Happiness is essential to our lives and helps us to feel more joyous and passionate about everything. The more happiness we bring into our lives, the lighter we feel of body, mind and spirit.
In other words, when you are happier you have the potential to live a Low Density Lifestyle.
And happiness and joy is one of the things that will happen more often for you when you live a Low Density Lifestyle.
But what is happiness? Why are some people more happier than others? Are they born that way?
No, happiness runs much deeper than that.
A few years ago, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was asked, “President Carter, have you come to any new perspectives about what matters in life, now that you’re older?”
His answer was to the point: “Earlier in my life I thought the things that mattered were the things that you could see, like your car, your house, your wealth, your property, your office. But as I’ve grown older I’ve become convinced that the things that matter most are the things that you can’t see – the love you share with others, your inner purpose, your comfort with who you are.”
This is what happiness is. It’s not about the material things you can show the world, but about how you feel about the work you do, the relationships you have, and the love you share.
And so, what are the secrets to happiness? How can you cultivate your ability to be happy, and in the process, live a Low Density Lifestyle?
Here are 12 ways:
1) Count Your Blessings
One way to practice this strategy is with a “gratitude journal” in which you write down the 3 to 5 things for which you are currently thankful. Do this once a week. Keep the strategy fresh by varying your entries and how you express them as much as possible. And if there’s a particular person who has been kind or influential in your life, don’t wait to express your appreciation. Write them a letter now, or, if possible, visit and thank them in person.
2) Practice Acts of Kindness
These should be both random and systematic. Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade of positive effects – it makes you feel compassionate and capable, gives you a greater sense of connection with others and earns you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness. These are all happiness boosters.
3) Nurture Optimism
This involves such practices as looking at the bright side, finding the silver lining in a negative event, noticing what’s right (rather than what’s wrong), feeling good about one’s future and the future of the world, or simply feeling that you can get through the day. One way to practice this strategy is to sit in a quiet place and take 20 to 30 minutes to think about and write down what you expect your life to be 10 years from now. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Think of this as the realization of all of your life dreams. Then, write about what you imagined.
4) Learn to Forgive
Let go of anger, resentment, and feelings of vengeance by writing – but, not sending – a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. The inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on.
5) Increase “Flow” Experiences
When you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing that you don’t notice the passage of time, you are in the flow state. So, become fully engaged at work, at home, and at play. Try to increase the number of flow experiences in your life, whether it’s completing a project at the office, playing with your children, or enjoying a hobby. Seek work and leisure activities that engage your skills and expertise.
6) Invest in Relationships
One of the biggest factors in happiness appears to be strong personal relationships. Indeed, having the support of someone who deeply cares about you is one of the best remedies for unhappiness. Thus, this strategy involves putting effort into healing, cultivating, and enjoying your relationships with family and friends. Act with love, be as kind to the people close to you as you are to strangers, affirm them, share with them, and play together.
7) Avoiding Overthinking
Remember the book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff? There’s a time to think about the bad stuff in your life, but dwelling on your problems excessively is unhealthy. Very happy people have the capacity – even during trying times like a parent’s chronic illness – to absorb themselves in an engaging activity, stay busy, and have fun. To practice this strategy, pick a distracting, attention-grabbing activity that has compelled you in the past and do it when you notice yourself dwelling.
8) Savor Life’s Joys
Pay close attention and take delight in momentary pleasures, wonders, and magical moments. Focus on the sweetness of a ripe mango, the aroma of a bakery, or the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.
9) Feed Your Soul
Studies show that religious and spiritual people are happier and healthier than others. Perhaps the social support of belonging to a close-knit religious group is valuable, as is the sense of meaning and purpose that comes from touching on the spiritual aspects of life.
10) Have Goals and Stay Committed to Them
People who strive for something significant are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations. Find a happy person and you will find a project. However, being dedicated to any pursuit won’t make you happy if you’re just doing it for superficial reasons such as making money, boosting your ego, or succumbing to peer pressure.
11) Use Your Body: Exercise, Meditation, and Rest
Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching and meditating can all enhance your mood in the short term and promote energy and strong mental health. Practiced regularly, they can help make your daily life more satisfying and increase long-term happiness.
If you read the series on laughter and humor a few weeks back, you’ll recall how I discussed the value of laughter and how it can brighten your day, improve your health, and make you happier. If you want to start your day on a laughter note, you can always join a Laughter Yoga club.