It’s an interesting question that experts, psychologists, and spiritual gurus are perpetually giving us answers to. Everyone is seeking happiness – some find it in a stable career while others find it in the pursuit of more wealth. Some find it in close-knit relationships and familial ties while others equate happiness to freedom and independence. There are Happiness Index reports coming out every year ranking countries by their happiness levels.
So, what is happiness and what does it take to be really happy in today’s world? It’s interesting because happiness means different things to different people. To some, contentment comes from high-income levels and material achievements while there are others who are contented with much less and are still always in high spirits. What exactly is the secret to being happy?
In today’s world, stress levels are much higher than they used to be, say in our parents’ or grandparents’ generations. While the world has seen a rise in incomes, which have grown stupendously, it’s an undeniable fact that stress levels are also much higher. Lifestyle diseases have become commonplace. This has also led to an enhanced awareness of creating a work-life balance, healthy living, eating well, destressing through activities like yoga and meditation and so on.
Also, read our article on creating a healthy work-life balance – click here.
As a reaction and response to the stresses of modern lives, simplicity is gaining ground as the new buzzword now. People are trying to simplify their lives – turning to spiritual activities and going back to the roots. Here is a small list of things you can do to create a happier and more fulfilling life:
Yoga, meditation and inner peace: Yoga is not just a set of exercises but it’s a way of life. It is a discipline, which involves breath control, meditation, and asanas (specific bodily postures), which are widely practised for health and relaxation. Healthy eating forms a part of this discipline, which originated in ancient India and is rooted in the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. There are many schools teaching yoga and it’s common in many countries across the world now. Similarly, meditation is increasingly being adopted as a means to relax and destress. It helps remove anxiety, restlessness, worries and stress and helps create a peaceful state of mind. Those who practice it regularly are calmer, stable, contented and happier.
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has said, “Meditation improves our mind, health and brings more happiness.” He also says that it improves intuition, innovation, and intelligence. Organizations like the Brahma Kumaris (which now has many centres all over the world) are also increasingly spreading awareness on how to attain inner peace through the practice of meditation. Indeed, “peace of mind” is the new happiness mantra.
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Forgiving others and not being hard on yourself: It is important to forgive others to attain inner peace; it is important for your emotional health and mental peace. Harbouring grudges hamper your own emotional health more than causing harm to the person you have a grudge against. If you want to be truly happy and would like to radiate that peace, then it is important to release past hurt. As you show compassion to others, it is also important to show compassion to yourself. So, forgive others and go easy on yourself.
Smiling often (even when others frown): Greet the world with a smile always. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “change the world with your smile, don’t let the world change your smile.” Smiling at all times can improve your mood so much more even on a busy and stressful day at work. It creates positive vibrations in your own body while also sending out good vibes to the people around you. So, continue to smile until it becomes effortless and your only nature.
Loving unconditionally: Practicing unconditional love is easier said than done, but one should keep trying for good results. A natural corollary to loving unconditionally is to have no or very few expectations in relationships. “No expectation” is equal to “no disappointment or hurt” (and if you are lucky, it often leads to pleasant surprises). So, practising the art of loving people and accepting them for who they are and not expecting them to be a certain way or your way. This is the key to success in relationships and often increases the happiness quotient much more.
Giving, sharing, and kind acts: Giving, sharing and being kind to others naturally make you a happy human being. Acts of kindness and sharing enhance your vibrations that are sent out to the universe. Sister Shivani from the Brahma Kumaris puts it beautifully in some of her discourses. The Art of Living (started by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) calls this seva – or serving others – which helps you clean from within while making the world a better place. Practising kindness in word, thought and deed leads to peace in the inner world as well as outer and leaves you a happier person. It’s not just acts of kindness but also thoughts of kindness which matter. Some examples of kind acts could be actually serving in a charity or community service, fundraising, spreading awareness, using social media to spread socially-conscious messages, and donations. While these are examples of kindness to outsiders, it is important to practice kindness in daily lives with near ones as well. Kind thoughts and speech are as important as kind actions.