There is an unlimited list of things you can do on a daily basis to support your journey. As you know if you have already worked with me, I like to empower my clients (and now my readers) with the right tools to find their true calling and career purpose. In my previous post, “Happy Mind, Happy Life,” I said that only you could define what happiness is for you. Now, I have selected eight essential actions to keep you going, and I invite you to contact me for support when needed.
This list is a good starting point to find balance on your happiness journey, a great beginning to find your perfect happiness routine:
1.- Become more mindful in your way of being with yourself and with others. This will allow you to be more present to your here and now. In other words, it will help you become more aware of what is around you -- what you can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste -- and what is happening inside of your mind/body -- your thoughts and feelings. It's about learning to observe yourself and the environment without getting caught up in thinking too much or worrying about it.
In addition, mindfulness has been shown to help us be healthier, less affected by stress, more relaxed, more creative, more open to learning, to sleep better, improve our relationships with others and feel happier and more satisfied with our lives. What a gift!
2.- Express gratitude to yourself and to others. Every new day and new action you take leads to a new way to say, “thank you” for being alive. Everything we experience is something to be grateful for. There is actually always something to be grateful for, we simply need to look within us and around us. Through continued gratitude we will feel rivers of bliss running through our body knowing how fortunate we are to have what we have.
Life is short. Don’t get hung up on what you don’t have -- that leads to disappointment and suffering. Sometimes there are situations that are not ideal, but stopping the negative thinking and becoming mindful of what can be appreciated are the first steps in changing those situations. Are you feeling that it’s difficult to find something to be grateful for? You can always get down to the basics… “Thank you for this breath that gives me life,” or “Thank you for the knowledge I just gained.” Say it or feel it, it doesn’t matter how you express gratitude, as long as the conscious intention is there. As Paul Bloom states: “We are constituted so that simple acts of kindness, such as giving to charity or expressing gratitude, has a positive effect on our long-term moods. The key to the happy life, it seems, is the good life: a life with sustained relationships, challenging work, and connections to community.”
3.- Forgive yourself for yesterday’s mistake. Everything is in a constant state of change… it’s the only constant there is. We change all the time whether we realize it or not. We are not the same person we were yesterday, a year ago, or a decade ago. Continuing to relive mistakes and failures or feel guilty because of them just prolongs suffering. We have all suffered enough.
We all make mistakes, engaging in actions or reactions we later regret. Forgiveness benefits you more than anyone else. Through forgiveness we stop holding on to the cause of our suffering. My advice is to admit that you made a mistake and understand that while you can’t change the past, you can create a new present. No need to add any unnecessary suffering to your life. Look at your shadows, recognize their transient nature and then let them go, being grateful for what they allowed you to learn.
4.- Create a list of actions to accomplish everyday. Acknowledging what you want to accomplish allows you to visualize your goal, make it more real in your mind and keep yourself in check. This is a tracking system for your mind and body to keep aware of your own progress. If it's hard for you to keep up with changing habits, creating a list of actions to help you accomplish your goal will be the best FREE assistance you can ever find. This easy-to-do action plan will be key to your transformation. Take 2 minutes or 20, whatever works best for you; just make sure your actions are written down to create achievable and measurable results. Don't set yourself up for failure by listing irrational goals; this could be an unconscious destructive habit. For example, say I want to start exercising. Well, I am not going to start by writing, “Run 10 miles a day.” This would constitute a plan for failure. Perhaps you could write, “Walk for 30 minutes around the neighborhood and stretch for 10 minutes” or “play a YouTube video to do guided yoga for 30 minutes twice a week.”
5.- Pause several times a day to take at least five long deep breaths. Did you know that breathing detoxifies and releases toxins? The body is designed to release 70% of its toxins through breathing. Incredible, right? If you are not breathing effectively, you are not properly ridding your body of its toxins and so other systems in your body must work overtime, which could eventually lead to illness. When you exhale air from your body you release carbon dioxide that has been passed through from your bloodstream into your lungs. Carbon dioxide is a natural waste of your body's metabolism.
Moreover, breath is incredibly powerful and can take us into transcendental states of consciousness where we become masters of our inner fire and freedom. Pay attention to your breathing: oxygenation of the brain reduces high anxiety levels. Breathe slowly, deeply and purposefully into your body. Notice any places that are tight and breathe into them. As you relax your body, you may find that the breathing brings clarity and insights to you as well.
We often baseline to shallow breathing, which may sustain our lives but it will not optimize them. Breathe in and breathe out deeply for as long as is comfortable… s l o w l y. To enhance your breathing, you can get some essential oils such as lavender to relax your nervous system, or eucalyptus to activate it; you will feel refreshed. If you are interested in learning more about aromatherapy, I'll be happy to share what I know. Just make a note in the comment section. I have plenty of tips to share with you!
6.- Smile for no reason — just flex the muscle. Smiling is one of the best free life hacks we have. You know how difficult it is to stay angry or not feel better when you are smiling. All that serotonin and all those endorphins flooding your brain chemically cure melancholia, depression, anxiety and so many other illnesses. The pronoia sets in and you get off to a great start for the new day. Smiling has been shown to reduce stress, reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system. I know it is not easy to keep smiling in stressful situations, but given its healthy benefits, smile and get elevated!
7.- Play your favorite song. Turning on your favorite tunes can make you instantly happy by helping lower your stress levels, alleviating pain, pumping up your energy, and bringing back good old memories. All of this happens because music prompts numerous brain changes linked to emotions and abstract decision making. When you listen to music, much more is happening in your body than simple auditory processing. Music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, a part of your brain that releases the feel-good chemical dopamine and is involved in forming expectations. Also, listening to music stimulates your brain, boosts concentration and can elevate your mood, because music is unique in its ability to affect both the right and left sides of the brain.
For example, relaxing with music for 30 minutes a day lowers the stress hormone cortisol better than chilling out in silence. Imagine: deep breathing while listening to music eases anxiety as effectively as a massage.
8.- Watch/read/listen to something that makes you laugh, especially at the beginning of the day -- and for sure, do it right after a negative or challenging circumstance. Laughing can temporarily relieve pain and provide a variety of mental, emotional and bodily benefits. There is evidence that laughing relieves stress and tension, which can prevent mood disorders like anxiety and depression. When we laugh, our body releases endorphins, which are natural feel-good hormones. In addition, humor can make people more resilient when they are faced with problems and difficulties.
Laughing can increase antibodies, which fight against infection by increasing immune cell levels. This happens because laughing decreases stress hormones and enhances resistance and resilience against diseases. Another thing is that laughter can positively affect breathing; it releases air from the lungs providing cleansing benefits. When a person laughs hard, it resembles deep breathing action, and this is beneficial for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Let us not forget that humor is infectious. The sound of a person laughing is more contagious than a yawn; it binds people closer together thus increasing happiness, as well as intimacy. It fosters positive relationship among families and friends. What is more, it is a powerful antidote to stress, hurt, and conflict. It brings the mind and the body back into balance, lightens the sense of struggle, and inspires hope and connecting to others.
Listen to the depths of your soul and know that most people's negative words are echoes of their own fears about life and striking out—having nothing to do with you. Every day we are faced with stories that remind us of our own mortality as human beings, so make the best out of it by filling your life with people and experiences that make your heart sing. I always say, “A happy mind is a happy life.”
Check my previous blog post about happiness! Share your favorite tips for happiness in the comment section, our readers and I would love to learn from you too ;)