It might seem odd to begin a piece on happiness with a list of some of my recent ‘failures’, but I do have a reason…
Did you read my blog about the benefits of having a morning self-care routine? Two days after that was published I stopped my own morning routine. And I didn’t pick it up again for nearly a week.
Have you seen my articles about the benefits of not engaging with negative thoughts? “Just let them pass” I teach. Then last week my car broke down on a busy freeway and I had a mini meltdown. I really struggled to let those negative thoughts pass!
Have you heard me talk about the importance of just ‘being’ and not ‘doing’ all the time? I spent last Saturday ‘doing’ from 8am until 7.30pm.
So what’s the point of sharing all of these ‘failures’ with you, my reader? Well, because it’s REAL!
Some days we are brilliant, some days we are not. Most days we are somewhere in the middle, doing our best.
Moderate feelings of happiness
Happiness researcher Barbara Fredrickson describes how a steady presence of ‘moderate feelings of happiness’ such as content, calm, joy and peace are a good indicator of overall happiness. Moderate feelings of happiness don’t sound very exciting or awe inspiring do they?
But that’s the point I guess.
We are not perfect
Our lives aren’t exciting every day and we aren’t perfect. We can get sucked into the lie that others have their shit totally together. We see Instagram or Facebook feeds of fresh flowers on perfectly styled kitchen benchtops, shiny happy updates of family outings and weekend get-togethers, or we notice perfectly groomed mums at school drop-off. A steady diet of these snapshots of perfection reinforces the lie we tell ourselves that we are so much less than others.
Aiming high is healthy, aiming for perfection is not
Let’s aim high. We should. We can. There’s nothing wrong with that. So long as our goal is realistic. Aiming high is healthy. Chasing perfection is not. Aiming for perfection is a set-up for failure, stress and self-loathing.
‘Moderate feelings of happiness’ doesn’t sound very sexy!
Aiming for those moderate feelings of happiness that Fredrikson describes might not sound awe-inspiring but I urge you not to dismiss it. Take an honest look at your life right now, does it have a steady presence of things like content, calm, joy and peace? If you answered yes – congratulations! According to the research, if you are not yet already there, you are certainly on the path to overall happiness.
If you answered no – don’t despair! The path to happiness is still accessible for you!
Here are some steps towards happiness that we can all take:
Be Mindful: become aware of when those feelings arise – joy, calm, contentment, peace.
Know yourself: be clear about what circumstances and situations bring about those feelings.
Make it happen: find at least one way every day to create the circumstances that welcome those feelings into your space.
Cultivate contentment: At the end of your day reflect with gratitude on the good things that happened during the day
The Greater Good Science Center offers free, research-backed tools for cultivating happiness.
Try their gratitude journal for noticing the good things that happen daily.