What is Happiness
“When I worked out how to find long lasting happiness, I realised that even if the people around me weren’t happy, then that still wasn’t happiness for me” - Sally Kellett
When I ask people “Are you happy”, the most common response is “Yes, I’m already very happy.”
Truth is, this is actually a very deep question yet people are very quick to throw me that answer. Most the time, I can see that they are not, but the ego always says “I guess so? I have a lot of good things happening around me that I should grateful for - a house to live in, a well-paying job, my family around me and I’m going on holidays next month! So yeah, I’ve got no complaints. I’m happy.”
This is a very common pattern that most of us have - finding happiness in people and things happening around us. But make no mistake, this WILL NOT LEAD TO REAL HAPPINESS.
If you have been following my story on how I got into mindfulness, you’d know that I went through this way of living in my 20s. I came out of that realising that we can achieve so much material success and still consider ourselves unhappy and unfulfilled. So when I decided to change this and live more mindfully, it became clear to me that REAL happiness is so much more than feeling happy on the surface, it’s not going to magically descend upon us and it doesn’t come from us searching for quick fixes in all the wrong places. Finding true, long-lasting happiness comes from within YOU. It’s a way of perceiving your experiences, no matter what’s going on outside of us. The only thing stopping us from being truly happy, is ourselves.
The 2 Paths to Happiness
There are 2 paths to happiness but only one that leads to real, long-lasting happiness. The hedonistic path is about short-lived happiness like when you book yourself a holiday or buy something that offers you instant gratification and satisfaction. But I’m not talking about this kind.
Mirosuna cares about the eudaimonic path where we strive for purposeful living and contribute to something greater than ourselves. We embrace the inevitable ups and downs, living up the good times and accepting that bad times are a part of life and can be seen as opportunities to grow. Research has shown that the more we learn to bounce back from adversity, the greater we grow as individuals, which leads to deeper levels of happiness in the long-run.
What is Happiness
Scientists define ‘happiness’ as the frequent presence of positive emotions over negative ones. Buddhism adds that happiness is a state of mind achieved by strengthening our positivity and using the negatives as opportunities to learn and grow as individuals. Even Oprah has revealed that the secret to her finding true happiness is switching off, doing nothing and being present. All these philosophies lead to inviting more good vibes and energy!
Each day we’re given a chance to choose whether we bring in more positive or negative feelings. After a period of time where I kept choosing to be positive, I looked back and realised how much happier I had become. Whilst day to day, I didn’t notice the small changes as much, I realised that over time, I had experienced a significant shift!
“But happiness means different things to different people”
No, this not necessarily true.
While different things make us ‘feel’ happy, ‘happiness’ has one meaning and here is my formula to find it.
My formula for Happiness
For many years, I thought the path to happiness was super complicated and had a million variables. Then one day, it finally occurred to me that it was SO SIMPLE!
By increasing our positive mind, body and speech and decreasing our negative mind, body and speech (MBS), we’ll be happier and over time, this leads to long-lasting happiness as you gain more and more wisdom and fill your life with positivity, love and compassion. Read my guide here as I dive deeper on positive and negative MBS - this is very important to understand first.
What real happiness is NOT
It’s not about feeling good 24/7
It’s not about sunshine and rainbows all the time. Shit happens, so when life throws you a curveball, don’t deny yourself from feeling what you need to feel in that present moment before moving on. Happiness is not just about celebrating the good times and pretending everything’s okay, but also how well you cope when life isn’t rosy.
What draws the line between a ‘happy’ and an ‘unhappy’ person is the way they interpret and react in these moments of hardship. One will see it as a moment of opportunity, whilst the other will see it as a moment of opposition and create a story around it. When I was on my holiday in Fiji, a grade 5 cyclone hit and I was stranded for days. My holiday plans were ruined and I had no food nor electricity. However, in this moment of disaster, I met and fell in love with a man who I now call my husband :)
A finish line doesn’t exist
Happiness is not found at the finish line. It is a state of being that changes over time based on what we’re going through in life, and it takes regular effort to maintain. This is a journey of allowing yourself to experience the full spectrum of emotions, the good and the bad.
Practising mindfulness has made me feel completely new emotions that I didn’t know I had in me. Not all these emotions are good - for example, I became a lot more aware of the irritation and anger stemming from my impatience. But on the flip side, I also learnt how to be more compassionate and caring to complete strangers. Once you think you’ve come a long way, you realise how much more there is to go and that the journey has no end.
“Happiness is a choice. It is YOUR choice”
Do you ever find yourself playing over an embarrassing incident in your head, or the time you had a very heated argument with someone close to you, sometimes even years later? That’s because our brains are genetically hardwired to be way more sensitive towards negative, as opposed to positive, experiences. This ‘negativity bias’ means that anything remotely unpleasant automatically leaves a much stronger impact on us and how we feel.
However, studies have shown that those who practise mindfulness can effectively rewire their brains by shifting their brain activity from the front right area (responsible for generating negative feelings like depression and anxiety) to the left side of the brain, which has been found to correlate with feelings of happiness, excitement, joy and alertness.
This is why happiness is a choice, and is one of the core mindfulness pillars for Mirosuna. You have the power to choose to be happy, no matter what life throws at you. For me, real happiness is about helping others on their journey, as I continue on mine.
5 Easy ways to find more happiness today
Set your intention: When you start your day, say to yourself “Everything I do today will be for the benefit of others”. This is a short, but powerful statement. I say this to myself everyday as it helps me make the right decisions of how I can be of the greatest help to others, which in turn makes me feel happy. What’s best for you might not be best for others!
Choose positivity over negativity: Challenge yourself to strengthen your positive mind over your negative mind. This teaching is the one to apply in your day to day. Strengthen the positive mind by spreading love, showing compassion, expressing gratitude, being generous to others and yourself, embodying good ethics and practising patience. Quieten the negative mind by managing your anger, letting go of your attachment to toxic things, overcoming jealousy, and moving on from deceitful and malicious thoughts and intentions. Each time something from your negative mind comes up, identify with your positive mind to overcome these roadblocks in a constructive way. This is a core teaching for Mirosuna because the repetition of this particular practice can be very powerful. Learn how to do this via my Mind, Body and Speech guide.
Do something meaningful: When you have one day blurring into the next, filled with this you ‘have to do’ instead of ‘want to do’, life quickly becomes dull and you will lose your spark. Each day, do something small that is meaningful to you, whether it is working on giving yourself timeout, reaching out to support a friend, buying water or food for a homeless person, the list goes on.
Find joy in the little things: while we’re used to celebrating major milestones in our lives, start finding things and moments in your day-to-day that spark joy - Marie Kondo style! Start savouring them today - taking a minute to relax and appreciate the sunset, smelling the delicious aroma as you’re making dinner, being in the presence of loved ones. These things are too often taken for granted, yet they’re such powerful contributors to our happiness. If we can’t be happy with the little things in life, we’ll find ourselves constantly chasing after the big things that may never happen!
Appreciate all acts of kindness: we’re generally grateful for the obvious things that people do for us but there are actually a lot of things that fly under the radar. Start noticing these small acts of kindness from now on (whether they’re from someone you know or not). When someone shows you grace, gives you a compliment or does something nice without expecting anything in return, stop and give them a genuine thank you for their act of kindness. Make even the smallest thing from someone, something big for you.
Everything I share is based on my personal journey and learnings that have led me to real happiness. It’s been an emotional journey, one that has had its twists and turns that have changed me as a person, for the better.
I’ve never been more certain that to make meaningful changes in my life, I need to create space for change. I’ve accepted that my life is my responsibility. I’m the only one who can learn to recognise and appreciate the positive and negative aspects in ourselves and what’s happening around us, in order to be truly happy.
It is a blessing that we can connect while you are on your journey as I am on mine. I truly believe we have the inner strength to create space for change in our lives that leads us to real happiness. I hope that every day, slowly but surely, you will find more meaning and happiness in your life.
“I can’t just wish for happiness, I need to sow the seed for it to happen”
Founder of Mirosuna