Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

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How can I be happy?

Hello Dear Readers,

A question that often comes up goes something like this: “How can I be happy when I watch the news and see what is happening in the world today?”. A very good question that shows the empathy and despair we feel as fellow humans across the planet are suffering, or the fear we encounter with the daily news stories.

It is a normal reaction to the news today. First, we must remember that the square box called a TV transmits all that is wrong in the world. That is what gets ratings. We don’t hear about the wonderful celebrations, the break-throughs, the everyday successes of people… it’s just not news.

Secondly, remember that our brains are like velcro for the negative and teflon for positive events. That is, we are much more likely to hold that memory of being criticized today, or a negative news story, than to remember that beautiful sunset over and over… and over again. We have to actually make an effort to hold the positive memories and thoughts longer and focus on what is good in the world and in our lives as well.

Thirdly, there has always been violence in the world. That is not to say we should allow or condone it. Quite the opposite, but there have always been the obnoxious political leaders, unrest and war. We can choose to be unhappy in our own lives because of it, but tell me…how does anyone gain from your unhappiness? How do we grow peace and appreciation from anger? How does it help me, my family or community if I am unhappy?

We always have a choice. It is important to stay connected to the world, but do remember the above. And, if it is difficult to stay informed without it affecting your mood and your day, then turn it off. Let it propel you to find all that is good in your world, offer a hand to someone in need, write an article about racism or join a group helping refugees. I think you get the idea.

Happiness is not a characteristic, don’t wait to obtain it… it is a skill.  If you are living in the “I’ll be happy when….” world, then I have news for you. If you are waiting for that job promotion, to win the lottery, to lose weight, to be in the perfect relationship or when you can move to a new city, research shows that none of the above is correlated with an increase in happiness over time. So, what can you do now to increase your happiness quotient? Here are my biggies that can have the most impact right now:

  • practice gratitude right now…. for something small in your surroundings. Stop and breathe it in. Great.
  • Surround yourself with people who make you feel good. Even if it’s only one. Don’t do the toxic thing anymore.
  • Stop comparing. It took me a long time to catch myself doing this… it’s so automatic. You will never be perfect and life will never be perfect, but you can do the best in the life that you have.
  • Find meaning in each day. You have to find a reason to wake up in the morning no matter how bad things feel. It could be to walk that dog that needs you, to offer your presence to a friend, to do something for yourself that feels good, to volunteer or do that one thing at work that you do well.

You, and only you, can ever develop your own happiness skills. Blaming it on tv, other people or your past won’t help. You have been given this day. You deserve to find some joy in it.

Do not let sadness stop you from seeing and believing that it’s never to late to do something kind. 

Share in the comments below how you bring some good-feeling vibes into your daily life, or hop on over to the Just Breathe facebook page here and join the discussion there.

Have a great week,

Madeleine

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3 thoughts on “How can I be happy?”

  1. happiness for me is being deep in presence. It matters not to me what the situation is the celebration is that i am allowing myself to show up .

    Reply
  2. I had to consciously reprogram my brain for gratitude. For 365 days I published, via facebook, three unique things for which I was grateful and a brief description of each. This meant that even on my saddest or most anxious of days, I had to think of three new things that brought me gratitude, peace and joy. Some days they were big things. Some days they seem trivial. But throughout my day, each day, for an entire year, I chose to see the positive, chose to see light, chose to be grateful.
    Let me tell you, it worked. I use the word “grateful” probably 10 or 15 times a day.
    And you know what? The people who found this annoying, the people who thought I was being too positive all the time, the people who didn’t like this new Rhiannon? They aren’t in my life anymore. That’s one of the wonderful side effects of this project; even the people who brought negativity and limitations and toxicity to my life chose to leave or just seems to evaporate and I look back and they’re not around anymore.
    My gratitude attracted a whole new life, filled with people who love me and support me, opportunities for me to grow and thrive, and an outlook in my heart, mind and spirit that grows stronger with each passing day.
    I no longer feel the need to compare myself to others because I’m grateful for what I have. I no longer feel the need to explain myself because there’s a guiding light of validity that doesn’t need to justify anything.
    My life has purpose: it’s to be my best possible self and strive, from within, to reflect this out into the world and make a difference, even if it’s only for myself or one or two other people, something that can help change the world one person, one shine molecule at a time.

    Reply
  3. I learned nearly ten years ago to savour the positives. Embrace each day as if it were my last, smile, and laugh at silly things. Negativism is like a disease. Thanking my boss, and coworkers for easing my workload when super busy or working short goes a long way to make them feel appreciated. I work as an RN in complex care where our mean age is 85 it is heavy work very rewarding. Humor, happiness, and being positive is encouraged. We all work as a team, are aware of the negative vibes and choose not to endorse them. Being happy is a personal choice, it is simple to accomplish and is infectious.

    Reply

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