Have you ever said to yourself, "I should know this by now"? Or as a child do you remember saying anything like, "When I am 20 years old, I will have strong biceps or I will be fluent in Spanish"?
I heard a TedTalk recently where the speaker said that as we get older people generally get happier. But how does this happen? Does it just magically one day manifest like that? Do you wake up one day at age 20 or 30 or 40 and suddenly have strong biceps or can speak Spanish fluently or are happy?
No. No. No! :-) You and I have to take actions for that to happen, isn't it?
In this week's video and article, I will show you what and how to do it so you CAN wake up happy!
To download your free PDF with your 7 Day Action Plan, click below.
Hello there, beautiful! Welcome to the Happiness Forecast where you are inspired and uplifted to live a happier life.
So in the last episode, I guided you on how to craft your very own definition of happiness. Doesn't that feel good? Clarity is empowerment and personally identifying your happiness definition is very very empowering! (Hint: go check out episode 002 to create your own happiness definition).
Clarity Is Empowerment!
Why take happiness actions?
But we cannot stop at just knowing how we define our own happiness. Just like we cannot learn Spanish or any other foreign language in a day - or build a healthy body overnight, living a life where happiness is your new normal, takes daily, dedicated practice. And the best thing about this is that it really is fun.
Why do we take actions? Because it sends a strong signal to your subconscious mind that you mean business. The more you take repeated happiness actions, the stronger the synapses in your brain will become. Besides, when you take steps to generate your own happiness, you feel an unparalleled feeling of confidence. Your feel like the world is your oyster and you can be and do anything. It is awesome!
What are happiness actions?
So what do I mean by practical actions for happiness?
Essentially, happiness actions are daily practical action-steps you do daily that boost your happiness as well as cultivate a sense of happiness. So every day you got to take some action towards cultivating your inner-peace and happiness - action steps that you define and identify for yourself.
Happiness Actions are daily practical action-steps you do daily that boost your happiness as well as cultivate a sense of overall happiness.
15 ways to cultivate happiness and that's just a start
You can come up with many such happiness actions based on your unique happiness definition. Look at your definition and brainstorm some activities. The idea is to do those things that particularly make YOU happy. Plus, there some universal ones like the first 4 happiness actions I mention below, that help everyone cultivate a deeper sense of joy and peace of mind.
Let's start with the universal 4 universal practices.
1. Expressing gratitude and appreciation.
When we appreciate something, that which we appreciate, increases in value or worth. That's one of the core meanings of the word appreciation. The person whom you appreciate will feel an increase in their sense of worth in their eyes and you will to feel that in your own eyes toward them. You know how it feels when someone is giving you a genuine compliment - from the heart. Notice and appreciate something good in others or in your environment. Even animals love appreciation, don't they? I often told my cat, "you are a good cat" just as he was lying there in the sun being himself! And yeah, he loved it! :-)
Plus, being grateful in our life for all the things we do have. The people in our lives are a blessing. The fresh air we breathe. Finding ways to be grateful in our life especially when what we want is not happening or what we don't want is happening, is a real talent and as we practice more of it, we find the benefits coming our way in big waves.
2. Meditating daily.
Calming the mental chatter is my #1 way to bring in more happiness. If you have never done meditation, you can begin with just 1 minute a day and build on it gradually. If you do some type of meditation already, make a commitment to do it daily. It doesn't matter how long you meditate. What matters is that you do it consistently. (I mention in the video the one-minute mediation movement. Here's the link I referred to where you can watch a one moment-mediation when you go to Martin Borson's website.)
3. Weekly or daily walking in nature.
Going into a natural landscape regularly is very helpful for inner-peace. If you live in or near a natural setting like a forest or a lake or the beach, go there for a short walk. If you are in an urban landscape, find a park or a garden where you can surround yourself with nature. At lunch breaks, go outside to breath some fresh air, see the sky and clouds and move a little. Fresh air and walking give you double benefits; keeping your mind as well as your body healthy. I began going into the woods weekly and after a year of that, I am now able to sustain a daily walk. Some people may try to replace this with a gym activity or some sport. Although that's great, I am specifically referring to moving within a natural surrounding. (Of course, there are exceptions to this if it is extreme cold or hot or some other natural phenomena that prevents you from going outdoors!)
4. Reading uplifting materials.
Find a book or a blog that you can read for 20 minutes every day. Submerging your mind with positive literature offers a life-long benefit for you. You grow new mental synapses and begin to embody more and more messages that give you peace, inspiration and joy. Do this please! Find a book. I have a list of my top 5 happiness book recommendations to start you off that you can easily pick up from a library, bookstore or online
These three actions must be done daily. You don't have to spend hours and hours on this, especially, if your schedule is already super-packed. Make it a power-hour as Jack Canfield teaches in his book, Success Principles. Break up the three activities into 20 minute blocks, like this: 20 min for reading, 20 min for nature walk and 20 minutes for meditation.
Then, there are other actions that help create the momentary shots of happiness that are highly important too. Here's my suggested list of activities that you can sprinkle into your life for added boost to your daily happiness experience:
5. Planning an event that you can look forward to.
Something fun and maybe design it as a surprise for someone special. (We covered on how this creates a joy of anticipation briefly in episode 002 of the Happiness Forecast.)
6. Doing an anonymous kind act.
This is a super happiness booster! One time, my husband and I created anonymous gifts for about 10 of our neighbors and put them into their mailboxes. We were so happy and delighted. It's really uncanny how doing something like this can make you feel so good. Another example is putting quarters into somebody else's parking meter so they have a few extra minutes.
7. Infusing your environment with beauty.
Create beauty in your home and work environment. One way to do this is by keeping things organized and clean. Even a simple home when organized and clean looks lavish and abundant. Declutter and selectively decorate to reflect who you are. I am not perfect in this but I do the best I can. So can you!
8. Making your bed.
Okay, I am surprised that I would be the one to say this because for years I have just jumped off my bed in the morning, never looking back. But a while back, I began making my bed. Again, the bed is not made perfectly like an interior decorator or home organizer would. But it looks tidy and nice and it feels good every time I pass by my bedroom. This one thing alone has added so much confidence in me because I know at the end of the day I will have my neatly made bed to rest my tired body and rest my mind. Try it; it will do wonders for your happiness even if it seems minuscule in the big scheme of things.
This could have been point # 1 because it is so vital but this list is not laid out in the order of importance. We have all heard about the science behind exercise and how exercising helps in eliminating depression and anxiety. Listen, exercise regularly is more important than what specific cardiovascular activity you choose and how you combine it with other physical trainings. Start with walking. Start small like 10 minutes. But do what you like. It could be dancing. I began simply with playing badminton in my backyard three days a week because I love badminton and it reminds me of my school days back in Mumbai when we played it all the time. I love it and so it is fun and games. Bring that fun aspect to it and that's all that you need to make exercising a regular part of your life.
10. Investing in experiences.
This one is simple. Invest in experiences not things. Invest in activities you can do with friends. Go camping with a bunch of friends or to a theater outing or simply go have ice cream. The ice cream is not the focus (although, hey who doesn't love ice cream) but the doing it together with people you love is key.
11. Giving non-holiday and non-birthday gifts.
I personally don't like the pressure of birthday and holiday gift-giving. So I choose to give gifts to the people in my life at random times in the year just because this way I can follow a real inspiration I get for doing something for them. I may make the gift myself if my creative juices are flowing but I also love sending stuff from Amazon too, especially, when I have got a hint about what they liked. It is fun and it's an unexpected gift which pleasantly surprises the person who receives the gift.
12. Doing something you love.
Spend lots of time doing the kind of things you personally love. This is your signature thing to do. Ask yourself what you like to do that fills you up with joy and a sense of timelessness. I dedicate an entire video on this topic in my online program, Happiness Gameplan, because this is so so important to feel a sense of happiness. When we are creating we are being truly ourselves. It doesn't matter if it is dancing or cooking or painting or playing the piano or writing or taking photos; you don't have to be good in them, just enjoy doing them. Brainstorm a list of activities that make time fly. Then do them in your free moments. Relish in them and you are bound to feel a sense of fulfillment that no other consumptive activity (whether it is consuming food or entertainment or shopping or anything else) can compete with. And in your heart you know this.
13. Spending time with the people you love.
This one is really funny coming from me because I am really a hermit and most of my free time, I like to just hangout with animals or go into the woods for a long walk or read or hang in the hammock! Yeah...that's a secret confession, right there! But the one thing that will ensure that we grow happier as we grow older is relationships with people. That's what the speaker of the TedTalk that I mentioned earlier declared. The key is spending relaxed time with people who uplift you and make you smile. I am myself learning to do this, so we are in this together, my friend! Besides in-person time, speaking with people on the phone also builds good relationships; not one of my strong suits, but hey, nobody's perfect! :-)
Visualization for happiness
There's another practice that I would like to talk about here. And that's the practice of visualization.
I used to conduct guided visualization workshops for several years for small groups of 10 to 15 people and I know that it is really a powerful technique to cultivate inner-peace. I myself credit visualization as a key tool for getting me out of a downward emotional spiral and introducing me to positive ways of being. And I will share with you a couple of tips on visualization below.
But I do want to point out that I have now discovered an even more powerful method and that is Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka which is about cultivating equanimity and detachment from the ups and downs of life. So I think some type of effort that helps you be calm and balanced even when things are not going your way and helps you detach yourself from cravings, is more important. But not everyone can start there. I know, I couldn't. If a few years ago, in my downward emotional state if you said, go do Vipassana mediation, I would not have known how to receive it. I was not ready for it and I know many cannot receive it. That's why, visualization, I believe, is still very useful but while you use it, remember, it is only a temporary tool. You will advance to a deeper form of meditation that teaches you equanimity, eventually.
Having said that, here are a couple of useful tips on using visualization for calming the surface level of the mind.
14. Watching visualization videos or listen to audios.
The internet has tons of such resources. Just go to youtube and you will find many. If you would like to try one of the 24 guided visualization videos that I have created, just go on over to my playlist on youtube.
15. Repeating peaceful words throughout the day.
Here is a piece of advice from Norman Vincent Peal in his book, The Power of Positive Thinking:
"At intervals during the day, practice thinking a carefully selected series of peaceful thoughts. Let mental pictures of the most peaceful scenes you have ever witnessed pass across your mind, as for example, the silvery light of the moon falling upon rippling waters, or the sea washing gently upon soft shores of sand. Such peaceful thought images will work upon your mind as a healing medicine.
Repeat audibly some peaceful words. Words have profound suggestive power, and there is healing in the very saying of them. Use a word such as "serenity". Picture serenity as you say it. Repeat it slowly and in the mood of which the word is a symbol."
- Norman Vincent Peale in The Power of Positive Thinking.
For me a powerful phrase especially in times of distress is, "All is well." You can write it out on a post-it and put it in your purse/wallet and it will emanate peaceful vibes.
Now, it's your turn
So now it is your turn: write down 7 things you can do for the next 7 days everyday to cultivate a happy life. I know you can come up with way more. You can also start with my very own 5 Days to Happier Life Free ECourse where each day I email you a happiness action that you can take.
I have also created a handy-dandy worksheet to help you come up with your very own list. You can get it by clicking the pink button below.
So I hope in this article and in the accompanying video, you have come to understand that we need to cultivate happiness with daily practice just like anything else in our life - like playing the piano or learning a language! It can be fun because it is you who determines what this daily practice will be.
Developing a calm and balanced mind is key to our happiness because if the mind is weak, our body gets weak and our emotions can overpower us. Cultivating happiness is an daily conscious effort and we have to build upon our successes bit by bit. Develop a strong mind by practicing meditation even if you begin with just a few minutes. I recommend going to a ten-day retreat to learn how to meditate such as the one I experienced. I will be sharing more on that in later episodes in greater detail.
Remember, your Happiness Forecast for tomorrow is looking bright and sunny because you are taking daily happiness actions for it.
Thank you for reading and watching this episode with me. See you next Sunday 8 am Eastern, right here on the blog.
If you like to share some of your favorite actions that bring you into the present moment, when time seems like it stops or flies away, do that in the comments. I would love to read them.
May you have a happy, calm and peaceful mind.
If you would like to go deeper into creating habits of happiness and immersing yourself in a mindset shift that leads to increased happiness experience, then come check out my online video program, Happiness Gameplan. It is a six week virtual coaching with me appearing to your in videos with beautiful waterfall sharing personal strategies that I have used to help myself create a life of joy and abundance in the last 8 years. Go over here to learn about the details on what you get in the program.
Resources Mentioned In This Video Episode + Article
1. Hour of Power in the book Success Principles by Jack Canfield
2. A Series of 24 Guided Visualization Videos on YouTube by yours truly (Sophia Ojha)
3. Book: The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
4. The One-Moment Mediation Movement of Martin Boroson
5. 10 Day Meditation retreat of Vipassana Meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka
6. My Top 5 happiness book recommendations for your daily 20 minute reading block
Photo Credit and thanks for the beautiful image used in the banner of this post and thumbnail for the video goes to Robert Bye. Thank you for your amazing work!
About Sophia Ojha
Hey there! I am so happy you found us and welcome! So, that's me in the photo and I blog and make videos on the topic of individual happiness and inner-peace. Click here to read more about me. Enjoy your stay here at reflectionpond.com!