There is no right or wrong way to be happy. The important thing is to feel content and be joyful. You can nurture these happy feelings and I encourage you to do what happy people do every day to make sure that happiness is always on your side.
Don’t compare yourself to others
A sure way to ruin your happiness is by comparing yourself to others. It’s unfair and unkind. It sets you up for failure and it damages your happiness. The people you look up to are at that stage of their lives because they work hard to achieve their goals. What you see is the fruit of their hard work. It’s out of context and it’s irrelevant to you. Focus on your goals and on realising your ambitions instead.
Comparing yourself to people you deem “worse off than you” is just as damaging. It slows you down and it takes your focus off your goals. It gives you a false sense of superiority and it encourages you to be judgemental.
Accept that there are people who are better off as well as those who are worse off than you. Compare your success and failure to your own progress, not that of someone else.
You are not them and they are not you. Remember that and live your life at your own pace and to your own standards.
Experience more, buy less
Let me ask you this: would you be happier if you had the most expensive car in the world gathering dust in your garage or if you were on a fishing boat on a tropical island somewhere?
Material things have a short-lived effect on your happiness. You get high and before you know it, you are on a down again and in need of another fix.
Go to the theatre, see art exhibitions and broaden your horizons instead. Invest your money in discovering new places, experiencing new cultures and tasting new cuisines. Create new memories instead of stocking up on things.
That was one of the first self-realisations I encountered after the death of my partner. I never had the time to live in the present. Even when life was good, I was constantly thinking about moving on to bigger and better things. I never savoured the good moments. I never lived in the present.
Don’t relive past events (good or bad) and don’t look into the future. Look around you, enjoy your surroundings and this moment because life happens now.
It’s also very easy to detach ourselves from the present at social gatherings with friends. A big contributor to this is technology. Make sure you turn off your phone or better still – leave it in your car or in your pocket and don’t look at it every two minutes. It’s rude and distracting.
Make yourself involved and show your interest in the conversation. Listen to what your friends have to say and ask questions. These moments are precious and they enrich your life. Give them the attention they deserve and be present.
Read something positive
The reason I don’t go on news websites is because most of it is negative. It does me no good whatsoever to read in extensive detail about the latest political scandal or celebrity gossip. I don’t even have a television set for that reason.
Instead, I go to lifestyle websites and read about home decor, photography, travel, art and tutorials on how to improve my skills and/or learn new ones. I always make sure that I read something inspiring in the morning and something positive in the evening.
Listen to music
Music has this ability to affect our mood and influence how we feel. I find that the pumping sound of an upbeat track playing in my ears, makes me go faster on the treadmill in the gym. It even makes the weights I lift feel lighter.
We all have different tastes in music but its effect on our mood is similar – be it an upbeat club track, a soothing classical melody or a silly catchy chart hit. I have a playlist for most occasions and I encourage you to do the same.
Even if you only manage to compile one playlist, then make it a happy one. Put all of your favourite songs in one place and play them if you need a mood boost.
I do believe that you can nurture your happiness. Make more time in your life to do things that make you a happier person. Take time out, go and see places, meet people, listen to music and savour the moment. That’s what happy people do to feed their happiness and that’s what I encourage you to do more often.