I was recently interviewed by a local newspaper on the subject of happiness. Specifically they wanted to know what makes me happy and how I manage to stay happy. These were a couple of very good questions that I had to put some thought into and I decided that I would share the responses with you.
So please find following the top 10 things that I do to make myself happy and to keep myself happy.
1. Read books that can’t help but make you happy
For some people this may be inspirational autobiographies, for others a good self help books and some consider classic novel a form of escapism to a place that makes them feel happy about life. For me, a book that I read often is “BEING HAPPY” by Andrew Matthews, a legendary writer and guru in the field of happiness (who just so happens to live in Trinity Beach).
I have hundred and hundreds of motivational and inspirational books. I often get asked why I read so many of these types of books as I am already such a motivated and positive person? Well these books are a large part of the reason why I am happy and motivated (I hope this makes sense without going around and around in circles).
2. SPEND SOME TIME WITH THAT ONE SPECIAL PERSON
I think that most of us have that one special person who always manages to put a smile on our face and shift us from a sense of sadness to one of joy. It might be our partner, it might not and it doesn’t really matter. I suggest being clear on who that person is, appreciating the role they play in your life and thanking them for it. Then spend time with them when you need a bit of a life lift.
3. WATCH A FUNNY MOVIE
I love hilarious movies, TV shows or even live shows. If I need a happiness fix I have all of the Seinfeld series and the Boston Legal series on DVD. Watching a few of these certainly puts a great big smile on my face and changes my entire more.
When it comes to favourite moves, I love “Something about Mary”, “The Life of Brian” and other kind of silly movies that have one real purpose, to make you laugh and feel good. Then again Boston Legal, Seinfeld and Homer J Simpson always manage to put a big smile on my face.
4. DECIDE TO BE HAPPY
I believe that we can change our state of mind in a heartbeat. We can choose to be sad or we can choose to be happy. Often we linger in dark moods simply because we are stubborn or wallowing. Making a decision to snap out of it is a powerful remedy for the blues and I think that we can all train ourselves to do this.
So how do you do it? Move you body, talk out loud, jump up and down, and put on your favourite CD that gets you dancing when no one is around. Be a little silly, laugh at yourself. We all take life far too seriously and the tragic reality is that nine out of the ten things we worry about will never happen. So why on earth do we spend so much time worrying about them? We are in control of our lives. Choose to be happy or choose to be sad and you will.
5. SPEND SOME TIME VISITING THE BIG MAMA
By the “Big Mama” I mean Mother Nature. Nothing clears my head or changes my attitude better than some quiet time sitting by the banks of The Boulders at Babinda. I like to go really early in the morning, before anyone else gets there, have a quick (in winter an extremely quick) dip and settle back to watch the place wake up. There is enormous energy in this, the sun on your skin, the animals and birds going about their early morning activity and the sound of the crystal clear water bubbling over the smooth rocks. This is my emergency fix – when feeling really flat, I hit the road and after an hour, I am on top of the world. The drive back is filled with loud music, windows down and a warm feeling inside that last for a long time.
6. GET MOVING
I think that when we are sad we start to shut down. We hunch over, we get slow our movement, we look down a lot and we wedge ourselves onto our favourite chair and don’t move. In reality I believe that we need to get moving in times when we are feeling down. There is a strong link between depression and a lack of exercise and I really do believe that this is true. So when feeling flat I like to go for a long walk around the Esplanade, or do some beautiful Yoga to stretch the body out and help to sadness and stress to leave my body. Combing movement with great wholesome food and solid rest can’t help but make you feel better in every way.
7. MAKE A LIST OF THE THINGS YOU REALLY LOVE TO DO
I do this exercise in some of my workshops. I get people to write a list of the things that they absolutely love doing. Call them hobbies, recreational pursuits or just fun things that rock their boats. Make the list as long as you like but then write next to each activity when the last time was that you did it. If it is more than 12 months, it isn’t a hobby it is a memory.
This list serves two purposes. It makes us think about the things we really love to do and define them so that when we are feeling a bit blue we know the things that we can do to snap us out of it. Secondly it reinforces the fact that we don’t do enough of these things to prevent us from getting the blues. We tend to wait until we are down and then we try and fix ourselves up.
8. HAVE AN APPOINTMENT FREE DAY
I believe that the sheer amount of stuff we have to do on a daily basis often leads to a sense of overwhelm that causes many of us to despair from time to time. I make a point of having at least on day a week with a totally open diary – no appointments or schedules at all. This day is still a busy one for me, but there is no pressure to be places or to do things by a certain time. Instead I do the things I really want to do rather than the things I may feel pressured into doing.
9. SPEND TIME COOKING A GREAT MEAL
I love to cook and I really enjoy the whole process. Deciding what to make, buying the ingredients, making an enormous mess in the kitchen, playing loud music during the process and of course, sampling the wine are all a part of the enjoyment.
Clearly this isn’t for everyone, but for me, the thought of spending a few hours to cook a great meal (well of course that is speculative) with the final result being a great night spent with friends and love ones is perfect. Bugger the mess in the kitchen, that can wait.
10. MAKE A LIST OF THE WONDERFUL THINGS IN YOUR LIFE
All too often we seem to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do. I came across the concept of being grateful for everything in my life many years ago. I soon realised that what you focus on is what your state of mind becomes. The more you focus on the beautiful things in your world, and we all have them no matter how down we are feeling, the better we start to feel. Gratitude is different for all of us. Some people are grateful to simply wake up in the morning, others may be ecstatic about their Ferrari.
I spent some time in India and came across many people with absolutely nothing (and I really do mean nothing), who were the happiest people I have ever encountered. If you ask them why, the answer was simple and truly beautiful. They said when you have nothing, the slightest positive becomes magnified a hundred times. A good meal becomes the most magnificent experience. Buying a new pair of shoes means a lot to a person who has never had shoes, but it probably doesn’t mean quite as much to Imelda Marcos.
So if you happen to be feeling a little blue, I suggest taking a few minutes to think about what it is that makes you happy – then go and do it. Enjoy – be happy!