How to live a “happy” life
“To live a happy life, you don’t have to believe in anything, no supernatural nothings. A GOOD life is about living happily in the present moment, and the only person preventing you from doing that is YOU.” – Nila
Aren’t we all just trying to live a GOOD LIFE?
Let’s be honest, aren’t we all just trying to live a life that’s filled with more happiness and meaning? But how often do we find ourselves in situations where we are just sad, angry, or frustrated. Far away from living the “good life”?
For me, a GOOD life is filled with both joy, hope, love, and curiosity AS WELL AS sadness, anger, grief, and fear. This is why I chose to name my blog “ABOUT THE GOOD LIFE” and not about the “perfect” life.
A GOOD and ultimately happy life, for me, is a wonderful adventure of ups and downs, rain and sunshine, good and (occasionally) bad days. BUT – listen up – the most important thing is that YOU can consciously decide to live your very own GOOD life. By that, I mean that you always have the choice to make an occurring outside event drag you down or not tickle you at all.
A simple example
Often times, I find myself in a situation where someone’s behaviour really irritates me. I get confused and upset – even angry at some point, because I just don’t know what I did wrong! The sentence that really helps me in these situations is:
“If you are not irritated, nobody can be irritating.”
Yes. It always starts with YOU. It is you who decides whether you are going to be irritated or not. I mean, how can you be irritated when there is no one else irritating you? So how can you get rid of an irritating person as quick as possible? Stop being irritated by them!
It’s as simple as that, yes, but I am not saying it is always easy to practice. But ease is not the point, growth is the the point. It is as much about learning to build that conscious mindset as about unlearning old behavioural patterns that are preventing you from living your GOOD, happy life.
Global depression is on the rise
The World Health Organization (WHO) tells us that depression has increased by 36% in the last two decades and is now the second leading cause of disability in the world. (Global Burden of Disease Study, WHO)
Did you know that depression has little to no correlation to external circumstances?
I mean, if money would make you happy, why are there so many rich people unhappy?
As a matter of fact, the journey to greatness often begins the moment our preferences for comfort and certainty are overruled by a greater purpose that requires challenge and contribution.
My definition of happiness
A happy life is a choice. It’s an ongoing journey, not a finite state.
I believe the most common mistake many people make is that they want to live a happy life NOW (what they can of cause by being mindful in the present moment but more about that later). Most of us think we will be happy once we achieve certain goals. But these goals are part of the future, which is yet unknown. We get wrapped up in the fear of uncertainty and these feelings are dragging us even further down. Thoughts and emotions arise inside of us and we easily become their slaves.
Happiness involves mastering these thoughts and emotions and embracing things just as they are – without judgement of good or bad. Once we learn how to rest deeply in the present moment and we train our brains to simply witness without judgement, we can discover within each of us an enormous amount of happiness.
When we learn how to be in the here and now, happiness can be found anytime. Anywhere. Without waiting for something outside of us to change how we feel inside of us.
It’s nothing you can see, smell, taste or feel. It’s something deep inside of you. It motivates us all to avoid pain and seek pleasure. But there is a difference between happiness and pleasure that is often misunderstood by many people. Pleasure is a short-term peek in your emotional state, whereas happiness is a long-term state that can be trained and can have an enormous effect on your entire life. Trust me, it works!
Here is what I know today
I don’t know how to make a pretty website and attract more readers. And I don’t know how to code, how to draw, to surf or to end suffering and poverty (I wish I knew). I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I know how to live my happy life, because after all I have been going through, I know how to find happiness within. I know how to use my breath and to live in the present moment. I am neither rich, nor a spiritual gangster, but I can say that I have found happiness when I started to look inside.
Happiness is a conscious choice in the present moment
“Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” – Thich Nhat Hahn
The only moment we will ever be able to influence is the present moment. There is no better time to start than NOW. The past is history, the future is a mystery that’s why the present is called “a present”, right?
The problem is that a happy life, as most people see it, is not a byproduct of getting something. Happiness is a state of being. It is the fuel for all great work and it moves us towards achieving the greatest goals. The latest studies show that doctors who are primed to be happy are 90% better at performing diagnosis, students perform better at any test, and salespersons increase their results by 50%.
The biggest problem in our society is that we never learn how to be happy, which is probably the most important lesson I have learned in my life – far away in Bali.
Happiness should be taught at every school
One of the most amazing experiences, I was lucky enough to witness, was when I visited green school in Bali. I was staying with a wonderful woman and her daughter at that time who was a student at green school, a school that is nestled between lushes greens, where children sing, play and create together in beautiful open bamboo houses. EVERYTHING at this school is made out of bamboo – even the toilets, and the open class rooms.
Green schools official statement is: “We believe schools should be places of joy, and strive to champion a new model of education that fully ignites the imagination of children so they can engage and learn with optimism, inventiveness and wonder.”
When I stepped on the ground of green school for the first time, I immediately knew that I wanted to send my children to this school one day.
A school that is a place of joy
Many of today’s schools are characterised by rote learning, stifling a child’s capability to think creatively, feel passionately and connect outwardly. Green school is different.
Green school brings joy into education and ignites children’s imaginations, so they are stimulated to discover meaningful passions of their own, not just do what they’re told.
The most wonderful and surprising thing is that green school has a “gong” rather than a bell. Whenever students hear the gong sound they are instructed to spend one minute in complete silence – meditating. I was surprised that even the kindergarten kids seemed to quiet down. No talking, no eye blinking, nothing but sitting still. After one minute the gong rang again signaling teachers and students that it was time for a break. To get up, run around and socialise with their peers. What a remarkable moment and experience I will cherish in my heart forever – and might even implement in my own family life one day 🙂
Here is a video from green school to give you a little impression of this wonderful place on earth:
What helps me to life a GOOD and happy life?
“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”
Here are some tools that I practice daily, to tap (back) into my happy space:
- Being present (throughout the day)
- Daily Yoga practice (my gentle at home gym session)
- Daily Meditation (it really is like taking your brain to the gym)
- Mindful breathing techniques (whenever stress arises)
The best thing about these tools is that I can take them with me wherever I go and they do not even cost anything!
Remember: You can drink your daily green smoothies, eat healthy, do yoga and practice meditation BUT you will never reach the restful feeling of just being happy as long as fear and anger reside within you. By this, I mean that happiness is a constant, daily practice. A practice that is definitely worth to keep up practicing – even in the midst of chaos.
What do you love to do?
Ask yourself: What is it that brings joy into my life? What activities do I like to practice? Who are the people that lift me up instead of drag me down?
I know that I love to create, to write, to “go with the flow”. I love to teach, to inspire and share my knowledge with others. Of course, I also love to practice yoga, and meditation. Eat nourishing colourful food. And I always want to stay happy, healthy and confident.
See, it’s more about what experiences you want to experience than what things you want to have in your life.
It also helps me to remind myself on a daily basis that what we do with what we have tends to be far more important than what we have in the first place. I was once living through hell. I was suffering on a daily basis and felt so hopeless and lost. But I always knew that deep inside I was this kind, loving person that could use her skills to help others one day. I believed that there was something bigger than myself awaiting for me.
It is true that happiness can only be found in the present moment. And these moments – I believe – will ultimately add up to the GOOD LIFE.
The most important lesson I have learned
Don’t put your happiness in somebody else’s hands!
The only person who is ever stopping you from being happy, my friend, is YOU.
See the logo of this page? It’s your heart placed in your own hands! That’s what the GOOD LIFE is all about. Happiness is not coming at you. It’s coming FROM you. The only person who can either make you happy or unhappy is yourself! So instead of blaming anyone else, start going inside to change how you think and feel.
So happiness isn’t just a deep spark in your pleasure all the time. Happiness doesn’t come from the outside. It comes from within. It is a life-long inside job every single one of us has to work on.
So go out there. Take responsibility. Be happy and empower others to do the same!
Remember: Life is a miracle, so make it a miracle to remember!
The Dalai Lama ones said: “You want to be happy? Make other people happy!“
With a whole lot of love and gratitude, as always,