Being happy can feel elusive sometimes. There is so much hunger in ‘chasing happiness’ yet the exact act of chasing happiness is the main reason why we cannot ‘achieve’ happiness – what a conundrum.
I joined the bandwagon of ‘chasing happiness’ more than a decade ago.
Feeling dissatisfied, I could not understand why I was not being happy despite career and family successes. It made me ponder if I was being ungrateful, since nobody seems to be openly bothered about not ‘being happy’.
The quest of ‘chasing happiness’ brought me to interesting paths – some require detour, some lead to interesting insights. Through journaling, personal development classes and books, I had a fascinating discovery: that I might have defined happiness too narrowly.
Naturally, as a true-blue engineer, I began to dissect the problem and began to see possible solutions emerging.
I find few of these frameworks and tips worked beautifully for me (hope you find them equally enlightening):
- Definition of happiness: This turns out to be the biggest AHA for me. When I started reframing the range of ‘positive emotions’ instead of ‘being happy’, suddenly many possibilities emerge. Rather than focusing on being happy, I started listing down all things (or actions) that make me feel joyful, in awe, satisfied, contented and accomplished. The list of things that made me feel positive suddenly grow by multiple folds. Being clear on these positive emotions had raised my awareness so I can incorporate more in my life. (And I learnt, I am not doing too bad in this arena as I previously thought!)
- Creating space to experience positive emotions: The power of setting daily intention of loving myself and creating ‘micro joy’ has been tremendously helpful. I know that reading, dancing, doing yoga, playing with my kids, connecting with people and walking in the park are the big things that create positive emotions for me, so I will incorporate 3 – 5 minutes of these activities throughout the day. The result? Magnificent. (I love things that require minimum effort with maximum results.)
- Physiology matters: There are many resources that point out that we can ‘trick’ our body to feeling joyful and happy. Simple things like dancing and smiling send powerful signals to our body and nervous systems that reset our stress response. My routine is either restorative yoga or qigong which have tremendously helped me cultivate the relaxation routine, which in turns, create the positive emotions.
Above all, I stopped expecting to be happy. 🙂