Life has its ways, its ups and its downs and even though we must be able to sit with the downs in order to process through them, it's important we also find ways to connect with the feeling of fulfilment, or happiness, in order to build our own resilience and improve our relationship with the emotion itself.
Personally, I am not very much a fan of what is called "positive psychology", because there is more to feeling fulfilled and happy than "just changing your thoughts". As research finally acknowledges, fulfilment and therefore the feeling of happiness is being created or deterred through numerous biological, sociological, and psychological factors. This being said, your feeling fulfilled, feeling happy goes far beyond simply deciding that you want to be happy, which many giving you a well-meaning pep talk might say.
How would it make you feel, knowing that even when life knocks you down, whether it is through a mayor event or one of the daily setbacks we might encounter (which most certainly will happen because life is not a straight happy walk-in-the-park), you will be able to stay in a relatively high vibration, not going down the rabbit hole?
Sounds pretty amazing, right?!
If you are able to reflect on your emotions, examining interpersonal relationships, you will be able to change your approach towards fulfilment and happiness, and cultivate this into your daily life. Believe me when I say, 'you'll be set for anything coming your way and have a very different look on life'.
These 5 simple practices will guide you and put you on the right path. I'd suggest trying each of them separately for a whole week and make this your "happiness and fulfilment practice". After that you will be able to mix them up and incorporate them in your daily life as if you've never done anything different. You'll start to foster happiness on a regular basis, and feel more and more fulfilled.
1. Perform random acts of kindness
This might not be the easiest one to start with but it certainly is the most rewarding thing to do. The idea is to do some nice things for other people, such as smiling to people you cross paths with, saying “thank you” to the shop assistant, checking in on a friend, thanking a partner for supporting you, or telling a colleague you appreciate them.
Expressing gratitude is at the center of the overall feeling of happiness and fulfillment. Performing random acts of kindness is one way, but there are several ways to practice gratitude as I’ve written in one of my previous blogs.
2. Tap into your body
There are several ways to do this and practice a form of “mindfulness”. Connecting with your body, and cultivating a state of non-judgemental awareness, reduces stress and negative emotions, strengthens coping and boosts positive emotions. I myself am a fan of TM (transcendental meditation), balanced breathing which you can practice all day every day, and doing a body scan when lying down in bed before falling asleep. Any guided meditation, where you focus on love and kindness, or just on what you exactly need at a certain moment, will help you connect with your core, if you are invested in it and feel excited about it, of course. And this goes for all the exercises I mentioned above. If you want to self-improve, you have to fully engage yourself, be motivated to become happier and more fulfilled, and be genuinely excited about the positive outcome. In other words, you have to believe in both the practice and yourself.
3. Practice active listening
In a world where it is so easy to let our mind wander during meetings or online conversations, even browsing the internet while “listening” to somebody speaking, the art of active listening brings us back to really being present in a conversation and truly engaging without taking it over. The main goal of active listening is to deepen your connection and communication and try to get to the bottom of what the other person is really trying to tell you.
Body language is a huge part of active listening. It is incredibly important you show the speaker you are open and really paying attention to what they are saying by nodding your head, looking at them etc. Also let them finish and then ask questions, don’t assume or jump to conclusions, use “I statements”, and don’t give any advice unless you are being asked for it. You are there to listen, unless stated otherwise. Last but not least, remember there is a lot of power in silence.
4. Envision your Highest Self
Ask yourself what your best possible self would do or think when your daily narratives and negative or ugly voices are taking over again. Always keep in mind that you can rewrite your narrative and the stories you make up in your head, so if you notice that your narrative is not sunny at all, you know you have the power to switch it up!
A good exercise to cultivate fulfillment, happiness and drive is to, during a few minutes, envision yourself at a certain time being in the future, living your best life.
Write down how you would feel and act. What will you have achieved? How would your lifestyle be? How would you feel about your work? How will you contribute to society? What would your relationships feel like?
This practice can help you keep things in perspective during more difficult times, because it requires you to really think about what you truly want in life and how you will feel when you accomplish your goals.
5. Take a “Walk of Wonder”
This is something that I’ve taken from both tantra exercises and the Japanese "shinrin-yoku", or forest bathing. Go for a walk, but look for details and add childlike wonder back into your life. Let yourself be pulled into the greater world again, instead of focusing on yourself. Slow down to look at flowers and trees, feel how nice the sun shines on your face, touch the leaves and the trunks, or when you are in the city really look around you and find appreciation and awe again in small things. You will be surprised what this does to your overall happiness and fulfillment, watch my word!
With loving Encouragement, Karen