“Oh, it’s a mystery to me. We have a greed with which we have agreed. And you think you have to want more than you need. Until you have it all you won’t be free.” -Society (Eddie Vedder)
I listened to an amazing interview (featuring two of my fellow life coach friends!) a couple of weeks ago, and during one part they were talking about the concept of hedonic adaptation. This basically means that we get used to good stuff. It’s how that the fuzzy feeling you get from a certain thing starts to subside over time. You know what I’m talking about! Like when you get a new pair of shoes that you “had to have” and within a few weeks you forget that you even own them as they collect dust in your closet. A lot of people get on the hedonic treadmill – constantly searching for the next best thing and hoping to find happiness in tangible things and/or from other people.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy the things that you buy. I really like my books and my juicer for example. I re-read my books over and over again, and I use my juicer nearly every day. I find a lot of joy in both of these simple things. (I just moved from Alberta back to Nova Scotia and actually packed my juicer in the car in case the moving truck takes too long to get here with the rest of my stuff. That’s how much I love juicing!) What I am saying, however, is that “stuff” won’t make you happy if you aren’t already.
“Let me drop a word a word of advice for believers of my faith. To enjoy life’s immensity, you do not need many things.” ~Ryokan~
So, if we don’t find happiness in material things, what is it that actually does make us happy? I found a great “How to Be Happy” article on wikiHow (yes, you can find out pretty much how to do anything on there!). Here are the 11 tips they list for creating more happiness in your life:
1) Be optimistic. Trust me, changing the way I think about/look at things was completely life changing – in a really good way! Optimism rocks!
2) Follow your gut. You always know the right choice for you. Don’t base your decisions on other people’s opinions or let fear rule. Trust your intuition!
3) Make enough money to meet basic needs. I have never been very wealthy, but I’ve always had what I need, and that makes me feel rich!
4) Treat your body like it deserves to be happy. How? Exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep. Self-care is critical for your well-being.
5) Stay close to friends and family. Feeling connected in my relationships is a must for me. (Being disconnected makes me feel discontented.)
6) Be compassionate.How do you show up in the world and help others? It can be as simple as holding the door open for someone.
7) Have deep, meaningful conversations. Be open, and express yourself! Say exactly what you want to say. I promise you it’s very liberating!
8) Find happiness in the job you have now. If you can’t (don’t want to) change your current (dreaded) job, change how you feel about it! Find the good in it.
9) Smile. I love to smile! It actually in fact makes me feel better when I do.
10) Forgive. Grudges work the opposite way you want them to; they hurt you – not the other person. Letting go of the past allows you to enjoy the present.
11) Make friends. Friends are your support team. They make life better for so many reasons. You don’t need a lot; you just need the ones meant for you.
I believe (and this list backs my theory!) that what we need in order to feel happy is a strong connection to who and what we love – including ourselves and The Universe. When we live as our true selves and do the things we love with the people we love, happiness knows no limit.
“It’s good to have money and the things money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy.” ~George Horace Lormier~