Stop Trying To Buy Happiness.

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for abundance

Eckhart Tolle

Everybody seems to be in a race to get more of everything, be it money, cars, clothes opr whatever else they believe that will make them happy. We hope that, as we get more of whatever we want, the quality of our lives will improve. It doesn’t. You get a temporary high after bringing home your next fancy purchase, but the novelty soon wears off and you’re brought crashing back down to earth. So, you need to buy something bigger and better, slowly emptying your bank account while you fill your house with things you neither want nor need. If, on the other hand, your drug of choice is money, then you will find yourself devoting all of your time to working, and neglect your personal relationships in the process.

This is not a healthy way to live. Happiness is an inside job. What this means is that you don’t need to have a huge bank balance or lots of fancy things to be happy. All you need to experience true happiness is self awareness.

Self awareness is having a good idea of who you are, what you want from life, what you value and what direction you want your life to take. Once you know this, and are on the path to self awareness, you will begin to act accordingly. Living in accordance with your beliefs and values, achieving what you want for yourself and realising the power you have to create your own destiny are what bring real, lasting happiness.

Becoming self aware is very difficult. It’s a long and difficult process when reflecting on who you are, where you are right now, where you want to be and what you can do to get there. There is, however, something quick and easy which, if done daily, will also have a massive impact on your happiness. This is the practice of gratitude.

By thinking about all the good which you have in your life, you experience a crucial mental shift. You move away from thinking about your life in terms of what you lack, and instead focus on what you already have. Your attention is drawn towards the positive aspects of your life, which you could potentially build upon.

It feels weird and unnatural when you first practice gratitude, because marketers bombard us constantly with messages about what we should have in our lives and how happy it would make us. Fair play to them, they have to earn a living I guess, but it’s up to you whether you pay any attention to their bullshit.

So, how do you practice gratitude? There are countless ways, and you just need to find the right fit for you through trial and error.

Personally, I prefer to add this to my daily journal. I always carry my journal and write in it throughout the day, but there are 2 set times in the day when I must journal. This is my gratitude journal time, and the process is quick and easy;

  • As soon as I wake up, I reach for my journal and pen, and write 3 things which I am grateful for. It could be something as simple as a good night’s sleep or sunshine streaming in through the window.
  • These are in bullet point format, and only go into detail if I think that it will help at a later date when I revisit my journal.
  • Now, my mood and mindset is positive before I have even got out of bed, because I am feeling grateful and happy.
  • Before bed, I write another 2 things for which I am grateful. This helps calm my mind, especially after a challenging day, and contributes to a good night’s sleep.

So, every day, I write down 5 things which I am grateful for. It takes no longer than 10 minutes in total, but the mental boost is fantastic. It motivates, but also offers perspective. You realise that your quality of life is better than you thought.

Sometimes, however, I need to be more creative than just writing a list. On these days, I grab a sheet of paper and make a mind map.

  • In the centre of the page, I write the sentence, “I am grateful for…” and draw a fancy border around it.
  • I then draw a number of lines leading away from the centre, with each one leading to something which I am grateful for
  • Then, for added visual effect, I add pictures and colour to the mind map
  • Finally, the mind map goes up on the wall, and I add more lines and points for gratitude as the week or month goes on.

I use the mind map approach too, as having a visual reminder can be even more powerful than a list in a journal. Combining the two keeps me grounded, keeps me positive and ensures that I don’t lose focus.

Alternatively, there are note-taking apps such as Evernote which could be used to log your gratitude. Whatever shape it takes, log what you are grateful for, because it takes a mere 5 – 10 minutes of your day and the positive impact on your day, and life, is priceless. This is what will bring real, lasting happiness and it doesn’t cost anything apart from time.

Life Is Rather Magical

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper

W.B Yeats

Every day, we are all surrounded by the magic and beauty of life. The problem is that we are often too busy or stressed to appreciate it or even acknowledge it. But it’s there, waiting to be discovered once we free some time to quiet our minds and be still for a while.

If you don’t believe me, do this exercise and tell me i’m wrong;

  • Get outside in nature. Whether it’s the park, a field or the forest…go there.
  • Calm your mind. Close your eyes, tilt your head back and take deep, controlled breaths. Do this until you begin to feel relaxed. This exercise is a great way to clear your mind so you can focus on enjoying  your current surroundings.
  • Open your eyes and observe the beauty and magic around you. I defy you to feel  angry upset or stressed while in the great outdoors. If you’re anything like me, this simple exercise will leave you feeling happy, positive and energised.

Why is this important?

Our lives are lived at 100 miles per hour, and despite technology making life easier, we are overloaded, more stressed and more overwhelmed than ever. This is damaging to our mental health, our personal and professional development and our relationships.

When people hear about meditation or mindfulness exercises, their eyes tend to glaze over. So, instead of trying to get your head around mediation and blaming the mind, just try the exercise above. All you need is a little bit of nature. Once you feel the power of this simple exercise to lift your mood and re-energise you, you will wonder how you’ve survived this long without it.

With a clear head and more energy, you can refocus on your goals and go after them with a new hunger and determination. People will also find it more pleasing to spend time with you. Calm your mind, and your life will improve. Just like…magic.

There is more to life than making money with which to buy nice things. Take some time to appreciate the beauty of the world around you. Your mental health will thank you for it.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud (William Wordsworth)

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed- and gazed- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Barter (Sara Teasdale)

I love poetry, especially that which leads the reader to feel, think or reflect. Revisiting some of my favourites over the past few days in order to share them with you has reminded me of just how motivational, inspirational, enlightening and enjoyable they can be. The process has been so enjoyable, in fact, that I will be continuing the theme for the rest of the week. In fact, this week shall henceforth be renamed the “Fulfill Your Potential Poetry Week”.

Today I would like to share a poem about mindfulness and appreciation, which is perhaps not as well known as it should be. Modern life is fast-paced and can be very demanding. We are forever in a rush. We are so busy, in fact, that if and when we do find ourselves with some free time, we start to feel uncomfortable and anxious, as though we are forgetting something important. As a result we find it increasingly difficult to stop and take some time for ourselves, which is exactly what the poet is asking that we do.

This is a poem about how wonderful it is to take some time out of our busy days to really see, and appreciate what life has to offer. We are reminded about how much beauty surrounds us and costs nothing to enjoy, yet we are oblivious to it. This is because we find ourselves unable to live in the moment, and to forget everything for a short while as we focus instead on our surroundings.

Even though it was first published a century ago, in 1917, this poem is still relevant today. We are not only surrounded by the wonders of nature, but also some incredible architecture and design. It’s often free to admire and enjoy, but we fail to take advantage of it because we are spending to much time in front of a screen, whether that be a computer or smartphone. So, today, take some time to admire the loveliness that life has to offer. Even if you can only spare 5 uninterrupted minutes for this exercise, your mind and body will thank you for it.

 

BARTER, Sara Teasdale

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And childrens’s faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstacy
Give all you have been, or could be.