Have you been setting goals, milestones, or other measures of happiness, only to get there and realize you're still unhappy? If so, don't feel too bad since even Neil Pasricha, author of The Happiness Equation, fell victim to this.
It turns out that to be happy, you have to first choose to be happy and this will then lead to good work and success. Waiting for happiness won't.
And how do you choose to be happy? As per Neil, there are nine secrets:
- be happy first;
- do it for yourself;
- remember all that you have to be grateful for;
- never retire;
- overvalue you;
- create space;
- just do it;
- be you;
- and don't take advise.
The reason we find it so difficult to be happy first, as per Neil and the research he did, is that our brain is still in survival mode and always looking for trouble. We've also gone from a culture of enough to a culture of more.
But there are seven quick tricks to instantly become happier:
- three walks a week;
- 20-minute replay of what you have to be grateful for;
- random acts of kindness to others;
- a complete unplug;
- spend time in flow;
- 2-minute meditation;
- and list five weekly gratitudes.
The book was a wonderful read that I highly recommend and that offers much more than I even touch on, but I will share a few things that resonated with me:
- Given that walking is my chosen form of meditation, and it is when I'm most unplugged too, I have first-hand experience that it can make one happier. And if walking is not your thing, any other physical activity or exercise will do.
- As someone who loves to read, learn, and keep busy, I can't imagine a true retirement and it's a good thing given that what we in Western Europe look forward to is not good for us—neither for our mind nor our happiness. To be happy, one needs purpose, challenge, and to be constantly learning.
- Not only is it important to stay active, both in your body and mind, but it's important to find time to just let your mind wonder and not be actively thinking or doing. Neil calls this "space," and whether you do this in bed, the bathtub, or on the bus, these times not only allow you to mentally recharge but may be a source of inspiration.
- No one can be happy if they're not being authentic to themselves and therefore listen to advise but don't get too caught up in what others are telling you, just follow what resonates with your true self.
Not only was this book easy to read and inspirational, but Neil's research showing how happy people live longer, are healthier, and are more successful made me realize I need to figure out how to choose happiness for myself.
I therefore plan on starting a gratitude journal and be more aware of my mindset and how I react to events and people.
What can you do to choose happiness?