What is your path to a happy life?

Everyone wants to be happy. And although pursuing happiness tops one’s search in life, it remains one of life’s most elusive goals. 

Because happiness looks different for everyone — just like a whole lot of other aspects in life — many search for it differently. Some look for it in their spiritual life, children, spouses, careers and even material possessions.

 

The Dalai Lama once said: “I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”

 

Hence, irrespective of your version of true happiness, living happily is within reach. Here are some of the ways one can nurture happiness in their life.

 

Discover what happiness means to you

Happiness is when your life fulfils your needs, however, this too varies. For some it could be a healthy mind and body, a strong relationship with God or family. It is important to define what happiness means to you because then it will be easier finding it. 

Conversely, in our search we need not forget that one doesn’t need to have everything they want in order to be happy, for true happiness can be obtained by finding joy in what we already have, however much or little that may seem.

Pray and meditate

Buddha was asked, what have you gained from meditation? He replied, “Nothing, however, let me tell you what I lost; anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.” 

Through prayer and meditation, one finds peace and solace because during these moments, we are reminded that there is no need to worry ourselves about things we don’t have control over. This reduces stress and creates room for contentment.

Tame negative thoughts

Just because some of our thoughts are negative doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. 

Counsellor Jane Umurerwa says since the search for happiness often comes from within, it is very important to learn how to tame negative thoughts and live every day with optimism.

“This doesn’t mean that hard times will not come, but living with optimism means you don’t react in a way of helplessness when life gets tough. Accept the situation and believe it will all be alright, because it always does.”

She says that this doesn’t always come easy, therefore, it needs practise and relentlessness. 

Stop putting your worth in external things

Writer Max Frenzel notes that happiness is not a thing to be found, but more of something to be unveiled within ourselves.

He says, some try hard to be successful in order to find happiness, often sacrificing many things along the way. “Happiness is a joy. It’s like a state of flow in which we experience complete inner peace, stillness and calm. It is independent of wealth, success or many other things we believe will eventually make us happy.”

This state of stillness can be attained by focusing on things that are much more in your control than the distant future and our attitude and the actions we decide to take in any given moment, he says.

Spend time in nature

Studies show that spending time in nature has the ability to boost your mood and make you a happier person.

A walk in the country, or going for a hike in the mountains, can relieve stress and fatigue. There is something about nature that makes a person feel alive, so it’s no wonder that spending time in nature boosts energy and makes one happier.

Choose to be happy

Happiness is a choice. It’s vital to realise that we have a responsibility for our own contentment.

Umurerwa says it’s up to us to purposely choose happiness every single day.

“Circumstances shouldn’t hold you hostage, recognise the negative things happening to you but choose to focus on the positive aspects. Life is a journey, not a destination therefore, choose to live it on your terms and make this choice every day.”

Be kind to yourself and others

Human beings are not perfect, this is why life itself can’t be. They are bound to make mistakes and encounter setbacks in life. When this happens, you have to acknowledge your mistakes, commit to being better, forgive yourself and move forward. Do the same for others; care about people and strive to do good for them. Doing something that makes someone else happy makes you happy in return.  

Create a peaceful daily ritual 

It’s the small things that we do every day that create the biggest impact. Make time for daily rituals that excite you to wake up every day and appreciate the possibilities of what life has to offer. You can create a morning ritual where you wake up to scented candles, do yoga, read and take a warm bath. You can choose to give yourself a treat to a nice meal during the day, listen to an inspiring podcast or journal your emotions daily. Positive rituals create cheerful days.

dmbabazi@newtimesrwanda.com

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