5 Ways to Cultivate Genuine Happiness
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Gandhi
If you want to find authentic happiness,
you must first create a space for happiness to grow.
The happiness that I speak of is not the fluctuating surface type of happiness that depends on things going well. I am talking about the deep inner happiness that maintains its presence regardless of what is happening around you. When the proper environment is made for its growth, this genuine happiness is deep rooted, stable and always available. It is felt in your body, your mind, your heart and your soul. This type of happiness doesn't just happen to you. You must cultivate it by creating an unshakable foundation for it to develop and grow.
The list below is to help you get started on your journey toward deep and authentic happiness. It is by no means extensive, but if you make a habit out of any of these five practices, you will begin to experience an authentic happiness taking root within you.
1. Journal about a Magic Moment each day
This simple act of keeping a daily journal has a profound effect. It is so simple that many people make the mistake of blowing it off. This particular journaling practice involves having the intention to write down something specific that made you happy each day. Set aside some space at the end of your day to recall a magic moment and write it down. One sentence is all you need! Some days may be more challenging than others, but you can always find something. There is no magic moment that is too small to notice and consistency is key. It is about creating the habit of pausing to pay attention to the feeling of happiness that you want to cultivate.
You cannot create happiness in your life unless you become aware of things that make you happy. Anything you can do to break up the habit of the mundane will create a rift in your patterns. Each time you create a rift you make space for change. By making space to reflect back on something that made you feel happy, you remind your mind of the magical experience which then reminds your body what happiness feels like. When the mental experience becomes anchored in the physical, it then becomes a reference point for you to build upon. The more you reinforce this reference point by consistently recording your magic moment each day, the more you encourage happiness to take root.
2. Appreciate Your Feet
Your body is the vessel which allows you to experience life. And yet, many don't give their body a second's notice. It is so reliably present that it is most often taken for granted. In fact, if you are anything like I was, you are down right abusing it. Now that I'm on the other side of the abuse, I can't help but notice what a miraculous vessel the body truly is for it puts up with so much neglect and continues to faithfully serve us.
There are about 100 trillion living cells which comprise your body. It is an organism with many moving parts and it takes time to get to know all of the different parts of you. So start by focusing on your feet! Your feet carry you through life. They propel you forward in ambition. They support you with a foundation of independence. Your left foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Each of these different parts work together in unison, giving you the freedom to move across the earth and the momentum to travel your path.
Begin to appreciate your feet by giving them some of your attention. Just by becoming aware of what they do for you gives them energy. Your attention is energy. When you place it on your feet, the energy you send to them can help rejuvenate them. They work hard for you! Acknowledging their work with a silent sense of gratitude will carry you far. However, if you want to take your care to the next level, give yourself a foot massage! Show your feet your gratitude by energizing them with touch. Get to know where they hurt and where they feel good. Through countless tendons and ligaments, your big toe is connected to your ear. When you begin to explore your body, you will experience this connection and the seemingly simple act of foot care can have profound results on the rest of your body! At the very least, the circulation from your touch will liven up your cells and get them moving.
Your body is a living organism which is directly connected to your mind. When you appreciate your body, you open the doorway toward self appreciation, and in the process you create an environment for happiness to flow.
3. Play Spontaneously
It is easy to get stuck in a mundane rhythm as we become adults. The nature of play is often times forgotten and spontaneity can cease to exist as we find ourselves endlessly dwelling in cycles that don't seem to have an escape.
You must forge your own escape! Break your own cycle! Dig in the dirt with your bare hands. Lay in the grass. Touch it, feel it. Dance for no reason. Blast the radio and sing like nobody is listening. If you are physically able, roll down a hill. Mother Nature blesses us with opportunities of spontaneity. Recognize them and seize them! When you break up your rhythm and do new things, you actually create new neural pathways in your brain. By creating a habit of doing something new and spontaneous, you build a fresh and inviting environment which welcomes in new forms of happiness.
4. Acknowledge a Stranger
Make eye contact with a stranger and give them a smile. The simple act of acknowledging someone is just as good for you as it is for them. Everyone wants to be acknowledged. Humans tend to get so focused on a task that they forget to experience the world around them. When you're lost in your agenda, you don't pay attention to the people and things happening around you. When you're lost in your own head, you are shutting yourself off from so much potential happiness! I'm not saying you have to strike up a conversation with random people. Just notice them, acknowledge them with eye contact and smile to show them that it feels good to be happy! You cannot know the effects of this gesture until you try it.
We are all in this human experience together. We tend to get so focused in our tunnel vision that we forget to experience the interactive world in which we live. When you acknowledge a stranger, you are acknowledging a part of your Self and it will change you.
5. Exhale Fully
Many people talk about breathing. This is because breathing is very important, but I want to put the focus on your exhale. When you complete your exhale you not only make space for a fuller intake of oxygen, but you push out the remaining carbon dioxide which is otherwise left in your system. Typical unconscious breathing is usually very shallow. This shallow inhale and exhale retains your stale breath and does not allow you to fully nourish your system. Your breath nourishes your endocrine system and your endocrine system produces the chemicals which actually allow you to feel happiness. The more "pure" your body is, the easier it is for happiness to flow.
Pay attention to your exhale. Relax your shoulders. Relaxation alone can help to expel stale breath. Next, put your focus on your sternum. Many people hold a lot of tension in their sternum. This tension doesn't allow for a complete exhale. When you exhale, relax your sternum and you will begin to experience the effects of a softening around your heart! As I mentioned earlier, all of your muscles, tendons and ligaments are connected. Imagine the space you open up around your physical heart when you get into the habit of relaxing your sternum every time you exhale! If you're fluent with relaxing your shoulders and sternum upon exhale, you can move your focus to your navel. Push out your remaining breath by bringing your navel in towards your spine. Not only will you eliminate the stale carbon dioxide, but you are now set up to take a complete and fulfilling inhale! Conscious breathing alone has profound affects upon happiness and it is something that you can do anywhere and at any time.
Your attention is the most valuable asset you have. Whatever you give your attention and energy to is what you will continue to experience. It is basic human nature to dwell on the things that we perceive as negative or difficult. It has been a survival mechanism which helped us to develop as a species. To look out for what might harm us kept us alive. However, we are at a turning point in our evolution and we have a choice: continue merely surviving or step into our power and start creating.
One of the things you are here to create is a deep happiness within yourself. Put your attention on experiencing this deep happiness and cultivate it! The more clear you are with your intention and consistent you are with your practice, the better space you will create for a stronger flow of happiness.
Pick one thing on this list and challenge yourself to bring awareness to it. Set the intention of remembering to do it every day. Keep a consistent daily practice for at least a month and experience the results!
Comment below with your happiness endeavor!