Happiness it seems is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Something we would like to believe in, and yet continues to elude us. We wait for happiness like it’s a destination on the highway of life, but it feels like the closer we get the further the distance to travel.
In all the reading and research I’ve done on happiness (and there’s been a lot over the years), it wasn’t some scholarly article that gave me a light bulb moment, it was a piece of wall art. A very large, framed print that I came across in a home wares store that told me everything I ever needed to know about happiness. And what’s more it was delivered in just three simple lines.
- Someone to love.
- Something to do.
- Something to look forward to.
Mind blown. Not a paragraph in site and yet wonderfully powerful. But for someone who is used to putting words and context around an idea, let’s break it down.
1. Someone to love– what this really points to is connection. And while we might immediately think partner or spouse, our capacity for love and connection is far wider. Think children, best friends, siblings, and even our furry friends. And let’s not forget the simple connection to self, and indulging in a little self-love every now and then. Having someone to love is a lifeline to connection and we are wired to seek connection. We are tribal beings at heart and while evolution has seen us move well into the technological age, we fundamentally have a need to belong. When we have strong social relationships we are happier, healthier and live longer.
2. Something to do– what this points to is purpose. And where there is purpose there is meaning. When we know we are here for a reason, that we are significant in the world, life starts to make sense and we naturally feel happier. When we have purpose we also arm ourselves with a defense mechanism against stress because we have more developed coping strategies. We have a reason to move beyond obstacles, to stay well, and to keep going. When our life counts for something we have a reason to get out of bed every day. In purpose there is unlimited joy!
3. Something to look forward to– this can range from grand plans such as overseas travel or moving to a new home, to daily rituals and routines that bring little moments of intense happiness. Coffee lovers you know what I mean! It’s the things that feel energizing and joyful even in their simplicity – exercising, getting outdoors, having a catch up with a friend. Anticipation is a very valuable and positive emotion. When we have something to look forward to it makes the more challenging moments less frustrating. The pay off of a future reward gives us the motivation to keep going.
So that’s it. It’s as simple as 1,2,3. If this has resolved all your happiness questions then read no further. For those of you who are interested in picking up some additional happiness hacks, I’d love to throw in a couple of my personal favourites:
Say no to something– this is so empowering I can’t even begin to tell you the impact it has. Saying no to something you really don’t want to do is not about being hostile or uncooperative, it’s about respecting your own boundaries. There is so much to be gained from this small act it will have you grinning from ear to ear.
Read or listen to something inspiring– use idle time (public transport, waiting at the doctors office, picking the kids up from school etc.) to read or listen to something that really motivates you. If you don’t have the time to sit and read then a good pod cast will do the trick. I have cleaned the house, made many a dinner and done bucket loads of laundry on the fumes of great podcast. When you engage with content that speaks to your soul you really do find your happy place.
Be grateful for what you have– it’s an overused term but adopting an attitude of gratitude really is an ingredient for happiness. When you focus on what you already have, you immediately feel abundant, and abundance brings more happiness. It’s a positive cycle so keep it going.
Remind yourself how truly great you are – Repeat after me – “I am enough”. Write it on your bathroom mirror, save it to your home screen, or send yourself a text. It doesn’t matter how you do it but let this in. When you can truly embrace that you are enough exactly as you are right now, it will change your world. Your mind cannot argue with this absolute statement of truth. This alone will bring a renewed sense of confidence and happiness.
And while I hate to use clichés, I’m reminded that happiness really is the journey and not the destination. It just takes slowing down enough to take in the view, instead of trying to speed towards it like it’s about to be snatched out from underneath us.