In order to nurture happiness, we must firstly accept ourselves and our reality. Integral to that acceptance is acknowledging and appreciating whatever we currently have - whether it is very little or lots. I encourage us all to appreciate what we have, right now, which involves not only appreciating ourselves, our friends, families or colleagues but also accepting our possessions.
It is very liberating when we recognise that we usually do not need any more ‘stuff’ because 'stuff' does not make us happier or more contented. Think of the happy feeling associated with new purchases…in my experience, the feeling is quite fleeting. It is nice to have nice things but real, true feelings of happiness come from within.
I am a big believer in nurturing happiness and contentment. I deliver talks and workshops on this topic, as often as I can, to a wide variety of audiences. Encouraging people to develop the habit of being thankful because developing a sense of gratitude, over time, can lead to increased feelings of happiness. I believe we all want to be happy and I don’t mean going around the place delirious and laughing inanely all the time I simply mean being happy in our own skin, accepting ourselves and our lives - being able to say “I am happy being me. I am happy with who I am and with what I have”.
Whether you are tall, small, blue eyed, brown eyed, tanned or pale as a ghost accept that this is the way you are and you are fabulous. I always say ‘celebrate your uniqueness’ because even if you do not think you are important, wonderful or fabulous, remember this fact - the world would not be the same if you were not here. That is special.
Accepting your reality is very different to not wanting change – I am all in favour of improvement, enhancement ,education and learning but something as simple as being accepting of and thankful for who we are makes us genuinely positive and happy. Actually saying ‘thank you’ can also make us feel happier. When someone holds a door open, say ‘thank you’ or when you receive your change at the cashier’s till say ‘thank you’. When waiting staff serve you food say it – it does not matter if you do not get a reply – you are giving thanks without expecting anything in return. That’s the important part – have no expectations – say thank you willingly and unconditionally.
You could start this new ‘thank you’ regime by saying ‘thank you’ when someone pays you a compliment. We, as a nation, are not great for taking praise so in future when someone says “You look great” simply say “Thank you”. Do not say “I do not” or “I look wretched” or “this old thing” etc. We are not all that great for giving praise either so why not start a revolution.
Food for thought - if you tell someone that they made your day, you will make theirs. Try it out for yourself by telling the people you like spending time with, that they are great to be around, that you enjoy their company, that they are easy to be with – use your own words but be thankful you have someone in your life that you get along with. Say ‘thank you for being a good friend’ or ‘thank you for spending time with me, it’s enjoyable’.
While I am mentioning friends, when someone you know shares a problem with you, say “thank you for sharing that with me”. They have entrusted you with their difficulty and offloading is therapeutic so I recommend, rather than trying to make things lighter/better, simply say “thank you. I’m always here for you”. While someone is sharing something important with you, when you are listening properly you will know what to say (usually nothing is best!).
Finally, if someone is going to criticise, pass judgement or comment negatively, rather than get embroiled in conflict – next time you’re at the receiving end, simply say “Thank you” or “Thank you for your comments, I will try to take them on board.” Both of you walk away from that conversation happy and isn’t that exactly how you always want to feel? Happy.
Caroline Crotty B.Soc.Sc. M. A. (Counselling & Psychotherapy) works in private practice with adults and adolescents in Cork City and in Bantry, Ireland. Caroline also devises and delivers wellbeing talks and workshops. For further info contact Caroline via her website here
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