The secret to finding happiness

Meditation coach Graham Doke, offers practical ways to seek and find happiness.


The secret to finding happiness

1. Happiness is not an automatic thing that flows from circumstances: it has to be pursued for itself. The dream job, an end to money worries, even the perfect relationship are all circumstances – and they will not deliver you happiness. The new iPhone, that designer piece you've had your eye on – all lovely things will go stale and will not deliver happiness. Happiness has to be sought for itself: great circumstances and lovely things are great but do not confuse getting them with achieving happiness.

2. Happiness is a choice. This may sound cheesy, but it is true: you can choose to make yourself unhappy. We always have problems getting what we want, and we often get what we don't want – that's part of life. But we do not have to be miserable about it – that's our choice. If we lose out on that top job, we can choose to be unhappy, and wonder what the universe has against us – or, we can simply shake our heads, and realise that stuff just happens, and get on. With the first scenario, we choose to change our disappointment into unhappiness, and carry it around with us. In the second, we allow disappointment to fade, and our smiles to return.

3. Too much sunshine makes a desert. It is silly to think our lives will be a succession of wonderful events, because they won't. It is just as silly to put on a mindless grin no matter what happens, pretending everything is fine. You are going to have disappointments, and you should not pretend they have not happened; denying emotions such as disappointment and annoyance is unrealistic. Accept them, but do not make them bigger by dwelling on them, or make them last longer. Remember, too much sunshine makes a desert, and too much rain makes a flood.

4.There is a difference between joy and happiness. There is the 'whoo-hoo' feeling when something wonderful happens, a feeling of pure joy. But it does not last. Even the joy of a perfect relationship will fade gradually – sad but true! Joy is great, and a life without joy is, well, joyless. But happiness endures. It is a gentle, warming contentedness that runs in the background all the time; a steady, comforting burn that survives both the ups of pure joy and the downs of disappointment.

5. This is all about mindfulness, and that is about being aware. Being aware at all times of your feelings, and where they come from. If you are feeling angry, sad or bitter, recognise that. Recognise these are just feelings, and like almost everything, feelings can grow out of control if fed and nurtured. Recognise them, accept them and put them in their place alongside all your other emotions – do not let these negative emotions dominate you. And recognise joy for what it is – enjoy it and keep it in perspective. With this sort of awareness – and a meditation practice – happiness will come.

'Happiness’ is one of the brand new self-development modules available on the Anamaya app available on the iTunes store now. With more than 350 meditations and 14 new therapy-based self-development modules, Anamaya offers help with specific day-to-day issues to help users develop their mind for ‘a better way of being’.

Photograph: Istock

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