The Importance of Releasing Your Past To Be Happy

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I came across this quote recently that really struck a chord.

“The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life.”

People always tell us that to be truly happy we need to live fully in the present moment. But while this is true, we can still find ourselves living in the past – longing for past situations, believing that we were happier then than we are now or maybe thinking about negative things that have happened to us and not quite being able to move past it.

I completely agree with this quote. How can we honestly say the past was better in some way when we weren’t fully aware of those present moments? If we constantly live in a state of desperately wanting the past how are we truly living in the now?

The past does matter but only in so much as it has made you into the person you are today. The past has its place, in that, you are the person you are because of what has happened before. This is to be cherished both for those good times and those tough times but to move forward you have to release on past situations.

The future will one day be your past. This shows that nothing actually matters other than the present moment. If the past has happened and the future will one day be your past, you only really have the present moment to be truly happy.

Realise you’re not the same person. If you find yourself longing for the past or the person you once were, remember that you aren’t the same person anymore. You probably have different perspectives, beliefs and ideas that wouldn’t serve you back then. Embrace your growth and know you are always moving forward in the right direction.

Know the importance of letting go. Guilt, anger, bitterness and resentment all stem from past experiences that, no matter how much we hang on to them, don’t serve us in our quest to be happy. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean condoning what happened, it just means letting go of the situation and the negative feelings surrounding it in order for you to move on.

A lot of our current negative beliefs are based on our past. It’s hard to change our mindset or perspective on something when we’ve had negative experiences connected with it but remember to think of each new present moment as a clean slate. We have the power to change our negative beliefs at anytime and not be a slave to the past.

As I said, the past has its place. The awareness of the past can lead you to a further understanding of the present but never dwell on past situations or experiences – process them, move forward and be happy in the here and now  🙂

Why Making Comparisons Is Ruining Your Happiness

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How many times have you compared your life to those around you and felt that panic or overwhelming dissatisfaction for your present circumstances? You feel like you’re not at the stage you were meant to be or you’ve somehow fallen behind in life while they are exactly where you want to be.

I believe no one is alone in feeling this. With current social media exposing us to every nook and cranny of people’s lives, it’s hard not to notice and compare our journey to others.

But comparing ourselves to others hinders our happiness in so many ways.

Remember that everyone is potentially going through a battle we don’t know about. Don’t judge or compare your life to someone else’s seemingly ‘happy and perfect’ life because you don’t know what they are truly going through. They may have it all or have what you want to have but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy.

Don’t take social media at face value. People are extremely willing to put up the best bits of their life on social media especially Facebook or Instagram which gives the impression on the outside that this is the sum total of their life – happy and carefree. What you don’t know is the possible depression they are secretly battling with or their own dissatisfaction with life. This is why we can’t ever take social media at face value as we’re only seeing people’s highlight reels – it’s not a true representation of reality.

Always remember that our negative thoughts and feelings aren’t real. When you get these feelings when comparing yourself to others it’s kind of illogical – you can’t compare yourself to someone else because they are on a completely different path to you despite what you may think.

The comparison game never stops. The main reason we compare is because we are unhappy with our own lives. The key to combating comparison is to simply be more relaxed and happy with the way our lives are because even if you achieved the life others have, there will always be something else to be unhappy with.

Comparison just kills your focus and own happiness. Comparison is just a distraction from your own wonderful journey in life. So what if it’s not the same as hers or his? By focusing on others you aren’t focusing on yourself which is far more important.

See your unhappiness as a stop on your journey to happiness. Making comparisons are a sign of our own unhappiness. It happens to the best of us but just trust that this is where you’re meant to be in the present moment. Everyone is at different stages in both life and happiness and you are where you’re meant to be. Trust you will get where you need to be to be happy when it’s your time.

Finally, you don’t know what happiness means to other people. Just because being successful in your career is your definition of happiness doesn’t mean it is for someone else. Always keep this in mind when making assumptions of other people.

It’s so important to focus on your own happiness and stop being concerned with those around you. Yes, it’s not always easy to do, but taking steps to concentrate on the appreciation you have for your current life – no matter what stage you’re at –  will attract the things you want into your life and be happy with them.

Remember, your happiness is personal to you and no one else 🙂

Happiness Is Choosing How You Respond To Negative Thoughts

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We’ve all heard that it’s all about how we respond to a negative situation that determines how we deal with the outcome but what about our negative thoughts?

I wrote a post a while ago explaining why negative emotions are crucial to happiness. To live a happy and fulfilling life doesn’t mean you need to be positive and upbeat every minute of the day – we need negative emotions to help us work through difficult times and to show us where we may be focusing wrong.

It can be frustrating when you’re having a good period and all of a sudden your mood changes, someone says something offensive to you, something happens that makes you feel you’re back to square one again. It could even be something really serious like illness or suddenly losing your job.

But there’s a difference between negative emotions and negative thoughts. Negative emotions are our reactions to big events or situations – they are there to help us work through the tough times and come out the other side.

Negative thoughts are much more important when we consider our happiness and mental well-being. Our beliefs are a result of our thoughts and when it comes to the beliefs we have about ourselves or the world around us, we can have a whole plethora of negativity going on in our minds. The same negative thoughts can go round and round until we don’t even notice them – they become a negative belief and this is where it gets dangerous.

It’s these thought patterns that can stunt the growth of our happiness and a lot of the time we don’t even realise we have so many of them. We then give them permission to grow by allowing them to come back over and over again cementing the negative belief. So the answer must be to get rid of our negative thoughts, right?

Actually, no. Your goal isn’t to get rid of negative thoughts, it is changing your response to them.

We’ll never truly get rid of our negative thoughts so there’s no point putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to rid them altogether.

Instead, when you next have a negative thought – either about yourself, someone else or a situation you face, just stop, acknowledge it and choose your response. You can either choose to change the thought and therefore react in a different way or choose to continue the negative thought until it affects your mood and even contribute to your core negative beliefs.

This is why meditation is so wonderful for teaching you how to notice your negative thoughts and giving you the space to do this. It teaches you to:

  1. Be more aware of your thoughts both negative and positive.
  2. Notice when a negative thought arises and don’t pass judgement on yourself or blame yourself for the thought. (remember self-compassion!)
  3. Acknowledge the negative thought and note it.

By getting into the habit of doing this, you’re gradually giving yourself the power to respond to these thoughts – whether that’s getting to the root cause or changing it to a more positive thought. After a while you will actually start to notice the negative thoughts start to fall away more easily and you will definitely notice a difference in your mindset.

So next time you have a negative thought, stop and acknowledge it. Ask yourself how this is contributing to your overall happiness and choose to take the power back 🙂

 

How Does Nature Increase Our Happiness And Well-Being?

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Ever been for a hike into the mountains and felt renewed afterwards or felt refreshed after walking your dog in the woods or by the sea? This is probably nothing new to any of you – that taking ourselves outside and taking in the nature around us boosts our mental well-being and happiness levels.

In today’s modern world, we are forcing ourselves more and more indoors and online resulting in less exposure to all that feel-good natural energy we have access to. Or perhaps you’re someone who lives to be outside on a constant basis and can’t go a day without immersing yourself in mother nature.

There have been many scientific studies that have gone towards investigating the true effects that being in nature has on our happiness levels but what exactly happens to us when we’re exposed to a natural environment?

Our Stress Levels Decrease. While the physical act of taking a walk or going for a run will definitely lower your stress and anxiety levels, doing this outside surrounded by nature can actually emphasise this even more. This has been compared to people walking in built-up areas such as cities where there has been a significant difference in heart rate and anxiety levels. Those that walk surrounded by nature are more likely to be relaxed and at peace than those walking in places where little nature is found.

Our Negative Thoughts Lessen. Have you ever been for a walk in the forest or by the sea to ‘clear your head’? Afterwards you feel immensely more calm. Well, studies have found that being in nature affects our mood for the better. People are found to experience more positive emotions after being in nature such as excitement, hope, happiness, calmness and just a general positive outlook on difficulties or problems.

Rumination of negative thoughts which can lead to depression and anxiety are lessened – in fact simple exposure to nature can shut sown parts of the brain that are associated with depression.

Our Tiredness and Mental Fatigue Defuses. ‘A breathe of fresh air’ has become quite a common saying and has maybe lost some of its true meaning but being out in nature (and especially near water) we are breathing in much more pure oxygen and negative ions which are good for our well-being and ultimate happiness.

We are completely bombarded with information on a daily basis and it’s more than our brains can really handle without getting mentally and physically drained. Being outside surrounded by trees, plants, water – whatever it may be – can give our minds the mental energy boost we need in this day and age. Not only that, but studies have found nature can increase our ability to restore our attention which is good if you find yourself zoning out after information overload.

We Become More Kind Towards Others. Research has found that after spending time in the great outdoors, you are more likely to feel more kindness, generosity and trust towards others because you are experiencing more positive emotions.

It Evokes Awe Within Us. If you really think about how amazing mother nature really is and how intricate, complicated, exceptional it all is then you will experience awe. Awe allows us to contemplate and acknowledge just how small we are, in comparison to nature, as individuals. Nature-inspired awe involves a “diminished self” and the “sensed presence of a higher power” and you definitely don’t have to be a spiritual person to experience this! Awe is actually a powerful feeling that can contribute to your happiness.

So try to get yourself out in nature as much as possible. Not only will it be good for you physically but also mentally with many reasons for it to contribute to your happiness and well-being 🙂

I didn’t talk much about the different ways being around water can have a massive positive effect on our happiness levels, so here’s an article I wrote about the wonderful power of water – whether oceans, lakes or rainstorms – and the effect it has on our well-being 🙂

Science Explains How Staying Near Water Can Change Our Brains