10 things you think will make you happy – but won’t

Celebrated Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard reveals ten common paradoxes that keep us from living our best lives.

1. Becoming rich, powerful and famous.

2. Treating the universe as if it were a mail-order catalog by expecting it to gratify our every desire.

3. Yearning for the “freedom” to achieve every last wish. This is not freedom, but being the slave of your own thoughts.

4. Seeking too much pleasure. Pleasurable sensations soon become dull, and often become unpleasant.

5. Maliciously taking revenge on someone who has hurt you. By doing so, you become like them and poison your own mind.

6. Assuming that any one thing will make you happy. Such predictions usually don’t turn out to be true.

7. Expecting all praise and no criticism. Without criticism, you won’t progress.

8. To vanquish all your enemies. Animosity never brings happiness.

9. To never face adversity. Refraining from doing so will make you weak and vulnerable.

10. Expending all your effort on taking care of yourself alone. Altruism and compassion are the roots of genuine happiness.

Source: Yahoo

5 ways to cultivate happiness

Happiness is a person choice that we make everyday. Your choices, thoughts and actions can influence your level of happiness. Below are some great tips for cultivating happiness:

1. Surround yourself with happy people. Being around people who are content buoys your own mood. And by being happy yourself, you give something back to those around you.

2. Express gratitude. Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It’s a sense of wonder, appreciation and, yes, thankfulness for life. Make a commitment to practice gratitude. Each day identify at least one thing that enriches your life. When you find yourself thinking an ungrateful thought, try substituting a grateful one. Let gratitude be the last thought before you go off to sleep. Let gratitude also be your first thought when you wake up in the morning.

3. Cultivate optimism. Develop the habit of seeing the positive side of things. If you’re not an optimistic person by nature, it may take time for you to change your pessimistic thinking. Start by recognizing negative thoughts as you have them.

4. Find your purpose. Having a goal provides a sense of purpose, bolsters self-esteem and brings people together. What your goal is doesn’t matter as much as whether the process of working toward it is meaningful to you. Try to align your daily activities with the long-term meaning and purpose of your life.

5. Live in the moment. Don’t postpone joy waiting for a day when your life is less busy or less stressful. That day may never come. Instead, look for opportunities to savor the small pleasures of everyday life. Focus on the positives in the present moment. Don’t spend your time rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Take time to stop and smell the flowers.

Bring more happiness into your life

Happiness is a state of mind that you can cultivate. Here are 5 ways to turn on your happiness way up:

1. Find a Happiness Buddy: The more you and your buddy practice choosing happiness, the more it becomes ingrained in your neural pathways.

2. Stop Worrying and Go to Gratitude:
here is a simple antidote to worry, and that is gratitude. At the first sign of worry, list off and recreate in your mind three things that you are grateful for in your life.

3. The Power of Perspective:
There is great power, presence and aliveness in noticing the present moment and how you are feeling right now. By becoming the “watcher” of your emotions, rather than the brunt of them, you can decide, even in tough situations, the perspective you choose to adopt/transmit.

4. Celebrate the Little Things:
Every day is a new chance to notice, honor and savor the little things in life.

5. Transmit Your Happiness to Others: When you are transmitting waves of happiness, these ripple out and influence others more than you know. Think of yourself as a catalyst of positivity for those around you.

Instant happiness

We are at our happiest when we stop thinking about ourselves and start helping others. This is what Bill Murray’s character discovered in Groundhog’s Day. I feel that the quickest way to cheer yourself up is by doing something for someone else.

We all have this compassionate instinct and yet we often find ourselves working hard to suppress it. There is also the very real danger that if we are generous in a foolish way we can do more harm than good. Especially if by being generous we inadvertently sacrifice the recipients’ dignity. Read more from this article.

We are our states of mind

It is easy to have inner calm when everything is going well in your life. But can you continue to be in happy states of mind when you are faced with difficulties in life? As long as we are alive, we will experience both sorrow and joy.

The reason why people are not happy is because they are in states of mind that are limited. In those states of mind, happiness is fleeting. Your state of mind at any given time will determine how you behave, interpret or react to a situation or person.

This is a good article about finding your peace in the midst of chaos.

Cultivating gratitude can make you happier and improve your health

Dr. Robert Emmons, UC Davis, has been researching gratitude for almost a decade. He has written a best selling book: Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.

According to Dr. Emmons, three take-home messages from his book are:
1. The practice of gratitude can increase happiness levels by approximately 25%.
2. It is not hard to achieve the benefit of gratitude: a few hours writing a gratitude journal for over 3 weeks can create an effect that lasts 6 months.
3. Cultivating gratitude brings other health benefits such as better sleep and more energy.

In Dr. Emmons’ gratitude study, in addition to keep a gratitude journal, you can also write a gratitude letter to someone who has a positive influence on your life.

Personally, I write thank you notes (via e-mail) and thank you cards as often as I can to colleagues who have made positive contributions towards the success of the projects at work. I am always amazed how happy my co-workers are when they receive my thank you notes. In return, they go out of their way to help the projects to be successful.

Click here for an interview with Dr. Emmons.

More money does not equate to more happiness

Most adults know the importance of having money. But when your income reaches a certain point, $60,000 a year, making more money does not necessarily make you any happier. In fact, the level of happiness between a person making $60,000 and one million dollars a year is practically the same.

Read more here.

Talk your way to happiness

According to new research, happiness is directly related to the kind of conversation we have with our family and friends. The findings suggest that happy life is social rather than solitary, and conversationally deep rather than superficial.

I find this to be so true in my life too. I like to have deep meaningful conversations with people instead of superficial talk. It just makes you feel better spending time with people you can talk with.

Here is the article if you want to read more about it.

Happiness increases after age 50

The study, based on a Gallup poll from 2008, finds that most people feel increasingly happy starting around age 50. In general, life satisfaction is high at age 18 but sinks until about 50. Then, it starts to climb again, increasing so steadily that most people feel better about their lives at 85 than they did at 18.

NY Times article

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