About Happiness and How to be Happy
You can give any meaning or objective on a trip, but at first, when I started traveling my goal was to understand happiness. It is quite broad, but I have the satisfaction of feeling that although there is much I do not know about it, I do not feel the need to continue searching.
After 7 years since that trip, every day I believe more strongly that the answer lies in understanding the here and now. Still, there are other things that influence from the outside, and I’ll try to answer that.
Interpersonal relationships to be happy
I remember some time ago when I saw a documentary about a study related to happiness. One of the characteristics of this particular study was that they had followed people for more than 70 years, and had drawn conclusions about it.
The main conclusion has to do with the relationships that we are forming throughout our lives, since the better our relationships with family and friends are, the happier we will be. We know that hugging another person for more than a few seconds, makes us release oxytocin or also called love hormone, so hug the beings you love, and be happy.
Be at peace with God
On one occasion when I was hitchhiking, a very nice man stopped me. After talking for a while, he told me that he had written a book about happiness. It was not a long journey to go into details, but when I asked about what he considered most important to be happy, his response was to be at peace with God.
Although I did not understand it at that time, over time I have met many people who saw God with a particular, limited way of being. It makes a lot of sense that phrase that says “God did not create man in his image and likeness, but it was the man who created God in his image and likeness.”
When people see it in that way, they usually take a position of anger or separation with god, because they consider that God did something different from what they expected from god. It usually has to do with the death or illness of someone close to you, or unwanted situations that have arisen in life.
The conflict has to do with the way God is seen, since by attributing human characteristics to him, God is expected to intervene on our behalf. But death is something that is there, that reminds us of the fragility of life, and that if you learn from it, you can make a better use of those who are alive. It is difficult, but the fault is not from God, and I think that you do not have to focus so much on those who are dead, in order to take advantage of those who are alive. If life showed you how fragile it can be, take advantage of those you have, because tomorrow they might not be there either.
In relation to God, I hold on to something that a friend told me once when I asked him how one could approach god. He told me, there are only 5 ways to get closer to God. One is through love. Another is when we forgive. The third when we are able to ask for forgiveness. The fourth, through the feeling of gratitude and finally, when we are able to admire.
Basically, Mindfulness is about keeping awareness in the present moment, whatever we are doing. It is difficult for someone who has never meditated to understand, but our mind is constantly thinking and that does not allow us to live the present moment. With mindfulness, you can open a path to develop in a deeper way the present moment. Whatever you do, without having to sit cross-legged or with your eyes closed.
The benefits that this activity brings to life, such as controlling anxiety or insomnia, improve attention, personal relationships, creativity, memory, among many others. It’s becoming increasingly popular in Western culture.
Be Grateful and think that “Everything will be fine”
Despite the time I have been meditating, I can still see how I identify myself with certain thoughts of fear that go through my head. Every time I take a bus, the fear of an accident appears, every time I leave the house, the fear if I closed it properly or if I cut the gas also appears. Every time I’ve had a partner, there has been a moment when I felt like she could be cheating on me, or hiding something I should know…
- When you think about some friend or family member dying, for example, our mind does not have the capacity to understand that it has not really happened, and it feels it in the same way as if it were actually happening. In other words, you suffer prematurely.
- A study from the University of Pennsylvania determined that 91% of our concerns never actually happen.
- The secret and some sages say that our life is a direct consequence of our thoughts, and although we can use it to our advantage if we do not know to do it, we could be attracting all our fears to our life.
Avoid thinking a lot about tragedies because it is suffering that we are adding to our life even though it hasn’t even happened. If it happens, live it, if it doesn’t, don’t waste your energy. Every time a thought of concern comes, use a mantra like “everything will be fine” so you don’t keep thinking about it. Decree positive, not negative, things. Observe your thoughts, and every time you find yourself thinking about something negative, change it and make it positive.
If you feel depressed and you can’t find any reason to smile, be grateful. Make a list of the things you have to be thankful for, such as the people who love you, the healthy body that allows you to move, the food you have available, the possibility of breathing and living…
Add a little Vulnerability to Life
I once saw out there, in a ted talk, the importance of vulnerability in our lives to be happy. It seems that at a certain level where we have everything under control, which under the logic of most of society leads us to be happier, the effect is just the opposite. And what better way to add vulnerability to our own than to travel.
For a few days you can undergo a totally random experience, full of random moments that will fill your life with vulnerability. And beyond that, the dalai lama has recommended to ing at least once a year to a place you have never visited before, and we all know that buying moments or experiences is much more rewarding than buying objects. What are you waiting for?
Finally, another aspect that brings more vulnerability to life is love. Loving opens a space of vulnerability in your being, but that at the same time fills you with happiness.
Take care of your present
What is the point of spending all your routine time working for just a few days of gratification a year? Whatever the conditions you are in, always seek to make your day incredible.
Groom yourself before leaving, seek to dress well, in a way that you feel comfortable, as this will make you feel more secure and consequently happier. Don’t overdo it either, seek to feel comfortable, how would you go to the last party of your life? With high shoes that make you suffer for hours or with shoes that allow you to dance and feel free?
Do activities that make you feel good like listening to music, reading a book, watching a movie, going out to take pictures, playing an instrument, painting, meditating or doing yoga, whatever it is but include those things that you like in your daily routine .
Be nice to the people around you, always seeking to make them have a good time when they are with you. Do things that are transformed into good memories, so there will come a point where you will look at the past and only see good memories. Surround yourself with photos in your room that bring to your mind pleasant memories, thus you will attract more good moments, and also will make you feel surrounded by good vibes, which will increase your happiness.
Become aware of the change and flow with it
Change is the only permanent thing in life and in the universe.
Changing always involves getting out of our comfort zone, even when we are living an unhappy life. Steve Jobs once related that he looked in the mirror every morning and wondered if he was happy. If the answer was negative for several days in a row, he forced himself to change something in his life in order to make it happier. For some reason, he managed to become who he was. Most of us are of the idea of keeping something bad that we know, instead of trying something new.
When you travel, remember that you are traveling, if you don’t like something, keep moving. If something doesn’t make you happy in your life, stop doing it. Always, change brings something new and positive.
Seek happiness, and do not stop until you find it. Take risks, if something goes wrong, change, and change again if necessary.
See the Half Full Glass
Something fundamental in life, and when traveling, is to focus on the glass half full. There will always be difficulties and difficult times, but also, there will always be things to be thankful for and things to take advantage of. Our mind by focusing on any of the two generates reactions that make us feel the same moment as pleasant or unpleasant, depending on what we have in mind. Somehow, under any situation, being happy or unhappy is equally possible. At a certain level of consciousness, being happy ends up in making a decision.
Whenever you are faced with a difficult situation that makes you unhappy, focus on what to be thankful for. You will always find something. Chilean psychologist Pilar Sordo once told of an experience when she was attending a blind person and she asked him to write a list of things that he would be thankful for. Upon leaving the consultation, she questioned her request, as she felt that perhaps she had asked too much. The incredible thing is that the next day, when this person came to his office, she was impressed with the 3 pages of things he wrote. Simple things like “the smell of coffee in the morning”, “feeling the bubbles of coca-cola in my nose”, “the sun hitting my face when I walk”, “The temperature of the shower in the morning”, were some of the things that person wrote.
There is a documentary called “Life in a day”, where as the 24 hours of a day goes on, they connect with videos of people living different moments of each hour depending on where they were. While some slept, others worked or ate breakfast, and so on. In addition to this, there were 3 questions that people had to answer. One of them was what do you love? to which a person responds with the word Mamihlapinatapai. This word has the Guinness record as the word with the most complex meaning explained in a word. It is from the Yagan language, from the natives of Tierra del Fuego, and it means “A look between two people, each of whom expects the other to start an action that they both want but that neither are encouraged to start.” A word that calls us to become aware of each moment, and to enjoy each stage of everything that happens to us.
Lead a diet and a healthy life
One of the things that most influences being happy has to do with health. If we are not well in terms of health, we usually feel pain or unpleasant sensations in the body that make it impossible to be happy. In that sense, eating a healthy diet seems to be the key to this.
Studies done in the so-called blue zones of the world, or older cities, where although they smoke the same, that some are overweight, or do not care about their health, for various reasons they live longer. Among the reasons for this are the fact that they carry out physical activity naturally in their day-to-day life, such as walking a lot daily, eating foods of natural origin or little processed, leading to a relaxed life, and with a lot of socialization. Some experts say that just 30 minutes a day of exercise is better than an antidepressant.
One does not think much about this, but every molecule that our body has, comes from the sun, air and mainly food. We are what we eat, and therefore we have to be careful with what we put in our mouths.
In relation to the same, eat fruit, it is the ideal food for our digestive system. Remember that we are an evolution of the monkey, an animal that feeds mainly on fruits and we share the same characteristics in the digestive system. Do it hopefully in the morning, before other foods, since it is digested faster.
Helping others helps us to be happier, therefore, we make the invitation to help others. You can practice this in simple things like asking how someone feels, to things like helping with food or money to those who need it.
I recently asked to my dad about simple things that he remembers that have generated happiness to him. His example was once when he gave a person a tea with a sandwich. A moment that he considers simple, in which despite the fact that no one asked him, nor later thanked him, he felt good. And although more than 20 years have passed from that moment, not only does he remember it, but so do I.