describing mindfulness as a gym workout for our mind. We all know that going to the gym to exercise is good for our body, it keeps us fit and healthy. Mindfulness training is just like taking our brains to the gym for a workout. When we practice mindfulness, we are training our attention to stay in the present moment instead of wandering off with our thoughts into the past or the future. Why is being in the present moment better than traveling in the past and future? Simply because we cannot change the past and we cannot control the future. Ask yourself how much time and energy do you spend being in the past and how much in the future? How does that make you feel? When you catch yourself in the past, you may experience sadness, regret, disappointment, resentment. When you try to predict the future, you may feel uncertainty, fear, and stress.
“The past is history. The future is a mystery. This moment is a gift, which is why it's called “the present” beautifully said by Roger Walsh.
Learning how to live in the present moment is an essential ingredient in a happy life.
3. The art of being
Our busy lives keep us active, busy, and in a doing mode all the time. Our performative society has high expectations from us to over-perform, run after our endless to-do lists, and always be on an action mode. But is this sustainable? What if we learn to consciously stop, pause, breathe, simply take a few moments to savor a relaxed state of being without distractions and noise. Simply be. It may sound difficult to grasp, but this simple exercise is an easy mind shift and a powerful way to recharge our energy and spirit.
In being mode, the mind has “nothing to do, nowhere to go” and can focus fully on moment-by-moment experience, allowing us to be fully present and aware of whatever is here, right now. We give up the chase to get somewhere else and drop into the experience of now.
The invitation is to find the balance between doing and being that works better for us, so as we perform at our best but also allow ourselves to replenish, pause, rest, surrender, and go through life with ease, peace, and wisdom.
4. Daily Silence Time
Some people call it meditation, others pray, sitting practice, or silent time practice. In simple words, it's a period of personal silence and reflection where you park the body in a position that will be comfortable until you and your mind decide to come back from your silent time. The goal is to rest our mind in its natural, unbiased state by breathing, feeling of our body, just sitting still, and seeing what happens with curiosity, compassion, and no judgment. If our minds are out of control, our lives are out of control. Silence will soften our minds and we will learn to quieten our minds and make friends with our thoughts. In silence, we find wisdom, and the answers we are seeking will come naturally from within.
5. Service is our purpose
We are all created for something awesome. Finding our life purpose creates a sense of meaning in our life. You know what you love to do, what you are good at, and how you can contribute to the world. Our purpose is to be of some benefit to others and dedicate ourselves to others. We all have our own purpose and reason for being here, whether we discover it early in life, later, or not at all. Until you find your calling in life, you can be of service to others by applying your gifts and talents in new ways. Choose an activity that you do regularly and dedicate it to a higher purpose, which will have a potentially positive impact on those around you, or the wellbeing of your kids, family, colleagues, or community. Start small, see how you feel when your actions are dedicated to others. When you contribute to others’ happiness, you will find the true goal, the meaning of life, and your own happiness.
Cultivate every day a sense of gratitude, the happiest of all attitudes. There is a direct relationship between the amount of gratitude we feel for others and how happy our lives are. Gratitude is the state of mind of thankfulness, sympathetic joy, compassion, appreciation. It’s a way of being, of seeing, and living. The practice of gratitude increases our resilience and our experiences of contentment, peace, and satisfaction. Notice and give gratitude for all that makes you happy and brings joy into your life. In what ways do you give gratitude to yourself, your mother, your kids, your friends, your colleagues, people who make your life easier daily, the food that nourishes you, the bed that offers you rest, the mother earth that holds us, the sun that warms our hearts? Make time every day to express gratitude.
Only when we are free of the past can we be fully alive to the present. The forgiveness comes from a heart that can no longer stand to be closed to itself, a heart that values freedom more than pain and resentment. It's an act of self-compassion and freedom that reduces depression, increases hopefulness, decreases anger, improves spiritual connection, and increases self-confidence. That’s not an easy process to start but by learning first to forgive ourselves for any past mistakes with compassion and love, we then are more comfortable forgiving others. When we have a forgiveness mindset, we start to see the world through gratitude, peace, and endless possibilities with nothing holding us back.
“Send gratitude into pleasant memories and forgiveness into the unpleasant”, Stephen Levine said.
Kindness is humanity's greatest asset. To be able to be kind to others, we need first to cultivate kindness toward ourselves. Do you speak gently and kindly to yourself and take good care of yourself? Compassion for others begins with kindness to us. Notice how you feel when you relate with yourself with kindness and when you are kind to others. Have you ever done something nice for someone else, just because you wanted to? How did it feel? We feel happy by doing good for others; do good deeds, volunteer, be charitable, give compliments, offer gifts, offer a kind word, a smile, open a door, celebrate someone you love, send an email thanking someone, tell someone how they are special to you, share homemade food, refuse to gossip, and donate old clothing.
9. Growth mindset
Cultivating a growth mindset could be the single most important thing we can do to help us achieve happiness and satisfaction. We simply need to open ourselves up to the growth mindset to enjoy it. Our mindset is a set of beliefs that shape how we make sense of the world and ourselves. It influences how we think, feel, and behave in any given situation. The first step is to focus and observe the language we use, our self-talk, and how we see the world. Which are the key themes and words that keep popping into your mind? Next, ask yourself if this language supports your growth, brings more opportunities in your life, and makes you feel peaceful, motivated, and well. If not, replace them. What if problems are gifts, we grow from? What if difficulties and challenges become our teachers? Ask yourself “what can I learn from this challenging situation”? A growth mindset can transform your way of thinking and approaching life.
When our happiness is attached to external factors (money, a promotion, a relationship, a big house, trips, thousands of followers, possessions, other people), our happiness is temporary and depends on the “mood” of those external factors. How sustainable our happiness could be if it’s dependent on things and people we have zero control over?
The mindset “if only I had then I could be happy”, keeps us trapped and even more attached to the external environment. We become addicted to them and crave for more and more.
How can we be happy with what we have now? Happiness lies not in feeding and fueling our attachments, but in reducing and relinquishing them. Freedom from attachment brings freedom from suffering.
Happiness is a choice. Happiness is all in our minds and hearts.
Being happy is about YOU, no one and nothing else should affect it.
A happy life is a journey, not a destination.
The journey becomes more enjoyable and fun and gratifying than the moment we achieve the goal.
Enjoy your journey to happiness
Flora Bami, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Flora Bami is an optimist, an experienced and passionate integral coach, with expertise in life, mindset, relationships, and wellbeing coaching. Her main focus is on making your relationship with yourself healthier and reframing your inner voice based on self-love, acceptance, and compassion.
Her mission in life is to support people in their life journey to reach their potential and feel better and happier, through individual coaching and setting up wellbeing programs in big organizations.
Better people, better world!
Happier people, happier world!
After going through a deep transformation herself and turning trauma into a gift, she dedicated her life to supporting people reconnecting with their true selves.