*Features adult language and themes.*
“The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.”
– George Bernard Shaw
* * *
This is the third feature in our monthly series from self-help guru Kurt Sampson.
* * *
Spring is in the air, the nights are getting lighter. Nature is renewing itself. It’s time for change.
If you’ve taken the first arduous steps on your path to happiness, let me be the first to congratulate you. I realise that this series is not a real time process. You may still be wrestling with the exercises from the very first article. If this is the case, don’t be alarmed. Just stick with it, the rest of the process is waiting for you. Your path lies ahead when you are ready to walk it.
If you feel like you are ready for the advice in this edition, that’s great. The last month must have been full of challenges. In life when we are faced with something difficult it can be all too easy to give in because we are scared to fail. Have you ever considered you might, in fact, be afraid to succeed?
Making big changes in your life is a very brave thing to do. It’s natural to feel afraid, but you have to be sure you are afraid of the right things. If you are afraid of being successful you can subconsciously sabotage your own attempts at improvement.
There are a number of tell-tale signs of self-sabotage:
Procrastination: Do you find it easy to start things but never get around to finishing? You let self-doubt and low self-worth dictate your actions. You worry that if you finish it you might not be worthy of the end result.
Process over result: Do you worry about how you do things so much you never achieve your goals? The result is always more important than the process. There is no single correct way of doing anything. If you visualise the desired result enough the process will emerge naturally according to your own personal strengths.
Perfection: The right time to make a change doesn’t exist. There is never one single moment in time to improve yourself. If you wait around for this imaginary moment to present itself, you will never make a start.
Problems not solutions: You can only perceive the problems in any given situation instead of trying to find the solution.
Being afraid of failure is natural. But to fear success can be stifling. It’s better to try and fail than never get up the courage to try at all.
With that in mind let’s turn our attention to the first layer of life blocks that sit on top of your foundations.
* * *
Your physical health can be directly influenced by happiness. Life stress can manifest physically as illness. Increased stress is proven to weaken your immune system.
Illness in itself is an obvious reason for unhappiness. Inversely good health is something that can make you happy. It can make you embrace life and do things. It can also make you feel lucky.
Happiness is a natural extension of feeling physically well.
Having a healthy mind and body is a springboard to making the most of life.
The bottom line is, happy people live longer!
If you can spend more of your time doing things that make you happy it can strengthen your immune system making you less prone to viruses and infection. You really can help to heal yourself by thinking positively.
It’s important that you don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not saying that by making yourself happy you will be immortal. We often take our health for granted until one day we are struck down by illness. Keeping yourself physically fit and healthy by eating properly and taking exercise has its own obvious benefits. These activities can help you lose weight, give you an excellent sense of well-being and boost your self-esteem.
Good health brings its own rewards, not only can happiness aid your health, a healthy lifestyle can also make it easier to find joy.
Exercises: Go to your doctor for a check up. Take a look at your weight and the way you eat. Are you looking after your body? How is your blood pressure? Life stresses can take their toll on your heart.
Take the doctors advice if changes need to be made. Perhaps you should join a gym or sports team?
A healthy mind should be contained within a healthy body.
* * *
Family & Friends
Good personal relationships will reward you with a life long supply of happiness. To be surrounded by people that love and care about you is a true luxury that sometimes goes unappreciated. Most of us are lucky enough to be raised in a supportive environment. As we get older and make our own circle of friends a distance can develop between you and your family.
Have you made enough time for your family? Do you socialise enough with your friends?
Bad personal relationships can cause low self-worth and social exclusion. Human beings weren’t made to be alone, we are social creatures that yearn for company.
Would your life be better if you had more friends? Maybe if you had less friends and created better relationships with fewer people you would benefit?
Exercises: Make a list of all the people in your life, divide them into friends and family. This is basically your Christmas card list.
Go through the list and try to evaluate the relationship you have with each person. Is it a positive relationship? Would you choose to maintain a relationship with them if you were to meet then anew today? Do you like the person you become when you are around them? Do you trust them? Can you count on them for help and support? Do you get as much out of the relationship as you give?
Once you have evaluated the relationships in your life you must take action. Be sure to put more time and effort into the positive relationships in your life. These are the relationships that help to enrich you.
When it comes to negative relationships in your life you must consider whether you should scale back the amount of time you spend with those people or if you can cut them out of your life completely. This can be a very difficult thing to do, especially if the people are part of your family. However, if there are people in your life that take more than they give and cause you more stress than joy, it’s your responsibility to protect yourself from them.
* * *
As the months go by, the path to happiness becomes smoother and less traveled by others. If you have come this far, the remainder of the journey will be a breeze.
By now you will know yourself better than ever. You will have a clear insight into how you approach life. You are a positive person. You believe anything is possible. You do not fear success.
Stay focused, Stay strong and above all…
* * *
Top 3 happiness tips for March
1. Laugh, long and hard.
Laughter is an amazing stress reliever. It releases endorphins and makes you feel better. Try to think back to when you were a kid, laughter was such a natural reaction. Try to recapture that way of thinking. Embrace the absurdity of life and have the courage to laugh down your problems. Humour is everywhere, make sure you have your eyes open to enjoy it.
Once you have assessed the people in your life and made the tough choices, it is liberating to forgive those that might have wronged you. Truly forgiving others relieves some of the stress they might have caused you. You must always remember that everyone else is on their own personal journey. They may not be as far along the path as you are. You can help them put issues at rest through forgiveness.
3. Read a newspaper everyday.
You’d be surprised how much information you will absorb by reading a newspaper everyday. You will be strong enough by now to ignore the doom and gloom and take on board all the things that will enrich you. Broaden your knowledge and interests. Test yourself by completing the crossword.
Many thanks for reading. If you have any feedback or thoughts, feel free to comment below.