In the search for happiness, we often jump from one activity to another with the hope of finding contentment. Even the media constantly bombards us with the message that if we just eat at the right restaurant, find the perfect partner or have a perfect body then we will finally be happy. While each of these things may bring us a temporary burst of joy, the truth is that they are fleeting, and the subsequent let down will only lead you to begin the search again, thereby continuing in a fruitless cycle.
Finding lasting happiness can at times seem to be an unattainable goal. Yet, it is important to know that the ability to enjoy deep contentment lies within each of us. As you begin to make small changes in your lifestyle and beliefs, you can discover a wealth of joy and contentment that will last for a lifetime.
When you embark upon your spiritual journey of discovery, you will find that true happiness can be enjoyed by maintaining your focus on your life’s purpose that will drive your motivation for improving the following five key areas of your life.
Attitude of Gratitude
A thankful mindset can set the stage for a happy life by instantly changing your outlook during any circumstance. Each day, there are countless opportunities to simply be thankful for the small things that lead to happiness. Is doing laundry a dreaded chore? Then, spend a few moments being thankful for having a plentiful wardrobe and express gratitude for each member of your family as you put their clothing away. Thankfulness can also be expressed regarding the ordinary kindness you receive from others that often gets overlooked in the busyness of your life, such as a door held open as you enter a building. As you express gratitude for the events in your life, you will also be assigning value to the things that bring you peace and joy. Over time, this simple expression will begin to open up your awareness of who you truly are as an individual.
Basic Life Support
While it is true that material gains are not enough to sustain true happiness, it is important to ensure that you have the basic necessities required for good health. Among these necessities are being able to fuel your body with the proper nutrition to keep you energized, a safe shelter and comfortable clothing. As you examine this aspect of your life, keep in mind that these basic necessities do not require designer clothing and eating at high-end restaurants. It is only necessary to have that which keeps you healthy and comfortable. To obtain these basic building blocks for health, you will also need a steady source of income that is sufficient for meeting your needs. It is important to remember, however, that these elements of your life support system are only one of the most primitive steps toward finding lasting happiness as they free you to begin focusing on your core values.
In today’s highly productive society, sleep often gets put on the backburner as we push ourselves to do more. Yet, sleep is when your body performs its restorative functions that can help return your mind to a state of peacefulness. After a day of worrying and tending to life’s chores, it is important to aim for at least seven to eight hours of rest in a dark environment that is free of distractions so that your body can perform its natural self-healing abilities. If getting adequate sleep is a struggle, try to avoid artificial light before bedtime and consider establishing a bedtime routine that will signal your body that it is time to rest. In addition to a full night of uninterrupted sleep, you can prolong this state of relaxation by practicing mindfulness meditation throughout moments of your day. Mindfulness can help take your focus off of surface worries, and it can be learned easily with only a small amount of practice. Over time, practicing mindfulness will become second nature, and it can greatly increase your ability to relax during any situation.
Happiness may come from within, but it is our friends, family and neighbors who can help to continuously replenish our joy while reminding us of our purpose in life. Begin to search for ways to engage with others in social situations. Do you work from home? Try spending a few hours working in a coffee shop where you can meet new people and savor the differences within the people in your neighborhood. Alternatively, try volunteering in your community. When you step out of your comfort zone and begin to share your knowledge and skills with others, your self-confidence and satisfaction will grow. Reconnect with old friends through a handwritten letter or phone call. Invite your extended family over for a dinner full of stimulating conversation that can teach new lessons about living a happy lifestyle. The opportunities to surround yourself with loved ones are limitless, and your happiness will only increase as you begin to open your life to others.
Healthy Activity in Mind and Body
We all know the health benefits of being physically active, but did you know that endorphins are released during exercise that contribute to a positive sense of well-being? That runner’s high that everyone talks about is really just a chemical reaction within the body that influences a person’s mood. This same boost to your happiness can be achieved by staying active throughout your day. Take a walk during your lunch break to beat those midday doldrums, or spend a weekend morning decluttering your house. Combine physical activity with an opportunity for socialization by joining an exercise group at your gym or community center. Not only will these active moments increase your health, but they can also have wondrous impacts upon your mind. Spending time in a clutter-free atmosphere can decrease your stress and free you to pursue activities that challenge your mind. In your quest to be more active, remember to seek out opportunities for mental stimulation. Consider taking up a new hobby, enrolling in a class or read a thought-provoking book. The point is to do something fun and interesting that will get you in touch with your authentic self.
The journey to discovering lasting happiness is one that involves a series of small steps that all lead to a wondrous goal. When one area of your life is lacking, those nagging thoughts of unhappiness can gradually sneak in. Yet, feelings of negativity cannot linger long when you are deeply aware of your true self. When doubts occur, remember that your journey is a continual work in progress. You must keep moving and striving to find balance as you encounter new challenges. True contentment does not come from external factors such as material possessions or social status. Instead, it comes from honoring and acknowledging your inner self so that you can enjoy the comfort of doing the things that bring you lasting joy.