Cheesy title, I know! Are you curious? Is it possible to identify the keys to happiness? Scientists seem to think so. Marketing and sales people certainly like to think they can! The Government of Bhutan is giving it a go. Perhaps the subject is over-worked and yet, isn’t it the quest of every person every day?!
I would say that my whole life is committed to exploring the art of joyful living, which actually goes beyond happiness since I quite enjoy experiencing other emotions too. However, I do seek out ways that allow me to experience happiness as often as possible. Let’s admit, it’s pretty easy to get attached to it!!
So in my personal quest, here are what I, in my humble opinion, consider to be eight keys to (my) happiness*.
I truly believe this is number 1, and top priority, even if sometimes we don’t like to admit it. For me, community involves sharing, supporting each other through the good times and the challenges, celebrating together, moving on purpose together, learning from each other, receiving, contributing and giving back. Everyone has their place. Why is it so important for our happiness? It’s in our nature. True community allows us to feel safe, connected and that we belong. From firm roots we can stand to be all of who we are. And ultimately happiness needs to be shared!
2. Following your truth (authenticity)
To follow your truth requires you to be connected to yourself, to be clear on who you are, what you stand for, what you want and what feels right in any given moment. It is to discern between your truth and your conditioning. It is to truly, deeply value yourself and your right to be a happy, healthy you. It is to fully trust your heart and inner guidance, even as you move through limiting beliefs and fears. It is to be authentic in how you show up in life and how you relate to others. To follow your truth is to live on purpose. It allows you to be free and follow your joy. Yep, its a biggy!!
3. Embodied self expression
Happiness is not a theoretical idea. It is a physiological experience, involving hormones! You need to get into your body and feel it. Being the full and authentic expression of yourself through your physical body, energy and emotions supports happiness. For me, for example, this comes through intuitive dance movement and sound, through my sensuality and sexuality, as well as through bringing all of myself into every massage or even every hug. It is daring to explore and reveal and be moved by your magnificent and ever-changing internal landscape. It is being and experiencing all of you.
Healthy food, fresh air, exercise, rest, laughter, a massage, a hot bath, an early night, picking flowers, gardening, painting, singing in the shower, a holiday in the sun, a walk in the park, a yummy chocolate moelleux dessert! Enjoying whatever makes your heart sing. A good dose of self-love every day is a must I reckon. Take responsibility for your happiness.
Intimacy is connecting deeply, emotionally, vulnerably to another person. It is about opening your heart to love, letting your guard down, and sharing what you really feel and who you are. It is feeling another person emotionally and energetically, and letting their love in. It’s hugging for 20 seconds or more! Intimacy can be shared without words, but being able to communicate from your heart as well massively enhances intimacy. And again, happiness needs to be shared.
6. Spending time in nature
It nourishes the soul, as well as the body and mind. Tonnes of research (especially my own experiential research of course!) shows that time in nature makes you feel more alive, gives you a sense of vitality, improves your immune system, reduces depression, and activates parts of the brain associated with balance and happiness. As you soak in the negative ions and take a deep breath of fresh air, it seems to put things back into perspective. It brings you home. We are nature after all!
7. Being present – choosing happiness
Feeling your body (physical, emotional, energetic) and focusing your mind (where you put your attention) gets you present. To be present is to be in awe and wonder at what is real right now. It is to live in the question rather than the answer. How could you ever be bored or anxious if you are truly present in every moment? To be present doesn’t guarantee happiness of course. But if you are not present you might miss the happiness! And only if you are present can you choose to be happy, to follow what makes you happy or to be surprised by it! It is only NOW that exists.
8. Time with Self
A little bit of time every day to be quiet, tune in and be still in yourself. This is the most important relationship you will ever have. Whether you like it or not, it is for life! It can be an exquisite love relationship that needs to be honoured. Be still within you (so that can be through movement too) and listen. Open with compassion to the learning and guidance. Here is the potential to feel connection to Source or Spirit, something beyond your physical body. I like to honour Spirit by connecting morning and evening, and giving gratitude at the end of every day. It brings me incredible stillness, trust and yep, happiness!
So there it is, my reflection on some keys to happiness. Perhaps not the definitive list though I reckon you could fit most things into these eight points, if expanded on further. But of course, please don’t take my truth for granted. What is it that makes you happy? What would you add or remove from this list? I’d love to hear.