In the light of Happiness Day, here are my three top tips on happiness.
The key message is this – that happiness can take two forms. The first is getting a high on something, like having a laugh, going for a meal, or buying a super new outfit. Nothing wrong with any of that, but it’s temporary and conditional.
The second form of happiness is not conditional on external circumstances. It is already here within us. We just have to learn how to tune in (that takes training). If we can do that, we can touch base any time, whatever is going on (or at least, we can do it more often).
So my three top tips are ones that help us tune in and allow the happiness within us to rise to the surface.
The first is Gratitude. This simple practice counteracts the hard-wired tendency that humans have to be alert to threats, or put another way, to be grumpy and negative. Try three ways to practice:
- wake up and make the first thought one of being grateful for being warm, safe, well fed, or just being happy to be alive.
- take a moment, right now, for 3 seconds, to widen your vision and notice three lovely things around you. Do this often.
- keep a gratitude diary. Just write down a few positive events at the end of the day. Do it for a week and see what happens.
The second tip is Smiling. Smiling releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical, that can trick the body into feeling well. So it’s nice for us. Supercharge this by smiling at other people – they might feel better too!
The third tip is Pausing. This is a key part of all the mindfulness training we do, yet it’s so simple that it can easily be forgotten. So reminders are useful; like a post it note on the edge of the screen, or every time you put your hand out to grab the coffee cup. So all you do is stop, take few deeper breaths, and come back to your centre. Do nothing. Even 10 seconds will make a change.