This post has been taken from a two-part article on Forbes, with the same title, by Jodie Cook. The full part one is here and part two is here. When we read the article we thought many of the 9 ways had elements of Stoic philosophy in them.
When you’re faced with transition, change and disruption, happiness can feel unobtainable. I believe it’s there to be found, but not in the way you might believe it can be. Here’s my take on happiness: reimagined, with 6 somewhat unconventional ways to be happy (nearly) all the time.
- Love people; use things.
Day-to-day this means focusing on the time you can spend with people you love and not on the objects you can purchase. Gifting your presence instead buying presents. Avoid those who make you feel rubbish and go see those who you enjoy spending time with.
- Get some perspective.
Find freedom in the fact that whatever happens, one day you’ll be gone, so you might as well be happy today while you are alive. Your problems really aren’t that big.
- Control the controllables.
The first step is to work out what is in your control and what is out of your control. Other people’s actions? Out of your control. The football score? Out of your control. What people think? Out of your control. In your control: your attitude, your actions, your words, your thoughts, your choices. Make a list. Focus on what you can control and give it everything you have. Forget everything else.
- Avoid labels.
Start avoiding opinions day-to-day and you will realise how often they are aired. Opinions are just that; they are not the truth so never treat them as such. Like a ball being thrown at you; you choose whether to catch it or dodge it. You don’t need to disagree (that would be an opinion too), just be mindful of what you choose to let enter your inner being.
- It’s all a game.
Whilst you might crave picturesque scenery, rolling hills and nothing but the sound of birds singing, real happiness comes from calmness in the middle of a crowd, in the middle of a tense conversation or on the battlefield. Happiness is riding the waves and not being pulled about with each occurrence like an emotional rollercoaster.
- Don’t take it personally
It would be easy to let the actions of others dictate your happiness, but what would this achieve? If you receive an email you perceive to be unfriendly, or someone cuts you up, or doesn’t let you out, it’s not personal. That person might have just lost a family member, they might be dealing with problems far worse than ours. They probably didn’t mean it to upset you. Seeing other people and their actions as being out to get you is the sure fire route to unhappiness, because in reality it’s probably nothing to do with you.
- Do the right thing, even if it’s hard
If you always do the right thing, even if it’s difficult, and stay true to your values, you will never worry about anyone’s opinion of you, you will never need to look over your shoulder, and you will sleep soundly. Happiness all round.
You simply cannot best serve the needs of your company, family or friends without serving your own needs first. You can’t look after other people if you don’t look after yourself. Guard your diary fiercely and decide what goes into your metaphorical backpack. Avoid being so busy you never get to enjoy yourself.
- Be present.
Being present is key to happiness because the present is the only aspect of time that’s in your control. There’s nothing you can do about the past. Worrying about bad things that might happen in the future means you’re either wasting your time (if they don’t happen) or suffering twice (if they do). Being somewhere with your body whilst your mind is elsewhere means you might as well not be there.
True happiness comes from knowing what is in your control and out of your control and acting accordingly, whilst being careful what you let into your inner sphere. It comes from watching your thoughts for those that are unhelpful or untrue, showing kindness wherever possible and, above everything else, remembering it’s all a game and we’re not going to live forever.