We're told that we can't find happiness in a bigger bank balance or in a smaller dress size. So if we can't search for it, how can we have more of it? Christine Dominguez talks to happiness expert Robert Holden to find out.
Happiness can seem like a kind of catch 22 situation: you say to yourself that you'll be happy once you get your dream job or meet your ideal partner but being happy is what attracts these great things in your life in the first place.
To get out of this trap, Robert Holden, happiness expert and author of Be Happy, says it's important to think about your definition of what happiness is because it will influence every other significant area in your life.
"Nothing can make you happy, except you. Once you accept that happiness already exists in you, you will begin to experience more happiness around you," he says.
"If you think happiness is outside you, you will make happiness into a search, a catch, or a reward you must earn. If, however, you know happiness is inside you then happiness becomes a compass, a teacher, and an enabler that helps you to live your best life."
He offers five simple ways we can start boosting our feel-good factor now.
1. Play 'the 10 percent game"'
To play this game, you set an intention to be 10 percent more open to life. The purpose of this game is to notice what effect your intention has on you, on everyone else, and on your day as a whole. Here are a few suggestions for you:
- More receptive: "Today I will be 10 percent better at receiving help, love, and support from others."
- More authentic: "Today I will be 10 percent less edited and 10 percent more real."
- More accepting: "Today I will be 10 percent more accepting of myself, others, and of my life."
2. Make a 'priceless' list
Make a list of everything in your life that costs no money, is totally priceless and that you are grateful for, such as laughter, friendship, air, kindness and the stars at night. Being grateful will make you happier because it's impossible to be grateful and depressed. Gratitude is often referred to as the shortcut to happiness.
3. Be present
Nothing wastes more energy than worrying about the past or future. Not living in the present is a chief cause of unhappiness. We do it because we fear that happiness is somewhere else. Your greatest opportunity for happiness has been, will be and still is now. No now, no life. The good news is, however, it is never too late to be present and to really show up in your life. Your happiness score increases the more present you are in your life.
4. Spend time with those you love
More of us are seeing less of our closest friends than ever before. The main reason people give is their busyness. To experience more happiness, give your time, energy and attention to your most important relationships. So stop the busyness, and spend more time and fun with your friends.
5. Connect with nature
Connecting with nature somehow helps us to connect more fully with our natural aliveness. Nature is not mental; it is pure energy. Nature is not emotional; it is symphonic. Nature encourages us to inhabit more fully each present moment. Lying on the grass, listening to birdsong, looking up at the stars, we connect with something bigger than our ego. You also connect with your heart, and with the natural joy of your unconditioned self.
Robert Holden will be holding his Be Happy workshop at I Can Do It! 2011 in Sydney and Melbourne. For details and tickets visit www.hayhouse.com.au.