Happiness is a vast subject. Too vast to adequately cover in a single blog post. But what I can do is share with you some of my experiences with and observations about happiness. I don’t necessarily believe in the whole “pursuit of happiness” idea because, in my mind, it means that it’s something to attain at some future point in time as opposed to living it now. Instead, I believe happiness is worthy of cultivation in our lives on a daily basis. And if you actively nurture this mind set, the laws of attraction will kick into gear to bring you even more happiness and an abundance of things to enjoy and be grateful for. Do you believe it? I’ve experimented with this myself and I’m seeing wonderful results.
One of the first methods I used to grow more happy thoughts in my mind was to start a gratitude ritual right before bed. I’d go through my day in my mind and thank each person I came into contact with for something specific (even if it wasn’t a “good” experience) and then send them blessings. Sometimes I’d imagine hugging them as well and let those warm feelings wash over me. I’ve heard others using gratitude journals or even simply expressing gratitude to someone or something in the moment (even when you don’t feel it’s necessarily “deserved”). As things evolved, I’d get more ideas on how to increase my feelings of happiness. Eventually, I read about a technique the Dalai Lama used called “imagination meditation” that I started to implement. This is where you visualize that you have a quality (in this case happiness) and think about how you would be if you were an excellent role model for this quality. The more you practice this mental exercise (just a couple of minutes each day), the greater the likelihood that you’ll become that which occupies a prominent position in your awareness. Or even just meditating on the word itself and the feelings you associate with it.
Admittedly, I did have to get over the hurdle of thinking that focusing on happiness was in some way selfish of me. Here in the West at least, there is a prevailing belief that by choosing happiness you become apathetic to any suffering in this world. The exact opposite is true. You develop an even deeper compassion and understanding of others. Plus, by thinking happy thoughts, you’re helping to spread those positive vibes out to the world – it’s infectious! In our society, we surely need more of that.
This does take daily practice. Honestly, I still do have my ups and downs, but generally speaking, I’m feeling way better about life than I have ever before. And I often receive external validation from others as well, including people I don’t know, about how happy I look. Sometimes it seems as though people think I have it “easy” in whatever way they imagine, so that’s the reason for my happiness. Maybe that my thoughts aren’t based in reality and I’m like a Pollyanna – overly and falsely optimistic. The actual reality is that I’ve gone through trials and tribulations like everyone else, but I choose to focus on the bright side as everything does boil down to a matter of perspective. I take ownership of my thoughts and I refuse to blame others for how I perceive things (e.g. not choosing to think it’s because of so-and-so that I’m upset).
Happiness isn’t something external, it comes from within. Our striving for more money, power, success, and so forth is ultimately because we want to be happy and think these external things will get us to it. The wonderful thing to realize is that we already have it. We just need to actively receive it from within.