All emotions are valid; there is not one emotion that we should be seeking to erase from our range because with awareness and emotional intelligence, all of our emotions will serve us.
In recent years we’ve been almost shamed into suppressing our emotions and it’s been implied that being emotional is somehow inferior to being rational, yet for an optimum existence surely negative and positive emotions should exist in equal measure to make us balanced empathetic human beings.
That said there is an emotional state which can become our default through our own habits and thinking styles, and that is the state of Happiness. It doesn’t mean that other emotions will be swept aside, but merely that in the normal course of our lives, between the highs and lows, that we can choose to be happy.
Here are 4 habits that I apply on a daily basis to keep myself happy:
1. I stay aligned with my values. I’m clear about what my values are and I no longer allow myself to be steered outside them. I say no longer because there was a time when I was so afraid of rejection and abandonment that I would ignore my inner instinct when it made me feel uncomfortable in the company of some people.
I realise now that hanging on to people that made me feel that deep sense of uneasiness was not and never will be the route to happiness. Knowing, understanding and accepting myself; stating out loud my true values and endeavouring to live a life true to them was my first critical step towards happiness. A daily check that I’m staying true keeps me there. I listen to my inner voice.
2. I stay connected with people that share my values. People that I know will support me as much as I support them. I work on my existing connections and at making new connections in the same vein. This isn’t to say I avoid people that challenge me; I certainly don’t as I find that incredibly valuable.
However, I no longer make space in my life for toxic, negative, energy draining people. As soon as I made that decision for every toxic person I closed the door on, it made room for at least 5 healthy supportive people to enter my life.
Toxic people tend to monopolise, control and exhaust you so that you don’t have the energy or sense of freedom to embark upon healthier relationships. If you have people in your life that make you feel drained, nervous or uncomfortable in any way, it’s high time to consider saying farewell.
3. I practice mindfulness and gratitude daily. When my marriage fell apart some years ago, and I was sifting through the debris of the life I’d lived for 16 years it became apparent to me that I had not been living consciously. I had allowed myself to be swept along on the agenda of my partner; material gain was the number one driver and time with my family was put second.
This relates back to my first point above, I was not living in alignment with my values. I had little awareness of what my life was really about, so caught up was I in the forward momentum of the work and home life treadmill that I had little time to consider how my one and only life here on earth was being invested.
As I was living outside my own values, I dissociated from my life, I didn’t even notice how unhappy I was, I just kept moving forward like a lemming. As devastatingly shocking as the end of my marriage was, it has led me to a far greater awareness of how I spend my life and on prioritising people and not material gain.
Mindfulness and gratitude is a wonderful method of heightening this awareness, bringing me into the here and now, in appreciation of all the small and wonderful things that make life possible and the people that make it a richer experience. Being aware; without judgement of the past or concern about the future. Simply being in the here and now and being grateful for it.
4. I have goals and aspirations. I have a Dream Board on which I put pictures and representations of what I’d like to achieve in my life and where I’d like to go. I plan for what matters to me and the things that make my heart sing. Some are distant dreams and some are a little closer to becoming reality.
They are all tangible reminders of the things that are important to me. Having this in front of me daily, keeps me inspired, happy and on course for the life I want to live. There is no ultimate destination, every single step is as important as the one before and the one after, every moment is an education to be relished and built upon. Every milestone reached, however small, is a triumph.
So these are 4 things I practice daily to maintain my happiness. They do take practice, but it’s a practice that becomes a joy as the dividends become apparent. The dividends are too many to mention but include calmness, clear mindedness, improved relationships, profound inner peace and of course happiness. That’s not a bad return is it?
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