In my last post I talked about following your heart and discovering who you really are as the only path to true happiness. I realise now that it was fairly abstract in nature, although I hope inspiring all the same. What I thought I’d do now by way of following up though, is to offer some more practical, grounded insights and advice as to how to go about actually achieving this happiness.
Of course, if you’re already really happy and fulfilled, then don’t bother reading on! And good for you!
1. You are worth it
First of all, tell yourself firmly that you deserve this – that you are worth it. Not only that, but it is in fact your duty to discover who you really are and to find out what makes your life worth living. Being anything less than the best that you can be is a travesty – a waste of your full potential. Don’t let your own insecurities, fears and doubts, or those of others, get in your way.
2. Be with yourself (quietly)
I mentioned this briefly in the first post, and it’s really, really important (as important as number 1). How can you expect to know who you are and find out your true passions and calling in life if you cannot be present in the moment and observe the workings of your inner being? The answers are inside, I promise. You just have to listen.
Practically speaking, I recommend meditation for this. But before you turn away, this does not have to mean sitting in lotus position chanting ‘om’ surrounded by crystals and incense… It is as simple as taking yourself off to a quiet room for fifteen minutes each day, sitting comfortably in silence with your eyes closed (this part is important) and just being. Just breathing. Doing nothing, but being present, and being you.
3. Becoming aware, being mindful
As you start to practice this daily meditation (and you will soon find that it spills over into all other areas of your life), be aware of the thoughts and feelings that come up. In the various and plentiful yoga classes I’ve attended where meditation is a part of the practice, we are told to observe the thoughts that enter our head as we sit there in silence, as they will always come. (Yogis refer to this as ‘Chitta Vritti’ (mind chatter) coming from our ‘Monkey Mind’ i.e. the mindful-less chatter that we all have going on inside our heads at nearly every waking moment, about everything from what we are going to wear that night, or who is going to do the washing up that evening, to where we want to go on holiday, and how we’re going to get a flat stomach before we get into a bikini.) As the thoughts come, the key is not to get frustrated with ourselves that our minds won’t slow down, that the thoughts won’t bugger off. Instead we are taught to just observe them, calmly, and then, let them pass away, like leaves in the wind.
This practice is part of what is called mindfulness – and as I said, this can and will spill into many other areas of your life if you keep on practicing it. It’s about being able to recognise negative or challenging thoughts and emotions as separate from, in a way, your true self. They are just thoughts; they are just feelings – they can come and go, if we let them. This lays the foundations for then being able to deal with them.
It is not the purpose of meditation in my opinion therefore to ‘empty the mind’ – although I’ve experienced moments of this and it is pure bliss (!) – but first to start tuning yourself in to the different parts of your Self – mind, body, emotions, etc. – and learning how each plays an role together in your Being. You will start to see that the mind is the peskiest of them all when it comes to getting down on yourself – responsible for negative patterns of behaviour such a over-thinking and over-analysing events and feelings, and often ‘convincing’ yourself out of making positive changes in your life. That it is your own mind that holds you back in fact from pursuing and achieving many of your dreams…
Once we know this, and importantly, experience it through regular practice, we can begin to ‘control’ our mind and its pesky habit of negative thinking, allowing us to make room in its place for positive thoughts, happy emotions, and joyful feelings. (Allowing us to instead follow our hearts.)
If numbers 2 and 3 sounded too serious for you, then you might like this one. Think about what did you used to do as a child that made you laugh, smile, giggle, or feel full of joy. Now do that.
I wrote a whole post on finding my inner child, which has some useful suggestions if you’re stuck (and some funny pictures of me and my friends). But, for example: build a sandcastle, make a daisy chain, paint with your hands, hula hoop, dance, sing…or anything else that makes you feel like a child again. Do this at least once a week, and see if some of the sparkle comes back into your eyes.
5. Get creative
I don’t care if you work in engineering, IT or as a heart surgeon. Everyone is creative in one way or another. You don’t have to paint a masterpiece or write a bestselling novel, but do something. Make something – with your hands. Draw, paint, take photographs, write, sing or dance (see again, number 4, as there is overlap here). Feel the connection between your hands and the physical world. Realise that you can play a part in that connection – that you are the connection – and that you can create things. Have fun doing it and remember that the process itself is the reward. You don’t have to show your creations to anyone. They don’t have to be ‘good’.
This is in fact a form of meditation too – because you’ll find that as you occupy your body with a creative task, you will inadvertently calm that pesky Monkey Mind that has a habit of going into overdrive, and you will for that precious time, feel at peace.
4. Find help
This perhaps should be number 1 – as I don’t think even the strongest person in the world could do all of this on their own. Remember first that you are not alone on this planet; we are all here together, trying our best to navigate the daily challenges we all face, and if you are reading this, trying also to ask ourselves the far bigger questions about our purpose here. We are One. We are a community of wanderers on Earth and we are not designed to wander alone. So don’t.
Help is all around you, in many different forms. It could be as simple as going to a yoga class or joining an online support group, to talking to a therapist, or seeking treatment and advice from any kind of healer (just a few of whom are members of my healing community on Facebook).
I’m going to take this opportunity to recommend one lady in particular, because she was in huge part responsible for propelling me on my own wonderful healing journey. She gave me the wings I needed to fly – the faith I needed to go it alone -but also the practical tools that I could take with me. Her name is Selina Barker, life design coach, and her website is here. Now there are many life coaches out there and I recommend her simply because of my own wonderful experience. But also because she has just launched an online ‘course’, which promises to give you the tools you need to start building a life that puts you at the centre. It’s very appropriately called ‘Project You: the life design summer school’. It only costs £34 ($58) and you can do it from anywhere in the world. (I really hope most of you reading this can afford to invest that amount of money into your future happiness.) If you have more questions, drop Selina a message on Facebook or by email – email@example.com. And here she is herself to tell you a bit more about it:
So, I hoped that helped in some way. Thank you as always for reading and please share your thoughts in the comments below (or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). I am always looking for new ways to bring happiness into my own life and to keep learning and healing on my own journey.