The Pursuit Of Happiness
And no…I’m not talking about the film with Will Smith (although that really is a brilliant film with great lessons) i’m talking about where to find happiness and how to embrace it in order to become a happy person.
History Of The Buddha
Born in Nepal, Siddhartha Gautama grew to become known as The Buddha.
He grew up in a wealthy family and was afforded the luxuries that come with a royal status, he knew little of the suffering outside of his grand house and grounds.
One day, he ventured outside the walls and witnessed the reality of suffering and illness that had been on his doorstep. This troubled the young boy and made him question the meaning of life and it’s pleasures.
Soon after he met an ascetic, someone who lives their life renouncing the pleasures of the world.
He was taken aback by how utterly content this individual was, even though he was deprived of life’s comforts.
This experience lead to Buddha renouncing his luxurious lifestyle in search of life’s greater meaning.
During his time practising extreme deprivation, Buddha discovered the ‘middle path’ of moderation.
He began practising meditation and it was one day when he was sat under a bodhi tree that he found enlightenment.
A sense of pure understanding, wisdom and insight are said to be the recipe for enlightenment which leads to nirvana.
Buddha then embarked on a mission to teach his learnings to others in order for them to achieve happiness, his legacy & teachings today are known as Buddhism.
Buddha saw personal happiness to be a result of the happiness of others, he lived and died strongly holding on to this belief.
His death came by accident, one of his followers presented him with some mushrooms that were rotten and as a result poisoned Buddha.
In his dying moments he comforted the follower, reassuring him that the meal he’d just eaten was one of his second most blessed meals.
His first was under the bodhi tree after discovering enlightenment and his final meal was what would bring him to Nirvana.
Buddhism is a practice that focuses on the importance of being mindful, understanding and eliminating cravings to achieve a state of higher consciousness and pure happiness.
Buddhas wisdom still guides many people today and his legend really does live on, his mission was to find pure happiness and he achieved it so we’d be fools not to give him the benefit of the doubt and take his advice. What’s there to lose?
If you’re on the pursuit of happiness then this is how you’re most likely going to find it.
Are you someone with a ton of friends that only really communicate through social media (I mean likes, comments etc) and rarely have a heart to heart conversation with real care for the other person?
If this sounds like you then be warned. You may feel momentarily ‘popular’ but the reality is that none of these friendships are deep.
People who have one or more close and deeper friendships appear to be happier.
You know when you have a huge rant to a friend and then feel immensely better for getting it all off your chest? Sharing these feelings plays a major role in stress relief and preventing depression.
Researchers (Stillman et al 2009) have discovered that loneliness creates lower levels of meaning and as a result increases the likelihood of depression.
Try connecting with your friends on a deeper level and remember it’s not always the quantity but the quality of a friendship that matters. Nurture the ones that give back.
You can find key studies on the correlation between relationships and happiness here.
Acts of kindness take shape in many forms. From volunteer work, monetary donations to simply asking if a friend or co-worker is ok and if you can help with anything.
Studies have found that there is a significant association between increased positivity and caring for other’s well-being.
Doing something for someone else can have a a really positive effect on mood, just as having something nice done for you can.
Have you ever been in a situation where miraculously someone comes to your rescue and you’re unexplainably grateful?
Have you ever been in a situation where you know you could help someone but it would require a lot of effort on your part and you simply can’t be bothered?
Try and remember how good it feels to receive help and give it back to those who really need it. Karma.
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. – World Health Organisation
I’m sure you’ve noticed the amazing buzz after exercise, physical activity tells the brain to release chemicals called endorphines and these little things make you happy.
Studies have shown a strong association between physical activity and improved mood and well-being.
Exercise has long been hailed as an alternative to anti-depressant medication and CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) used to treat those suffering with anxiety and depression.
The Cochrane Review consists of 23 studies that collectively provide evidence that exercise has a large clinical impact of depression.
Understandably depressed people can find it hard to gain the motivation to exercise which is why its important to regularly engage in physical activity to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle and promote well-being through your life.
We really are what we eat.
I personally know that if I binge out on junk food like burgers, chips and ice-cream, in the moment it feels satisfying but after i’m left feeling bloated and tired.
Not to mention being greeted the next day with a breakout and a general feeling of sluggishness.
However when I eat nutritious, wholesome food and stick to my weekly exercise plan I feel like I can take on the world.
I really do believe in moderation, I love chocolate but try and opt for healthier high cacao versions. Crushing it up over berries and natural yoghurt is delicious and adds a healthier kick.
Have you seen the documentary called supersize me? A guy eats nothing but Mcdonalds for a month and the effects on his health are detrimental!
I strongly recommend watching it to understand the damage over-consuming fast food causes to our health.
Studies have shown that a deficit of essential nutrients and vitamins can have negative effects on our mental health leading to depression and anxiety.
The health benefits of matcha tea have long been praised for their ability to improve mood and health in so many ways.
You can read all about matcha here and learn about this magical potion as I like to call it!
Positive Thinking & Mindfulness
Being optimistic has been proven to prevent diseases, boost the immune system and help us cope with bad news better.
Ever wonder why some people are just so happy no matter the situation? They’re optimists.
Does their happiness sometimes annoy you because you can’t see the light in a difficult situation? You’re a pessimist.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill
Gratitude is linked to optimism and it’s been found that those who are grateful tend to be happier, receive more support are less stressed and less depressed.
Optimistic people view negative events as temporary and manageable rather than something that invades ones life with no way out.
The good thing is that you can learn how to be more optimistic too.
Try and be more mindful of your thinking process, do you regularly knock yourself down?
A good example is two people sitting an exam, both get lower grades than expected but one immediately thinks:
‘I knew it, I always let myself down i’m never going to succeed in the subject, I may as well just give up now’
While the other thinks:
‘Right, I need to revise more for this subject, this is just a one off and next time i’m going to put more effort in and do better, it’s not the end of the world!’
I used to be the former, always knocking myself, thinking I wasn’t smart enough but as time went on I realised how thinking negatively only attracted more negativity into my life.
What we think, we become – Buddha
The Pursuit of Happiness
Start thinking about your current state and ways you can improve your happiness using the above steps.
Have you got any questions or helpful tips of things that make you happy? Share away in the comments section below.
Share the love!