We all want to be happy and you may have chased happiness for a long time without quite reaching it. So try these six simple rituals to put a big smile on your face – and keep it there!
- The secret to happiness
THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS
Maybe you believe there is a secret to being happy and that it’s something you can actually locate, if you have the magic formula. But true happiness is more subtle than that. Usually you find it while you’re doing something else. All these rituals are designed to ‘take you out of yourself’ in some way. Then you can discover you’ve found yourself once more, but now in the happy zone!
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!
Dancing isn’t something you need to learn to do, although you can go to classes if you like. If you feel self-conscious, the best way to learn your dance is on your own. True dancing is just about your own body’s pure response to music. When you really dance, it isn’t you that’s moving – it’s the music moving you! Maybe eventually you’ll be able to break into dance and not care who’s watching.
If you’re feeling down, dancing is probably the last thing you feel like doing, but give it a go. Start with music that you really love, and that makes you cheerful. If your energy is low, begin while you’re sitting. Turn the volume as loud as is comfortable and start moving your hands, head and feet.
Gradually you will probably want to move more. Sway or jig in your seat, clap your hands or do any other action that feels good. After a minute or two let the music lift you to your feet. Dance and move and skip and stamp to your heart’s content. Let all your pent-up emotions come out in your dance. Then just flow and bop letting yourself ride on the music and the beat.
After a dance session you will feel better. There’s no doubt about that. Dancing releases endorphins into your bloodstream and they are your own body’s equivalent to morphine. Make sure you dance every day for at least ten minutes. Dance everywhere you can, whenever you can and keep the music in you!
Most people who think about well-being are all too conscious of the fact we don’t spend enough time on food preparation. Fast-food, takeaways and supermarket packets all contain stuff that’s bad for us and miss the point of food. It should be natural, nutritious, fun and shared.
Start by planning a proper, sit-down meal as often as you can during the week, but at least twice. Sort out your menus and get your ingredients. Set aside time to enjoy the process of cooking and preparing the meal. Remember, it doesn’t have to be complex, gourmet food. Just a nice salad will do.
Prepare your food with friends and family, or listen to music while you dance around the kitchen. Be mindful of the process – all the glorious colourful and juicy natural ingredients you’re using. When it’s time to eat, share it with friends and family if you can. Linger over the table, gossip and laugh. A true recipe for contentment!
GIVE A THOUGHTFUL GIFT
You may have been brought up to believe that it’s ‘more blessed to give than to receive.’ This shouldn’t make you feel guilty if you love receiving things – or make you stop giving things to yourself! However, there is something special about seeing someone’s face light up when you give them just the right thing.
The ‘right thing’ certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be connected to a birthday, or as a thank you – although it may be. To give a lovely gift, all you have to do is listen to the person and hear what they like.
If you are at all creative, make a gift. This could be a simple card or a scarf you’ve knitted or biscuits you’ve baked. Knowing that you’ve thought of them and put in all that effort will truly warm the heart of the recipient. And the joy will be catching – you’ll feel on top of the world!
KEEP A JOURNAL
We know so much about history from the journals that people used to keep in the past. Nowadays, with social media and busy lives, it’s not so easy to find the time. But ten minutes a day set aside for journaling will be well worth it. Don’t worry if you’re dyslexic. You could write on a tablet or laptop and use your spell-checker. Like dancing, this is for you, and no-one else need see.
Do this at the end of the day as a way to shed any cares and stresses. Turn off your phone and television, and centre your attention within yourself. How do you feel? What has the day been like? What have you learned, achieved, experienced? Do you have problems or anything making you sad? Has something been truly joyful, lucky or inspiring?
Your journal is like a dependable, wise friend, who will always listen to you. By writing things down you can get rid of them, if they’re bad, and luxuriate in them, if they’re good. You’ll get a better perspective on life and feel calmer. You could also discover a creative genius within! Let the magic of words lift you higher.
DELIGHT IN NATURE
The world of nature is there on offer. Do you take full advantage of it? Do you spend time looking at the sheer grace of the trees, the sweep of the hills, the amazing colours of the flowers? Do you let yourself ‘stand and stare at all this beauty? Do you smell the breeze, feel the sun and rain on your skin, listen to birdsong and feel it lift your heart?
If you’re like most people then you probably don’t notice all that the world has to offer, that can soothe and inspire. But you can change this. Once or twice a week, at least, go out into fields, woods or parks and just ‘be’. Try to still your thoughts and notice all that’s around you. Even if it’s raining, appreciate the silvery drops and the cool waters from heaven making everything grow.
Sit with your back to a tree and let the essence of the tree surround you. Imagine a glowing aura around the tree and a gentle shower of healing droplets of light falling from the leaves onto you. Absorb these inside you and feel them making you radiant.
DELIGHT IN ANIMALS
Animals have mellow, healing presence. There is a natural kindness about all animals that are well-treated – and even in the majority that are not. Just being with them is soothing.
Your sixth ritual is to set aside time at least once a week to connect with animals. If you have pets, play with them, be with them and observe them. Try different activities such as playing music or teaching tricks. If you don’t have pets of your own, ask to borrow someone else’s. You might be able to help out at a farm, or boarding kennels. Journal what you experience and hold the simple joy of animals within you.