Happiness is A Verb: Three Ways to Get Moving
Let’s stop beating around the bush here. Let’s be really honest about why most of us consume self-development or motivational content. I mean, look at that fabulous woman pictured right above. She appears to be living her best life, yes? It’s as if the hair/outfit/leg/weather/and backdrop gods were all conspiring together for good; for happiness perhaps?
Hmm, maybe? She could be the happiest person in the world for all we know (I sure hope so!). She could also be totally crushing it as a model with a killer team of people helping to create the flawless look. Who’s to say?
My point is, we often confuse success with happiness. It sneaks in so quietly, so subtly, I’m guilty of it as well. Today, I want to revisit this boulder of a dream I believe we all carry with us, albeit under the radar. I want to get back to the basics, discussing what it means to live with intention and create happiness in our lives instead of expecting it to show up at our doorstep every morning, complete with a piping hot coffee and our favorite almond croissant (sans the calories, of course.)
Happiness is, indeed, an inside job.
The two things I tend to hear when I listen to others talk about what they want, both in and outside of therapy, is more peace of mind, security, and belonging. Often, this comes in the way of more money, more love, and less body mass. I get it! Typically, we confuse successful people who are wealthy, popular, and thin, with really happy people.
Don’t get me wrong: money, community, and physical health are three big factors in contributing to overall well-being. However, these successful outcomes are never sustainable as it relates to daily happiness.
Success simply means achieving a desired outcome.
Happiness refers to a state of well-being and contentment.
They have two totally different meanings, yet we buy into a currency of contentment that makes them virtually interchangeable.
Two of my favorite books exploring the science of happiness are Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. Both are worth the read.
For your time-sensitive enjoyment, however, I’ve boiled it down and come up with three regular activities that propel happiness: this feeling of well-being and contentment.
(Yes, they all start with “G” to keep it simple!)
I’ve never met someone miserable who consistently practiced gratitude. In fact, it is nearly impossible to be a curmudgeon and also be grateful. Try it. In my experience, gratitude is the single most powerful and accessible weapon to combat resentment, anxiety, and self-pity. I believe practicing gratitude alone for even just one day can set a completely new mindset into motion.
Try it on for size: every time you sit down for a meal, think to yourself or say out loud three things you are grateful for. I KNOW you can find simple things that will shift your perspective away from the weight of what’s bringing you down.
Before you get all huffy and assume I’m asking you to pull out the checkbook, think again. While financial giving is one way to be generous, there are so many other ways to practice this happiness magnet.
The world gets really small when we’re only thinking about our well-being. While self-care and discovery are a requirement for optimal experience, the act of giving actually enhances this well-being in a massive way. They go hand in hand.
Writing a thank-you note, dropping off a meal to a friend in need, sending a simple encouraging text, or buying the guy behind you a coffee unexpectedly at Starbucks are all beautiful ways of practicing generosity.
Grounding in The Present
This is a biggie. I’m not just talking about transcendental meditation, either. I like to think of practicing grounding as anything that helps you fully engage in the moment at hand, which is the only sure thing we have. People are most unhappy when they binge on toxic thoughts that have no tangible trace of truth. It takes us out of our power and places us in a projected state of anxiety.
Letting go of this thought-obsessed existence by practicing grounding is everything. Think passion here! I am always at my best when I’m pursuing my passion because I’m fully engaged in something that brings me meaning, purpose, and joy.
What lights you up? Even just committing fifteen minutes each day writing, playing guitar, practicing yoga, networking with others in your tribe, or going for a run outside will jumpstart a feeling of connectedness and grounding.
Do these seem impossibly simple? If so, that is intentional because oftentimes the hardest things to put into practice are the things that seem basic or obvious. Your challenge this week is to do just that, get back to basics by practicing these three happiness boosters every day for the next week (or more!)
We are Ph.D.’s at overcomplicating life. Let’s get emotionally fit this week through gratitude, generosity, and staying grounded in the present. It’s Spring after all, and time to don those svelte dispositions.
Love & Gratitude,