“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~Arthur Ashe
It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
You dream of a life where you have more freedom—your work nourishes your mind and soul, your home is organized, and you have ample time to exercise and eat right.
It’s not that your current situation is awful, but you long to do more of the things you love. Yet when you contemplate radical changes, your heart rate quickens, and you convince yourself it’s just not the right time.
So you keep waiting for the big moment when you can make that big change that will lead to happiness.
Well, you’re wasting your time …
Our ability to feel happier comes from inside ourselves, not from external circumstances. You don’t need to quit your job, move to an exotic location, or lose weight to be happy. You can embody happiness right now.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at aligning my life activities with my purpose.
I teach at my own yoga studio. I assumed this would make me happy 100 percent of the time, but I get derailed sometimes. I ruminate about the small things like our cluttered house, and the endless details of running a yoga studio. I forget the big picture. I forget all that I have. I get grumpy and start to nitpick.
I have to catch myself and find my happiness from within again. It might take a few minutes, hours, or days, but I use these mini-habits to help me get there. They cost little to nothing and are portable.
No matter your situation, you can start right now. The following habits will help you stand a little taller, smile from your heart, and shine a little brighter.
For Your Mind
1. Breathe deeply.
Inhale deeply, and exhale completely ten times. Deep breathing slows your thoughts, relaxes your nervous system, and brings you closer to your own intuition.
2. Use a mantra to change your mind-set.
Sha is a Sanskrit root word meaning peace, as in “shanti.” Say “sham” slowly ten to twenty times. By combining sound, breath, and rhythm, mantra channels the flow of energy through the mind-body circuit and calms your nervous system and mind.
3. Zone out.
Spend a few minutes daydreaming. Your logical mind, the prefrontal cortex, is constantly planning, analyzing, and thinking about the future. Give it a rest, and just be for a little while; you’ll feel refreshed.
4. Express your love.
Write a note or tell a loved one how you appreciate them. Communicating positive emotions lowers stress hormones, bad cholesterol, and blood pressure, and it strengthens immunity.
5. Rejuvenate your mind.
Close your eyes for a few moments. What do you see in the darkness of your mind’s eye? Notice the patterns that form. This is a simple meditation that rejuvenates and refocuses your tired mind.
6. Explore healing aromas.
Plants like rosemary, lavender, and sage can improve our moods. Create your own natural spa. Put your favorite essential oils in a spray bottle with a little water.
7. Swap a thought.
Make a list of your positive traits and attributes. When you criticize yourself, refer to this list. Keep this pattern up and you’ll transform your inner dialogue.
8. Allow yourself to be.
Accept all your feelings about your present situation. They are valid, whether you like them or not. Accepting your current situation is the first step to feeling happier.
9. Loving-kindness meditation.
Loving-kindness builds positive emotions, which increases mindfulness and purpose in life. Spend a few minutes letting feelings of love and kindness for someone wash over you.
When thoughts come, return to your breath without judging. Deep breathing clears your mind and decreases your stress levels, which will allow you to feel happier.