Happiness is the most important thing in the world.
I am sure many of you are familiar with one of my favourite quotes:
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light”
Before I go any further, I am going to confront the elephant in the room. I know that the author of Harry Potter is a contraversial figure for many people now, but I firmly believe that someone can create something truly magical and have questionable personal beliefs. Whether you feel that her comments over recent years are acceptable or not is irrelevant in this context. The fact is, this quote resonates with me and it always will.
Now that is out of the way, let’s return to the real reason for this article.
Happiness. How many of us rate it highly when we are looking at what we need in our lives? We focus on family, work, holidays, possessions and what everyone else is doing. Do we ever really give ourselves time to stop and think about what really makes us happy?
I know, you are reading this and thinking; “Kate, please, I don’t have time to think about eating my dinner let alone what would make me happy!”.
I know! I really do.
Life is busy and more so now than ever.
The last year has been one of the hardest many of us can remember. It has been a time of intense fear and anxiety for many people. A time when we lacked the support from loved ones we rely on so heavily. We have been alone, or with our little family groups for the vast majority of the last 18months now and even when we have been able to meet up with friends and loved ones or go out somewhere, for many people those things which used to bring us pleasure are now tinged with worry.
Many people have really struggled with their mental health during the global pandemic. Understandably. However, as Dumbledore says in this quote, we can often find happiness if we just turn on the light.
How often do you allow one small issue early on in the day to determine what sort of day it is going to be?
Your alarm doesn’t go off, the car won’t start, the kids can’t find their homework… by the time you get to school you have already decided that today is going to be a challenge, and sure enough, things continue to go wrong.
What would happen if you could turn those moments early in the day around to see the positives?
What if you could see the alarm not going off as some much needed extra sleep? The car issues mean that you walk to school and you get some more steps in before school? You could be grateful that your children have done their homework so that they have something to lose? Could changing the way you see things really change your whole day?
These may not necessarily all be practical changes in attitude for your circumstances but do you see what I mean?
You can choose to find the happiness by turning on the light.
You don’t need anyone else to turn the light on, only you can choose to find the switch.
Find the light switch.
The light switch for you might be making time to go for a run at least twice a week. That might help you find your happiness. Perhaps you have always wanted to tap dance so your happiness is finding an adult tap class. You might have always wanted to learn a craft or to spend more time with your children, perhaps you always wanted to find time for a massage every week… Whatever it is that will bring you true happiness, even if just for a few minutes every week, do it.
Here are some scientifically proven light switches if you are struggling to find your happiness switch:
It might sound like an obvious thing, but so often people forget that simply by smiling more we can trick our brains into believing we are happy. The mere act of smiling, or laughing, even if you are feeling really fed up, will release all the happy chemicals and make you feel happier.
Make others happy
If you are feeling down, do something thoughtful for someone else. You will feel happier because you have made them smile and who knows, they may even do something lovely in return. Double happiness!
Count your blessings
I know I harp on about being grateful and thankful for the things you already have, but that’s because it really works. Counting your blessings helps you to realise how fortunate you are and helps your brain start to look for the positives in life rather than those negatives that evolution has taught it to focus on. Get a gratitude diary and write down at least 5 things every day that you are grateful for and see how your life changes.
Meditate every morning
What if I told you that waking up just five minutes earlier and spending the first few minutes of your day in meditation could make you feel happier and more calm all day, wouldn’t it be worth losing just 5 minutes sleep every morning? Well it really works. In the same way starting our days with a few things going wrong can set us up for a day of disappointment, starting the day well will set you up for success. Just 5 minutes of mindful breathing or a short guided meditation could be the change you have been looking for.
Choose your fuel well
I know it’s boring but what we put into our bodies has a huge impact on our mental wellbeing. Our gut is known as our second brain because it really does have a huge impact, particularly on our mental health. Try to stick to the 80-20 rule. 80% healthy to 20% processed or unhealthy. By eating more fruit and vegetables and cutting our processed foods, sugary drinks etc your body will start working more efficiently, you will have more energy and feel great.
Small changes for big impact. Commit to being happy today.