When times are tough, invest in your own happiness
2020 was a really hard year. Many of us did not have that charge of positive energy we were used to. 2021 is also going to be tough. So perhaps it’s not so strange to think that happiness is a scarce resource.
At least that’s what we’ve been told for many years. And it’s easy to understand the reasons: many of us were told and taught that happiness is outside our inner self.
There’s at least a bit of truth in that statement. Certainly none of us feel happy when we are going through really tough times. It is also the case that even in the middle of those tough times we do have the inner resources to become happy or at least, a bit less unhappy.
Your happiness is like a diamond. You dig deep into the earth and make an effort to look for and discover it. Or you could be standing right on top of a diamond mine and never own that diamond. Once you do discover it, once you’ve taken it out from the earth, you just have a rough diamond. If you want to get the most of its beauty and value, you´ll have to polish it.
Happiness looks a bit like this rough diamond. We all have the resources inside ourselves to cultivate our inner wellbeing, our rough diamond, but we have to make an effort to discover it and we have to work for it if we want to feel happy. That happiness is our polished diamond.
What are your inner resources?
Here you have the first one: no matter what happens to us, we always come back to our personal happiness levels sooner or later. People who were asked about their happiness levels before going through a severe illness – even cancer – or having a serious accident, several months later report the same level of happiness than before it happened.
So we all have a kind of happiness level as a result of our heritage or genetics. According to Prof. Sonja Lyubomirsky, that accounts for about 50% of our inner feeling of happiness. This is so when we feel extraordinarily happy, not just when we feel sad.
Just think about the last time you felt really, really happy. It could be at one of your child’s wedding, maybe when you got a salary raise. It didn’t last forever, did it? So, don´t worry that much if you are going through a difficult period, your happiness will be there waiting for you.
What about the other 50% of your happiness?
Around 40% of your happiness relies on how you face up to the things happening around you.
That just leaves 10% for other things.
So, what could we do to become happier in these days? First, STOP YOUR MIND. Yes, reduce your personal thinking speed. Our brain produces millions of thoughts everyday. Most of them are just wondering about what will happen or how they did happen. Friend, your happiness is not in your past or your future. It´s right in front of your nose in the present.
How do you stop your mind?
Here is one idea for you. Go outside, it doesn’t matter if it’s the same path you follow everyday, to go shopping or visit your relatives. Just try to walk slowly. Be aware of how your feet touch the ground, how your body is permanently balancing from one to the other side, be mindful about your breath. That exercise will help you to be right in that place and right in that moment.
Another idea? Look for something different in your daily routine. Do your best to discover something new, a way of seeing something differently, in a new way. It might be a building and you have never looked up to the top. Or a house you never really saw its shape and colour. I promise you, there are thousands of things we don’t see every day just because our brain can´t process that much information.
These two exercises are like digging into your own happiness mine. If someone tells you “there are diamonds right below your feet” would you dig just one day or would you keep on trying?
Raising your happiness levels is not a matter of trying for just one day or one week. It´s not something outside of you. Happiness is inside and it’s something we can learn how to reach. It is your diamond. Be mindful and you will find it.
Javier Rubio Ramiro is a coach and trainer who helps managers build teams that delivers consistently good performance. “When people are happy in their work, they are engaged, motivated and they have well-being. It becomes a team with resilience and the ability to change to meet business challenges.”
Javier works globally, developing managers, leaders and people who want to be happy.