I thought I would start my first blog off with a quote that I would like to share with you, it speaks to me and I try to live by it daily.
“only look to yourself for true happiness.”
I first came across this quote when I travelled to India to study yoga in 2012.
I arrived at the yoga ashram in the mountains of northern india, I was shown to my room, where I would be spending the next few months delving deeply into myself, physically and mentally, I was about to embark on a journey that would change the direction of my life forever. I was greeted in my room by this phrase, hand drawn onto a piece of paper, by the previous guest that had stayed there. The room was very basic, a hard bed, a cushion to sit on the floor for meditation and four walls, one of which had this little sketch of this quote stuck to it.
I thought a lot about this quote on this trip and continue to remind myself about it now in various situations that life throws at me. Something that I have learned over the years through many different experiences in life, is that we are all in complete control over our own happiness if we wish to be so. Looking externally for happiness can be empty. Basing your happiness on anything outside of yourself is setting yourself up for disappointment in some form or another. Why give the reins of your happiness over to anybody else when you have everything you need already to be completely content within yourself.
It is human nature in social situations to seek “approval” from our peers. We want to feel accepted, we base our happiness on our experiences and interactions with our friends, family and loved ones. While I believe it’s important to have good friendships and good relationships in our lives, I also believe that in order to be completely content, we need to practice non-attachment from these people and non-attachment from physical things that we feel make us “happy”.
For the season that’s in it, when valentines day is around the corner, we are surrounded by messages of LOVE in the media, presents, gestures, expressions of LOVE and indeed happiness expressed in many different forms. So here are my top tips on how to start with yourself, loving yourself and cultivating your own happiness, because nothing good ever blossoms from something that is starved of love!
Tip 1: Love yourself first and the rest will follow:
Highly happy people really, really like themselves.
Happy people have a foundation of self-love. Those who listen to negative messages in their head that they are not “smart enough,” attractive enough,” “lovable enough” and just plain not “good enough” end up spending their lives wanting to be someone else. Rather than be the best they can be, unhappy people spend futile time comparing themselves to others.
So it is wiser to compare yourself only to yourself and measure your progress over where you were yesterday. This goes for many situations in life but for me, especially in competing in sport. Why waste time and energy worrying about what your competitors are doing when the only thing you have complete control over is what you are actually doing to improve yourself.
Comparing self-worth to others is risky business – there will always be someone wealthier, prettier, more popular, lifts heavier, fitter, with better jobs and nicer cars. If you measure yourself against someone else’s yardstick, you will always come up short. So, instead of trying to be like someone you admire, try learning from them. Carve your own path in life, live your own unique journey.
Tip 2: Stop looking on the outside for what you need to find within.
Try understand that material things, and even people, could never be the key to your happiness. Never expect to find yourself in someone else, and never lose yourself trying to find someone else. In fact, highly happy people realise that over-dependence on others is actually the fast track to unhappiness and even relationship problems. Depending on others for happiness can be the source of unimaginable conflict, bitterness, blame and perpetual disappointment. So try letting go of the need of others “approval”, be free, free of attachment to people and outcomes. Try and live in the moment, one breath at a time and don’t worry about the future or what others think as all we really have is the present and to quote Dr. Seuss “those who matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter”.
Tip 3; Live life with your heart on your sleeve.
The one thing that highly happy people do not do is to spend much energy trying to protect themselves from being hurt. So try have enough confidence in yourself that looking to others for warmth, comfort and support has more potential to make you stronger, not weaker. Trust others, but realise the foundation for trusting others is trusting yourself first. Using the analogy of a being a passenger on a rowboat in the middle of a lake, you will be more likely to trust the person rowing if you can swim!
Tip 4: Don’t worry, be happy.
Worrying in my opinion is as bad for your health and well-being as smoking. Stress breeds unhappiness and ill-health. Let go of the thought process behind worrying. Stop worrying about what people think, about your job, about how you look, etc, etc. Instead try cultivating positive thoughts about everything in your life, including people. Be yourself and above all else try not to be a bitch. Because bitching is negative and at the end of the day it only reflects badly on yourself, instead try and encourage people, send everyone you meet happy vibes and watch how you start to receive happiness in return, because happiness breeds happiness and it is infectious. Stop swimming upsteam, try and realise that the world is not against you, I believe that you make your own luck in life, you know some people that seem to get all the good luck, have another look at them, are they insanely positive people? Open your hands to the universe and it will provide everything you need at the exact moment you need it.
Tip 5: surround yourself with positive people and things that make you smile
They say you become like your 5 closest friends, so make sure your inner circle is loaded with all kinds of awesome people, you know the type of people that ooze positivity and you just want to be around. Find them, spend time with them, make plans, talk about great things, set goals and plan adventures together. Also what you surround yourself with has a massive effect on your mood, so try include little pleasures in life that enhance your surroundings and your mood. Light some scented candles, have a bath, wear some bright colours that make you happy. Colour can really affect how you feel. When you feel good in your own skin and feel confident about yourself and how you look you will naturally be a happier person to be around.
And last but not least…
Tip 6: Find your passion and work hard at it.
Find something in life that makes you tick. A sport, a hobby, charity work, a profession you have always dreamt of, whatever floats your boat. Wake up, learn, grown, kick ass at the things you love to do. Be awesome, repeat! Because when you love what you do on a daily basis, it’s hard not to be happy.