What do you do when you want something? Do you get up & find it, or do you wait patiently for it to come to you? What if the thing you want is happiness?
There is a stigma behind happiness, that it is a selfish pursuit. I certainly believed that to be true. When I was younger I thought I should be happy with what I have & focus my time & energy making other people happy. I never allowed myself to seek happiness, I was under the impression that I was just supposed to be happy – there were no roads, no strategies – just be happy; & if I wasn’t, well there was something wrong with me! I am so very grateful I now know differently!
Everything changed a few of years ago, I was tired of the rut I was in. I had a great life, but I wasn’t doing anything with it. I was self-conscious, bored & boring. There was no happiness in my mediocre life, I had no direction, no goals. Nothing was happening in my life & that whole lot of nothing was so crushing, so consuming I felt like screaming! But instead of screaming I bought a book – The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr Joseph Murphy. This book taught me that I could be whatever I dreamed, have whatever I desired & the only tool I need was my mind! It liberated me & sparked my ongoing, ever-changing, pursuit of mindful happiness.
happiness – what I know now!
Happiness is a selfless pursuit – contrary to what I once believed, I now know that being happy is a wonderfully selfless act. My happiness creates ripples – when I am light & cheerful, it allows those around me to be light & cheerful. There have been many studies on the benefits of happiness (or in science talk – positive affect) that have shown people with high levels of happiness are more generous, more considerate, have a greater ability for maintaining close relationships & are more empathetic. There is also a beautiful circle – people who perform altruistic acts are more likely to be happy, & happy people are more likely to be altruistic! Finding your happiness is one of the greatest gifts for those you love.
“The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life.
I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy;
I mean that if you are happy you will be good.”
Happiness is unmeasurable – happiness is a feeling, like love. How do you know love? Because you feel it. No one can measure it for you, you know that you are happy because you are. I know I am happy when my mind is clear, my heart is light & I can end the day with a smile. There is a line from one of my favourite songs (Feeling Good, Nina Simone) “Sleep in peace when day is done, that’s what I mean” – that’s my best measure of happiness.
Happiness is moveable – it is different from person to person, it is different from day to day. What makes me happy will not necessarily make you happy. What brings me happiness today might not tomorrow. However the strategies I use in pursuing happiness remain certain, so when something is no longer serving me I implement my happiness strategies to move onto something that will.
Happiness requires honesty – to know what makes me happy, I have to be really honest with myself. I use a strategy I learnt from Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. I write three lists – what makes me feel good, what makes me feel bad & my atmospheres of growth. Writing these lists can be very enlightening. How often do we take the time to really think & feel about our daily actions, let alone write them down? From this strategy I know that feeling busy makes me feel bad & being outdoors helps me feel good. Growth is such an important influence on happiness. Happy people experience positive affect when progressing towards goals, no matter how lofty or grand the goals – it is the progress, the growth that causes the positive affect. Identifying my atmosphere’s of growth helps me set goals, I know what I want to achieve & what is most important to me.
Happiness requires action – my happiness relies on my action. It is not enough to identify my good, bad & growth if I do nothing with them! I use these lists to light the way for setting goals & resolutions – my action. Some of my resolutions are simple – I spend 15 minutes cleaning each morning before the kids wake up (mess makes me feel bad), I meditate at least three times a week (meditation makes me feel good) and some are bigger, like studying food & wellness (learning is an atmosphere of growth). Identifying the sources of my happiness shows me what action to take, & taking action everyday makes me happy.
“What you do everyday matters more
than what you do once in a while.”
Happiness can be learnt – happiness is a skill & like any other skill you have, or want to have, practice makes perfect. Take action every day, with the intent of happiness. Be aware, be mindful, & make decisions that support you feeling good & your atmospheres of growth. Think of your happiness like a muscle – use it every day & it will grow bigger & stronger!
So… what are you waiting for?
(Scroll down to the end of the post (past the amazing recipe!) & read the great The Science of Happiness infographic designed by www.happify.com. It delves much deeper into the science behind happiness & what you can do to find yours!)
Spiced Carrot Cake
One of my areas of growth, my passion, is food. I love learning about how food affects our bodies & minds, & elemental for me, how to heal with food. I was very generously gifted a juicer from a beautiful lady to support my new juicing habits! I am obsessed with ice-cold Carrot, Apple & Ginger juice at the moment – it just makes me feel so good! What doesn’t make me feel good is the waste – what do you do with your juice pulp?? It feels so wasteful to throw away all that great fibre! So I created this instead, & it is delicious!
- 1 cup wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 2/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup packed coconut sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup natural yoghurt
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- 1 3/4 cups carrot, apple & ginger pulp (or grated carrot, ginger to taste)
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
- a handful of pepitas
Preheat the oven to 165 degrees (150 degrees fan forced). Lightly grease a 20cm x 20cm tin. In a large bowl combine the oil, sugar, vanilla, yoghurt and eggs together and whisk well. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gradually add the flour to the wet mixture and mix well after each addition. Stir in the chia seeds & carrot/ginger pulp. (Add sultanas now if using). Pour into prepared tin & top with pepitas. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before transferring to a wire rack.
** I would recommend adding the sultanas if you are not using apple – it will make up for the sweetness found in the apple