#Happiness (how can I get some of that) Part II

It’s here! Did you know that there is a day dedicated to happiness? It’s called the International Day of Happiness, and it’s today March 20th. As it states on their website “…this years theme is Happier Together, celebrating what we have in common rather than what divides us.”

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In Part 1 of this blog I had mentioned the key finding of a 75 year Harvard study which demonstrates the importance of our connection with others. Also included was actions to help induce a sense of happiness including: practicing pro-social qualities, mindfulness, and flow.

Before we get started on Part II, I’d like to mention a further way to incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day routine, which as I mentioned previously has been shown to lead to happiness. Five to ten years ago I was a meditation non-believer, but after practicing it for a few years now, I absolutely see and feel the benefits meditation can provide. In fact, several studies show how meditation can have positive effects on many aspects of health, resilience, and better relationships.

Five to ten years ago I was a meditation non-believer, but after practicing it for a few years now, I absolutely see and feel the benefits meditation can provide. In fact, several studies show how meditation can have positive effects on many aspects of health, resilience, and better relationships.
So let’s get to it. Here are three more researched ways you can take action in order to increase your #happiness!

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4. Awe. You know, that experience you feel when you look up at huge beautiful trees, or perhaps looking at this beach photo here, or a beautiful painting. When was the last time you went star-gazing and saw a shooting star?
What tends to put you in a state of awe? It’s really about experiencing awe / wonder / beauty, which makes us feel like we are in the presence of something larger than ourselves.

Researchers have linked positive emotions – especially the awe we feel when touched by the beauty of nature, art, and spirituality – with lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (which are proteins that signal the immune system to work harder). Elevated cytokines have shown association to autoimmune diseases and depression.

UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner says “that awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions – a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art – has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”

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5. Laughter. When is the last time you laughed? When is the laugh time you had a really good belly laugh? If it’s been a while, get on it! There are lots of funny movies, funny people, and other things that can induce laughter – like remembering funny times in the past, or surrounding yourself with people who like to laugh and find the humour in everyday life.

So, try not to be so serious all the time, seriously. A vast amount of research has shown that laughter can contribute to overall health and wellness including increasing your resilience and improving your overall mood.

6. Self-compassion. Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion, says that self-compassion is a state where you understand your own suffering and use mindfulness, kindness, and openness to hold it non-judgementally and consider it part of the human condition. In other words, self-compassion is where you would consider grace for the self even despite unfortunate circumstances.

Neff says that self-compassion entails three core components:

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She goes on to say that we must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate.

Research has shown that people with self-compassion tend have an inner strength of self that is worthy of respect, and their sense of self-worth tends to be less rattled. They also tend to worry less about social comparison, and feel less need to retaliate for perceived personal slights.

This research suggests that self-compassion provides a sense of calmness. Think of it as a safe place from a perceived hurricane of positive and negative self-judgment. It can shelter you from questions like “Am I as good as they are? Am I good enough?”

By practicing kindness, and realizing that all of us have an imperfect human condition; you can be confidently on your way to feel more safe and secure, feeling like you belong, and embracing life every day.

Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds and it does take some work to realize and practice self-compassion. It may take baby steps to break old habits. A pause for self-awareness can help to self-identify when we need more compassion for ourselves. Consider how allowing, with an open heart, life to be as it is could help you change your life for the better.

You may be asking “isn’t it selfish to consider the self”? In response to this I would say that allowing self-compassion into your life may, over time, allow you to respond to challenges from others and life in general in a way that is more open-hearted and loving.

Overall, keep in mind that happiness is different things to different people. There simply isn’t one happiness strategy that works for everyone. Just do your best with what you have, be a better person than yesterday.

“Happiness does not simply happen to us. It’s something that we make happen and it comes from doing our best”.

–Mihali Csikszentmihaly

And please try to not let your happiness depend on what others say or do. Remember that happiness is truly up to you and it’s yours only. It’s an inside job.


Practice the above and I think that you will see a subtle difference over time. I am always making strides to practice these things too. Please let me know how this goes for you, or if you have any questions on these Actions. And don’t forget to go to the International Day of Happiness site to join in with other people celebrating this day of happiness!

OK now what are you waiting for? After you reflect on these a bit, start practicing these actions to increase your #happiness. Let’s GO! Now it’s time to get my introverted butt out the door and connect with the human race, even if it’s just a smile or a simple “hi”!

Looking forward to continuing on this happiness journey with you. Remember, we are all in this together!

Kevin

Live your best life! 2019

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It’s the start of a new year and you are pumped to get going or keep going on your new years resolutions…right?!? Or, now that we are a few weeks into the year have you found yourself stumbling out of the gate? Do you need a push or a gentle reminder? Do you find yourself sliding back into doing “busywork” more than some of your most passionate work, you know…those things that actually motivate you?

We are all human, but that’s the point. We are human beings, not human doings. Sure, you have things that must get done every day but are you consciously making time for the things you really want to do? Making prioritization a priority?

As human beings we have the ability to make a conscious choice to embrace life, live our best life. But why do we get caught up in all of this busywork hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year? It could be because we flounder along in life doing what we feel we need to do, but we don’t take enough moments to clarify what it is that really matters to us. We just keep doing what we’re doing because others have told us that this is what we should do.

Have you taken the time to figure out yet what YOUR best life looks like? Living your best life may include many different areas including:

  • Health and wellness
  • Joy and happiness
  • Success (as you define it)
  • Mindfulness
  • Life purpose (as you define it. e.g. serving others, family)
  • Resilience
  • Attitude
  • Motivation

So, with these aspects in mind, how are you going to live your best life? Try this: get away from distractions and take a moment to picture yourself doing what you love to do whether it’s serving others, taking a walk in nature, slowing down at times to appreciate the little things in life, taking a course in something that you love, etc. How do you feel after doing this? Pretty good hey? If not, take your time and keep trying or try again later..but please don’t forget!

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Me on a hike in BC

So how do you get to this place of awesomeness, you know, your best life? TAKE ACTION! Sure, easier said than done. Maybe you don’t feel like it. So how do you take action on this then?

  • Put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. If needed, repeat again. And again. Never give up. Say it out loud, “never give up!”.
  • Spend time with who/what you love, even if it’s just for a few minutes. If you don’t know what you love, spend some time doing some research, or better yet try out some new things. Go do it.
  • Take an interesting course or read about something that’s interesting to you.
  • Say no to “busywork” sometimes. Try it, and don’t feel bad or ruminate over it.
  • Practice mindfulness. This means deep breathing, meditation, or even just remembering to put yourself back into the moment that you are in. Wherever you go, there you are.
  • Strike a healthy balance between work and play. At the end of life it would be rare for someone to say that they wished they worked more in their life.
  • Lose the attitude (but of course you don’t have a bad attitude right)? Consider that you tend to get out of life what you put into it, and that includes your attitude and effort towards anything and everything.
  • Make better choices. Stop and ask yourself if this current decision is beneficial for yourself, or serves others. If it doesn’t, is it the right choice? If it’s not that’s ok, but remember to consciously learn from any mistakes.
  • Find or do your passion(s) (hint: this will help with motivation). Don’t let your passions get lost for too long, you can never get that time back. The time to start is now!

One more important thing. Put aside all of the things everyone told you about who you are and what you should do. Now take some time to consider who you are…you aren’t lost look within, and consider what you love to do (your life purpose or passion).

Once again I’ll repeat this…then TAKE ACTION! Always remember that this is all on you, and you can do it. Make it happen.

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If you have anything to add to this or any general questions on living your bestlife I would love to hear from you. We are all in this together, and I want to learn from others too. We can all learn from each other on what constitutes your good life.

Living life as best I can,

Kevin

You aren’t lost, look within

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Your greatness is revealed by the light that shines within you.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. You’re not lost, you are already “here”. Let me explain.

Have you been searching for something your whole life? Not sure exactly what it is or where to find it? Guess what, it’s already here. Dig deep. Inside of yourself, there it is, the light. See the light that’s already shining within you. It’s been there all along but perhaps it’s gotten a little (or alot) cloudier over the years.

Let’s go waaaay back (for some of us) into your lifetime. I hope you have some fond memories as a joyful child. That child is still you! You’re just a more grown-up version now. Likely you’ve added a few scars over the years, but that doesn’t mean that this happy-go-lucky child is lost forever.

Sometimes it may not seem like the sense of joy you experienced is still there, because you’ve added layer upon layer of baggage, guilt, worrying, ruminating, etc etc. But think about it…you are still you no matter how you slice it or dice it. You are still that joyful child underneath (albeit with a few added layers of stuff).

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I don’t know about you, but I always feel better knowing that I’m still that joyful person deep inside. The you you’re searching for isn’t somewhere “out there”. Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t get out there and learn, grow, connect, etc. But you can stop the search party looking for who you are, it’s not a mystery and you aren’t lost! Dig deep. It really is there. The light still shines within you, even if it’s flickering a bit lately.

So…dust off that light. Start to look within in order to reach your goals and realize your dreams! You are you and please don’t forget that. Don’t listen to the naysayers or negative nelly’s telling you to be someone or something that you are not. Tune them out and be who you are. You have everything you need to create the life you dream of. Take baby steps if you need to, and actually I recommend these small steps. Or if you prefer, take massive action (this works better for some people).

Now if you don’t like who you are, that’s another story. Take the steps necessary to change this if desired. It’s a choice. Choose wisely. To help with some aspects of this, stay tuned for future posts on joy, happiness, mindfulness, motivation, and resilience.

Now go live your best life. Take the first step. Just do it!

Kevin

Enjoy the journey to your best life!

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


This site is dedicated to exploring aspects of mindfulness, joy and happiness, positive psychology, resilience, and motivation. Thank you for sharing this journey and I hope that even if you pick up on one little thing, realize that it can make all the difference in the world. If I’ve helped just one person smile a little or overcome an obstacle then this means everything to me.

As human beings, we should all feel that we share simple and similar dreams and aspirations. We are all in this together, regardless of culture, skin colour or any other external thing. I’m hoping for a more inclusive world, where people’s intrinsic values do not intentionally exclude others based on anything external. 

Believe in yourself. Believe in others. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

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Remember, we are all in this together.

Living my best life,

Kevin