When life smiles at us, we must know how to enjoy it. But we can also promote that state. These twelve attitudes help you to achieve it, do you dare to try?
Any time of the year can be a good opportunity to take stock, give thanks for what has been achieved and consider what you want to achieve. What do we want to do from now on? What makes us feel really happy, alive, enthusiastic and better people? Why not give it a try?
Although sometimes we act as if happiness resides in accumulating assets, fame and social prestige, when you look back and try to honestly answer these questions, you usually come to the conclusion that the most precious thing is not found in hoarding property and recognition.
This option is even viable in the long term, because aging implies progressive resignation.
Carrying out an activity that allows human and intellectual growth and in which one can feel that he is sowing something good for the planet and current and future generations, also helps to feel more alive and fulfilled.
In these moments of reflection, sometimes someone can feel frustrated if they suddenly sense or become aware that so far, they have not managed to make their dreams come true or that they still have a huge task to do.
However, there are many things that can be put into practice from now on to redirect one’s life towards a more conscious, more authentic and more satisfying existence.
We propose twelve small steps that can pave that path.
1. RETHINK BELIEFS
Matthieu Ricard, in his book In Defense of Happiness, defines reality as the true nature of things, not modified by the mental elaborations that we superimpose on it.
For this Buddhist monk, who left his career as a molecular genetics’ researcher at the Pasteur Institute in Paris to dedicate his life to the study and dissemination of Buddhism, things are as they are, but our interpretation and emotional response largely shape what it ends up being projected in all areas of life.
Thus, when you maintain a positive, receptive and trusting attitude, you are attracting greater peace and harmony to your own life; Whereas when thoughts of anger, hatred or envy are fed, or when a defensive attitude is adopted, the person isolates himself in an unhealthy posture.
Now, these attitudes do not arise out of nowhere: they are adopted based on the beliefs and values that are held, sometimes unconsciously.
When someone thinks he is incapable of doing something or thinks that others want to hurt him or gives too much importance to his material needs, perhaps he should review what he believes and what he is giving value in each circumstance.
Thus, he could live lighter of emotional baggage and act with greater freedom.
2. LIVE NOW NOW!
In this busy and automated society, people often live without conscience and in the deepest distance from what they do and what they feel, as the psychologist Walter Riso affirms in his book The Way of the Wise Men.
Thus, one runs from one place to another to fulfill work and domestic obligations, driven by inertia and duty, postponing to take care of oneself for when there is time or vacations.
Enjoying the present is getting up every morning as if it were your last, aware of who you are and what you are doing, giving thanks to life for savoring every ray of sunshine and every breath of breeze, despite having a mortgage to pay.
It is to value things in their proper measure and to experience what happens around with the capacity of astonishment, or to realize the wonder of participating in the miracle of being alive.
One only has to observe the immensity of the universe in the starry night to become aware of how small one’s problems sometimes are.
Practicing mindfulness meditation can help you gain the ability to live in the moment.
But you can also start right now: as we read these lines, life is happening here and now. Let’s take a deep breath and savor the moment.
3. KNOW HOW TO PRIORITIZE
Setting priorities is essential, as it is not possible to cover all fronts at once. Every day it is convenient to ask yourself: what is the most urgent and important thing today? And to attend to the responsibilities at a pace that is possible to assume.
A good formula is to write down on a piece of paper, at the end of the day, six objectives that you want to meet the next day, related to work, home, self-care, relationships with children, partner, friends.
Each objective is assigned a number in order of importance, so that the next day the tasks can be carried out, if possible, first one, then two … and so on until all six are completed. If any matter is pending, it goes to the first numbers of the priority list for the next day.
In any case, although setting priorities helps to order the mind and to eliminate much of the tension generated by leaving things pending, you also have to learn to stop and establish a balance between activity and personal enjoyment.
Otherwise, daily stress can lead to frustration and affect your mood.
If you have difficulty achieving it, in the same list of priorities you can reserve moments to do something fun or simply to rest.
4. EAT BETTER
It is not necessary to give up everything that is tempting or completely modify the whole diet from one day to the next.
You can start with a more modest and perhaps much more effective goal. For example: introduce only a small change each week. Maybe this week you can substitute brown sugar for white sugar; the next one, white bread for a tasty whole wheat bread with seeds; next time, sugary yogurt for dessert with fresh fruit.
The energy to stay vital and healthy is given through the body thanks to food, so take care of what you eat, without extremism, resorting to natural products, plenty of water, without abusing fats, salt and sugars, and enjoying the act of nourishing, contributes to staying in good shape for many years.
5. GET GOING
Today they lead a very sedentary life. So necessary, then, as opting for natural foods is doing some physical activity on a regular basis.
Activities such as walking, running, cycling or swimming strengthen and tone the body, help eliminate accumulated toxins and immerse in a time of its own in which it is possible to release the stress of the day and put thoughts in order.
Different scientific studies corroborate the efficacy of physical exercise in the prevention and treatment of diseases such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, osteoarticular problems and even cancer.
Of course, modifying habits, such as going up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator or going to work by bicycle or public transport, to walk even to the bus stop or the subway station, will promote better health.
6. TAKE CARE OF THE BONDS AND BUILD AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS
” You are because others are and others are because you are. We all exist, grow and mature in this unity, reciprocity and mutuality,” says Satish Kumar, educator, ecologist and pacifist founder of Schumacher College, a center of reference in holistic education and sustainable development of the United Kingdom.
Bonded people give us their time, generosity, and volunteer commitment. They raise us up when everything seems to sink and they are there to share smiles, complicities, satisfactions and also hard moments, helping us to overcome them.
Some keys to building better relationships are:
- Listen carefully. Letting the other express himself by looking at him with serenity and attention, showing that what he explains is valued, is essential to have a fluid, rich and healthy communication. If when talking to others you only listen to yourself, the only thing you get is the rejection of the other.
- Give up prejudices. Sometimes people are judged without having too much information about them and thoughts are created that, as the relationship deepens, usually change, because we realize that we share many concerns.
- Communicate without violence. Words and gestures make up the language through which we interact and are both fertilizer and seed of the fruits that are gathered from others.
- Recognize the virtues. Everyone likes to feel loved. Recognizing the abilities, good aptitudes or successes of another person and saying them from the heart stimulates them and makes them feel better and closer. It is not about making the ball, but about empowering it to get the best of itself.
- Forgive and turn the page. Sometimes relationships are clouded by misunderstandings and are degraded by lack of communication. In that case, it is best to talk to the other, apologize if he has been offended, forgive him, if you think you have to do it and try to analyze the situation together to turn the page, if it is still possible. Complaints, reproaches and negative phrases do not usually lead to a successful conclusion.
- Take care of the forms. As important as what is said is how it is said; Thus, using a soft tone of voice and kind and comforting words favors communication. On the other hand, the way the meeting ends reaffirms or denies what has been said. It is not the same to say goodbye smiling and thanking the company, or with a heartfelt hug, then with a fleeting goodbye.
7. BE GENEROUS
Research by Martin Seligman, an American depression specialist and pioneer of positive psychology, shows that the joy that accompanies an act of selfless kindness provides deep and lasting satisfaction.
In order to verify this hypothesis, he asked his students to dedicate themselves, on the one hand, to a recreational activity, to have fun going to the movies, going out with friends, having an ice cream and, on the other, to a philanthropic activity. Later he asked them to write a report.
The results were surprising: the satisfactions produced by a pleasant activity were largely overshadowed by those brought by a kind act. And it is that favoring those who need it can connect with a sense of unity that brings more meaning to life than all the ephemeral pleasures.
When a humanitarian or solidarity action is carried out, there is empathy with the people who are being helped. The human being feels useful and participates in a universal project that surpasses him.
Volunteers who dedicate part of their free time to simple but valuable projects are becoming more and more common, such as keeping the elderly company, helping NGOs, visiting terminally ill children in the hospital.
However, altruism can also be practiced with those closest to us, offering love and support to our elders and friends who need it.
And, of course, being generous with yourself without feeling guilty, taking care of yourself and giving yourself from time to time some of those little pleasures that make life happy.
8. FEEL NATURE
Sometimes our work fails us, other times a friend. However, nature is always there, ready to welcome us and make us feel better.
In it, not only our lungs and blood appreciate the cleaner air. We can also appreciate the beauty of forms that break with the rectilinear world created by the human being; let the thought take order, appeased by the tranquility of the environment, or enjoy the elements in their purest form and regain a taste for simplicity.
In addition, the immensity of the landscapes and the natural order with which the life of plants, animals and rocks passes, allows us to feel part of something greater than ourselves and to learn to distance ourselves from what concerns us.
And it is that contact with clean earth, water and air, hugging a tree, touching the moss or letting yourself be flooded by the shady smell of the road allows you to return to the source from which we come, offering us the possibility of experiencing nature as a part of us, worthy of love, respect and care.
Therefore, it is more than advisable to plan outings to the sea or the mountains. You come back more serene, energetic and aware of your connection with yourself and with the universe.
9. RESCUE A TALENT
It tends to coincide that the happiest people are those who carry out vocational activities that give them a bonus of creativity.
Although life often leads to jobs that are performed for money but that are indifferent, there is always time to develop that talent that was hidden: perhaps writing, perhaps dancing, drawing, cooking, perhaps returning to university…
Dedicating time, a day to that practice for which you had skill but that at some point was abandoned, can generate encouragement and greater joy.
To get started, find a good school or teacher and practice hard. Motivation and enthusiasm will go hand in hand.
10. RELEASE BALLAST
If walking up the mountain we find a fountain, to fill the canteen with fresh water we must first empty it.
In the same way, in life many times prudence is loaded with goods or attitudes that sometimes it is convenient to let go to make room for new opportunities and regenerative experiences.
Sometimes it is about getting rid of objects that no longer serve but that are still there, in the corners of the house, preventing something new from taking their place. It is convenient to clean up and get rid of them, although without forgetting that they can be useful for other people.
Other times it is necessary to let go of relationships that do not contribute anything positive, no matter how much force of habit anchors them.
Or it may be possible to get rid of feelings of hatred, anger or greed that settle in the mind by poisoning it and turning against oneself.
If you do not have enough personal resources to do this, going to a professional psychologist who offers confidence can be of great help.
11. STOP TO BREATHE
Sometimes you breathe the same way you live: fleetingly, superficially and without being aware of the miracle of being able to savor the breath of life.
Becoming aware of the breath, quieting it through deep breaths, inflating the belly, briefly holding the air and releasing it without fear and completely, allows you to reconnect with yourself and gain health.
We will probably feel better breathing less times per minute and more gently. Focusing on your breath also teaches you to savor life while it is happening.
When you breathe in, you feel the air penetrate the lungs, filling us with oxygen and prana or vital energy. As you breathe out, you imagine how we release tensions and stale thoughts.
12. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
Cultivating full awareness of the moment does not mean that you should not take into account the lessons of the past or make projects for the future, but rather that it is convenient to live with lucidity the present experience that encompasses them.
Practicing mindfulness meditation helps focus your attention on the here and now.
Matthieu Ricard, who has studied meditation and its relationship with happiness in depth, proposes this method in his book The Art of Meditation, by Uranus:
- Let us observe what is present in our consciousness, without overvaluing it and without allowing ourselves to be attracted or repelled by it.
- Let us contemplate something that is in front of us, for example, a flower. Let us listen carefully to nearby or distant noises, breathe in perfumes and smells, feel the texture of what we touch and take note of our sensations when we clearly perceive their characteristics.
- Then, at different times of the day, let us be fully aware of what we are doing, whether we are walking, sitting or writing, washing dishes or having a cup of tea.
- At some point we may feel that pleasant or unpleasant tasks no longer exist, since mindfulness does not depend on what is done, but on how it is done: with a clear and peaceful presence of mind, attentive and marveling at the quality of the moment present, refraining from adding our mental constructions to reality.
- We remain attentive, lucid, and aware of every perception or sensation and every thought, which first arises and then disappears.
- If we hear a sound while meditating, we simply turn our attention to the experience of hearing, without imagining or pondering what we hear. We will let it happen.
- Let us feel the freshness of this moment. Do we notice how a vast, luminous and serene experience is born in us?
These twelve brushstrokes that we have offered in favor of personal development are fundamental as the hope of an inner change capable of influencing thought, relationships and happiness permanently.