Many of us have been believing in a lie. We’ve bought into the myth that happiness is something we achieve when everything in our life finally looks the way we’ve been thinking it should. Cue the relationship, ring, job, country house, wardrobe, vacations, beauty products, weight loss. But here’s the challenge: These things alone don’t create lasting happiness, so happiness becomes this elusive thing that we desire but don’t know how to achieve.
The truth is that happiness is not circumstantial. And this is really good news. It means we don’t have to wait for everything to be perfect, nor do we have to control anything outside of ourselves in order to feel a certain way. Becoming aware of this truth is a total game-changer, because it means we can choose happiness in this moment. And something beautiful happens when we do this: When we feel happy first, our outward experience begins to shift in ways we’d only dreamed of.
In this article, I’ll discuss how people can reset their attitude toward happiness and share three tips for cultivating happiness from the inside out.
Searching for Happiness in All the Wrong Places
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we will be happy as soon as everything in our lives is exactly the way we want it to be — and that the solution to happiness is that we must keep working harder to control these external situations in order to make them “right.” But when we make things happen (lose the weight, get the relationship, get the raise) in a condition in which we are needing them to fill us up, validate us, or make us feel whole and complete, these changes won’t be sustainable. We might even realize these outward things don’t make us happy after all.
In reality, self-love is the baseline of happiness. When we live from a pure space of self-love, we are able to achieve sustainable happiness, because our internal feelings of abundance will reflect back to us in the form of beautiful relationships, purpose-driven work, and financial freedom. In short, self-love puts us on the fast track to healing. Our work is to clear out our fearful perceptions and shift them back to a loving perspective on life, which reveals our perfection and wholeness.
We don’t need to be fixed and nothing is wrong with us — these are just the stories we’ve been telling ourselves. When we let go of our limiting beliefs, we can finally experience freedom, happiness, and our highest potential.
Learning to Feel Happy Within
Here are three practical ways to cultivate more happiness within and create a life beyond your wildest dreams.
1. Connect With Yourself
Slow down and get quiet enough to listen to your inner guide (a.k.a. your intuition or your truth), and spend less time listening to other people’s opinions or the loud, critical voice inside your own mind (which often manifests as racing thoughts or 3 a.m. panic). One of the best practices for cultivating the ability to hear your inner guiding system is meditation. If finding the time to sit quietly is not realistic at the moment, an even simpler life-changing practice is to make daily mundane activities — such as brushing our teeth or standing in line at the grocery store — a time for quiet reflection. In these moments, ask for guidance and listen for some clear answers.
When we flex our spiritual muscle and connect with ourselves, it gives us access to an inner abundance of wisdom and knowledge (you’ll recognize it as a quiet, calm knowing voice). This inner source of wisdom will always guide us to our best right actions.
2. Set an Intention to Be Happy
Despite what we may have been taught, happiness is as simple as just choosing to be happy. When we truly realize this — that happiness is a choice — we instantly empower ourselves in any situation, whether it’s a relationship, job, or pattern of thinking that’s been creating judgments, worry, doubt, fear, or confusion. The moment we choose to perceive things differently by choosing a loving perception of ourselves, others, and our circumstances, we not only strengthen our capacity to feel happy — we also open ourselves up to limitless possibilities where there once was seemingly no solution. A creative flow reveals itself, and we’re able to experience more ease and less struggle, sometimes instantly.
This is a lifelong practice, because when we’re not monitoring our thoughts, they have a tendency of veering back into fear and worry. One of the simplest and most profound ways we can align with loving perceptions each day is to practice setting an intention every morning when we wake up. This intention can be very simple: Just say to yourself, I choose happiness — and feel it.
Most of us don’t know what “surrender” means. It’s the opposite of the way many of us operate, which is by attempting to control outcomes and situations and to make things happen. In contrast, surrender occurs when we release our need to control things, and instead choose to place a higher level of trust and faith in the process of life.
When we tap into this relaxed energy, we allow that which we desire to flow to us in a miraculous way. The job, relationship, or whatever we are envisioning and desiring for our lives is all on its way, and when we surrender our plans for the timeline and the form in which we think it should arrive, we allow an even bigger and better outcome to take place. When we are not fearfully boxing ourselves in, we are able to fearlessly say “yes!” to limitless opportunities for joy to enter our lives.
Being Happy: The Takeaway
By connecting with ourselves, setting intentions to be happy, and surrendering to the natural flow of life, we can breathe a sigh of relief, trusting and knowing that everything is unfolding in perfect, divine timing — and the only work we need to do is to get out of our own way and let life happen. Because happiness is our birthright.
Reprinted here with permission from Greatist. Originally written for Greatist by Jennifer Kass, May 2013, updated March 2014, at Greatist.com.