Perhaps a deep rooted joy and peace does not lie in the pursuit of happiness, but in addressing the contributors to one’s perception of unhappiness.
Popular today are encouragements to think positive, happy and grateful thoughts. And if that comes easily and naturally, stay with that! However, there are many, myself included, who have discomfort with denying current feelings. Instead of ‘faking it’ till it feels real, I prefer to acknowledge, examine and allow whatever is my truth in the moment. The wonderful thing about impermanence is that no matter what it is, or how intense it feels, it will surely pass. But in the interim period, instead of arguing it away, or disowning it, here are some simple things we can do to help ourselves regain centredness.
The suggestions have been organized to look at things from a physical level, emotional level and then eventually from a higher perspective.
At a Physical Level:
We have a body to care for and its well-being is closely co-related with our emotional state, ability to think clearly and to be aware. Neglecting some simple, basic requirements of this reality can cascade into greater challenges.
- One of the most common and also most neglected needs is our requirement for earthing. Even as our exposure to electromagnetic frequencies has gone up, our disconnect from earth has grown. Spend a daily 15-30 minutes with bare feet on the ground/sands and see the difference for yourself.
- Exposure to early morning sunlight improves health, regulates circadian rhythm and is helpful in case you are suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
- Regular exercise may be the most powerful natural antidepressant available. It stimulates release of endorphins, improves oxygenation, and lowers stress.
- Timely, nutritious meals: Eating nutritious food at regular intervals is important. Fresh fruits and veggies contain vital nutrients which affect mood. Foods containing complex carbs such as brown rice, potatoes, wheat pasta and broccoli often act as comfort foods. Consider the need to include wholegrain cereals, beans, spinach, soya, wheat germ, oats, figs, unsalted seeds and nuts, ginger, basil and rosemary in your diet. Small amounts of dark chocolate can boost your mood, but larger quantities can cause it to plummet. Walnuts, fish and flaxseeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids (known to help alleviate depression).
- Despite the above, know that many of our foods no longer contain the same quality and quantity of nutrients as before. It is well known that a Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread today, especially among vegetarians, and can be a cause of depression or fatigue. Check with your doctor to see if you require any supplements: such as Vitamins B & C, Folic Acid, Copper, Iron, Magnesium or Zinc.
This article lists some useful dietary information: “Anyone considering antidepressants needs to try these 6 natural supplements first.” A tablespoon of turmeric in warm water or milk everyday may be helpful.
- Minimize sugar, caffeine, prescription drugs and alcohol. The short-lived relief is not worth the long-term consequences.
- Sleeping and waking up: Disruptions in sleep are highly impactful on weight, mood and energy. The last thoughts before sleeping affect the quality of rest and the first ones on waking can change our experience of the day. Instead of the news, or some mindless drama, end the day with a simple question like ‘What did I enjoy today?‘. There is no need to force a positive answer. Parking the question is enough. Similarly, practice asking an interesting question immediately upon waking up, such as ‘I wonder what will bring me joy today?‘, or ‘How can I contribute to the world today?‘. You will find that you effortlessly begin to notice a difference.
- Declutter your physical space: This helps remove distractions, troubling reminders of the past and creates space for something new. It also shifts energies in significant ways. Empty your fridge and pantry of expired or outdated foods, change the sheets and clean the windows. You may find yourself seeing more clearly in more than one way!
At an Emotional Level:
(From ‘The Pause Diet – for Joy and Peace‘)
- Pause to remind your self – ‘I am experiencing this emotion’. For example, instead of thinking ‘I am angry’, remind yourself that ‘I am experiencing anger.’ This helps to acknowledge the emotion while not identifying your self with it. It is a reminder that the emotion is transient and will pass.
- Pause to question the cause of this emotion – Very often, the true cause of the emotion is far different from the apparent reason on hand. Understanding what is really bothering will help you to resolve the emotion as also notice any underlying behaviour patterns.
- Pause to breathe – Acknowledgement, acceptance and peace come more easily when you simply return your attention to your breath. In heightened emotional states, we are setting off a cascade of physiological changes. These can be moderated by conscious breathing, especially into your heart area.
From a Higher Perspective:
It is practical to question the assumption that ‘I must be happy all the time‘.(Follow the link to read more on this approach.) Having said that, the following helps create a deeper understanding and allowance of life as it flows:
- Create spaciousness: Busyness can be a self sabotage strategy; an unconscious avoidance of difficult introspection and radical decisions that you know you must make. It can also be a mindless habit that leaves you operating on autopilot. Deliberately create empty slots in your day, to rest, reflect and rejuvenate.
- Reclaim your power and influence: Where have you parked your source of happiness? Who or what have you made your singular object of affection? Remind yourself that your happiness is only in your hands. See “Home is where the heart is” for a more detailed discussion on this.
- Reconnect with nature: This will bring perspective to your life, your place in the larger scheme of things and help heal your connection to Source.
- Contribute to others: Focusing your attention and actions towards the benefit of someone else will bring you deep fulfilment and begin to dissolve the importance you give to what you consider as a source of unhappiness for you.
Lastly, and importantly, allow all of the above to help you find the clarity and courage to be authentic. For when we are in alignment with our wholeness and who we are at heart – a peaceful joy becomes our natural state. A comprehensive article focusing on this aspect can be read at: “Are you singing your own song or dancing to another tune?“.
If you find any of this useful, please share it with others.
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu!
(May all sentient beings be happy)
Image Credit & Copyright: Tanushree Vaidya