by Julie Furlong
Yikes, here comes that question again - how happy am I? How can I become happier? What is happiness? Nobody is always going to be in a state of happiness, but it’s definitely possible to do some ‘happy planning’ every now and then. When I think of what makes me happy, I think about being satisfied with what I have and what I’ve achieved. I think about my friends, family, partner and celebrating their successes as well as my own, I think about how satisfying it is to be financially independent and being able to pay my own bills, I think...well I think a lot of things really.
But are these the key to our own happiness? What is it that keeps us or gets us on the ‘happiness track’? After more consideration and thinking and digging a little deeper, I’ve come to the realisation that for me happiness is when things are going as well as they can be – living a life I’ve chosen with a good balance of great relationships, good health and interesting challenges to focus on.
So, that being the case, in my view happiness has everything to do with working on three main areas in life: relationships, vitality and productivity – this ideal combination helps build the solid core you need to maintain your path towards personal happiness.
A lot of our day is spent living, engaging and being with others. This brings love and richness into our lives. The people we spend time with influences who we are and how we feel. These relationships of course include your partner, your children, your parents, your friends, work colleagues…even your pets. Nurture and be grateful for the good relationships you do have and practice:
- Staying connected to those you love and value
- Ending each day on a positive with your children, partner or friends (read: Best Friends)
- Being generous and a good listener, respecting what people are saying to you (read: Generosity)
- Forming positive friendships that make you feel happy and good about yourself
- Spending as much time around people who are motivating, inspiring and enthusiastic, that have an optimistic view and value you for being you
When you approach life positively and make the most of it, there’s a good chance you’ll attract people who will contribute to making you happy. Make an effort to remove anyone around you who does not make you feel good – you have that choice. It’s better to be alone than with people who bring you down, this frees up your time to form new relationships. Remember, being alone doesn’t mean being lonely.
To enjoy your beautiful relationships you, of course, need your health. Keeping reasonably fit, eating well and looking after yourself boosts your self-esteem, self-image, and confidence. This combination helps to make you feel energetic and develop more positivity in your life. Being dissatisfied with your physical appearance can make you unhappy, so focus on eating clean and try to:
- Ensure there’s always time in your life to relax, sleep, listen to music, read, write, or spend time doing that hobby that makes you happy
- Spend time getting active – do your favourite fitness activity 3 or 4 times a week
- Meditate; rest your mind in any way you can
- Nourish your brain and body with wholesome, unprocessed meals
When you master things you love doing, you learn more about yourself, developing a greater focus and reason. Think about other things you can include in your life to improve your vitality.
It’s impossible to boost productivity when you’re burnt out, so in combination with your vitality, ensure you have some productivity in your life. I don’t mean working to the bone 24/7 and constantly keeping super busy. I mean focusing on what you enjoy doing, making progress each day (read: Start Over). That could entail being a mum, a community worker or climbing the corporate ladder. There’s a sense of fulfilment at the end of each day when you work towards a project, learn new things and take on a challenge. So, instead of holding yourself back, focus your energy to ensure you remain productive and try to:
- Start your day by setting reasonable goals and tasks to complete, with a to-do list
- Know the plan for your day before it arrives
- Focus on the things that bring both meaning and pleasure to your life (read: Simple Things)
- Avoid trying to do everything at once, as this usually means you won’t have time to do anything very well (read: The Power of Saying ‘No’)
So…why not take note of these three areas and do some happy planning for yourself? You’ll never change your life until you make an effort to change your thinking and attitude. Remember that happiness is very much in your control and when you learn to choose (and you really do have a choice) it gradually becomes a norm and more happiness will come. Big changes come from minor things you do every day. Don’t get caught up in the misconception that having more money or a different career will make you happier. It’s better to focus on the little things you can do something about while practicing a more productive life filled with rich relationships, good health and vitality. Last but not least...don’t forget to smile and have some fun along the way!