Figuring out how to be happy can be tricky. For most of us, happiness is transient.
It’s there in the good times, but nowhere to be found when things go awry.
I’m not going to force you to wade through reams of text to get to the tip I promised, but I think it’s fair to warn you that it’s not an easy fix.
If you came here hoping to hear that wine, Netflix and ice-cream are the happiness trifecta, you’re going to be disappointed.
If only, right?
Those things will make you happy in the moment, sure, but that’s where that love train ends. Come morning, you’ll be left feeling hungover, miserable and fat. Blech.
Been there, done that. Spilt wine on the t-shirt.
I’ve got a much better way to up your happiness vibes. One that will lift your mood and keep it that way. No alcohol or Xanax required. You keen?
The Art of Living: Happiness Program
Do the Art of Living Happiness Program. Yip, figuring out how to be happy really is that simple.
Granted, it’s not as easy as binge-watching your favourite series with a family-size package of M&Ms and your cat for company. But neither is it the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
In the long run, it’s actually easier than slothing on the sofa.
This past week I completed the Happiness Program for the third time. Each time I do it, it just gets better. It lifts my mood even when it feels like my mood doesn’t need lifting.
I’m not going to lie, the program is pretty intense. Run over six days (a combination of evenings and one weekend), it requires a hundred percent commitment.
It’s not always comfortable and there are times you don’t feel so great, but when you get to the last day that all changes.
Suddenly, everything slots into place and you leave feeling magnificent.
It’s not a one time deal though. The course isn’t a stand-alone box you tick. It serves as a foundation for your daily breathing and meditation practice. (More on that below.)
It’s also a good idea to repeat the program at least once a year, although you can go back as often as you like. (One guy on my course was doing it for the fourth time in a row.)
You do you.
Once you’ve paid for your initial course you can repeat it as often as you like for free. AOL suggests making a donation and believe me, you’ll be more than happy to do so. But if money is tight, you can do it anyway.
If you don’t live in Cape Town, not to worry. The Art of Living has more than 3000 centres in over 100 countries around the world. Take a look on their website to see if there’s one near you.
Chances are, there is.
If there isn’t a center on your doorstep, it’s worth making the trip if/when you can afford it. Should you decide to come and do it in Cape Town you’ll have the added bonus of meeting us.
How cool would that be?
Sudarshan Kriya: a Powerful Breathing Technique that Will Change Your Life
The Happiness Program is centred around Sudarshan Kriya, a simple yet powerful rhythmic breathing technique that de-stresses, cleanses at the cellular level and effectively draws you into a deep state of meditation.
To date, millions of lives have been positively transformed as a result of it. Sudarshan Kriya makes you happy, but it’s benefits go way deeper than than that.
Research has shown it significantly reduces stress, depression, anxiety and PTSD. It also improves your sleep, enhances your brain function, increases creativity, and strengthens your immune system.
While the Sudarshan Kriya is hugely beneficial to maintaining overall mental health, there may on occasion still be the need to hash things out with a professional. Do the Happiness Program first and if you still feel like you need to, find yourself a therapist. (BetterHelp is a great resource for this.)
It’s important to note here that the technique is one of the few things you can’t learn online or by asking Google.
You may come across people claiming to be able to teach Sudarshan Kriya, but it can in fact only be taught by trained facilitators at an Art of Living centre.
Read these articles for a more in-depth overview of what it entails as well as the benefits you can expect:
How to Be Happy: 4 Ways to Be Happier Now
If doing the Happiness Program isn’t an option for you right now, there are plenty of science-backed ways to be happier. From smiling and volunteering to reducing your commute and exercising more, all of these tips have merit.
Science wouldn’t back them if they didn’t.
The three I’m sharing with you are mindset-based. Sporty and I have been practising them for a good few years now with excellent results.
Rather than fluctuating in response to outside events and circumstances, our happiness remains mostly constant.
These ideas are taught on the Happiness Program, but they’re inherent in other teachings, as well. You may even have come across them at some point.
Don’t be disheartened if you find them challenging to begin with. If I can wrap my head around them, anyone can.
1. Opposite Values Are Complementary
You can’t have hot without cold, sweet without sour or up without down. Take away one and you won’t know the other. Viewing situations like this helps you accept them.
It’s been really windy in Cape Town lately. Living so close to the mountain as well as at the top of a high rise building, we experience it more intensely than people who live further down.
When the wind finally died down this morning the peace and quiet was almost overwhelming. Without the windy days, we wouldn’t appreciate the calm. It’s a great way to build your gratitude muscle.
2. Be Happy Now
Humans are really good at playing the ‘when / then’ game.
When I get my dream job, then I’ll be happy.
When I lose weight, then I’ll be happy.
When I find my soulmate, then I’ll be happy.
There are always going to be obstacles to overcome and challenges to face. If we had to wait until our lives were perfect, we’d never be happy.
Happiness and circumstance are mutually exclusive. Choose to be happy now, regardless of what’s going on around you.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” —Viktor E. Frankl
3. Don’t Argue With Reality
Life happens. Sometimes it has us doing happy backflips. Other times it makes us want to hit our head against the wall.
You can rail against a situation all you like. You can question it, dissect it, you can even hate it. But it won’t change what’s already happened.
Ruminating is futile. An easier (and more productive) approach is to accept what happened, learn from it, and then move on.
“I’m a lover of reality, not because I’m a spiritual woman, but because it hurts when I argue with what is. And I notice that I lose, 100 percent of the time.” —Byron Katie