Happiness is inherent to humans, yet at times, can feel so elusive. How is it that it can seem so difficult to attain something we’re all born with the capacity to feel?
There are many external factors that can appear to have an effect on your overall state of well-being; things like finances, relationships, political issues, family, etc. They don’t have to affect your happiness, if you don’t allow them to.
Life will continue to unfold around you whether or not you’re happy; it’s far easier to face challenging times from a place of calm alignment.
Happiness is an inside job – it begins and ends with you. How anyone else feels about your happiness is actually nothing to do with you. If you’re waiting for someone else to come along to ‘make’ you happy, you may be waiting a long time. If you’re waiting until things fall into place to make the move towards happiness, you may as well settle in for a good long wait.
As you begin to connect with feelings of happiness in yourself, you’ll find you’re drawing in experiences that reflect that, which changes your perspective on life.
Get to know your Feelings… Intimately
External factors are not responsible for your feelings of happiness (or otherwise). They are, however, excellent indicators of resonance. A great place to start is by being aware of how you’re feeling in every situation. That information can be used to make choices leading to more of what feels resonant and less of what doesn’t.
For instance, let’s say you’re involved with a group of people who have fun getting rip-roaring drunk every night, and something about it doesn’t feel right for you. That’s a good thing! Now you can start from there to figure out what doesn’t feel right – is it the drinking, is it the noise factor, is it the venues, or even the connections with the friends themselves? Have you made changes in your life that have taken you on a different path?
Only you know the answers, and they lie in your capacity to feel resonance. This isn’t about blaming or judging people or situations, it’s about examining your past choices and understanding where you can make changes based on your current feelings.
To connect more deeply: first disconnect
As you become more attuned to the feeling of resonance (and its opposite, dissonance) in your life, you can make choices in alignment with that. When you’re clear on what feels discordant, you’ll find opportunities to disconnect from that and find connections that provide more resonance. (See how it’s all connected?)
This is not just about people; activities, habits, beliefs and patterns can all act as indicators of misalignment. Does what you’re doing, thinking or experiencing light you up? Does it feel in alignment with your heart’s desires?
There’s no reason to continue along a particular route filled with dissonance once you’ve recognized it. You’re under no obligation to continue on a journey in a state of denial for the sake of appearances, or to make others comfortable.
Once you’ve recognised the areas that aren’t feeling resonant, step back and see what you can change (hint: it’s also an inside job). Don’t shift into blame, making the circumstances, your partner, your relationships or others responsible for your feelings of dissatisfaction; take action. An action starts with making a choice.
If disconnecting is the action you need to take, be honest with yourself and all involved. Work towards healing whatever in you was triggered by the situation so you don’t simply move on to a matching experience. Trust in your capacity to form new connections based on your shifting alignment.
This is about disconnecting on all levels, and doing it consciously. As you do, you allow yourself the gift of feeling light as you move into new situations, without the tendrils of old experiences attached.
Be conscious – don’t get distracted by shiny objects
Consciousness is a vital component in happiness. There are so many ways to numb yourself to situations that cause you discomfort that it’s easy to become habituated to avoiding the sometimes ‘ugly’ truth. Sex, alcohol, drugs, work, you name it, there are myriad ways you can avoid looking at the truth of your feelings. (That’s why feelings are top of the list).
Knowing what you’re feeling is a state of consciousness. Staying conscious is the tricky part. Once you know, it might begin an avalanche of potential pitfalls that arise as a result of that feeling, which then starts a shit-storm of fear and self-doubt. ‘I’m unhappy in my relationship! Now I have to leave and find a new home, and my partner will hate me, and I’ll never see my kids, and my life will be chaotic! … Forget it, it’s too much trouble. I’ll just throw myself into work, or have an affair…’
Being conscious takes work. It takes courage. It takes being really, really honest with yourself no matter how the truth plays out.
Be okay with NOT feeling happy and accept what IS
It might sound counter-intuitive to say that being okay with NOT feeling happy is an aspect of happiness. It’s part of the understanding of unconditionality, which integrates all aspects of a thing as parts of itself. In other words, unhappiness is part of happiness.
All states of being are temporary, and knowing it’s okay for you to feel whatever you’re truly feeling will help you not to resist the discomfort that’s part of being human. It leads to emancipation. It leads to increased happiness because it allows you to identify and acknowledge your needs and give yourself permission to find ways to meet them.
If you accept there will be times you feel unhappy, irritated, fatigued or disheartened, it’s easier to remain present. You can say, ‘hey I feel unhappy right now,’ and identify what discordance is indicating a change (even a very small one). You can know in that moment you’re contributing to your happiness as you let yourself experience what IS, instead of striving to escape. These moments are excellent teachers.
Do you love spending time with you?
If you can love being alone with yourself, you’ll clearly understand the idea that happiness is an inside job. When you’re alone, do you feel the need to escape? That’s a pretty good indicator that what you’re feeling is only and always internal.
Spend time doing things you love, alone, even if it’s only a few minutes a day to start. Feel the joy of being creative, dancing, walking, or singing, just for the sake of it. Joy is the only reason you need to exist! We all need connections with others, just not as a means to escape our inner worlds. When you find happiness within, your connections deepen and open up channels for happy people to come into your experience as reflections of you. Happy begets happy!
Stretch yourself to try things alone you’ve never done before. Enjoy a meal at a restaurant. Go for a moonlight walk. Feel whatever you feel; the object is not to fake happiness if that’s not what you feel, it’s to be honest. Allow yourself to express the truth to you. Ask what you’d need to make the experience more comfortable. Figure out how you can give that to yourself.
Spend time in Nature
You’re a part of nature – a part of ALL that is. You’re not separate, despite how it may sometimes feel. As you spend time outside, being with yourself and the world around you, you begin to appreciate just how natural the highs and lows of life are.
You’re constantly surrounded by examples of light and darkness, joy and pain, birth and death. They’re all aspects of life, providing a divine balance to everything in existence. Without death, there’s no rebirth. Without light, darkness has no counterbalance. Experiencing this diversity leads to your growth and expansion. The world of duality is one of inherent harmony.
Observe the world around you without judgement, and paint yourself into the scene. Get dirty with nature. Remember your own nature as part of a larger whole. Happiness begins to feel more attainable from that attitude of acceptance, feeling your own ebb and flow as inherent to a natural state of being.
Spend time with children and animals
Animals and children are sort of ‘unadulterated’ manifestations of universal energy. They’re closer to the knowledge of their natural, magical state than human adults are.
Children remember the value of play and adventure. Animals don’t doubt their purpose is simply the act of being. They both know what it means to live from a state aligned with feeling their way through. They can teach you wonderful things about life and about happiness in particular.
Children find joy in the smallest things. They’ll spend hours watching a stream filled with swimming creatures or reading the pictures in the clouds as they roll by. Animals find joy in being exactly what they are – no excuses, no judgement – they know how to accept themselves.
As humans grow and take on information from the world, they become entrained to certain ways of seeing, being and believing. We lose sight of the joy of being ourselves, whatever that means for each and every one of us. And it IS a joy. It is connection to the wonder of life, the beauty that exists in each moment, and the act of living at its simplest and most complicated.
Fire up your Creativity
Creativity and feelings go hand in hand. As you lean into living through your heart and soul, life becomes a creative enterprise. Release ties to defining creativity in specific ways (drawing or painting, for instance) and see how life unfolds as a magical adventure. When you’re present to what arises and comfortably in tune with your feelings, needs and desires, you’re able to respond to each situation using the true essence of creative energy.
All things are creations of collective or individual imaginations. You are a powerful being capable of defining the trajectory of life by the way you engage with it! As you become more conscious, you create new pathways, new experiences and new relationships. This is the nature of living creatively.
How does creativity tie in to happiness? If you’re trying to control or define the way your life evolves, you’re operating from a state of fear or lack. If you allow for life to flow in a more natural way, you’re open to creative solutions in every moment. It’s responsible (as in ‘the ability to respond’). It means you can feel at ease in each moment, knowing you have the capacity and opportunity to face whatever arises, flexibly and openly.
If you’ve tried to control the flow of life, it’s easy to feel disappointment or regret when things don’t meet your expectations. Control is a constricting energy; it’s challenging to be creative from that energetic state. You begin to feel powerless or thwarted at every turn, lamenting that you’ve tried SO hard to make things work. Those are not happy states of being, and they are, you guessed it, an inside job. And that’s okay. All of this is information that leads to increased happiness.
Where can you relinquish control and allow for creative solutions to arise? Where can you incorporate flexibility and flow into your daily activities? Let go, and trust. See what plays out one small step at a time.
Run, dance, walk, skip, have mind-blowing, conscious sex!! Shaking things up really gets things flowing.
Physical movement has a way of shifting internal ‘stuckness.’ It doesn’t have to be anything huge, a few dance steps here, a short walk before work; whatever you can integrate in your day. Work with the limitations of your body to incorporate movement. Wiggle your fingers and toes while you work. Stand up and stretch for a few minutes, every chance you get.
There are ways to make it possible, even when it feels impossible. Get off the bus two stops early and walk the rest of the way. Set a timer on your desk to go off every hour and find a place to bust a move, even if it’s a dark cupboard. Park further from where you normally would and skip to work. Or, if you want to include others check out this fun YouTube video on ‘Dance Walking.‘ (And if you love that, here’s one where he finds the nameless Dance Walk Guru, Joe 🙂 )
You don’t have to go out dancing if that’s not your thing. I LOVE kitchen dancing, sliding around the floor like some crazed Risky Business wannabe. The happiness factor isn’t diminished by whether or not anyone else is present. In some ways I prefer dancing alone; I’m a spectacularly bad dancer, and feel freer when no one is around. I also get to pick the music, the louder the better.
Find whatever movement works best for you, and let yourself really enjoy it. That’s the key. This is about your own state of mind, feeling your way to balance. It’s not about punishing yourself for hours at the gym every day if you dislike every moment of it. While exercise raises serotonin levels (the happiness hormone), it defeats the purpose if the entire experience of exercising feels like a massive chore.
Combine exercise with time with animals and children for an extra boost. They don’t judge. They move freely and express their joy in spontaneous bursts. Watch, learn, and join right in.
Spread some kindness
This can seem challenging if you’re feeling down yourself, yet it has an immediate and uplifting effect. There’s something joyful about sharing a moment of connection with someone from a pure and loving place. The wonderful thing is it most often brings joy to others as well.
Start small, if it feels easier. Look someone in the eyes as you pass them on the street and smile. Say hello. Ask how someone is and be prepared to really listen to the answer, with open ears and an open heart. Pay for a stranger’s coffee or lunch. Leave an anonymous love note where someone will find it.
Make a donation to a charity you love, in your name or someone else’s. Foster or adopt a pet from a shelter, or sponsor a child through school. Send hand-written letters to people you love, whom you haven’t spoken to in a while. Send care packages. Become a volunteer. Help an older person cross the street or climb the stairs, or offer to carry their groceries.
There are infinite ways you can connect and offer kindness. It can take a moment, or it can last the rest of your life. It can cost money or be completely free. Be creative. Let go of the need for reciprocity and simply give. As you open your heart to others in this way, you’ll find it’s filled up with the joy of feeling your gift received.
* I am the author of this post. You may find the original version, which was used with my permission without attribution, on Your Earth Angel (yourearthangel.com) *