5 mindful steps towards happiness

There are infinite sources of happiness available in the universe. And there are also as many reasons to be unhappy. It is ultimately your choice which way you turn your attention in life.

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If you decide to choose happiness, here are five easy to follow steps towards happiness.

1. Seek happiness beyond pleasure, distractions and intensity

Many of us in the modern world confound pleasure with happiness. If you think you are happy when you satisfy your physiological and psychological needs, like when you eat, drink, make love, read a book, go to a party or on a holiday, then you might be disappointed. Satisfying your needs is great but, if you expect immediate gratification all the time, this can have a negative impact on your happiness because you will feel unhappy when you can’t have those needs met. In reality, you can learn to experience happiness outside of your pleasures too.

Also, if you learned to feel alive when you experienced strong emotions and intensity provoked by external distractions, you can easily mistake that with happiness. When you mistake distraction and intensity with happiness, you find it unpleasant when life moves at a slow pace. It is very helpful to learn to connect with the aliveness inside of you and not to depend on outer circumstances to uplift your inner states. Think that if it’s not coming from within then it’s not yours, hence it’s not real. Therefore, whether you have distractions or intensity in your life or not, you can still be happy inside.

2. See happiness beyond the materialistic world and your physical body

If you look for happiness exclusively in the materialistic outside world then you hurt yourself. You collect objects and goods that give you a false sense of happiness, and when these objects break down or are getting lost your “happiness” is going with them too. You also enjoy having money and using it to buy products or services that you think will make you happy, but human nature is set to want more, so your “happiness” is always fragile and short-lasting. Hence, if you separate your sense of joy from material stuff, you can then be happy irrespective of whether you have something or not.

Perhaps you also identify with your body and draw your happiness from your sensory experience which leaves you very vulnerable in terms of your emotional wellbeing. A certain image, a smell, a taste, a touch or a noise can make you either happy or unhappy. Your senses also shape your perception which informs how you create the reality in your mind. Perception itself is a very subjective mental process that can significantly impact your mental state and your sense of well-being. Improve your life by learning to access inner happiness regardless of whether your senses are stimulated or not and irrespective of your perceptual field.

3. Seek happiness within your personal boundaries not through your social conditioning

If you are like most people then no one taught you in school what happiness is. Teachers don’t know it themselves. Sometimes they are less happy than you. No one taught you in the family about happiness either. They don’t know it themselves. Look at the drama that goes on in our families sometimes. You probably constructed in your mind your own idea about happiness based on your particular life experience and upbringing, but that's just programming.

If you see happiness through the eyes of others and your social conditioning then you keep yourself stuck in your tunnel mind and you live by default, through automatic functioning. This can keep you trapped in your old way of being, connected with your initial alleys of knowledge and far away from novelty and awareness. It can keep you stuck in cycles of anxiety, depression, addiction and other afflictions, feeling joyless and unhappy. You need to allow yourself to step out of your initial programming and experience life from a place of personal choice and expansion.

You need to train your mind to  live more in the present moment and less in the past or the future. If you allow your mind to take you back into the past events you will be ruminating about the unhappy events and circumstances that brought you pain. This is helpful if you do it mindfully in a controlled space as a way of understanding and healing your past, but it can become very dysfunctional if you continue to do it all the time. Similarly, when you think too much about the future you can get easily overwhelmed by worry and fears for something that does not even exist. You need to step out of that place of doubt and uncertainty and focus your energy on creating the happy life you wish to have right here, right now in the present moment.

4. Strengthen your sense of self and grounding to reach happiness 

If you have a weak sense of grounding and personal boundaries, the external world can easily enter your intimate space and change the way you feel inside. If you grew up in an unpredictable environment lacking safety and stability in life, then you struggle to remain self-focused and you tend to lose yourself in situations and people. This leaves you often disempowered and frustrated which impacts on your overall well-being. It is essential to learn where you start and where you finish and ground yourself into your own being to manage your internal life the way you want.

When you struggle to develop a strong sense of self you also struggle to connect with your self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence. Possibly someone squashed your sense of value in your first years of life and you never recovered it since. Quite likely, throughout life, you got yourself into circumstances and stayed around people that reinforced in you the same old beliefs. You are full of doubts and you look outside to others to validate your ideas, opinions and actions. Often, you hesitate to put your ideas into practice and you leave your intentions to freeze in inaction. Step out of doubt and turn your attention within to connect with those infinite resources of confidence, regard and value of self if you want to be happy.

5. Open to happiness and embrace it fully as long as it lasts

If you are closed to happiness then it does not matter who you are, what you do and what you have in life. You are still unhappy even when beautiful events and circumstances unfold in front of you. Even if you have wonderful, loving people around you, caring for you and showing you love and affection you are still unhappy. This is because, for one reason or another, you do not permit yourself to be happy. Maybe you are harsh with yourself because this is how you’ve been treated in your childhood. Perhaps you have high expectations from yourself and always seem to fall short in what you want to achieve. Maybe you compare yourself with others all the time and no matter how great you are there can always be someone that can overtake you in life. Or possibly you focus excessively on what you don’t have and miss to see and celebrate all the wonderful things you actually have in life. You can change your ways to fit a more caring and loving approach towards yourself.

Learn to be proactive and intentional in your happiness journey. Do not make the mistake of imagining that happiness happens by itself and lasts forever. In reality, nothing just happens and nothing is impermanent. You need to work for what you want and you need to find ways to sustain a joyful and pleasant feeling inside. Also, learn to manage your internal life in times when your mental and emotional states are changing rapidly. If you allow your life to be driven randomly by your tunnel automatic mind then you will most likely struggle to capture moments of joy and happiness. Through presence and mindful living you can take control of your life and choose your experiences and how you want to feel inside. Choice is in fact your real power!

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London W1K & SE22
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Written by Nicoleta Porojanu, MSc, BSc Hons, GradDip Psy, PgDip ClinHyp
London W1K & SE22

Nicoleta is a Romanian-British Psychologist, Therapist and Educator guiding happiness seekers in their journey of self-discovery, healing and personal growth. In her work she creates a bridge between psychology and disciplines like anthropology, epigenetics, quantum physics, logotherapy, transpersonal psychology and eastern spirituality traditions.

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