In pursuit of happiness. Isn’t that what everyone is searching for? The holy grail of human life? Having suffered from postnatal depression and anxiety and having a daughter with anxiety mental health and happiness is something I place a lot of importance on and am always looking for ways to make life the best it can be. Life under the black cloud is miserable and finding ways to smile again is vital. I can’t promise that you will be happy after reading this but hopefully the tips I will share with you can help you on your journey. Happiness is something that people spend so much time seeking and so many don’t find and that’s too tragic to bear thinking about so hopefully these tips will help to lift at least one person’s mood and it will spread from there. I believe that happiness is contagious and you have no idea how far the effect of your good mood can spread. Especially if you couple that with acts of kindness and good deeds.
This weekend at a blogging conference, (BlogOn in Manchester) we had a talk by Jason Todd from The Art of Brilliance and it left me feeling utterly inspired to make changes and take control of my own happiness. A very passionate, down to earth and likeable speaker, he talked about setting goals for your happiness, when you get that new job, when you go on holiday, when you retire, and how if you do that, you are always chasing happiness and never getting there. Especially if retirement is your marker, by the time you get there, if you have the realisation that it’s not making you happy, you’ve wished your whole life away. The goal is to be happy now.
Can you find happiness right now and where you are at this very minute? I like to think you can. A few of the tips that were given to us have stayed with me and I’m trying to implement them at home with my family.
The first is that a hug should last 7 seconds to be really effective. You’re not allowed to count either! It feels really odd at first but Laura from Five Little Doves and I tried it out and it was a really great hug!
The second is that you should smile at everyone that comes within a 10 foot radius of you, and say hi to everyone within 5. That can be weird but this is something that I’ve been doing for a long time already, I fact, I met one of my closest friends because we both smiled at each other on the bus and said hi, if we hadn’t been the type to do that, we would never have had the years of wonderful friendship we have enjoyed. I have learnt that there are different reactions to this charm offensive though, some people look startled and smile back, some avert their eyes and look away and some people give you a huge broad smile back that lifts your day.
The last tip I took away was that the first 4 minutes of any interaction is the most important and sets the tone for the rest of the encounter. How many times have you and your partner launched straight into a competition about who’s day was the hardest when you come back together? I know that I’ve done that so many times. Before I even say hi I launch into a spiel about how terrible ‘your kids’ have been and how awful things are and how exhausted I am. Then he tells me how bad his work was and before we know it, we’ve set the pattern for an evening of being grumpy and moany before going to bed in a huff. Jason’s advice was to start that interaction with a positive, talk about the best things from your day and start it on an upbeat note and see how the evening progresses.
The most important thing to me, and the thing that has stayed with me the most was something he said about the first 4 minutes of your interaction with your children. If you greet them from school and go straight off to get changed or check your emails before listening to their day (both things I’ve been guilty of in the past), you are telling them that they are not as important as the other things you need to do. If you take 4 minutes to listen to their day and you talk to them before you go and do the other things, you have reset the interaction and told them that you are interested in what they have to say and that they are important to you.
I am now trying to make our interactions count. In the morning when they wake up, instead of getting up straight away to clean my teeth and go downstairs for breakfast, I am taking time to talk to them and listen to how they are feeling about the day ahead and just connect with them with a cuddle before they venture out into the World. It really seems to be working too. Everyone seems a lot happier.
It sounds really corny but I really feel that the talk has given me a reality check and has helped me to feel that I am in control of my happiness. By making little changes and trying to reset negative habits and behaviours, you can start to lift your own mood, and subsequently, others around you. If you get the chance, I would really recommend going to one of Jason’s talks, there is a brilliant Festival of Happiness in Manchester on June the 2nd that he will be at, find out more here.