What makes you happy?

Life today runs at such a fast pace, with the rise of social media we all have the ability to compare our lives, successes and failures against others. This can lead to us becoming dissatisfied or worried about how we measure up, leading to stress and unhappiness with how our life is moving forwards. One thing to remember though is that what people choose to share on social media can be tweaked to appear that life is better than it really is, that they are more successful or popular.

Were you aware that there is a movement called “Action For Happiness” ~ I wasn’t until today, they state their mission as being “a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. We want to see a fundamentally different way of life – where people care less about what they can get just for themselves and more about the happiness of others.” 

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The movement has The Dalai Lama as its patron and they have a course they offer, accessed via the website that runs over 8 weeks and helps you to explore what matters in your life and how to seek happiness, just click on this link to be directed to it; The Action for Happiness course (“Exploring What Matters”)

This video from their website explains more..

From the Wikipedia page about happiness it says.. “In philosophy, happiness translates the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and refers to the good life, or flourishing, rather than simply an emotion.

In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may reflect judgements by a person about their overall well-being.”

Searching for a good definition of what it is to be happy I came across this from Psychology Today;

“The Art of Happiness

Ah, happiness, that elusive state. Philosophers, theologians, psychologists, even economists, have long sought to define it, and since the 1990s, a whole branch of psychology—positive psychology—has been dedicated to pinning it down and propagating it. More than simply positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life—that is, with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction.

Research shows that happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next; achieving happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort. Money is important to happiness, but only to a certain point. Money buys freedom from worry about the basics in life—housing, food, clothing. Genetic makeup, life circumstances, achievements, marital status, social relationships, even your neighbors—all influence how happy you are. Or can be.

So do individual ways of thinking and expressing feeling. Researchers estimate that much of happiness is under personal control. Regularly indulging in small pleasures (such as warm baths!), getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself are all actions that increase life satisfaction.”

My belief for my life is that I must enforce all that is good and accept or alter, if possible, what is bad.

I know that some hurdles are tougher, higher, more jagged round the edges than others and that it takes time, determination and sheer will power to plough through them, if necessary utilising the help and motivation from others to get me there. I think the ability to be happy is due to adjusting my mindset to change my perception of events that transpire and to work towards maintaining a positive outlook no matter how hard it rains.

I enjoyed reading “How to Stay Authentic, No Matter What” again in Psychology today, nodding my head in agreement as I read it. When asked “Who are you?” What do you say? It made me stop and think about who I think I am. I have to admit I am different around different people. One person with family, another with friends, yet another with acquaintances and so on. I feel that different people spark different responses from me, they make me feel more confident or insecure depending on who they are. I try to allow myself to be as true to myself as possible within the differing situations. Although sometimes I find myself saying or doing things to suit others and not being honest and true to myself. “Learning how to express the diverse aspects of who you are as a person can be one of the greatest joys in life, and an essential part of maintaining your emotional well-being.”  That is something I wholeheartedly agree with!

I came across this article in The Telegraph which talks about “Ikigai” which means roughly something that makes life worth living. Ikigai is pronounced ee-kee-guy and is a Japanese concept. Wikipedia tells me “Everyone, according to Japanese culture, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is important to the cultural belief that discovering one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life” The Telegraph article is interesting and discussed Ikigai and how to find it, I liked the part where it shows us advice from an ikigai master, so much so I have copied it here to share with you too..

  1. Look at what’s in front of you
    “Ikigai is not something grand or extraordinary. It’s something pretty matter-of-fact.”
  2. Remember why it’s important
    “It really does matter. If you have an ikigai, you probably won’t ever kill yourself, unless you lose it, and you’re probably going to have a better life, because you will have something you live for that’s key.”
  3. Consider why you do things
    “I wrote about a guy who hates his boss, hates his work, and then comes home to his daughter clinging to his leg. That’s why he puts up with this; that’s his ikigai.”
  4. Take time to decide
    “You damn well better find work and love in a way that suits you. You damn well better be best friends with the person you choose as your spouse.”
  5. Be wary of the individual pursuit of ikigai
    “If you sleep around outside your marriage, you may find ikigai elsewhere in different people, but you’ve left a lot of human wreckage behind you.”
  6. Remember that it’s never fully secure
    “Even if you are completely in love with your spouse, it’s always possible you wake up one morning and there is a note on your pillow saying ‘Goodbye’. Misfortune can happen to anybody, so ikigai is never completely secure.”
  7. Re-examine your ikigai from time to time
    “I make sure that, occasionally late at night, I’ll have a drink or two, not think about anything in front of me but just sit back and think about my life: How’s it going? What’s bothering me? What’s really going on now?”

If you find this topic interesting then you can buy the book by Prof Gordon Mathews “What Makes Life Worth Living? How Japanese and Americans Make Sense of Their Worlds” to learn more.

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Thinking long and hard I have come up with what I know makes me happy;

  • Laughing with my husband and daughters, especially when we create new signs and sayings that only we can relate to.
  • The smell of my dog Taylors paws, they have a warm subtle reassuringly comforting smell which is impossible to describe.
  • The company of my dogs, snuggled up close when I am poorly.
  • The smells of fresh cut grass, baking bread, cucumber when just sliced, coffee percolating, the coast, smells of hot chips with lots of vinegar ~ just a few of my favourite smells, there are in reality a large number, so just said my top ones.
  • Sitting quietly surrounded by trees and watching birds, butterflies, bees, squirrels and other little critters go about their business. Lying on my back watching patterns of the leaves as they rustle in the wind and the clouds as they scurry above.
  • Sitting barefoot on the beach, digging my toes into the sand and watching the waves.
  • Sitting quietly in a cafe, drinking a lovely hot Mocha, reading a book and intermittently people watching. Creating the lives and loves of the people I watch as they pass by.
  • Slipping into a bed freshly made with clean sheets.
  • Sitting by the fire, with dogs and family, chatting and watching films together.
  • Knowing that I am loved by those closest to me.
  • Not allowing the loss of past relationships to get me down, to be able to accept that people move on and to not hold a grudge.
  • Feeling lucky to have found love, friendship and support through those closest to me, relationships I treasure and don’t take for granted.
  • Being alive, knowing that life could be far worse and that in comparison to many people I have the luxury of a roof over my head and health care to help me when I am sick and struggling.
  • Helping others, supporting causes and doing what I can to spread a little love back into the world.
  • Forgiving myself when I need to.
  • Coffee ~ knowing I have it at hand whenever I need it’s embrace.
  • My tattoos
  • My piercings
  • Learning to love myself.
  • Photography ~ immersing myself in seeing through a lens and playing with the features on my camera, dipping into my course as and when health allows.
  • The taste of a good wine in my mouth.
  • The flavours of a delicious meal, preferably not cooked by me and not having to do the washing up!

I know in reality if I sat down and wrote a list over a periods of weeks that far more reasons to be happy would come to me. These are just what I can think of for now.

If you are feeling down then I hope you can find a way to climb back up to see the light and sunshine around you. Wherever there is darkness there is also light.

I will leave you with these quotes..

“The dance between darkness and light will always remain ~ the stars and the moon will always need the darkness to be seen, the darkness will just not be worth having without the moon and the stars.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

“In our day and age, global society has been saturated with the wrong teaching of false positivity. The denial of darkness never equates the abundance of light. And the denial of your actual character never equates to the reality of your best character. People today are afraid to work on themselves and on their actual realities, they believe that outward appearances are enough. Outward appearances have become everything in our current day and age. People don’t see what they are actually like, nor who they actually are, in reality. They live in a phantasmic version of reality. It has to stop. In the phantasmic version of reality, there is no chance to experience true love, true goodness, and true metamorphosis. The caterpillar does not become a butterfly by telling everybody it has wings. It actually buries itself in darkness and grows those wings.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

“For every item that carries the darkness of humanity there’s one that holds the light. And that light is worth believing in. Not just in others, but in yourself as well.” ~ C.M. Rayne, The Forbidden Land of Andara

‘Life is a trick and you get one chance to learn it.’ ~ Terry Pratchett

The whole of life is just like watching a click, he thought. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out yourself from the clues. And you never, never get a chance to stay in your seat for the second house. ~ Terry Pratchett

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