Most people have heard the cliché “beauty is only skin deep,” but I believe true beauty starts with an inner happiness. What truly constitutes an inner happiness? We have been conditioned in this society to believe external material gains will make us happy, e.g., having a big house, nice car, affording a luxurious vacation or just having more money. These things may make a person happy in the short term, but research has failed to show a significant correlation between happiness and material wealth once a person’s basic need for food, shelter, and clothing have been met
This is where Positive Psychology comes in which says we often neglect the things in life that truly make us happy in the quest for things that we think will make us happy. However, we can all find everyday happiness by following these practices:
Having a Sense of Control – This can be seen as shifting attention away from what you cannot control (the past or other people) and focusing attention on what you can control (how you will respond to a given situation or concrete steps you can take to obtain something you desire for yourself).
Savor the Small Pleasures of Life – You don’t need to win or make millions to be happy, but to enjoy a lot of the everyday small pleasures (while unplugged from technology devices!) such as noticing a beautiful sunset; taking a leisurely walk; playing with a pet or eating a piece of chocolate with your favorite decaf coffee or tea after dinner.
Practice Positive Cognition – This is a basic tenet of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy that postulates how you think will affect the way you feel and behave. If you choose to see a given situation as transitory and controllable it will have a profound effect on how you feel and in turn what actions you then take.
Recognize Problems as Opportunities for Growth – There is an old saying that goes “what doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger” and is a phrase I have used with clients in my own practice because I believe it to be so true and is something I can truly attest to. Each difficult situation we find ourselves in can be an opportunity to help us grow as individuals and learn valuable lessons about ourselves, those around us and the environment as a whole.
Focus on Gratitude – Focusing on what we do have as opposed to what we don’t have can have a profound effect on how we see the world and give us a greater sense of peace and security.
Have a Sense of Attachment to Others – We are by nature social creatures and live in relation to others. Cultivating the relationships that mean the most to us connects us more with the ones we love and helps us to feel not so isolated while living in a troubled world.
Have a Sense of Attachment to the Universe – Individuals have a tendency to report a greater sense of happiness when they feel a connection to humanity either through nature, spirituality, or basic acts of kindness towards others.
Be Altruistic – Research shows that people are more likely to be happier if they are altruistic, so getting involved in charitable organizations or activities related to one’s religious faith can give someone a greater sense of purpose in life and helps to shift the focus away from ruminating on their own problems.
When we incorporate these practices into our everyday life, our overall stress level has a tendency to dissipate and we will have more of a propensity to treat ourselves right by thinking and doing what is good for our body, mind, and soul and in turn this loving kindness radiates from within.