What Is Happiness? A Mindfulness Recipe
Happiness is defined as “the state of being Happy.” The word Happy is defined as “enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment.” And I find this definition even more fitting: “Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. While happiness has many different definitions, it is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction.” Credit VeryWellMind
There are many things that can knock us off kilter–a death, unemployment, poverty, debt, illness, loss of a relationship, etc. The pandemic certainly upped the ante of our unhappiness, anxiety and stress levels–people felt even more alone and isolated, particularly in the era of shutdowns. Being cut off from family, friends and disruption to normal routines sent people’s mental health and well-being over the edge. We talked to our screens even more but check this out: a 2018 article sites depression rates rising and this was pre-pandemic! “From 2005-15, cases of depressive illness increased by nearly a fifth. People born after 1945 are 10 times more likely to have depression. This reflects both population growth and a proportional increase in the rate of depression among the most at-risk age…a key reason for the continuing rise in depressive illness is that drugs do not necessarily “cure” the patient, and other therapies that can make the crucial difference are usually not in sufficient supply...”
Throughout my Life I have had some serious bouts of depression. By my late twenties it had begun to set in and by my thirtieth birthday I had a nervous breakdown. I saw no good anywhere and viewed everything through the lens of shades of grey. My Life was seemingly spinning out of control, and I felt powerless. Eventually I wanted out, I wanted off planet Earth. And I almost followed through with that desire.
What made me change my mind? I can’t specifically pinpoint the moment but I do recollect that in my misty awareness the notion that my best friend as well as my ‘brother’ would be frantically looking for me. So I went straight ahead instead of turning right and walking into the ocean that cold morning, As time went on, I began to come out of that dark place but whenever something didn’t go the way I wanted or I was devasted by the drama in a relationship, back into depression I would fall. I definitely was not Happy. About anything.
Life transitions were a reason to wrap myself in the blankets of depression too, the fear of change often felt unbearable and I would cry for days on end, gorging on sweets then curling up into a fetal position. Complaining constantly that things were not what I wanted them to be and fearful they would never get there.
So What Changed?
Very simply, I did. I got tired of being scared all the time, tired of feeling anxious and miserable for most of my day, my week, my year. I learned that if I could jusssssst shift the amount of time I spent wading in the streams of despair and wallowing in my feelings I could possibly have a different Flow to my day. I learned that what happens to me is not who I AM. They are just Experiences. Tools in which to learn from. They are a part of my story but NOT my story. When I was struggling to get my Balance, I would lament to my friends but they could always see what I could not, that I always landed on my feet no matter what was going on. So why couldn’t I see it?
Was it because I got wrapped up in living a sob story? Was it because ‘Whoa Is Me’ was a place I identified with as opposed to seeing The Light That I AM?
In the beginning it was wayyyyy HARD to shift my focus. I had programmed my mind to only see the ‘bad’ stuff based on criteria that wasn’t even relevant–who says you have to have all your ducks in a row when you hit thirty and why had I based my success on that? Why was that a benchmark? Who says to be successful in a career you have to do X, Y, and Z and if that’s not happening you aren’t having any success?
Who says you gotta have this this and that in Life and if you don’t you’re a loser? Who said that and why was I listening??? Those tenants had NOTHING to do with my Life, with my path, with my trajectory. When I began to challenge and change the narrative and Perspective I had bought into, that is when my Happiness Quotient began to rise.
What Is Happiness To And For YOU?
I started to ask myself that more, ‘Bird, what does my Happiness look like? What does my Happiness feel like? How do I populate my days more with it? I began to realize that I was Happy. I had lived my Life the way I wanted to, gotten to do and Experience some INCREDIBLE things and really have lived a Charmed Life. Even when things were falling apart, I lived a Charmed Life. I was unable to see it at the time because I so busy looking at what wasn’t working that I was oblivious to what WAS working. I was using a different yardstick to measure my Life and got so wrapped up in that narrative that I was blind to the multitude of Blessings I was in receivership of.
The focus was on what hadn’t Manifested in the way or as fast I wanted. So I was not an active participant in the groovy stuff, there was always ‘I’d be Happy if this that and the other happened.’ ‘Yeah, that’s okay but…”
Gratitude and Appreciation were not in my mind’s orbit. AT ALL.
Ask yourself, what comprises a Happy Life for YOU? Not a text book or fairy tale version of Happiness, but what can you do to enjoy more Happiness in your Life as it stands right now? Remember this definition noted earlier, “Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment.”
We get caught up in having stuff (or the absence of having stuff) thinking that will make us Happy. Criteria based on things like money, cars, houses, a “successful” career, having a multitude of followers and likes on social media, having our bodies look a certain way, having a family (if that’s on your list) and a romantic partner or partners. We use the presence or absence of this checklist to determine our Happiness or not.
And even if we get all that shit we still may find ourselves feeling empty. Happy momentarily but then it fades because Happiness is a mental thang. An internal thang not dependent upon things.
So if you don’t have any of the physical wants at the moment, can you be Happy right now? If not, why not? What’s stopping you?
A Mindfulness Recipe
If you want to cultivate more Happiness in your Life. Here’s some Mindfulness suggestions for your recipe:
1. Become Kinder to Yourself. Self torture and criticism ain’t yo’ friend. Have more Patience, Love and Care for and to yourself. You are in Process and a work in Progress. Evolution doesn’t happen in a day
2. Laugh more. About anything. The more stupid the better!
3. Don’t take yourself so doggone seriously. Lighten up.
4. Look for the best of things
5. Expect the best for yourself. You deserve it. Really, you do.
6. Say NO dammit when you mean it!
7. You are not all things to everybody. Be all things to YOU
8. Don’t expect another Human Being to be the custodian of YOUR Happiness. YOU are responsible for your Happiness, not them
9. Do more of the things you Love to do. Why? Because You Love them
10. Be in nature more
11. Begin, revisit and/or deepen your meditation practice. Breathe more baby, BREATHE
12. Work on your Perspective. If your thoughts don’t bring you Joy, examine them, toss out what doesn’t work which brings me to
13. LET GO OF WHAT DOES NOT SERVE YOU. Thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, people, stuff–release yourself from them
14. Look at your thoughts! Do you spend more time complaining or enjoying during your day?
15. This is a biggie–if you are involved in something or there are things that you do not like either Change It, Leave It, or Accept It. Anything else is madness–Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
16. Upscale your Perspective–are you a glass half-empty or a glass half-full kinda person? Even if you are a glass half full person, see if you can add more water to that glass, there’s room!
17. Learn something new and accept that you are learning, don’t heap criticism on your progress unless it’s encouraging
18. Perspective is everything (even though I basically said this, I can’t stress it enough!)
19. Understand that Happiness is your Birthright and CLAIM IT
20. Don’t sweat the small stuff! It really ain’t that deep
21. Get out of your Comfort Zone
22. Realize that Being Happy more throughout your day adds to you becoming a Happy Person
23. Tap more into the Child within, add more silly to your Life!
24. Go with The Flow more. If stuff doesn’t go the way you planned, it’s not the end of the world, make a new plan
25. Make sure you have not fallen in Love with being miserable. Don’t make an identity out of it
26. Limit your intake of bad news. Bad news brings you down real fast. Look at, read and listen to more things that Uplift
27. **Another biggie–Start a Gratitude Journal. The more you get in the vibe of looking for things to be Grateful for on da the regular, the more Grateful you will become**
28. Pay more attention to Happy People, what do they talk about? What makes them tick? If you don’t know any Happy people, Become the first one you know!
Perspective Truly Brightens The Landscape
When you are more Aware of your Perspective about things, you become more in control of where to direct your mind. When I began to pay attention to the moments when I was Happy, I was able to string more Happy Moments together because of where my head was at, I knew what to look for. Does that mean you will be Happy all the time? Uh, no. But you will become more astute to when you are unhappy about something as opposed to allowing it to make you unhappy about your Life. I found that when I fell into depression I allowed what I was unhappy about to engulf my entire Being. Unhappy thoughts spin into more unhappy thoughts, growing like weeds.
But the good news is that Happy Thoughts work in that same way.
So. Where are you sitting? More in Happiness or unhappiness? If you find yourself unhappy more of your time than not, what can you change that is within your Power? Remember this equation: is it something I can Change? Something I can Leave or is it something that’s better to Accept?
I welcome your thoughts and comments!
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