I read a lot. Some fiction, but mostly non-fiction self-help/exploration stuff.
Brene Brown and Gabby Bernstein are a couple of my favorite authors, but I have zero bias when it comes to learning about human emotions. I read it all. In fact, I thrive on reading it all, and as much as I possibly can squeeze into each day.
I’ve read dozens of books and articles on the subject of happiness, especially as of late. The Book of Joy (which seems like an obvious choice of literature on this topic) has kept me fueled the past 6 months since my abandonment. I’ve also consumed Time Magazine’s “The Science of Happiness” special edition, which offers a less-spiritual and more concrete scientific view of happiness based on tested clinical results.
And you know what? I keep stumbling upon the same exact theories, no matter the source, and as someone who has personally practiced these theories (and not practiced these theories), I can attest to the accuracy of them.
They are true. They work. They never disappoint.
BUT, they are also really easy to lax on, too.
So, let’s dive in.
THE 3 KEYS TO HAPPINESS
Gratitude, Mindfulness and Being Present.
Not JUST money. Not JUST things. Not JUST other humans. Not JUST good health. Not JUST a good job. Not JUST having a religious faith. Not JUST going on vacation. Not JUST having fun experiences.
Nah, we gotta go way deeper.
And I know these three keys sound like no-brainer/duh/of course advice, but I challenge you to stop and ponder it because we often exploit all three while thinking we’re not. We believe we’re practicing these keys most days, but when we stop, stand back, and analyze it, we usually find ourselves skipping past the quiet of gratitude, mindfulness and being present. It’s very easy to do in this distracted world we live in. In this VERY plugged-in world we live in. We know what to do to fight the whirlwind of distraction, but choose to participate in quick, cheap returns (i.e. scrolling through Facebook, diving into unhealthy food, meaningless sex, alcohol, tv, etc.) instead. But it’s easier. And sometimes the fast payoff feels good.
In a nutshell, we typically don’t invest our time and efforts – we just simply consume it. But…here’s the thing – WE CANNOT FIND JOY IN CONSUMPTION. Not the real joy stuff, anyway.
The Book of Joy tells us that true joy can only be achieved by practicing sincere gratitude.
This means being grateful for EVERYTHING, including bad experiences and slow, somewhat boring moments. This also includes all gifts, both tangible and note. Every journey, relationship, object, task, moment, and learning experience must include that gratitude. THAT is where real joy appears. Real joy isn’t sought out, it’s always available, no matter the circumstance, experience, or dynamic.
Shame comes in different forms (just ask shame expert Brene Brown), and one of these forms for myself is blurting out words and acting upon emotions that I failed to be mindful about. You know, that knee-jerk reactionary stuff. It truly embarrasses and shames me when I’m not proud of my behavior, and all because I simply did not take the time to digest the situation when I knew better not to. Of course, there have been times that I really didn’t know better, but for the most part, I do. Most of us do.
This is a term used pretty loosely in our society these days, and one that we often define as “unplugging” from the internet or our handheld devices. While I would say, yes, there is merit in unplugging, there are many more layers to add to this practice.
Every morning, I look out a window. Typically my bedroom window, sometimes the dining room window because more light usually flows through there. I stand there, allowing the sun to shine on my face and body, and at that moment I have life. If it’s gray or stormy out, I still look out a window, but I’m led to explore deeper emotions. Both are good and healthy. It’s a quiet and undistracted peace that I now find necessary to start my day.
This is just one tiny example of being present in the moment. It’s a mind shift, not an activity. It’s a process of slowing your mind so that you can allow all of your senses to heighten and truly experience joy in the moment as a human.
So, my question to you is this: Do you struggle with gratitude, mindfulness and/or being present? Let’s talk about it.
disclosure: I added affiliate book links to this post