Do we know how to be happy?
‘Stand up if you’re interested in health and happiness’
This was Simon Shepard, the CEO of Optima Life’s opening question. Of course, everyone stood up. But the catch came at the end of the session came when the question changed:
‘Stand up if you’re committed to health and happiness’
Now that’s a very different question, and certainly one as, a health coach I relate to as many of the people I speak to are very interested in their own health and happiness, but aren’t as committed as they could be.
Anyway, enough of this. I want to focus today on how to be happy, and here are 10 rules for happiness which, if you follow, you may find yourself happier than you are right now:
1. Show gratitude – it’s so easy to focus on the things that are going wrong. The meetings that didn’t go to plan; the relationship problems; the health worries; the money worries and the macro-economic worries …. that we forget all of the things that are going right for us.
I listened to an inspiring interview with Tracey DiNunzio, the CEO and founder of Tradesy the online second hand women’s fashion shop, who, inspired by Steven Hawkins, and despite some health issues, refused to allow herself to feel sorry for herself and discovered how to be happy instead.
So, what are you grateful for?
2. Be kind – if you think kind things, you’ll say kind things and you’ll do kind things. Sometimes it’s easy to get into a cycle of blame and misery, criticising others unfairly without even considering to see things from their perspective. It’s also easy to be unkind to those closest to you, including yourself, listening to the inner critic! Do you have an inner critic, or an inner cheerleader?
So train yourself to think kind things and do kind things like volunteering your time to help others less fortunate. There’s plenty of research showing the wellbeing benefits of volunteering, and if time is a major issue, then look up micro volunteering on Google which allows you to still give back, but in bit-sized chunks of time, as we all can spare 10 minutes in our day.
3. Don’t regret the past – I have spent a lot of time reflecting on past decisions that, to be frank, were the right things at the time based on the knowledge and information I had then, but in the fullness of time have proved not to be such great decisions. These days I try to catch myself playing the ‘if only’ game and try to focus on drawing on the lessons of the past to help me may better decisions in the present, that will have an impact on the future!
4. Focus on doing something creative everyday. Lord, this has been one of my big frustrations! Spending my days dealing with things that seem to be preventing me from a making a difference to the world. That’s at least how I used to see it which didn’t help with my ‘how to be happy’ plan at all.
Now though, I see the problems coming at me as opportunities to flex my creative problem solving skills. I’ve also managed to appreciate that though I am a multi-passionate person, I can’t do all of the things I want with the resource I have – and you can’t either. So pick the few things that will make the biggest difference and pour your energies into those.
5. Keep fit and healthy – ah, this is the one that has taken a lot of my focus over the last 20 years. I don’t propose that everyone studies nutrition and other aspects of wellbeing, but let’s remember that we all take our health for granted until it goes wrong and there’s nothing more miserable than being sick! So, keep focused on your wellbeing tools – eating well, exercising, meditating, or whatever works for you .Yes, these things take time, but as longevity expert and lifetime raw foodie Peter Pure once told me: ‘I’d rather spend 5 minutes juicing per day, than hours in the doctor’s surgery’.
6. Experience life – life is a set of experiences and we all like different things. For me, I love travelling, doing sports, going to art exhibitions,, eating in great restaurants, going to the cinema,hanging out with friends and family, and last year I had lots of these experiences which stand out in my memory. What experiences stand out for you?
7. Don’t obsess over numbers. Some people, myself included, can get a bit fanatical about numbers. With the aid of personal wearables, we can now count and track so many aspects of our lives. However, this constant counting can get in the way of happiness, so use numbers as a guide, as a means to an end, to help you make decisions that help you lead a good life.
8. Love! We all have enormous capacity to love, but can hold ourselves back. Give love into the world, starting with those closest to you and then receive love back. Nothing more to say on this one.
9. Let go. Many of us are ‘control freaks’ and we want to control every aspect of our lives. Sometimes, though, you’ve just got to let go and be the true, authentic, you. I know that isn’t always easy, but sometimes you’ve just got to do it! Forgiveness is so important. Forgive those around you, don’t blame others for your own actions and forgive yourself too. You’re just mortal after all. Nelson Mandela knew how to be happy and so can you!
10. Have faith – we’re all heading to the same place and I know we don’t like to think about it in our culture. Yet we’re here for a while, so have faith, dream bigger, and act with confidence! This is something that I haven’t had in my life, until recently when faith and belief have come into my world and made a massive difference to my happiness.
So there you have it – 10 Rules for Happiness.
So now you know how to be happy. Even if you can try just a few, then you will be on your way! Why not make a note in your calendar, put a post-it on your fridge, and engage your family with some of these great ideas – and let me know how you get on.
And finally, a bonus, number 11. Listen to music that uplifts you, like this happy song: