Today is the International Day of Happiness , a day that was established March 20 in 2013. The purpose of the day is to bring awareness the basic human need for well-being.  We spend so much of our lives worrying about meeting other needs, the need for shelter, food and resources to raise our children that our personal happiness and well-being is often not considered.  So today, I’d like to take the opportunity to bring some awareness and start a discussion about what happiness is, what does well-being mean for you and how can we spread happiness throughout the world.

Figure out what makes you happy and then do more of it.

Rather than focusing always on the list of things we must do, spend a little time thinking about what really makes you happy.  Short pleasurable activities done regularly lead to ongoing feelings of well-being.  When you regularly take the time to do something that’s just for you, just for your enjoyment, you send yourself a powerful message that you really matter; and that’s quite an important message if you think about it!

So today, on international happiness day, I’d like to invite you to take 5 minutes to write a list of things you really enjoy doing.  Perhaps that’s a lazy lie-in on the weekend, going for a walk through the countryside or taking a hot bath.  It really doesn’t matter what’s on your list. After you’ve made your list, choose something on it that you’re going to do tomorrow and just take a moment to appreciate the fact that you’re going to do something you really enjoy.

While you’re doing that thing that you enjoy, really take the time to appreciate and notice what you’re doing.  There’s no point doing it distracted or half-heartedly. Let yourself really be in the moment.

While you’re writing thing down…

You might consider keeping a journal.  People who regularly journal report increased feelings of well-being, better grades and healthier immune systems. When we take the time to write things down, to really focus on situations and our reactions to them we give our feelings validation.  By exploring our actions and reactions in the world we can gain greater understandings about who we are, put events behind us and move on with our lives.

Cultivate the art of compassion

Let’s face it,even with the best of intentions most of us still fall short at least occasionally when communicating with our friends and loved ones.  Sadly, this often happens in the very conversations that would benefit most from extra compassion and kindness.  Bringing a compassionate attitude into your interactions will change the way you respond to people and situations.  Instead of allowing yourself to be annoyed by the person dithering in front of you at the tube barrier, notice how differently you feel if you allow yourself to consider that perhaps they’re lost and need a hand.

Allow the attitude of compassion to change how you speak to yourself. Our internal voice is often incredibly harsh and authoritarian.  How might it feel if you offered yourself a bit of love when you noticed that you were feeling anxious and procrastinating about doing something?

If you’re not sure what compassion looks or feels like, you could explore the Buddhist’s metta (loving kindness) meditation.  Just find a space where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes and sit comfortably.  Allow yourself to breath regularly and repeat the following statements to yourself:

  • May I be filled with loving kindness.
  • May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
  • May I be well in body and mind.
  • May I be at ease and happy.

If your mind wanders, just bring it back gently to the mantras.  Notice how you feel after just a few minutes of repeating those statements.  Some people will feel incredibly uncomfortable because these messages are so different to what they’ve been telling themselves unconsciously for so long. But most people will notice that they feel calm and at peace, often hopeful and cheerful.

If you’re feeling like you could benefit from a boost in happiness, I’m offering a special for the month of March – book 4 sessions and get a 5th on free.  Together we can explore what happiness is for you and how to achieve it, all you need to do is give me a call.