Happiness - keep it simple
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
On the basis of KISS – Keep It Straightforwardly Simple – this is a simpler
page on aspects of happiness.
We all have days when we feel a little low. Some mornings you wake up
and life doesn’t have its usual bright sparkle. Everything seems like an effort.
And in northern hemispheres, the weather doesn’t help with sometimes
in winter no more than three hours of quality daylight.
Thankfully, there’s a lot we can do to shift gears from flat to fab, from hell
PYF - Put Yourself First
Yes, put yourself first for a change. When you are all give - rushing around to give to the family, to friends, to your work, to your volutnary projects, you can become drained of energy. There may be moments along the way that caause you to laugh and you might class this as fun because it makes you happy. But it is momentary and fleeting. Seeing an elderly person in a residential home do a comedic turn at a party can make you both funny in the moment, but deeply reflective and sad in the next as you consider ageing, mortality, how people are looked after.
Those moments are precious but equally precious is YOU and so it is necessary to put yourself first, top up your batteries, and have more to give. Being happy takes work!
Take time to research what works for you in terms of food, movement, attitudes. Don’t believe everything a medical professional tells you. They only know what they are trained in and are not equipped to talk of lifestyle and nutrition. Be aware, inform yourself, and make up your own mind based on best, latest evidence.
What is happiness? What makes YOU happy?
Top up your trypto!
There’s a neurotransmitter in our brain called serotonin, sometimes called the ‘happiness hormone’. It helps regulate our mood, behaviour and memory.
To produce serotonin, our bodies require the amino acid tryptophan. Top up your tryptophan by including plenty of the following natural foods in your diet; cashews, legumes, lentils, whole eggs (from pastured chickens), grass fed red meat (occasionally), tofu, tempeh, chia seeds, full fat dairy products (preferably organic) such as milk, butter, cheese, and yoghurt, oily fish (not fish-farmed).
Act as if
Remember the power of the mind.
If you feel lacking in confidence, stop, take a moment, and decide to act AS IF you were confident. Just standing up and holding yourself upright, or shifting from a seted slouching position, will make an instantaneous difference for the better.
If you feel unhappy, act AS IF you were happy.
If you feel miserable, put a smile on your face and hold it for one minute! Notice what happens!
Sometimes we must fake it till we make it and that is not about being phoney.
If you are miserable, lacking in confidence, walking along the street, feeling down, looking down and depressed ACT AS IF the opposite were true. Lift your head up, look up, speed up, swing your arms – act as if you were the smartest soldier on parade. Sometimes a shift in physiology is more powerful than mentally applying lots of strategies.
If you are perpetually unhappy and none of the above is working, seriously consider getting professional help. You may have a form of depression. See our page on depression. And no it's not all about getting a happiness pill!
We underestimate the importance of sleep and its relationship to our health and mood. Lack of sleep can make you grumpy and foggy and affect your sex life, memory, health, looks, and your ability to lose weight. But no doctor ever told me that - not even those in the sleep clinic I was referred to.
For a more comprehensive look at what happens when we don't get quality sleep, look at this page on the WEBMD website.
Meantime here are some quick sleep tips
Be regular! Keep a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and rising at the same time every day, including weekends
Be in bed early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
Go to bed only if you are sleepy - if you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and read or listen to soothing music
Make going to bed a ritual – ensuring the room is at the right comfortable and cool temperature, dimming the lights, having a toiletry routine, making your bedroom quiet and relaxing, lighting an aromatic candle perhaps
Make bed only for sleep and sex… not watching TV, catching up on e-mails etc
Ban technology from the bedroom
Limit exposure to light in the evenings, even in the few hour before going to bed
No large meals before bedtime, instead if you must eat, have a light, healthy snack.
Exercise and move regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
Avoid consuming alcohol in the three hours before bedtime.
Reduce your fluid intake three hours before bedtime.
Avoid sugar - eat good carbs!
There is a paradox in life (ok, there are many!) – carbohydrates spike our feel-good serotonin but they also spike our sugar levels. But not all carbs are bad.
Avoid cakes, pastries, high-glycemic carb and sugar laden food eg underground grown vegetables (eg potatoes, carrots etc) and instead get your carbs from nutritious and low glycemic index sources, such as oats, bananas, blueberries, brown rice, spelt fruit loaf, homemade muffins, gluten-free pasta and buckwheat pancakes.
Get your vitamin D – a daily dose of sunshine
Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common, especially in northern latitude countries where sufficient sunshine is lacking. It helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body and essential to keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Most of us need short (about 20 minutes), regular, daily sunlight exposure to help our bodies synthesise Vitamin D and keep us in brighter spirits.
Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources [1,11]. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
Get out and walk as much as you can and consider Vitamin D3 supplementation but also take with it, Vitamin K2.
Moving helps you feel good. But you must enjoy the movements. Don’t be a gym bunny if gym exercising is not for you. Listen to your intuition.
We areoften told to walk more; but there are some places where I dislike walking because, despite the beauty surrounding me, it makes me sad. Small, cramped woods do not do it for me - but give me wide open woodland and I feel ten feet tall. I like city walking, where there are lots of people and shops -but not just where it is blocks of buildings, and no vegetation or people. So find the right place for you and get out anad walk.
If dancing turns you on, go find a dance class or dance group. If not, strip naked and dance around the kitchen when no one is watching! OK, you don't have to be naked.
If doing resistance training works for you in the kitchen, go for that. A resistance training rope costs about £10!
One key to good health – physically and emotionally – is to move. When you move, you are also massaging internal body organs and that is physically good for health and well-being.
Even if you are confined to being seated most of the time, there are stretches and pulls one can do, there are deep breathing exercises that can help; even when seated, you can move.
When muscles are not used, they atrophy and die!
Movement enlivens and floods your body with endorphins that boost mood, regulate sleep, clear the mind, and “kill” pain.
No, not any old chocolate.
Eat cacao (above 85% if you can find it) – it makes you happy and it tastes good.
Quality dark chocolate is a rich source of plant chemicals that offer powerful mood boosting properties. (If you want the low-down these include anandamide, theobromine, tryptophan and serotonin; some of the same molecules that your brain produces when you’re in love!)
So love chocolate BUT resist temptation. Only have a couple of squares a day and slowly savor the treat.
Plan ahead and have a break
Having something to look forward is good for the soul.
The best time to book a holiday is before you actually need one. Leave it till you are at breaking point and it will do you no good; you will spend most of the holiday just winding down instead of recharging. Think of a break on a reagular basis, say a weekend away every three months, as preventative medicine, keeping you refreshed, balanced, positive and happy. It does NOT have to be expensive. Seek good deals on-line. Go visit a friend. Spend a few nights in a monastic retreat where the accommodation is often a pay-as-you-can basis, the food basic (so aids internal cleansing) and the atmosphere calming.
Find out what makes you laugh, what fun means to you, draw up your list and schedule time for fun. It means more than laughing at funny jokes.
My best fun times were with my dog and there’s plenty of evidence that pets
are good for our health and happiness. Pets can lower blood pressure, reduce
stress, help us manage loneliness and lower negativity. I found walking my dog,
throwing twigs for him to catch, playing scared when he run out of the river
and shook himself dry all over me, was immense fun for him and therefore me.
Watching and interacting with animals helps us to ‘get out of our heads’ and
give us a break from thinking about anything else!
If you don’t have a pet, you could volunteer at a animal refuge, take a walk in
a dog park or ask a neighbour if you can look after their pet.
This is not just about pets. What else can get YOU out of your head and into
your heart and have fun?
Above all – have a list of fun activities and use it daily!
Meditation, which some call mindfulness, has long been recognised for its benefits to our mental health and happiness. It helps alleviate anxiety, depression, and helps us manage pain, be more focused and as it helps us cope with the physical side-effects of stress, we feel more at ease and happier.
When you hit a moment lacking in happiness, try just stopping the world for 10 minutes (make an excuse and go to the loo if necessary) and take time out for meditation.
My best friend
What makes you happy?
The Spiritual approach
The circumstances in your earthly life may change, in fact they inevitably do – people experience poor health, redundancy, relationship difficulties, death, financial problems; these all contribute to life’s changes. We may have to uproot, give up a treasured relationship, downsize, or spend some time on our own. Our mortal life is ever changing.
But the Higher Immortal world is changeless – there exists only Love, only Love is real according to A Course in Miracles. So if you seek happiness then build your life on the Love of the immortal world. For all problems are a deviation from Divine Love and the solution is a return to Love.
Choose happiness. Choose Love.
Do not get hooked into believing that your happiness is dependant upon external, earthly circumstances, or (the approval of) other people. You may have a bout of poor health, have an occupational redundancy, relationship difficulties or financial problems, you may have to grieve – but you can still choose happiness, a Higher Route. You can choose between negativity or happiness. Or between Fear and Love.
All negative feelings are founded on fear and where there is fear there is also the choice for Love. You don’t need fear, or to cry, or to give up in despair. Choose happiness. Choose love.
Happiness doesn’t rest on your personal circumstances but on your thoughts, your attitude, your frame of mind. And on your willingness to choose Divine Living where you surrender your troubles and difficulties to God, as you understand God, where you seek Divine support to have the courage to always choose Love and Happiness, to shift any negative fear-based thoughts to thoughts founded on Love.
As you cultivate the attitude and habits of happiness, you will over time attract others who match the vibration of happiness. You attract people of a similar mind and countenance.
And in any moment, on each day as you choose Love and choose Happiness, you can “act as if” – greet people with a smile, praise people for the tiniest thing, praise yourself, praise your Spirit team – the Angels and Archangels, express gratitude to others and to the Divine, be grateful as many times in the day as is possible, for even the so-called things you think are negative or are going wrong. All is in Divine Right Order and out of the perceived negative comes positive.
And all this because today, in this moment, right now you choose Happiness, you choose Love.
The Little Book of Hygge - The Danish Way to Live Well
Be Happy - Robert Holden