We Can’t Fully Be Happy Unless We Are Truly Our Authentic Selves

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It’s probably become a bit of a cliché to say that you should be yourself no matter what. But authenticity is a major factor in achieving a more peaceful, happy way of life.

We all have our little insecurities and hang ups whether it’s the way we look, certain parts of our personalities, how we sound or the way we walk. We often harbour beliefs about ourselves that can stop us showing others how we really are but by doing this and not embracing ourselves warts and all, we are shutting ourselves off from a lot of happiness potential.

Being yourself attracts more authentic people. When we are our true selves we are putting ourselves out there – we are being vulnerable and doing it anyway. We attract what we give out so by being as authentic as we can will attract others who are being authentic.

We will attract the right kind of people because they are seeing who we really are. By not fully embracing ourselves we can’t be fully embraced by others and the relationships and friendships that will bring us the happiness we need.

It will also deter the people who won’t fit into our lives and this isn’t a bad thing. Never worry that by being yourself others will see you and all the faults that you see in yourself – these are only a figment of our paranoid imaginations anyway!

Loving yourself is the best thing you can do. To be your authentic self you need to learn how to love yourself. Some people may need more work on this than others depending on the false beliefs and perspectives they have of themselves but you have no idea how many of the negative problems that occur in your life can be resolved by just seeing how amazing you are.

You don’t have to be successful, rich, give all your money to charity and help everyone but yourself until you’re stretched and exhausted, to be an amazing person. You are unique and wonderful just for the sheer fact you are alive and the sooner you realise this the better 😉

Learning not to be a people pleaser. How many times do we say yes to people out of politeness or not wanting to let them down? While this is good sometimes, you are putting yourself at risk of lowering your authenticity every time. You are going against what you truly want to do or say which only keeps up the pretence and illusion and may even cause you stress in the process.

Learn to say no and love and respect yourself more to not chase after people in order to please them. That doesn’t mean being rude and offhand – it’s about respecting your boundaries and asking others to respect them too.

Make peace with how your life is in the present moment. We’re all guilty of chasing after the happiness that will come when something happens and a lot of the time that something either never comes or doesn’t bring us the happiness we craved.

To be authentic means to live in the present moment; to appreciate right now and not be constantly living in the past or the future. We are not the person we were in the past nor are we the person we will be in the future. Embrace how you are right this second, go with the flow of how you’re changing and adapting to life’s experiences.

Don’t be who other people want you to be. Society has managed to inflict rules upon us that cause us to act, speak and often be people we feel others think we should be. By bowing down to a way of life that doesn’t truly match our inner selves and passions, we are shutting off our full potential.

Life is too short to live according to how others feel we should. Most of the time the beliefs that others have are from their own limited idea of the world and it’s these limitations that have the potential to stop you from showing yourself as you really are and reigning in your happiness in the process.

Don’t compare yourself to others. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, comparisons are only detrimental to you. You can’t compare yourself to someone else – a completely different person with different perspectives, beliefs, thoughts and limitations. Doing this damages your ability to embrace who you are in the present moment and making peace with your own unique journey in life.

So remember, for your happiness to truly flourish you must make yourself your number one priority. This isn’t about being selfish, it’s about going to the source and creating the means to living a life you want. Loving yourself and being authentic can only affect others around you in a happy and positive way so it’s the least selfish thing you can do 🙂

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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

Why Travelling Is Good For Your Soul (Part 1)

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Travel is a big passion of mine. I love exploring new cities and countries – to this day (if I’ve counted right!) I’ve visited 34 countries and loved every minute of it. I know I’m not alone here so I wanted to write about the connection between travelling and how this has the potential to make us happy.

Travel is a wonderful way to achieve personal growth but how exactly can it relate to our psychological well-being and happiness? Travelling vastly isn’t an option for many people but even that two week holiday a year can bring great benefit to your positive well-being if done a certain way. I’ve been lucky enough to experience travel long-term and I wanted to share with you my insights into how I think this has allowed my personal growth to flourish.

Positive Relationships – Travel allows you to be a good ambassador. When you meet new people you are representing your country, a lone traveller, or anything that people may have preconceived ideas about.  It opens up friendships both short and long term with short-term friendships containing just as much value through memories and shared experiences. Long term friendships leave you with many people to visit around the world which can only add to your happiness.

Freedom – I’ve spent some time travelling by myself which to many may induce feelings of anxiety. It did for me too! But by travelling alone you get that massive sense of freedom that stimulates growth and confidence which becomes part of you and is taken with you wherever you go in life. Being out in the big wide world in unfamiliar places can really expose yourself to yourself which can be scary but only adds to personal growth and understanding yourself better – allowing you to see what’s great about you and maybe not so great!

Confidence – When you move around confidently, mastering your way around, exposing yourself to new experiences and immersing yourself in the culture, it can give you a sense of confidence that you rarely find anywhere else. Knowing it is a little fearful but embracing it, letting it go and coming out the other end in tact, flourishes your confidence no end.

Restores Your Faith In Humanity – You can be quite vulnerable when travelling and sometimes plans don’t work out as you thought they would. But it’s not until you’re in that situation that you see just how kind strangers can be and how willing they are to help you out. The kindness of strangers can give you a sense of unity and shows just how much love is around – this isn’t always something you get to be exposed to when going about our humdrum lives.

Questions Your Own Values – Experiencing different people and different cultures allows us to see different perspectives, ways of doing things and almost provides a humbling experience because it shows us that we don’t necessarily know everything or that there are alternative ways of doing things. Your reactions to different experiences whether comfortable or uncomfortable, brings growth and a deeper understanding of ourselves. Interacting with different cultures creates a sense of becoming more open, wiser and less ready to judge people.

Allows Us To Value Ourselves – Travel gets us thinking about our own self-respect and sense of accomplishment. It lets us see what we are capable of doing which can’t always be apparent when we live our normal daily lives. We are constantly being tested when travelling and each time we are, we can surprise ourselves and see our potential and just how amazing we can be.

Of course, travelling is different for everyone. I believe people gain what they fundamentally need and shows you what you’re not seeing. Ultimately I think it allows us to indulge in things that we wouldn’t normally do at home and gets us pushing ourselves naturally which goes towards our own flourishing – and any kind of flourishing, big or small, will go towards psychological well-being and happiness 🙂

 

 

 

Are You Happy In Your Career?

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Happiness in our work and career is often overlooked. We are told from a young age that we work to make money and not to be happy but since the majority of us spend most of our lives in our job, isn’t it important to be happy while doing it?

While a lot of the time it could be a simple mindset change or creating a different perspective on our job, I think many of us fall into a career that we just don’t get excited about. We often get told that dreaming big doesn’t pay the bills and being successful in something that you’re passionate about or suits your ideal lifestyle is reserved for the lucky few.

We dream about escaping the 9-5 chains of the office, in a job that involves meetings, spreadsheets and endless back and forth emails. Whatever job you do, does it make you happy?

A lot of changes have happened in my life over the last few years – being made redundant from my 9-5 office job in London, travelling to China to teach English, moving to Norway for almost 3 years, and then making the decision to move back home. Career-wise, after a whirlwind few years, I suddenly found myself lost as to what I wanted to do and spent endless days searching for jobs I had experience in but wasn’t really interested in doing  – it was soul-destroying.

Until one day I realised I didn’t want to spend hours commuting to a job I didn’t want to do, in a place I didn’t want to be. I wanted freedom, I wanted to do a job on my own terms, I didn’t want to sit in an interview trying to convince someone I can do a job I ultimately didn’t want to do. It was a journey and one where I had to believe I could achieve what I want in life and life is too short to be spending it in an unhappy state.

I started this blog and from this I realised how much I loved writing. From no experience, I applied for a few writing jobs and I’m now turning this into a freelance career – one where I have the freedom to be creative and do what I love most – travel!! I’ve just come back from Paris and Prague which I wouldn’t have been able to do so easily if I had gone for that long-commuting office job. I don’t know where it’ll take me but I know I’m happy and that’s what counts 🙂

I wanted to write this for anyone who is currently unhappy in their job. If you are, I would strongly recommend you to read a wonderful book called Be A Free Range Human by Marianne Cantwell. It really helps you understand what you really want to do with your working life – it’s not a cliche book about how to find your passion but it’s about what lifestyle you want and focusing on what ultimately makes you happy.

So don’t think you can’t be happy in your job. We live in a time when people are breaking free from the jobs they hate and realising that it’s not all about slaving away until we finally retire looking back and wondering what we got out of it. You deserve to be happy all day every day so make it a reality 🙂

 

Do We Get Happier As We Get Older?

Today is my birthday…hurrah! It got me thinking about happiness and age – specifically do we get happier as we get older?

Happiness tends to be positively linked with age and there has been a plethora of scientific research that has delved into the answer to this question.

It seems happiness is intrinsically associated with youth and youth means opportunity, excitement, health and the start of the life journey. Yes, we have more energy and future hope but I don’t think this necessarily equals being more happy. Youth brings more mistakes that cause us to feel lost and confused. Societal pressure to have your life going in the right direction can cause stress and feelings of failure if it doesn’t work out the way you expect.

We’re happier when we’ve accomplished our major goals. Many studies have shown that happiness becomes more prevalent in our lives when we’ve completed the goals we’ve set ourselves. This causes us to float along in life more contently and happily because we no longer have to strive for the big things we want out of life. This isn’t to say we stop working towards goals but we do this in a more laid-back, ‘along for the ride’ attitude.

We appreciate things more when we’re older and appreciation plays a huge role in happiness. Gratitude and appreciation is a major factor in the achievement of happiness and with the increase of age comes the increase in appreciation. It’s been found that although identity in youth is formed through experiences such as travelling, falling in love (several times), and general thrill-seeking, as we get older we find identity is found in everyday, simple pleasures and with this comes more contentedness.

With wisdom comes happiness. Every year we get older we add our lifetime experiences to our sense of self. We learn from what we’ve done and fine-tune our ideas, beliefs, understandings and apply this to life going forward. The wisdom we develop adds to our happiness as we realise others opinions don’t matter so much or how much money we make isn’t ultimately as important in making us happy as loved ones do.

We have a greater sense of acceptance as we get older. We resist less as we get older. When we’re younger we tend to want to control circumstances that are mostly outside of our control. With this brings frustration and sense of failure if it doesn’t go our way. Age allows us to accept our situations for what they are and being happy with them. This is where appreciation and feeling content with how things are ups our happiness levels.

So turning a year older, whatever your age, shouldn’t be approached with apprehension and reluctance. Be safe in the knowledge that your happiness is most likely going to rise to whole new levels 🙂

If you’re interested, here’s a great TedxTalk about age and happiness:

 

 

The Effects Of Sleep On Happiness

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Sleep is a necessary component to our happiness. Getting enough sleep can reduce stress and depression which in turn will reduce health problems and increase and optimise our ability to function during the day.

It’s not always easy getting enough sleep with the busyness of modern life and having to juggle work with other areas of our life. Stressful events can stop us from getting those forty winks and if this happens regularly it can take its toll on our waking life.

De-stressing your life will obviously have it’s benefits in the long run; exercising and meditation practice are a couple of things you can incorporate easily into your daily routine to promote a better night’s sleep.

And of course it’s not just the quantity of sleep but the quality is even more important. 8 hours of restless sleep is worse than a good, solid 6 hours sleep. So what can we do to help ourselves get this much-needed shut-eye and therefore increase our happiness levels and quality of life?

Exercise. This is probably the most obvious and effective ways to get a good night’s sleep. Having a regular exercise routine will expel our energy efficiently and prepare the body for a good and well-deserved rest through the night.

Eating habits. What we eat has a massive effect on how well we sleep. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with less sugar and bad fats will promote a better sleeping pattern.

Hydration. Drinking enough is crucial for the body to function properly at night. Being sufficiently hydrated will allow the brain to work at its optimum levels both during the day and night.

Meditation and yoga. Stress has a huge effect on the amount we sleep and the quality of that sleep. Trying relaxation methods such as mediation or yoga will lower blood pressure and ease the mind preparing you to drift off to sleep more easily.

Sleep is so essential to our overall happiness and well-being.  At the end of the day, a tired person is not a happy person. It has been found that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to have a high amount of reoccurring negative thoughts and people with adequate amounts of sleep rate themselves higher on the happiness scale.

So if you feel you’re not getting enough sleep then don’t scrimp on your 8 hours and make sure those 8 hours are as optimal as possible by making a few changes to your lifestyle if necessary and try to sleep yourself happy 🙂

International Day of Happiness!

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Today is International Day of Happiness! The 20th March every year is the day that the United Nations have officially elected to be a day of happiness and to acknowledge that every person has a right to be happy and to experience happiness in their life.

Of course, happiness shouldn’t be experienced on one day just like all the other official or unofficial days throughout the year but it is a lovely reminder that happiness is out there 🙂

I thought I’d list the objectives listed on the U.N’s website as I think it sums up what the Day of Happiness represents 🙂

  • Do What Makes You Happy

Smile, share, eat healthily, exercise, be grateful, give back, think positively, spend some time with friends and family, spend some time alone, be mindful, dream, listen to music, say thank you and mean it, compete, be charitable, say “all the more” instead of “nonetheless” – you get it. Do what makes you happy.

  • Spread Happiness

While you’re doing whatever it is you do that makes you happy, don’t forget to do whatever you can do to make others happy! Happiness is contagious. A simple smile can make even a stranger’s day much brighter. You’ve seen the Coca-Cola commercial, right? It’s not a gimmick. Watch it; you will smile! Spread happiness.

  • Tell Everybody

There are more than 7,300,000,000 (that’s 7.3 BILLION+) people on this planet. Each one of them has the right to happiness, and not all of them know it. Tell them. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbours, your co-workers, and your boss – hold your government accountable for securing your happiness. Tell yourself, and remind yourself: happiness is a fundamental human right, and happiness for all is a fundamental human goal. Tell everybody.

  • Celebrate The International Day of Happiness

Article 2 of UN Resolution 66/281: International Day of Happiness

Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate awareness-raising activities.

Celebrate the International Day of Happiness.
Every March 20th, forever.

  • Support Campaigners

Since the International Day of Happiness was established in 2012, thousands of happiness initiatives all over the world have emerged to celebrate and promote its values. Happiness Day’s annually increasing success is due in every way to the organic uprising of mission-based organizations including NGOs, government programs, private sector marketing campaigns, and community-based movements. Support our campaign partners.

 

So go out today and do at least one thing that makes you happy and if you feel inclined, let me know what that is 😉