Happiness is something that many of us take for granted; maintaining a generally positive and happy state of mind even when life throws us the odd curved ball, but for a surprising number of people such a state feels out of reach.
There may be many different things that can impact people’s happiness, but there are some simple things that may make a big difference. Here are eleven rules that I find help produce a happy and positive outlook on life.
Let the light in
We love wearing dark glasses to get that edgy, cool look – and when there is genuinely bright light around it makes good sense, but when it isn’t really that bright put those shades back in your pocket. We transmit a lot of chi via our eyes when we are communicating and this transmission is disturbed by sunglasses affecting the closeness with which we connect to people around us – this increases emotional distance and isolation. It also reduces the natural light entering our eyes that also has a very real impact on our state of mind. So if you don’t need them, take off the shades.
Be part of the world
One of the first things that happens when we become unhappy or depressed is we withdraw into ourselves. Even if you do not consider yourself a “social” person, we are all social creatures and interactions with other people are a fundamental part of how we function. To deny ourselves this is only going to cause problems.
If you find yourself dropping out of social circles and gatherings because you are feeling down and nothing seems to attract you to the idea, go anyway! The best therapy for withdrawing I know is being with other people.
Make friends with positive people
Most people are good and decent human beings. However, everyone has their own issues and some people are handling them better than others. If your state of mind is fragile, choose to be with positive uplifting people that make you smile to be around, rather than those with a negative outlook that bring you down. This is not about judging other people, just about doing what is best for you.
Many of us like the occasional drink but remember that alcohol is a depressant. This isn’t some academic distinction in a medical book; alcohol can have a very real effect on your state of mind long after the high (and hangover!) has faded. Some people are hardly affected at all, but for some people it can have a huge impact. If you are subject to bouts of depression see if there is any correlation between this and alcohol. I have dealt with clients who notice that some weeks after the summer BBQ season starts (the only time they tended to drink beer) they start having depression problems. Others have reported to me problems a few days after a night out drinking with friends.
If you do struggle with maintaining a positive state of mind keep track of when you drink and how much and see if there is a correlation. Cutting down or removing alcohol from your life has never been easier and it might just be the key to bringing the sun back into your life.
Our bodies are designed to work on fresh air – it is not natural for us to be sealed indoors with recycled or air-conditioned air. Fresh air is one of the best sources of natural chi for us. Even if we are not lucky enough to live near mountains and forests, get outside when you can to somewhere with fresh air and take some deep breaths to energize your system!
Many of us go through life trying to live up to some image we think we are supposed to portray – one of the easiest ways to make yourself unhappy is to convince yourself you should be different from how you are. We are all exceptional and spectacular people – embrace your individuality. You’ll often find that people around you are far more accepting of the real you than you might have thought and you will be so much happier!
Accept other people as they are
The moment you make someone else “wrong” you bring negativity into your life. Everyone has a right to their own opinions, even if you don’t agree. It is a great shame that there is such a growing trend these days for people to take offence at what others say and do. Don’t forget, taking offence is your choice, so you can choose not to instead. Rise above this judgement and accept other people as they really are – your brothers and sisters – even if you think their taste in music sucks and you’d rather be shot in the head than wear that tank top! 🙂
Take care of your health
The way we treat ourselves can have a direct impact on how we feel. If you ignore your body, eat poor food and do not deal with stress constructively then you can damage your mind, body and spirit. Treat yourself with respect, keep yourself strong with exercise, listen to your body and spirit when they tell you they are under too much pressure and eat healthily to provide good quality building blocks for your system. Taking care of yourself in this fashion brings with it a more positive outlook and can engender a sense of wellbeing.
Enjoy what you have
A Daoist monk once said that everyone at every instant of every day has everything they need to be happy.
It’s always nice to buy ourselves that new TV, lose that extra 5 pounds, or get that promotion but it is very easy to fixate on these things and start tying our state of mind into whether or not we have them. This is not healthy for us as there is always something to get, an achievement or goal to pursue. Whilst goals are important to our life satisfaction and there’s nothing wrong with treating ourselves now and then, the most important thing is to learn to enjoy what we have, whether this is our bodies, possessions, relationships or career. Once we reach this point it is amazing how much more satisfying the achievements and possessions become!
Live life in colour!
Black goes with everything they say but one thing it doesn’t go particularly well with is happiness. Colours have very real impacts on us and black is to be avoided if you are struggling to maintain a positive outlook. Go for the oranges, yellows, blues and greens – you’ll still look cool but without pulling your spirit down at the same time.
Probably the hardest of the lot is self-forgiveness. Beating ourselves up about things we have done that we feel we shouldn’t, or haven’t done that we feel we should is behind untold suffering in the world. We all make mistakes and all anyone can expect of us is that we learn from them and move on but we often judge ourselves far more harshly than anyone else. Forgive yourself, treat yourself with compassion, embrace your own weaknesses and move on to a happier and more positive state.