Lots of people spend their lives seeking and searching for happiness and contentment. This ongoing struggle is both unhealthy and, in most cases, unnecessary. O.K., I know that is a potentially unfair statement and I am certainly not imploring anyone to stop seeking joy. I’m also a huge fan of change and adventure so it is important you never stop exploring and seeking out new ways to enjoy this life. The point here is you don’t need to always be looking outside of yourself for that contentment. The truth is, happiness is not at the end of an “if only I…” statement. Happiness is here and now.
One of the best books related to this concept is “The Power of Now”, by Eckhart Tolle. While this may be a little “foofy” for a lot of you, there are still some great concepts (or a great concept overall) in the book. He implores us to stop thinking about the future and the past and focus on right now. What sounds are you hearing? What is your temperature? How is your breathing? Can you feel each of your toes, fingers, ears? Being fully present in the “now” is a remarkable skill and one that is worth exploring. We spend so much of our lives thinking, stressing, worrying and planning what is coming next, we tend to forget about enjoying the “right now”.
How many times have you been in your Lincoln NH Yoga class and had your mind wander off to that next appointment or the phone call you have to make. You need to pick the kids up from school and tonight is your night to cook dinner. All the while you are currently present in a therapeutic, relaxing, rejuvenating practice that is being lost because of your planning. Make the extra effort to be present in all you do. In the conversation you are having with that co-worker. In the play time you enjoy with your kids or even your pets. This can be beneficial to you in many ways. On a simple level though, you won’t have let “life” pass you by.
One of my favorite personal trainers always encourages her clients to practice writing down daily “gratitudes”. These are things which you can be grateful for in any area of your life. The practice of writing down 10 of these each morning is a fantastic way to kick-off your day and get your mindset adjusted for contentment and happiness. These can be as deep and meaningful as being grateful for your loving spouse and your healthy kids or as simple as appreciating chocolate milk or apple slices with Nutella on them. (Can you tell I’m having a snack right now!?)
Being grateful for at least 10 things every day (morning) gets us thinking in a grateful or appreciative way at the start of the day. It is a great exercise to remind yourself how good you have it and to appreciate the small (and big) things around you. I can honestly say, I have found myself being more appreciative of my cat since I started doing this. It is a great practice that tends to shift your focus from what you don’t have to what you do.
Lastly, on the quest for happiness and contentment, is to love and continue to learn how to love. I promise you we can all learn new ways to love as soon as we start to show love on a regular basis. Showing (or telling) love to others fosters a sense of peace in our minds and tends to help heal (or forgive) any past “issues” we may have had with that person.
All of these ideas and practices don’t always come easily. The best way to get over that is to practice. Practice living “in the moment” next time you are feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a busy schedule. Focus on your breathing and focus on your body in your environment. A more prevalent sense of connection to your world (and your self) is sure to follow.