How To Find Inner Happiness And Become Your Best Self?
Happiness isn’t just a matter of feeling good.
If it were, drugs consumers would be the happiest people in the world.
Drug abusers aren’t the only ones trying to find happiness through a quick ‘fix’, most of us are trying to get a ‘fix’ on happiness.
We tend to engage in bad habits that, supposedly, should make us feel better.
However, these bad habits seem to make things worse, leaving us feeling guilty and regretful.
So what’s the right way to find happiness and lead a rich, full, and meaningful life?
This article will help you find inner happiness and become your best self.
Ready? Let’s get started!
- Why Am I Unhappy Right Now?
- 3 Myths About Happiness
- What Is Happiness?
- Why Is Happiness Important?
- Can We Be Happy All the Time?
- Where Does Happiness Come From?
- Rising Through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
- How to Find Happiness & Lead a Rich, Full & Meaningful Life?
- List of Values
- 21 Small Ways to Increase Your Happiness
Why Am I Unhappy Right Now?
There are many answers, but the following are the most common ones:
1. The Way We Are Brought Up To Think About Happiness
Happiness in our culture is defined in monetary terms.
We came to believe that money will solve all our problems and will bring us unlimited joy and satisfaction.
As a result, most people would put a lot of effort and energy into jobs they don’t like, simply because it pays well.
2. Undue Pressure From Parents
Children learn from observation and imitation.
Seeing your parents trapped in jobs they don’t love and are exhausted at the end of the day, you might have had the idea that life in general is hard and tiresome.
Parents, though well-intentioned, might also pressure you to find a passion that fits within the kind of jobs that they think can make you a good living.
3 Myths About Happiness
#1. Happiness Is An External Phenomenon
Research shows that most people view happiness as the result of something that gives you a surge of happiness or immediate relief of some sort.
People usually describe happiness as something you can touch, look at, remember, arrive at or count. Something you can buy, someone in the passenger seat, an amount on a bank statement, etc.
In other words, people believe that If this or that happens, then I will be happy.”
#2. Happiness Is In Another Time
Many people believe the way to happiness is ‘a change in time’- the passing or reversing of their present.
They usually spend their days daydreaming or recalling past memories. For them, their present is a mere stepping-stone.
Some people may also extend this definition of happiness beyond this lifetime, viewing ‘eternity’ or the ‘hereafter’ as the true door to happiness and the only time to look forward to.
#3. Happiness Happens Because of Other People
This belief boils down to this: “Happiness is in someone else’s hands.”
People holding onto this belief tend to also blame others and use them as excuses for their lack of happiness. They see themselves as powerless victims.
They may seek happiness in a life partner, idealizing them and entering the relationship with lofty expectations. However, when someone enters a relationship unhappy, their partner often becomes the object of their unhappiness.
People may also seek happiness in their children. Some believe that a child will fix their relationship.
They would place their responsibility to be happy on an innocent infant. This usually leads to a third unhappy person – the child.
People may also seek happiness in friends, family, and coworkers, becoming excessively reliant on their acceptance and recognition.
What Is Happiness?
The definition of “happiness” comprises two things:
1. Feeling genuine, positive emotions on a fairly regular basis—such as contentment, gratitude, inner peace, satisfaction, enthusiasm, hope, curiosity, and love.
2. Feeling overall satisfaction with one’s life and self.
In this sense, happiness is more than fleeting emotions that you feel from getting a new phone, for example.
Rather, happiness reflects the ability to inwardly enjoy life even amidst outer turmoil.
Why Is Happiness Important?
Happiness and positive emotions reduce elevated stress levels and help you recover from stress more quickly.
Moreover, happiness has been linked to thriving and effective functioning in many areas of life. It increases self-esteem, optimism, and emotional stability, while reducing psychological problems, such as worry, anxiety, and depression.
Can We Be Happy All the Time?
Perpetual happiness would be an unrealistic expectation.
But constant happiness can actually be boring and shallow, and prevent us from becoming wiser, stronger, and more compassionate.
Moreover, the pursuit of perfect or constant happiness can be exhausting and almost always disappointing.
However, happy people dwell less on negative thoughts and spend less time feeling negative emotions, and when they do, they bounce back fairly quickly.
Where Does Happiness Come From?
Sonja Lyubomirsky (2007) and her colleagues have identified three sources of happiness:
Genes: Up to 50 percent of happiness is inherited. Each person has a happiness baseline he returns to after a temporary bump in happiness or sadness.
Circumstances: External conditions account for only 10 percent of happiness. These external conditions include age, gender, race, income, physical attractiveness, where you live, religious affiliation, marital status, education, and objective physical health.
So expecting happiness from changing external circumstance is unrealistic.
Intentional activities: Our thoughts and activities account for 40 percent of our happiness, and this is where the greatest potential for increasing happiness lies.
By replacing your thoughts and actions with more positive ones, you can boost your happiness levels and influence the way genes are expressed.
Rising Through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow, one of the founders of the human potential movement, developed the hierarchy of needs model.
This model presents human needs that everyone shares and needs to satisfy.
Maslow believed that you must first satisfy your basic physiological needs air, water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing, reproduction before any other needs can surface.
As members of modern society, these basic needs are largely taken care of for us. Therefore for most people, their needs automatically shift up to the next level in the hierarchy: need for safety. Again, modern society tends to provide this safety.
At the next level, we have to intervene personally to make sure that our needs for love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization are being met.
How to Find Happiness & Lead a Rich, Full & Meaningful Life?
1. Look For a Meaning
Happiness has two different meanings.
The first one refers to a feeling. We all enjoy pleasure and gratification, so it’s no surprise that we’re constantly chasing them.
However, like the other feelings, happiness doesn’t last. And a life spent in pursuit of these feelings is simply unsatisfying.
The second meaning of happiness is a ‘rich, full, and meaningful life’.
When we identify our values and what we stand for in life and act accordingly, when we take action on the things that truly matter for us, when we move in the direction that we consider worthy, then our lives become rich, full, and meaningful.
This feeling we experience isn’t some fleeting feeling, it’s a powerful sense of well-lived life.
Despite this pleasurable feeling, such life will inevitably give us uncomfortable feelings such as sadness, anger, fear… it’s a full life with the full range of emotions.
2. Practice Radical Acceptance
Happiness is a combination of acceptance and action.
This means to solve the problems that can be solved and change what can be changed, and to accept what can’t be solved or changed, and to have the wisdom to know the difference.
Even when you need to take action, it’s far more effective to start from a place of acceptance.
In fact, the energy and time you would be wasting complaining are far more useful when invested in taking action.
3. Change Your Limiting Beliefs
You can only change what you’re aware of.
Awareness helps you notice your thoughts and become conscious of limiting ones.
Your deeply held beliefs are so familiar to you that you don’t even see them. You may hear yourself saying a statement about yourself, such as ““I can’t do anything right,” or, “this will never work for me.” You say it, but you never question it.
You become aware your thoughts when you start to examine and question them. Only then can you realize that your beliefs are not the truth and that you have the power to change them.
Once you identify your limiting beliefs, try answering the following questions:
· Do I have experiences that would contradict my beliefs in any way?
· What evidence do I have that what I believe is actually true?
· Am I falling into a thinking trap (e.g., catastrophizing or all-or-nothing treatment)?
· What would I tell a friend if he/she had the same thought?
· Am I confusing a belief with a fact?
· Am I basing my conclusion mostly on my feelings or on the true evidence?
In order to create a rich and meaningful life, it’s important to stop and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is most important to me in this life?
- What do I want my life to be about?
- What sort of person do I want to be?
- Where do I want my energy and time to flow had I not been struggling with my feelings and negative thoughts?
If you don’t have clear answers for these questions, identifying your core values can help you figure the next step for you.
These values are your heart’s deepest desires (who you want to be, what you want to stand for…), and your leading principles that guide as you move through life.
Living in line with these values allows us to experience a rich and meaningful life.
5. Recommit to Your Values
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.’
All meaningful projects in life involve hard work. Whether you’re starting your own business, raising your kids, getting your degree… all these things are challenging.
Giving up becomes tempting, but this where our values come in. Doing something that is in line with your values, gives you a sense that your hard work is worth the effort.
For instance, if you value your health, you’ll be willing to endure the discomfort and exertion that comes with regular exercise. Even on the days when you don’t feel like exercising, your values will give you the will to ‘just do it’.
The Difference Between Your Values & Your Goals
A value is a direction we keep moving in. It’s a way of life that never reaches an end.
For example, if one of your values is to be a loving partner, then it’s something that you’ll do for the rest of your life. The moment you stop being loving, you’re no longer living by that value.
However, if you want a good relationship, then that’s a goal. Once you’re in one, your goal is achieved. But if you want to invest in that relationship, to be loving, caring, and supportive, then these are your values.
It’s important to distinguish between values and goals. In fact, in our modern society, we tend to lead a goal-focused life.
Success is defined in terms of status, wealth, and power. We find ourselves falling out of touch with our values, and oftentimes we get caught up in goals that are not meaningful to us.
Therefore, no matter how much success we achieve, we find little to no satisfaction.
On the other hand, when we live a value-focused life, we set goals that are guided by our values and that are fulfilling and rewarding to us.
As a result, life becomes much more fulfilling, and we find deep satisfaction.
List of Values
6. Make a Change
A rich and meaningful life doesn’t spontaneously happen just because you’ve identified your values. You need to start taking action guided by those values.
For each area of your life (family, friendships, employment, education and personal development, spirituality, health…) reflect on what’s important to you, and pick one important area to start making a change in it.
Keep in mind that attempting too many changes in your life can feel overwhelming and make you give up.
However, usually, a change in one area will affect the other areas of your life.
Someone who quits smoking and starts running instead will experience an increase in his confidence and self-esteem and will perform better at work and other areas of his life.
21 Small Ways to Increase Your Happiness
Smiling is a result of happiness and a cause for happiness too.
When you’re happy you smile, but also when you smile, your brain releases the dopamine hormone that makes us happy.
So the next time, you feel sad for no reason, crack a smile.
Exercising helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and on the other hand, it boosts self-esteem and happiness.
It doesn’t have to be hours of exercising, a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood or starting the day with 5 minutes of stretching can make a difference.
#3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Good-night sleep is vital for good health and emotional well-being.
Most adults need to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. And to guarantee a good sleep quality, stay away from screens for an hour before bed, you can take a relaxing bath or read a book to help you sleep faster.
#4. Eat Some Happy Food
Happiness can be on your plate too. It’s been proven that some food is responsible for releasing hormones that are responsible for your happiness, and by that, we’re not referring to junk food that can leave you bloated or constipated or even distressed for the whole day.
The happiness diet is nutritious, light, help you stay active all day, and keep the sad blues away as well.
* Green tea: helps reduces your stress level up to 20%
* Raw walnuts: it’s rich in magnesium that can help manage symptoms of anxiety and stress
* Dark chocolate: the antioxidants in the dark chocolate help lower stress hormone level
Find out more about it: 16 Foods That Boost Your Mood and Fight Depression
#5. Be Grateful
A simple thought of gratitude can shift your focus and make you more positive.
Gratitude has been shown to have a great impact on feelings of hope and happiness.
So whenever you felt like complaining, try to remind yourself of the things you’re grateful for. Our lives are full of blessings, even when troubles make us believe otherwise.
#6. Spread Kindness
Kindness is contagious, it has been proven that performing an act of kindness can help lift your mood and boost your self-esteem. It doesn’t have to be a life-changing thing, a compliment or a smile can make someone’s day and that’s more than enough.
#7. Acknowledge Sadness
Without sadness, there can be no happiness.
The feeling of sadness is a healthy reaction of your body as a response to a negative situation. Even though we would’ve wished we could stay happy all the time, feeling sad doesn’t mean that you’re an unhappy person.
It’s important to grieve in order to heal. Don’t just try to pretend that you’re happy and repress the negative feelings. Give it some time and take care of yourself.
#8. Keep a Journal
Writing things down can help dump your racing thoughts and put them into perspective.
This can help you identify the areas that you need to work on and the decisions that should be made to make your life better and get you closer to your goals.
If you feel uncomfortable writing your thoughts down, you can share your thoughts with a friend who’ll understand and if you can’t find anyone willing to listen, I recommend using 7cups of tea. It’s a platform that provides trained listeners who are willing to lend a friendly ear.
#9. Face Your Stressors
It’s almost impossible to avoid all the stressors in our lives. But that doesn’t mean to give up to them.
A great way to deal with stressors that you can’t eliminate from your life is to change your attitude about them and start seeing them as a way to grow stronger.
Stress isn’t always harmful, it’s a healthy reaction that is meant to help you deal with urgent matters you need to take action on by boosting your adrenaline.
Clutter can be time-consuming and be a stressor in your life. A lot of people claim to find their lives more peaceful after decluttering their living and working space.
Resolve to also get rid of bad habits and keep your distance from toxic people.
#11. Spend Time With People You Love
Healthy relationships are a source of happiness and contentment and spending time with people you love might be all you need when you’re having the blues.
It’s true that once we’re adults, it can be hard to make new friends. Doing the things you love can help you meet like-minded people, like taking yoga classes or joining a book club if that’s something you love. If not, pets can be the best friend.
#12. Go out in Nature
It’s been proven that just 20 minutes of contact with nature will lower stress hormone levels.
You can go for a walk in the public park or you can spend some time gardening if you own a backyard or a rooftop garden.
If you’re new to this, you can try a guided meditation that you can find online. You can use this as an exercise to help you breathe deeper.
Meditation can help you cope better with anxiety, lower your stress level, promote your emotional health along with many other benefits both for your physical and emotional health.
#14. Establish a Self-Care Ritual
Taking care of yourself is important and can help you feel better about yourself and life in general. If we want to show kindness to others, then we should start with ourselves.
It can be taking a hot bath at the end of the day, putting a mask on your face, and drinking something warm.
#15. Let Go of Your Grudges
The idea of letting someone get away with hurting us might seem hard to consider.
But the truth is, by holding grudges you’re doing more harm to yourself than to the one who hurt you. Forgiving and letting go, is first of all, for you.
It’ll bring peace to your life and you’ll be able to focus your energy on something more important and more constructive.
Do yourself a favor and forget those who did you wrong.
#16. Adopt a Dog or Cat
Studies show that spending as little as 10 minutes of interacting with cats and dogs produces a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.
Just make sure to get expert advice on properly caring for your chosen pet before you commit.
#17. Visiting a Peaceful Place In Your Mind
Studies on imagery have proven that the practice can help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, and improve immunity.
In fact, research using imaging studies of the brain has shown that by imagining a scene, your brain and body respond as if the scene is actually happening.
1. Find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted for 15 minutes.
2. Take a few deep, calming breaths, breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, inviting tension to release with each exhalation.
3. Allow an image to come to mind of a peaceful place. It might be real or imaginary. It might be a beach, a forest, a river—wherever you feel drawn.
4. Look around and sense this place. Notice the light and colors. Feel the temperature of the air on your skin. Notice any sounds, any smells. Take the next few minutes to relax there.
5. If your mind gets distracted with stories about what you need to do, gently, bring your focus back to your breathing.
6. As you rest here, notice how your body feels.
#18. Epsom and Sea Salt Bath
Epsom and sea salt bath is one of the best ways to feel better fast and alleviate any negative energetic remains.
1 cup Epsom salt
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup pink Himalayan sea salt
1. Dissolve the ingredients in hot water and mix until the granules are mostly dissolved. Then add it to bathtub water.
2. For full effectiveness, stay in the bath for a minimum of 20 minutes to allow the ingredients to properly absorb through your skin and pull toxins out.
#19. Forgive Someone
Forgiveness might seem like a tall order, especially when the hurt is so deep and fresh. But reminding yourself that forgiveness is really about you and your peace of mind rather than the person who “done you wrong,” can help you forgive more easily.
Forgiveness is not about whether or not the other person deserves to be forgiven.
Forgiveness is about escaping the prison your feelings of anger and resentment have created for you.
Forgiveness is not about relieving others from their guilt. It is about releasing toxic emotions that are no longer serving you.
Empty Chair Technique
The empty chair technique was invented by Fritz Perls, the famous creator of Gestalt therapy.
This technique was proven to be effective to release feelings of anger or resentment toward someone you don’t know how to communicate with, or who isn’t willing to listen to you.
The technique is a role-play where you are to play both roles. You run a dialogue and then react to what you have said.
1. Think about the person you want to forgive.
2. Set an empty chair in front and imagine the person sitting on it.
3. Take a moment to visualize that person – his/her facial expression and body language.
4. Think about your feelings towards this person and what you would like to tell him.
5. Express everything that’s inside of you. But try to focus on expressing your own feelings rather than judging or blaming the other person.
6. Stand up and sit on the other chair. Imagine being the other person and consider how that person might respond to what you said and continue the dialogue until “you two” say everything there is to say.
You might find this uncomfortable at the beginning, but go through with it, and repeat the exercise until you feel better.
#20. Turn off the News
Knowing what’s happening in our world is important, but your mental health is even more important.
The fact is what you see on the news or read in your feed is what people want you to hear, see, or read, and does not necessarily reflect reality.
If reading the news is making you anxious, consider reading less and definitely wait until you’ve had some time in the morning to connect with yourself.
Give yourself at least an hour in the morning to be free from that worry and at least an hour before bed. Take the time to relax and reflect on your goals and aspirations.
#21. Mind Your Thoughts
Our thoughts are so powerful. They don’t just influence our behavior, they also influence our emotions.
The happier your thoughts are, the happier you feel – and vice versa.
Use a journal and spend a few minutes every day to examine your thoughts.
Identifying limiting beliefs
Limiting beliefs could be about your abilities, personality, how you ought to act, other people or even the world in general such as telling yourself “good things never last.”
Watch out for any generalizations or prescription for how you or other people should be or do, such as “I must…,” or, “they should…,” or, “they shouldn’t…”
Changing limiting beliefs
The following questions will help you to explore the possibility of a slightly different view:
(a) What would be a less extreme belief (or beliefs) that I might hold?
(b) What would be the advantages for me of holding the new belief(s) rather than the limiting one(s)?
(c) What would be the potential disadvantages for me of holding the new belief(s) instead of the old one(s)?
If you still struggle with finding an alternative
Ask yourself, “If I were talking to a friend who is in the same situation as me, what would I say to them?”
Your response would probably be, “Don’t be hard on yourself,” or, “You have a great potential. That mistake doesn’t make you a failure at all.”
- I am becoming a magnet for joy!
- I’m ready to welcome more joy into my experience.
- I am open to being happier than ever before.
- I can always find new opportunities to enjoy.
- I honor the hard times that help me appreciate the happy ones.
- I actively choose thoughts that please my mind and soothe my soul.
- I give myself permission to be happy.
- Happiness comes naturally when I let go of what no longer serves me.
- My relationships are a source of true fulfillment and delight.
- I make time for happy moments throughout the day.
- I owe it to myself to find out what makes me happy.
- Well-being is a top priority for me.
- I choose to embrace the little things that bring me joy!
- I’m trading my worry for faith.
- I let laughter be my medicine.
- Happiness begins with me!
- I’m opening the door to new possibilities for joy.
- My needs are valid.
- I am living the best version of myself.
- I choose optimism.
- My stream of well-being is infinite.
Image Credit: www.freepik.com
Did I miss anything?
Now I’d like to hear from you.
Which techniques from today’s post are you going to try first?
Or maybe I didn’t mention one of your favorite techniques.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now!
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- Portions of this article were adapted from the book The Happy Empath’s Workbook, © 2018 by Stephanie Jameson. All rights reserved.
- Portions of this article were adapted from the book Healing Depression Without Medication, © 2020 by Jodie Skillicorn. All rights reserved.