Do you believe you can choose happiness?
Or do you believe it’s an emotion out of your control?
Do you believe that you can decide when to feel happy and when not to feel happy?
A few years ago if you had asked me these questions, I would have most likely grunted and rolled my eyes, because I was not entertaining a belief that I could simply CHOOSE to be happy whenever I wanted. I was Depressed with a capital D and no one was telling me otherwise.
If that’s you, I suggest you stick with me. I’ve been there and I’d love if you could keep an open mind while reading this post, because it’s something I wish I had done sooner back in the day. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that my Happiness is my choice, and it’s not always an easy choice, but it is a choice none the less and it is something I can work at little by little each day. Like most people in the world, I am not ‘happy’ 24/7 and my ‘happiness set point’ used to be rather low. My journey to happiness comes after suffering from depression, anxiety and PTSD, which caused conditions that made happiness, well challenging to say the least. The last few years, I’ve worked for my happiness every single day and I choose happiness daily and I wanted to write this post to teach you how you might choose your own happiness, too.
Smiling is a universal language of happiness and joy; it’s a physical action that all of us can do at any time. It may sound weird, but one of the best things you can do when you’re not happy is find a way to SMILE. Because the act of smiling and moving your muscles into a ‘smile formation’ actually chemically triggers your brain, releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. One of the best ways I’ve found to naturally smile and laugh even when I am unhappy and feeling down is to watch cute animal and funny baby videos on YouTube. It may sound corny, but this WORKS and allows you to smile naturally, and as a result feel just a little bit better than before. What makes you smile may be different to me, so try to find something that you can’t help but laugh and smile at and use it as your secret smile trigger.
Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
If you know me, then you knew this one was coming. Meditation for me IS HAPPINESS. I attribute a LOT of my happiness and energy to meditation because it’s the practice that saved my life and took me from being a suicidal PTSD-suffering adolescent to a confident young woman who now runs an online venture and helps women all over the world with their mindset and mental health challenges. I am passionate about meditation because it WORKS. It transformed my life and I know it can have a MASSIVE impact on your life too. Meditation is scientifically proven to improve countless areas of our lives including our level of happiness. If you’re not already meditating, then I’d love for you to read more about my story on how meditation changed my life and let me teach you through my Mindspo Meditation Course.
Let gratitude be your attitude
Gratitude, like meditation is scientifically proven to increase our happiness, so the question really is, why are we not doing it every single day? For the last year, I’ve made practicing gratitude a priority in my life. It’s a daily practice for me which I never miss, and often share via my instagram stories. I’ve learnt that being grateful, like everything, starts in the mind with our thoughts, but it is much more powerful if you put it on paper and write down what you are grateful for every single day. I find that first thing in the morning or last thing at night is the perfect time to meditate. I also love writing a gratitude list straight after my daily Mindspo meditation, because I am already in that zen zone!
One tip when writing down your gratitude list for the day is to not only write what you are grateful for but WHY!
This simple expansion of the practice will strengthen its effects. Don’t just take my word for it, try it and see your life start to transform.
Make happiness a top priority
What are your priorities in life? What is it about life that you put first before anything else? Do you put your happiness first?
Back in the day, I don’t know where I ‘put’ my happiness, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t high on my priority list, because I never acted on anything I was told would ever help me. I would listen or read posts like this one and think to myself ‘yeh, yeh meditation, gratitude lists…I’ve heard it all before, boring, it will never work for me…’
It wasn’t until I actually starting DOING these things DAILY even when I didn’t feel like it that I felt huge shifts happen in my life. It was then that I knew I had to make my happiness a priority. I had to make meditation a 100% must in the morning; I needed to have a gratitude journal to write it; I had to commit and practice everything I used to ignore. I believe your happiness should always be at the top of your priorities list, because guess what – YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.
Find your happy place and GO THERE
Where is happiness for you? Is it a place? A state of mind? A song? Find your happy place and go there. For me, my happy place is the OCEAN and the beach. I find it hard to be sad after a day in the sun by the ocean; it’s always been my go-to spot anywhere in the world. We all have places that make us happy, that make us feel safe and warm, inspired and at home. Find those places for you and go there, spend time there, turn off your phone and be fully present.
I’ve moved a lot in my life. I’ve chosen a digital nomad lifestyle where I am constantly on the go. Moving around and staying in new places has taught me two things:
- Your mind comes with you, which means you don’t just move and leave ALL your troubles behind. A new environment can inspire you and may help, but your happiness is 9/10 times an inner job, and moving won’t change what’s going on deep down inside.
- Moving has taught me what environments, cultures and places make me happiest, and I now base my living choices and home around what environments make me the most happy.
I know that traveling and moving isn’t a simple thing; we all have ties and commitments where we live. That said though, if you can identify your environment and your current ‘home’ is impacting your happiness in a negative way, then do something about it. Make a 6-month or 12-month plan to help you move somewhere else or make significant changes. If you live in a city with lots of rain and grey sky and you feel that is constantly getting you down, then maybe make plans to move somewhere with sunshine. If you’re living in a full-on noisy city when your intuition is screaming you should be out in nature or in a small town, change your life so you can do that. Remember, you create your own reality, you are in charge of your experience of life and sure that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but only you can change it!
Step away from technology
I feel most of us can agree that we’re attached to our devices 24/7. If it’s not the phone then it’s the laptop, and if it’s not the laptop it’s the TV or iPad… Personally, I’ve found my screen usage has a direct impact on my happiness. Yes, it can bring me a lot of joy, but at the same time it can also come with a lot of negativity. Simply being mindful of how much time you spend checking your phone and ussing technology can give you some self-awareness as to how much time is too much time. One great tip I have is putting your phone on airplane mode at night when we really don’t need to use it. It’s crazy how many times you will subconsciously go to check your phone and then be reminded, ah it’s phone break time. This simple trick has helped me have less screen time and more me time, and in turn more happiness in my life.
It’s my hope these tips might help you the way they have helped me. Remember Happiness is our choice, it’s not always easy, but we must learn and challenge ourselves to keep working towards our own sustainable levels of happiness. You do truely deserve to be happy, never forget that!
Photos Taken by Chris Soll
Outfit: Ixiah the Label- One of my favourite Australian Designers