New baby, teen angst, redundancy, divorce, injury, illness, loss, moving house – these are just some of the major stressors in our lives. And they affect all of us, either directly or indirectly. Yet in the face of such anxiety and tension, the cult of happiness is still alive and kicking.
Whether you’re facing large-scale life change, or low-level daily stress, it can be hard to keep your happy on. Add the monotonous pressure of the overflowing laundry basket, the drudge of creating inventive school lunches (that never seem to get completely eaten, only to reappear at the end of the day as some form of molecular gastronomy smooshed to the side of the lunchbox), the overdue library books and the school excursions / extracurricular activities / sports carnivals that all require something ‘more’ from a parent who already feels tapped out, and you have a recipe for unhappiness. And a community openly searching for ways to make their faces smile, their hearts sing – and maybe just a little moment of peace in between the kids’ bedtime and the morning alarm.
Don’t believe us? Try Googling “happiness”. You’ll get over 83 MILLION hits. Your Facebook feed may have recently been overrun with friends posting their daily “gratitude challenge”. Inspirational speakers have created a highly lucrative industry espousing happiness, Pharrell’s singing about it, and Pinterest and Instagram are a veritable mine of affirmative quotes and inspiring images. The fact is, we want more happiness in our lives. So how do we get it?
First some simple facts about happiness:
- A sense of gratitude increases our perception of happiness (see, Oprah was right all those years ago with her “attitude of gratitude”!).
- Happy people are generally healthier people, right into old age.
- Having goals (big and small) can be the building blocks to a happier life.
- You are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. And if you tell somebody else, you’re even more likely to succeed.
- Hugging increases oxytocin, reduces stress and boosts heart health. And makes you feel good. A recipe for happiness in your own two arms!
- You can fake it till you make it. Smiling releases endorphins, which make you feel happier. And positive energy (even if you need a moment in the sun, some kicking music or a tickle with your kids to tap your positivity) can help boost your overall happiness perception.
International stationery brand Kikki K knows all about the pursuit of happiness – their Happiness Workshops are held in-store nationally, so followers can create their own happiness project. With a long-held stationery obsession and an inner drive to create a happier life at work and home, the Workshop was the ideal opportunity for me to embrace my inner joy. The act of writing down the things that make me happy (sunshine, great coffee, road trips and more), along with the things that make me unhappy (disorganisation, financial pressure, lack of sleep) provided the key to create small moments of happiness every day. When you take a moment to think about what makes you truly happy, it’s easy to see ways to incorporate little boosts of positivity into your everyday life. And to hatch a plan to kill the happy-sappers – those low-level stressors that suck the energy from your day.
As our workshop facilitator said, “Happiness is not about being positive all the time – it’s how we deal with the challenges that come up.” Acknowledging and dealing with regret, practising the art of gratefulness, and finding the blessing in the challenge are empowering ways to lift your happiness quotient. If you can find a glimmer of happiness in the dark times, you’re all set to max out your happy face when it’s smooth sailing.
Ready to start your own happiness project? Try our tips for getting smiley, at home and at work:
- Create a list of your accomplishments, to remind yourself of all you have achieved. Kids, career success, recovery from illness, completing a fun run – include whatever made you feel challenged, driven and proud to have succeeded.
- Be present. Practice mindfulness. Eat without distractions. Meditate before bed. Get off your phone and notice the small things.
- Smash the small stressors. Turn off email notifications. Tackle that pile of filing. Hit the hardest tasks first up at work. Procrastination and worry sap energy – get proactive and banish the happy-sappers.
- Challenge yourself to get more out of every day. Write a realistic To Do list and actually complete the tasks. Carve time for yourself – listen to music or inspirational talks in the car, turn the TV off and just sit in peace, cook in bulk so you don’t need to prepare meals every night.
- Give back. Volunteering boosts our sense of well-being. Find a cause close to your heart and invest yourself.
- Visualise. Write down your goals and chart a course to complete them, create a visualisation board – make it real.
- Start a happy jar. Get suggestions from the whole family on ways to get happy – a dance-off, the beach, a picnic, a bike ride etc – then place them in a jar. When the crankies hit (or school holidays boredom sets in), take a lucky dip and do whatever activity you select.
- Hug your babes. That’s two-way happiness – for you and for them.
Ready to get your smile on? Share your happiness project with us at www.facebook.com/havenhub.