“I always consider myself personally one of seven billion human beings. Nothing special. So, on that level, I have tried to make people aware that the ultimate source of happiness is simply a healthy body and a warm heart.” ~ Dalai Lama
I couldn’t begin to tell people how to be happy. No one can help anyone else with that. Each of us is unique with a capital U and anyone or anything promising you happiness is a farce.
I also think that the concept of “happiness” is pretty overrated. What’s life without some blue? It’s a part of the human (and spiritual) experience to experience every shade of the rainbow, and come out of life’s storms stronger.
Having said this, I’ve begin doing a few things on a daily basis to leave me in a state of being that I would define as “joy”. Joy doesn’t mean I’m happy and positive and bouncy and chirpy. No way.
But for me, “joy” means I’m in a headspace where I am able to emotionally handle life’s ups and downs by feeling every single emotion, rather than escaping things, numbing myself, building my walls up, being cynical or lashing out with unkindness.
That’s my definition of joy.
And if that definition makes sense to you, then just maybe the following habits could be of some benefit to you too.
(If you’d like to learn more about this concept – the concept of “joy” – I would highly recommend the following book by the esteemed Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. It’s very, very worth it.)
The first activity I do in the morning is something I love – and is not up for negotiation.
Because this is something I love to do, I don’t have trouble waking up on time. And my day gets to start with me being in a positive state of mind – win-win.
Do you love the feeling of working out (more on that in the next section)? Do you love reading your favourite book? Do you love spending time with your dog? Do you like watching something on Netflix? Whatever it is, schedule it in the first 30 minutes of you waking up – and just do it.
Exercise every day – or at least 4-5 days a week.
The endorphin kick you get out of physical movement can get addictive in the best way. Not only does working out (or yoga etc) inherently encourage a positive frame of mind, seeing progress on your workout goals every week (like gaining strength and muscle, or losing weight) helps you stay motivated, disciplined and just gives you that extra kick of self-confidence.
Take some time to take stock. Own every situation and experience. Make it a habit to take responsibility.
It is so easy to fall prey to the victim mentality and tell yourself, “this day sucks”, “why do I have such bad luck”, “my life sucks” or some variation of this. Sometimes, a bad 5 minutes in the morning sets us up for a bad whole day.
Shift the perspective from being the victim to being a warrior. Being a warrior means accepting certain hard facts and adapting yourself to not just meet, but also rise above those challenges in the best way you can. Tell yourself, “well hey, so this here is the issue that’s bringing me down. Now what are my options? Can I do something to make this situation better?”
That’s the warrior’s mentality. And hey I get it, it’s not always possible to better a situation on your own. In those cases, you can ask yourself what you can do differently the next time so that this doesn’t end up happening. Or ask yourself who you can talk to or get a little bit of help from.
There is always, always some productive lesson that can be learned from any bad situation. You just gotta be a warrior and find it out for yourself.
Now smart isn’t something that people are born with. “Smart” happens when someone decides to learn something new everyday. In this day and age, no one has the excuse of not having access to free resources anymore. The internet is a great library – watch or read something every day to make yourself smarter.
Another thing that helps is having a conversation with a friend about what you learned that day. It’s a great way to share information and exchange different and exciting perspectives on something.
Joyous people know why and how to prioritise themselves.
There is so much to work on for yourself; like how about your diet? How about your sleep? Most of us have a good idea of our weaknesses and character flaws. Spend some time working on those. Practise confidence. Practise speaking up and standing up for yourself. Practise saying no. Practise being kind.
Prioritise self-love. Do a bit of introspection first, figure out your strengths and quirks, and then devote enough time to yourself so that you can make your strengths stronger and lovingly evolve your weaknesses into strengths too.
Although joyous people understand why it’s important to prioritise themselves and their own happiness, they also know that real joy lies in the service of others.
Do something everyday that makes someone else’s life better.
You can always start with doing simple things – go to your local organisation working with at-risk youth. What about that organisation working on the environment? Is someone doing something near you for LGBTQ+ rights? What about the homeless? Geriatrics?
In today’s times, there is sadly always a cause or issue that needs you to stand up and act. Educate yourself and stay up to date, not just in the goings-on in your country, but also in the international sphere. What are your country’s policies with respect to other parts of the world? What are the challenges that other countries are facing today?
Simultaneously, also learn about the challenges in your own community.
There is always, always, always something to be done. If nothing else, smile and give people your kind words. Be an all-round compassionate person.
There is incomparable joy in service and in knowing that your existence matters to somebody else. It gives your life an anchor and direction.
Those were the six things I’ve internalised to lead my life with intention and joy. I would love to know some of your best daily habits to experience joy too!