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7 Ways To Find Inner (and Real) Happiness

7 Ways To Find Inner (and Real) Happiness

Happiness is one of the most misunderstood words in our vocabulary. Yet, we search for this intangible state our whole lives. If I only had this or that, if I met the right partner, had a big house, a new car, the job I’ve always wanted – then I would be happy! The ancient yoga and spiritual teachings stress that happiness is real only when we let go of seeking material and transient things and discover the lasting joy that is within.

Every time we see a giggling baby or young child we’re reminded that we are all born with this natural and innate sense of happiness, that it is actually our birthright. We learn about suffering or unhappiness as we grow older, more externalized and as circumstances change.

We taught a workshop where a number of the participants had lost loved ones in the past years. One woman lost her son to AIDS. Another lost her husband, son and mother all within twelve months. Another’s partner drowned. Others were dealing with specific illnesses, or difficult issues in their lives. What really emerged for everyone was the awareness that their real happiness lies within themselves, that it’s not dependent on someone or something outside of them. They had lost what they had thought of as their source of happiness — a loved one or their health—and now had to look more deeply within themselves. It was a weekend of many ‘aha’ moments!

Here are some of the ways our workshop participants discovered how to feel happy again:

1. Not take yourself too seriously. At times of hardship, such as loss or illness, it’s easy to lose your humor, and even easier to get involved with the negative aspects of what is happening. Remembering not to take yourself too seriously brings a lightness and acceptance to the weight of circumstance around you. Don’t forget — angels can fly because they take themselves lightly!

2. Not identify with suffering, loss, or illness, as being who you are. Many of our participants realized how they’d been identifying themselves as a cancer survivor / widow / recovering addict, or whatever it may be, but had not asked who they were without that label or identity. When you don’t identify with the negative issues, then who you really are has a chance to shine.

3. It’s OK to be you, just as you are, flaws and all. You may think you’re imperfect, a mess, falling apart, hopeless, or unable to cope. But true perfection is really accepting your imperfections. It is accepting yourself, complete with all the things you like as well as the things you don’t like. In this way you’re not struggling with or rejecting yourself. Each one of is unique, a one-time offer, but we can’t know this if we are facing away from ourselves.

4. Make friends with yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the only one you have that lasts for the whole of your life, and you can be the greatest friend or the worst enemy to yourself. So it’s very important not to emotionally put down or beat yourself up. Just be kind.

5. Feel everything, whatever it may be. When you are suffering, it’s easy to want to deny or repress your feelings, as they get huge and overwhelming. If you can really honor whatever you are feeling then it’ll bring you closer to the inner happiness beneath the suffering or grief. Acknowledging and making friends with your real feelings is the greatest gift.

6. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Treasure yourself. These are big steps, but each one liberates the heart and sets you free. You can forgive yourself for feeling angry, for getting upset, for all things you think you’ve done wrong. They are in the past and who you are now is not who you were then. You can take any guilt or shame by the hand, invite it in for tea, and open yourself to self-forgiveness.

7. Meditate. There is an overwhelming amount of research showing how meditation changes the circuits in the part of the brain associated with contentment and happiness and stimulates the ‘feel-good’ factor. Meditating on love and kindness makes you much, much happier! And the only way to know this is to try it, so don’t hesitate.

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Related
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Ed and Deb Shapiro

You can learn more in our book, Be The Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie and others. Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: EdandDebShapiro.com

62 comments

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5:53PM PDT on Nov 1, 2013

So true. Thanx for sharing ;0)

11:32PM PDT on Oct 31, 2013

Take a good look in the mirror, like what you see? If not, why not? Then work on turning it into what you want it to be ... you have the power and the choice, positive or negative, to grow or stay tethered.

Each day is brand new, full of endless possibilities. Rework each life lesson until you're satisfied and then move on ... that's the beauty and gift of each new day ... and why it's called THE PRESENT.

10:03AM PDT on Oct 27, 2013

I don't know that it's wrong to identify yourself as some sort of a survivor -- but it's better to use that survival to help others also conquer, rather than focusing on what you no longer have left. I remember attending AA and Alanon because of my alcoholic father, and my fear of following after him. After some time I decided I had gotten from it all I could. When I said that I was leaving and refusing to define myself FOREVER as an addict, some people got angry - but it felt important to me to move on and become a new creature.

It's also important for happiness that you choose your friends carefully. As difficult as it may be, when someone consistently is in a negative, whiny, complaining victim mode, it's time to move on. My grandmother used to say that if you rubbed up against a skunk, you'd stink like one. What she meant was that who you are associating with leaves their "odor" in your life LOL.

9:31PM PDT on Oct 20, 2013

Forgive yourself and others Love all including our furry feathered and scaly friends
Be in the moment and laugh at yourself

8:23AM PDT on Sep 23, 2013

Thanks for info.

5:39AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Great tips!

6:53PM PDT on Sep 19, 2013

a good article; ty. but I think it is very hard for people to do these things on a continuing basis, as hard as life can be. I think it is especially hard for people not to identify themselves w/all the negative things that surround us in life. It is very hard not to identify w/the loneliness and isolation that the Western world is so full of. I think the more isolation and pain in a person's life, the more likely that person is to be mentally ill, and then the more likely the mentally ill person is to try to hurt other people or animals.

1:56AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

Thank you :)

9:54AM PDT on Sep 17, 2013

love love love, love is all you need.

10:15PM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

Every one of these 7 points makes sense, but, will people take the time to really, think about them.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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