When she’s not in a courtroom or at a legal conference, mindfulness expert and yoga guru, Mona Tashroudian, shares her healthy living secrets in our “Ask a Mindfulness Expert” column. Come back the second Monday of each month for Tashroudian’s actionable tips to help you on your journey to becoming your healthiest, happiest self. Get more from Mona on her blog Mindfulness Law.
It’s the middle of the day, you’re sitting at your desk, feeling slightly anxious and a little frustrated. All of a sudden, you start to daydream about how much happier you will be, in the future when a certain event happens (i.e., when you finally take your vacation, when that life-sucking project is finally over, when you meet the spouse of your dreams, etc.)
Sound familiar? These thoughts, which I call “delaying happiness,” are common and are shared by all humans. But, what most people are not aware of, is that these thoughts can actually be sabotaging your pursuit of happiness, and negatively influencing your career, relationships, and well-being. Why is that, you ask? Usually, when the event we think will bring us happiness occurs (such as, when we finally finish that project that had us up until midnight for two weeks), we usually experience only an ephemeral feeling of happiness. Don’t get me wrong, we do indeed feel happiness when these events occur, but while we were patiently waiting for the event to occur, we were probably experiencing a little bit of misery or discontent. After our “happy” event takes place, we soon look to yet another event in the future to which to attach our happiness. This new event, we tell ourselves, will bring us even more happiness. But until that happens, we are again miserable or unhappy.
Notice a pattern? For some, this cycle of prolonged unhappiness, sprinkled with intermittent happiness, is a way of life. The solution? Practice being happy NOW. Allowing the phrase “I’ll be happy when…” to helm life’s course puts too much emphasis on events, and happy events don’t lead to happiness. Instead, focus on being happy right now. This means practicing being happy both on the good days, and even more on those bad days. Just imagine if each day was filled with that feeling of joy you thought you could only get from something “great” happening in your life. Sounds pretty good to me.
That being said, scroll down for 3 simple habits you can adopt to find happiness every day.
Find joy in TODAY.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Find something, every day, which makes you happy. Only you know what that happy trigger is. For me, it usually involves moving my body (hot yoga, hiking, walking) or connecting with family and friends. For others, it might be watching cat bloopers on the internet, or playing with your children. This one is personal and specific for each person. Once you are able to cultivate the feelings of joy on a daily basis, you will begin to notice more events and circumstances in your daily life that bring you joy. As the Greek philosopher Plato once said “likes tend toward likes” (or like attracts like).
Accept What Is.
The good, and the bad. Have you ever heard the phrase “what we resist, persists? Well, if not, now you have. I love to remind myself of this phrase, especially when I notice I am resisting something in my life. It could be the way I am feeling in regards to a person, a situation, or an event. I learned that when I turn to stillness and just let go of my thoughts of resistances, things find a way of seamlessly working themselves out. This is because once we move out of the “driver’s seat”, and out of our own way, we invite the universe to do its job of supporting us. Attaching negative energy by way of resisting will only block any good that is bound to flow to you. Letting go of all this resistance often leads to a sense of relief, and happiness.
Be Grateful—Even for the Small Things.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; the readiness to show appreciation. Put another way, being grateful is changing the lens by which you view something. I could look at a flat tire and be annoyed that, well, my tire is flat. Or, I could put on my “gratitude glasses” and think how lucky I am that I have a car, and don’t have to walk 21 miles along the 405 freeway to get to work. Changing your lens is easy, and you can start small. You don’t need to win the lottery to start showing gratitude. You can start by being grateful for the small things in your life, like fresh air, fresh water, or the ability to walk using both your legs. Many people are not so fortunate to have these things. Once we get in a habit of being grateful, more things will appear in our life to be grateful for. And what is the feeling associated with gratitude? You guessed it—happiness. Write your list down, or tell it to a friend. Soon, there will be an abundance of things you can be grateful for in each day.
Pick up more happiness habits with the books below!
What daily habit makes you happy? Share your daily rituals, tips, and advice in the comments below!