Recently, I was reminded of this phrase, happiness is an inside job. I love the way this saying brings to life the idea that it doesn’t matter what is going on ‘outside’ of you… all the things, stuff, noise, places, people, possessions don’t equal happiness. They can add to it, sure, but they are not the source.
I once had a bracelet engraved for myself (ugh, I lost it and miss it!) that read on the outside: Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. And on the inside: Happiness is being happy with yourself. May I walk with confidence.
Apparently I wanted to learn that lesson so badly and have it engrained in my being, that I vowed to wear it displayed every single day and let it seep into my being.
To be authentically happy, I believe we have to be happy from the inside out. It’s all about perspective, that’s the biggest secret I’ve learned along the way. We can choose to look at things positively or negatively. Remember what Wayne Dyer says, If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. It can be that simple.
Many practice what I like to call the ‘If only…then.’ dialogue, perhaps without realizing it. If only I had…
the perfect job
a better relationship with _______
a toned muscular body
a bigger house
__________ [you fill in the blank]
… then I’d be happy.
I hate to break it to you, but happiness doesn’t work this way. It all starts from within. It’s all about how we look at things, and appreciate what we have in the current state of our lives. I have many versions of my own definition of happiness, and this one comes to mind here, ‘Happiness is knowing that everything we have in our lives is enough, and that everything is as it should be.’
Total peace. You are enough. As you are now. You have the capacity to be happy now, even without any of those things on your ‘If only… then’ list. The feelings of joy, fulfillment and happiness are all internal and self-inflicted.
This doesn’t mean you can’t work toward things, of course, but the more you attach happiness to something external and extrinsic the more away from true happiness we move. When we learn we can be happy no matter what, that’s when the real magic happens. All that extra stuff is just stuff. Not the source of our happiness. We are the source of our own happiness.
So, if happiness starts with being happy with yourself, how does one do that, especially if you’re at a place where you’re not exactly your own biggest fan? Or, if you already feel happy with who you are, but are having trouble feeling happy and fulfilled in your life in general, may these happy practices be of great service to you.
I. Cultivate gratitude and appreciation
This is hands down the greatest happiness tool that ever existed, shifting your energy into a space of abundance and enough-ness. Sometimes we are so stuck in the negative that our brains just go searching for the negative to prove our negative thoughts correct. Sure, crummy things happen in life I won’t deny that, but good things happen too, we just have to consciously reflect on what they are.
If you want to apply this to yourself, might I suggest making a list of everything you are grateful for about your body. Ask yourself, what does it do for you? What does your body allow you to do? Don’t focus on the cellulite or the zit. Focus on the way that it thrives and send it some appreciation. You can also apply this to personal qualities about yourself that you are grateful for. Shift your attention there. Write them down.
If you want some help shifting into happier thoughts about yourself, grab my FREE Happy Thought Manual. There’s 20 happy thoughts in there that’ll help shift your mindset.
II. Spread light, love and joy to others
One of the best ways to increase your own happiness is to spread it to others. This could be a simple smile, telling a joke, giving a compliment, or making someone laugh. When it comes to happiness, think about it this way, the more you give it, the more you get it back.
It’s like that feeling of when you give someone a gift. You watch them unwrap that present and during the act, you are so filled with joy because the process of giving something special to some one is often blissful. More so than being on the receiving end of it.
So, where can you spread a little happiness today and see how it feels in your system.
III. Have a spiritual practice of self-compassion
I love this one. Now, I’m not asking you to sit in meditation for 2 hours a day. This one is simply about devoting any amount of time to yourself to get quiet. Typically, we devote much of our time and energy to a whole lot of external things, perhaps with the unconscious hope that they will add to our happiness. This could be a job, a person, or an activity. While all these things surely can add to our happiness, they are not the source.
So, what I recommend is creating time for yourself where you can get quiet and nurture the relationship you have with yourself while grounding into the fact that you are the source of your own happiness. This could be meditation, mirror work, the intention you set for a yoga practice, deep breathing. Whatever works for you.
I want you to create the space to speak nicely to yourself and remind yourself that you are doing a great job. And that no matter what happens in life you’ve got you. You are in this together.
So, instead of this dialogue…
If only I had ____, then I’d be happy.
I want you to say, I have _____ and I am happy.
Remember, if you need a little more guidance, grab my FREE Happy Thought Manual with 20 happy thoughts to get you started!