Most of us want to be healthy and happy. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, right?
But how many of us actually wake up every day feeling healthy, vibrant, energised and truly and deeply happy? According to the World Happiness report published every year by the United Nations, only a handful of countries get this right, the recipe for happy living. In their 2020 report, the UK ranks only 15th in the world and the US 18th.
And that is looking at whole countries. But what about you as an individual, right here, right now, today, at this very moment? How healthy and happy do you feel?
Is Happiness A Luxury?
And does it even matter all that much, if we feel happy or not? Because as long as we have food on the table, a bed to sleep in and a roof over our heads, shouldn’t we just be grateful for what we’ve got?
In other words, is aspiring to feeling happy every day simply a luxury? Something that’s ‘nice to have’ but not essential? Something we can easily do without?
As a functional medicine doctor I can tell you the answer to that question is a solid NO.
Happiness is not a luxury, nor is it something unattainable that only a few people ever get to experience and even then, only some of the time. Nor is it something elusive or random that we can only experience when the stars are aligned and mercury is in retrograde.
Happiness is not elusive, not random, and definitely not coincidence or down to good luck. In fact I believe the opposite is true: we can cultivate happiness, we can learn about how to feel happy, and that happiness is a choice (extreme circumstances aside).
In my view, learning how to cultivate happiness should be on the national curriculum. We should learn this in kindergarten! It’s such a fundamental life and living skill. If we don’t learn it, we pay a huge price with our health, our wellbeing, our relationships and our ability to prosper. As individuals, as communities and as nations.
The Power Of Happiness
Hurt people will hurt people. Happy people, well, they create more happiness. For themselves, for others, for the communities they live and work in. It’s contagious. It’s that simple. I wonder what the R value of happiness is?!
But there is more to it than that!
Happiness is a feeling, a frequency of living. It’s the feeling of joy, lightness, of possibility, of abundance, of expansions, of connection, of contribution. In other words, it is about having all of our human needs met, for contribution, feeling significant, growth and connection. These are the ingredients of my recipe for happiness and feeling fully alive and vibrant.
Lets Keep It Simple.
That might sound complicated and elusive but there is a really simple place to start: knowing how to create more joy in your life.
When we turn up the volume on joy, we have more energy, we feel fitter, healthier and lighter, We cope better, we have better relationships with our partners, kids, family and friends. There is less risk of depression, and burnout. We stop stress eating, pay more attention, think more clearly, feel more creative.
Can you think of anything that can do all of that? Is there a drug, a ‘get out of jail free’ card anywhere on the planet, that gives you all of that?
Are you ready to learn how to have more joy and happiness in your life?
How To Be Happy Again
Creating joy and happiness is a life skill. An art from. Something that takes time to learn, with steps to learn, approaches to master and skills to hone. Come with that expectation.
Imagine you decided to learn to play the piano. You don’t expect to be amazing straight away. You know you will have to start with baby steps, start at the beginning and learn the basics. You expect to need to practice and gradually build your skills from there. And eventually you will be ready to take Grade 1 Piano. And over the years, you might take more grades and one day you might be a virtuoso pianist.
It’s the same with learning the art of happiness. Happiness is really about joy. Imagine you are going to learn ‘Grade 1 in Joy’. What does that curriculum look like? What are the things you would need to master, the baby steps you need to learn to start being able to consistently experience joy?
Curriculum For Grade 1 ‘Joy’
Here are 5 ways to get you started on your journey towards experiencing greater joy and inner happiness as your daily normal.
Set your intention daily.
Every morning, as soon as you wake up, ask yourself: what do I want today to be about? What will have me feeling like today has been useful, purposeful, and made a difference? When you start each day like this, from a place of clarity, a sense of joy and fulfillment are not far behind.
Gratitude for what is.
We are naturally grateful for the ‘ special things in life, like if someone gives you a birthday present, or does something nice for you. But what about if it’s simply a regular day, with no special occasions or events?
The point is that we don’t need to wait until something special happens. We can be grateful for having a cosy bed to sleep in, a warm house to live in, and having a choice of what clothes you get to wear that day.
Whatever it is, large or small, learn to intentionally connect to what you are grateful for. Who and what you appreciate in your life, and what gives you real pleasure.
Focus on the joy not the grind.
It’s so easy to put our focus on the difficulties, the struggles, and the challenges. Its easy to see where you don’t have enough of something, where you wish things were this way instead of that. In other words, giving your time and attention to what you don’t want.
Instead, start focusing on what you do want. Where are things going well? Which amazing people do you know, that uplift and inspire you – go hang out with them!
Give the grind a miss, and go for the joy.
Say no all the time!
This does not mean you have to become uncooperative or obstinate- far from it! I am talking about saying NO to giving your time, energy or focus to all the stuff that sucks the joy from you.
It could be people, conversations, or certain situations that suck you dry. Sometimes we can’t avoid particular people or situations, but we always get to choose whether or not we give our energy, our emotions, our focus and attention. Always. That is your gift to give.
Start noticing who and what you give your attention to, and check in with yourself, does this give you more energy and joy, or less.
Know what makes you feel joy and do more of that.
We all know the things that make us happy but for some reason, they are relegated to the bottom of the ‘ to do’ list. Other things seem ‘ more important’ and more urgent. Now sometimes this may be true, but if your life is like that every hour of every day, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate?
It’s simple: what could possibly be more important, honestly and truly, than your health and happiness? Every single day?
Now That You’re Inspired…..
I hope this has inspired you to think of happiness as an essential part of your health and your life. Happiness is not a luxury, or something for special occasions. Instead it is a way of life that you get to choose, that you can nurture, and that you can create for yourself.