Let’s talk about happiness, a topic discussed by many of our wise ancestors. I understand happiness not as a state of mind, but as a feeling in a moment. And the more moments of happiness you have, happier you feel. This is a continuous process of building something important in our lives. Here are my takes on what I think makes up the happiness formula.
Know your favorite things
What are your favorite things? This is how you learn and know about yourself. The happiness search starts early in life with the “I like this, I don’t like that” process. This is a very important process that helps you understand yourself and your happiness. I love the sun - the sun generates energy for me which means a sunny day definitely adds a smile to my face. I also love a good meal and am very open to many varieties of dishes. I also enjoy cooking meals - especially when I have enough time to prepare and cook them in a quiet and peaceful environment. Sometimes when I am having a stressful day, a mindful cooking practice helps me unwind.
Equally important is how to deal with unfavorable things. Looking at the other side of the things you love like this: rainy days make my plants happy, vegetable juice refreshes my mind and body, and exercise helps to reset my mind and energize my body. Sometimes when I have an upset stomach and/or sinus infection which minimizes the enjoyment of food for me, I will take advantage of this and do an elimination diet. But when I am healthy, blue cheese on toasted garlic bread with a glass of wine tastes like heaven and I would be excited about a BeaverTail with a café latte for breakfast if I wish.
2. Know how to spend your money
I won’t deny that money can buy some happiness, but I have also learned that material things tend to only give us short - term happiness. On the other hand, the experiences you have through interactions with people, learning new things, and going new places, stay longer in your mind and those are the memories that stay archived in your brain. Each time you flash back to these memories, you regain a moment of happiness.
3. Do random acts of kindness
I grew up in a suburb of Tokyo and sometimes when I went to a busy area downtown, I saw a monk standing quietly in the middle of the crowd, with an empty bowl on his palm and chanting meditatively. Most of the people ignore him as if he is a statue. But one day, I decide to donate some change to him – and did he show any appreciation towards me? No. He just kept deeply chanting without any flinch, so I ran away from him because I felt embarrassed by my action. Much later I found that they were not there for collecting money, but rather providing us with the appreciation of giving. I was supposed to bow and thank the monk when I received the happiness I felt by donating money.
If I do a good deed because of obligation, publication, or for rewards, the pleasure of doing the good deed disappears. So now I appreciate the abundance I have and that I am able to share – the amount is not the important factor. I will volunteer and make donations because it makes me feel good about sharing.
4. Balance your mental and physical health
Many people are aware of the importance of exercise, for mental and physical health. Find what exercise that makes you feel good and make it a habit!
5. Acknowledge the happiness you already own
Pursuing happiness is easier than appreciating the happiness you already own. Appreciating the living space you created and maintained with love, the family you nurtured, the friendships you build with trust and love. We tend to get used to all of these things and often take them for granted.
6. Create a mindfulness moment each day
Deepak Chopra said, “Mindfulness means paying attention. At any given moment your mind is paying attention to things that have nothing to do with the present moment…there are many areas of life to be mindful of besides the buzzing activity of the mind. You can be mindful of: your emotion, your breath, the way you move your body - sitting, walking, eating, or any other activity - can be the object of your mindfulness. You cannot work to be present. You just are. If you practice mindfulness, this quality of joyful presence will begin to be with you all the time. Bliss, the kind of happiness that needs no reasons, can only happen in the present moment”
This last formula is still a work in progress in my life.
Every time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals. An electrical transmission goes across your brain and you become aware of what you are thinking. Your body reacts to every thought you have. We know this from lie detector tests. Every cell in our body is affected by every thought we have. If you can think about good things, you will feel better.
We are here to enjoy and appreciate the life given to us. However, happiness is not just given – we build it by ourselves. And the process of building our happiness is also bliss!
Wishing you every happiness,