August 19, 2016 01:00 AM NPT
By: Isha Bista
A while back I read a book titled ‘The Happiness Project’ and it’s safe to say that life hasn’t been the same ever since. I know many people consider self-help books to be lame. To be honest, even I didn’t think too highly of this genre but all that changed when I came across this book by Gretchen Rubin. I started making happiness a conscious choice rather than something that would eventually befall me.
‘The Happiness Project’ is the outcome of Rubin’s year-long experiment of sorts on how to achieve maximum happiness. In the book, she talks about the numerous things she did and the changes she made, month by month, in her pursuit of happiness. Amazingly, little things like going to bed an hour earlier, organizing your closet, and acting more energetic can have a profound impact on our happiness quotient.
We all want to be happy but yet nobody really thinks about it too much. We assume happiness is a result of something and that we will be happy if we get what we are striving for but in reality, happiness is a constant state of being. It’s also a choice you have to make on a daily basis. Reading Rubin’s book made me realize that and I have been trying to make lifestyle changes that ensure I feel peppy and positive.
But making the decision to be happy is the first and the easy part. Achieving happiness and maintaining that state is a never-ending process that requires a lot of effort. Cultivating a positive mindset and acting on those things that make you happy while letting go of things that drag you down don’t come easy but there are many things you can do to build on it. I spoke to a few happy souls to find out what is the secret behind their happiness.
Little things make me happy. A large cup of strong milk tea on rainy days while snuggled in bed reading a book is my ultimate source of happiness. Apart from that, a coffee date with my best friend, mid-week movie date with my boyfriend, brunch with Aama on Sundays, taking a nap, cycling, and random compliments are little things that make me really, really happy. These might seem like superficial things but you can’t always wait on big things to happen in your life to be happy. Happiness is a mater of choice. You have to focus on these little things in life, look forward to it and be happy. I always give myself something to look forward to and choose to be happy because of it. If you think about it, there is so much to appreciate and be grateful for. Focus on what’s right and nice in your life and don’t sweat the small stuff – that’s my secret to happiness. And oh yes, peanut butter on crackers also makes me happy.
Finding happiness in little things
I thought I’d be happy if I lost weight. I thought I’d be happy if I got the post I was vying for at work. I thought I’d be happy if I started earning more. I thought I’d be happy if I got the opportunity to travel abroad at least once a year. I thought I’d be happy if I had my own car and house. All these things happened and though I was delighted by it all, they did nothing to change my general state of being. I was always looking for more to have and achieve. It’s human nature, I guess, to focus on what you don’t have and always reach for more. No wonder we tend to think happiness is an elusive concept. The moment you get what you think will make you happy and content, you want something else. There is simply no end to it. You will always keep wanting more. I guess we have to learn to be happy in our present circumstance and not base our happiness on something to have or achieve if we are to be truly happy. And for that one has to learn to live in the present and not let the past affect you and be too stressed out about the future either.
Focusing on the present
For me, gratitude is the one and only thing that can make you happy. Being grateful for all that you have, I have realized, is the ultimate source of happiness. That way you are choosing to focus on the good stuff in your life. We tend to be unhappy when we compare ourselves with others and think about what we lack but if we are to think about how lucky we are and be thankful for it, we can be at out happiest best all the time. Some of my friends say that if we are to think of ourselves as lucky and just focus on the good stuff, it kills ambition and we won’t work on improving ourselves but I beg to differ. Being happy in our current circumstance doesn’t mean being complacent. It just means we choose not to let the bad stuff get to us while striving to become better versions of ourselves. In my view, a happy person will work for betterment whereas an unhappy person will just crib and complain about how nothing is going well and be caught in that whirlpool.
Being thankful for all that
I am and have
I find being organized can boost my mood and make me happy. Clutter tends to pull us down and subconsciously affect how we feel about our lives and ourselves. We don’t always realize it but I always tell my friends to clean their rooms and get organized if they want to feel better and light. It has been rightly said that outer order contributes to inner calm. A messy desk or an overflowing closet seems like a small thing and it is, but an orderly environment makes me feel more in control of myself and thus happy. If this is an illusion, it’s a very helpful illusion. There are many creative people who thrive in an atmosphere of disarray. An uncluttered space might even stifle their productivity and peace of mind. It’s a personal thing. For me, messy surroundings make me feel less productive and creative. When my office is crammed with open documents, notes, and half-empty mugs, I feel overwhelmed. Clearing my space clears my mind.
Staying neat and organized and thus happy