How to Be Happy: 10 Ways to Lift Your Spirit

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How to be happy is something everyone looks for. Happiness is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Are you feeling like you’re a universe away from spotting that rainbow, let alone spotting that pot of gold? It’s okay, don’t despair. 

[spacer height=”18px”]Here are 10 ways to help you be happy and get that spirit of yours high again.

[spacer height=”18px”]On life, not on drugs.

[spacer height=”18px”]1. Understand what suffering is

[spacer height=”18px”]What are the root causes of suffering? Let’s use some yoga wisdom to explore this.

[spacer height=”18px”]Some 2000 years ago, an Indian wise man, called Patañjali, created a book; “The Yoga Sutras”. A thread (‘sutra’ meaning thread) of texts offering the knowledge of yoga.

[spacer height=”18px”]According to this book, the causes of suffering are five: ignorance of our real nature, egoism, attachment, aversion, and the fear of death (Yoga Sutras II.3).

[spacer height=”18px”]You can write a book on this (kinda like Patañjali did), but I’ll try to cover that in a few sentences.

[spacer height=”18px”]Ignorance of our real nature: this cause is the source of the next 4 causes. It means that you are not who you think you are. You are actually the universe. Yes, that’s right. You’re like a wave in an ocean. One with everything. You are the same power that makes the sun shine, the earth spin, and the trees grow.

[spacer height=”18px”]That’s cool, isn’t it! Just remember that and stop feeling sorry for your weird little ego-self.

[spacer height=”18px”]Egoism: we think that we are our brain, our body, our emotions. We’re not. This point actually says the same thing as the previous one.

[spacer height=”18px”]Attachment: clinging to pleasure. Ah, who doesn’t. When something feels good, we want more of it. Love, sex, donuts. When we can’t have that anymore, we cry.

[spacer height=”18px”]Aversion: clinging to pain. Ha! Sounds contradictory. Why would we want pain? But believe it or not, we do. Makes us feel alive.

[spacer height=”18px”]Fear of death: speaks for itself.

[spacer height=”18px”]Fortunately, there are ways to set ourselves free from all these downers.

[spacer height=”18px”]2. Do yoga; breathe

[spacer height=”18px”]First of all, there’s yoga. Yoga is a tool to help you enjoy life and get through the hard times. It’s not a religion. It’s not built on faith. Instead, yoga uses a number of concrete physical techniques that basically help you feel good.

[spacer height=”18px”]Most of our problems are created by our minds. And our mind can be “the ground for both bondage and liberation”.

[spacer height=”18px”]The essence of yoga is to control these “fluctuations of the mind” by turning our awareness to our breath, to the present moment.

[spacer height=”18px”]It doesn’t mean that you have to sit still for 2 hours, trying not to think.

[spacer height=”18px”]Rather, it’s about living in the present moment, in any way possible. It can be achieved by being aware of your breath or by losing yourself in any type of action, including exercising or washing the dishes.

[spacer height=”18px”]Here’s a little meditation exercise that is easy to do. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re not doing it right. That’s just a thought. Let it pass.

  1. [spacer height=”18px”]Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Make sure your spine is upright and supporting its own weight when you’re sitting. You can also sit on a chair.
  2. [spacer height=”18px”]Feel how your body connects to the floor.
  3. [spacer height=”18px”]Become aware of the rising and falling of your upper body on the rhythm of your breath. Now, start your inhalations from the belly up. Let your belly expand as you inhale, and sink back as you exhale.
  4. [spacer height=”18px”]Stay with this physical sensation of your breath. Don’t alter your breath, just accept how you breathe right now. Keep your eyes closed so you can focus more on what’s going on inside your body.

[spacer height=”18px”]3. Accept that happiness is not our normal state of being

[spacer height=”18px”]Happiness is not a given. I mean, we come into this world crying, and then we have sickness and death to deal with. Our destiny lies in a wooden casket. Or in a hot oven, just what you prefer.

[spacer height=”18px”]Suffering is part of the human condition. Of course you feel down.

[spacer height=”18px”]So what? Wouldn’t it be easier to accept that you sometimes feel like this? That you don’t need to be happy all the time?

[spacer height=”18px”]Why feel bad about feeling bad? Accept it and you will feel a lot lighter instantly.

[spacer height=”18px”]Still not feeling better? Good that we have 7 more ways to go.

[spacer height=”18px”]4. Go offline (after you’re done reading this article and liking my fb page)

[spacer height=”18px”]We spend way too much time online. First thing in the morning, we check our phones for messages. Last thing before going to sleep, we check our phones. When we wake up at night, we check.

[spacer height=”18px”]On average, we check our phones more than 157 times a day.

[spacer height=”18px”]That’s 3.9 years of our lives we spend staring at our phone screen.

[spacer height=”18px”]Why on earth do we do this? Maybe because our brain releasing a funny chemical called dopamine (“happiness hormone”) that makes us feel good every time we receive a text, tweet, like or friend request?

[spacer height=”18px”]That means we are technically addicted. Always looking to get our next fix.

[spacer height=”18px”]What also happens on social media, is that we see the lives of other people through a massive glittery-rainbow-&-unicorns-fantasy filter. Really, your friends do not look that tan in real life. They are not smiling their teeth out every single moment of the day.

[spacer height=”18px”]Their hair actually looks as crappy as yours when you wake up. Trust me, they do care about their #morninghairdontcare, and no one #wokeuplikethis.

[spacer height=”18px”]Try it, go offline for a while. At least leave your phone alone at night.

[spacer height=”18px”]5. Connect with other people

[spacer height=”18px”]This relates to point number 4. Did you know that the source of addiction is a lack of connection?

[spacer height=”18px”]No, not on social media; in real life. Connecting with real people is the key to beating any kind of addiction or source of unhappiness.

[spacer height=”18px”]Apparently, people with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relations give us a better feeling of self-worth and belonging.

[spacer height=”18px”]Look, we’ve all seen “Into the Wild” (if not, go watch it). Remember that “happiness is only real when shared”.

[spacer height=”18px”]Strangely enough a sunset becomes more beautiful when you are looking at it in the arms of your lover or when having a beer with your mate.

[spacer height=”18px”]6. Exercise

[spacer height=”18px”]When you exercise, your brain releases all kinds of happy hormones; endorphins, serotonin, dopamine. Yes, that’s the same dopamine your phone addiction gives you. Tiny difference here is that working out is actually good for your body and your general state of mind.

[spacer height=”18px”]You don’t need to become an athlete, just 20 minutes of focused exercise per day (includes walking) does the trick.

[spacer height=”18px”]7. Go outside and smell the flowers

[spacer height=”18px”]Sitting in your room doesn’t do you any good.

[spacer height=”18px”]Get yourself to the beach, the mountains, to a forest. You will feel so much better being surrounded by nature. Nature has a tremendous healing power.

[spacer height=”18px”]Try to actually smell a flower.

[spacer height=”18px”]8. Know that you are not alone

[spacer height=”18px”]Know that you are not alone. Every human being feels like this at some moment(s) in their lives.

[spacer height=”18px”]Think about how unhappy so many other people must be, especially those who are hungry all the time. That’s 780 million people according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

[spacer height=”18px”]You are way better off than like 10% of the people living on this planet. Lucky you!

[spacer height=”18px”]That doesn’t make you feel any better? Then read on.

[spacer height=”18px”]9. Find out what your definition of happiness is

[spacer height=”18px”]What does happiness even mean?

[spacer height=”18px”]Happiness according to the dictionary:

[spacer height=”18px”][hap-ee-nis]
  1. the quality or state of being happy
  2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy
[spacer height=”18px”]This can be interpreted differently by everyone. What do you think “good fortune” means? For some it’s counting money. For others it’s counting the stars.

[spacer height=”18px”]When I was 15 years old, I was wondering what the meaning of life was. Like all people do when they’re 15.

[spacer height=”18px”]My mom gave me a sweet little postcard on which she wrote; “your reason in this life is to seek your happiness”.

[spacer height=”18px”]My happiness.

[spacer height=”18px”]Not her happiness. Not somebody else’s happiness.

[spacer height=”18px”]MY happiness.

[spacer height=”18px”]Sometimes we stop ourselves from doing the things we love, because we’re afraid that we don’t meet the expectations of the people we love.

[spacer height=”18px”]What brings you good fortune, pleasure, contentment or joy? Go find that out, and do more of it.

[spacer height=”18px”]10. Make plans

[spacer height=”18px”]I don’t like to plan ahead. I like to keep my agenda open. But, I get extremely bored and chaotic when I don’t have any schedule at all.

[spacer height=”18px”]You may think that creating a structure for yourself might be the opposite of freedom a.k.a. happiness. On the contrary, it will provide you with much more quality free time. Like my  very first yoga teacher Peggy Hall says; “Structure creates freedom”.

[spacer height=”18px”]Why? Because when you’ve set yourself a task, and dedicate yourself to it for a certain amount of time (preferably max 30 minutes so you can concentrate better), you actually get sh*t done. That makes you feel productive. And that makes you enjoy your free time even more.

[spacer height=”18px”]11. One extra bonus tip

[spacer height=”18px”]Come join me on a Surf Yoga Retreat. Happiness guaranteed.

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Consult your physician, therapist, psychologist, priest, Shaman or any other qualified Guru for your health problems.

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