Sat | Jan 23, 2021

Find happiness in simple pleasures of life

Published:Sunday | November 29, 2020 | 12:09 AM

Growing up with caring parents definitely has its positives. My parents were very patient with me, and they believed in me. Even though they have been retirees for more than twenty years now, they continue to affirm me and love me in their unique ways. They have shared with me their years of wisdom on what it means to be truly happy. They told me time and time again that while material things might make me happy in the moment, that feeling eventually goes away.

True happiness comes from within, meaningful relationships, and being free to do the things that we love to do. I have learned that people who are the happiest don’t have the most money, are not the most popular, and are not the most attractive, but they all share one thing in common: happy people practise gratitude every day.

While this may seem simple enough, our minds tend to focus on what we’re missing out on instead of being grateful for everything we already have. Our generation has it even harder because we are living in a social world where we are constantly connected. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have enough when everyone on social media appears to be doing nicer things than you.

Good news – there are ways to practise gratitude each day to live your best life. The following strategies can be used:

1. Meditate

Starting your day with five minutes of silence has been proven to increase brain power, making you more resilient against life’s hardships. However, there are many misconceptions when it comes to meditation. But really, meditation is all about being present and not focusing on what you’re going to have for lunch or that you forgot to run an important errand. The purpose of meditation is to take time for yourself to set an intention for your day and be grateful in that moment. You can read your Bible, pray, and meditate on uplifting scriptures to set the mood for your day.

2. Create a gratitude journal

A gratitude journal is different than a regular journal because it makes you focus on only the good things rather than worrying or writing down everything that went wrong in the day. Each day, you should write down at least five things that you’re grateful for. By doing this, you can actually rewire your brain to be happier. It’s similar to the “camera effect”. When you have a camera, you’re always looking for beautiful things to capture. Instead of hating the ugly or undesirable things, you might change your way of thinking and try to make it more attractive in your frame. That’s how the gratitude journal works for your temperament. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts, you’re going about your day looking for positive things to add to your gratitude journal.

3. Surround yourself with positive people

Reflect on your mood and outlook after you have spent time with certain friends. Do you feel inspired and connected, or do you feel drained and dissatisfied? If it’s the latter, you might want to re-evaluate your friendship. We only get one life to live, so why waste any time surrounding yourself with negative influences? It’s not easy to remove certain people from your life, but it’s even worse to feel unhappy because of the people you are surrounded by. By positioning yourself around inspirational and positive people, you’re setting yourself up for a brighter outlook and successful future.

4. Talk back to your negativity

You know that inner talk that says you’re not smart enough, beautiful enough, or interesting enough? While those nagging thoughts are completely normal, the trick is to talk back to them with positive affirmations so they don’t get in the way of your happiness. It may seem weird at first, but it works, trust me. If I catch my mind going down a dark and gloomy avenue, I counter it with logic and positivity. It’s normal to have bad thoughts, but what’s more important is how you react to them and to make sure they don’t take over your life. We have to train our minds to think positively.

5. Focus more on your community and others than yourself

When you’re feeling down and dreary, it’s easy to get lost in “me, me, me”, which can lead to self-pity and depression. However, when you focus less on your problems and more on those around you, you’ll start to feel happier because you’re helping other people. Try volunteering. You should consider joining the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica. You may also try writing greeting cards to loved ones or cooking dinner for a friend in need.

If you practise gratitude each day, you will slowly start to see a positive change in your attitude and overall outlook on life. Remember that happiness is not a destination. It is a journey and a journey that is influenced by your mindset, your connection with God, relationship with people, and the choices that you make.

- Erika Heslop Martin is an instructor and author, send feedback to elegant_erika@hotmail.com