One of my most popular workshops and indeed one that I love hosting is entitled “How to be Happy”
Now, if you Google those words you come up with millions of ways to be happy. (About 175.000.000 results (0,68 seconds) ).
There are all the usual suspects: 3 ways, 7 steps, 10 ways, 8 life-changing… etc etc.
But really it all boils down to choice. We can choose to be happy (Yes, I am generalising here, just a little…).
There are lots of things you can change in your life quite easily and at least once a year we all vow to do so, usually with a New Year’s resolutions and many of us join the Gym and then never even finish off January, let alone the first three months.
As humans, we like change, but we don’t like to change ourselves and are such huge creatures of habit and it is notoriously hard to change those habits sometimes.
So how about we look at the Lazy person’s way to get Happy.
1) Exercise: One of the hardest, so let’s start with that.
I am not talking about doing 20 sit-ups before your shower or running round the block in your fancy Lycra. I am recommending that you simply increase incrementally the distance you walk. 99% of us seem to drive everywhere and then try to park as close to our destination as possible. Hmm not good.
Change that habit. Park a little further away from the door than you normally would. You do not need to park so close to the supermarket trolleys do you?, park further away from the lift than you usually do, avoid double parking outside a cashpoint etc.
Instead of taking the lift up or down one floor, use the stairs. Instead of calling or texting someone or e-mailing someone in the same building. Walk to their desk and say hello in person. Not only will you improve your health, but improve relationships too. (Win Win situation).
One way to keep up the challenge is to think of the benefits: Exercise can help you relax, increase your brain power, and even improve your body image, even if you don’t lose any weight.
Here is that point again: Even if your actual appearance doesn’t change, how you feel about your body does change.
7 minutes exercise per day is all it takes to make a difference.
2) Sleep: you can’t get lazier than sleeping…
Actually we all know that our bodies need sleep to recover and recuperate and we all know how cranky one can be if you haven’t had enough sleep. I am now in the habit of taking naps in the afternoon when I can and even early evening if I don’t get a full night’s sleep the night before. I can tell you that it helps me enormously.
Some people cannot do naps though, so you need to think about the two main aspects of sleep. Duration (get enough) and Quality (check the bedroom for excessive sound, light and bed comfort).
Remove technology from the bedroom, more and more of us are using mobile phones as alarm clocks, but what is wrong with an old fashioned bedside clock?
No stimulants or food too late at night. Unplug that TV, read a single chapter of a great book (a real one, not on your Kindle). Some nice calming music can help too.
3) Friends and Family.
One of the first questions I ask in the workshop is “What makes you happy?”
The answers, more often than not, contain two very important words, “Friends” and “Family”.
If you live far from your family, friends can become sort of family, so nurture those relationships, get in contact with old friends, make sure you look after new and current friends, it is a vital aspect of being happy. Knowing that you have someone to talk to, or listen to, someone to share things with and do things with is incredibly important.
Some Stats: George Vaillant is the director of a 72-year study of the lives of 268 men.
In an interview in the March 2008 newsletter to the Grant Study subjects, Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
He shared insights of the study on how men’s social connections made a difference to their overall happiness:
Men’s relationships at age 47, he found, predicted late-life adjustment better than any other variable. Good sibling relationships seem especially powerful: 93 percent of the men who were thriving at age 65 had been close to a brother or sister when younger.
Note: I showed the statistics on men, because they find it harder to make and keep friends than women do (or is that just my idea?)
4) Meditate: slow life down a notch
The single most effective way of being happier is to mediate (many studies have shown this). But what exactly is meditation? and how can one do it? Is it just sitting still, in silence, cross-legged on the floor, finger and thumb together, going “Om”?
Well, in a way yes, it can be that, but it can also be you just closing your eyes and guiding your thoughts away from your worries and all that negativity and just being still, breathing slowly, concentrating on your breathing or another sound or a spot somewhere in front of you in your mind’s eye. No special clothing needed or special rooms or anything, just you.
You can do one minute meditations, 5 minute, 10 minute, you can do it anywhere, at any time, in any place. No-one need ever know that you do it. You can do it by yourself, in groups, guided or non-guided. You can download guided meditations very easily to get you started.
5) last tip: Practice Gratitude.
This is one that I personally find hard, hard to do and hard to believe. But zillions of studies have shown that this truly makes you happier and maybe they (whoever they are) are right. I do agree that being grateful for what you already have rather than coveting what your neighbour has, will automatically make you happier. I feel a society that runs on material goods such as wanting that huge screen TV, or that iPhone, or that Luxury car or whatever the latest trend is, is bound to be fraught with frustration and envy.
You know, thinking about it, I have never been one to be envious of others that way, so maybe that is why I find it hard to practice gratitude, it is because I am already thankful for what I have.
What do I have?
You, my friends and family, how can I not be happy?
What do you choose?
If you like this article and would interested in attending or holding a happiness workshop in your company, please send me a mail @ firstname.lastname@example.org