Are you feeling like you’re missing something in life—an emptiness in spite of having so much? Are you looking for a happier life?
It may be that you are experiencing a loss of a relationship or a job, deterioration of your health, or the end of a certain phase of your life.
You want a happier life but don’t know where to begin searching. It’s similar to what happens when a baby cries because she has an upset stomach. All she knows is that something is hurting inside. And all she can do is cry.
Complete happiness and fulfilment in life is what we all want. Spiritual masters who have realised their innate divinity experience this state of total peace and contentment. They don’t have anything more to know, see, have or do. They live in the bliss of the Self within.
For the vast majority of us, this goal is very far away. But, if we don’t start putting in efforts towards it, we will never get there. Here are 10 small steps to a happier life that will bring us closer to that goal. . .
10 steps to a happier life…
1. Keep your environment clean
A happier life begins with a happier mind and we all know that the cleanliness and orderliness of our environment affects our mental state. Getting rid of your unwanted and unused things helps to bring a lightness to your mind. Too much “stuff” can be a big source of stress.
For instance, imagine being in a home where there are rooms or closets with heaps of things that need to be organized and either put away or given away. The office is full of papers waiting to be looked at and filed. The kitchen sink has dirty dishes piling up. There are clothes strewn on the floor and on the furniture. . . Day by day, week by week, the situation gets worse.
If you are ready to make the changes that will help you achieve a happier life, it’s important to get rid of your old stuff. Where do you begin?
Try starting with this article, How to get rid of things: The ultimate guide to decluttering your home.
One of the things I learned from this article is,”There’s a rule about clothes called the 80/20 rule. What it says is that most people tend to spend 80 percent of their time wearing only 20 percent of what’s in their closet.” This should make it easier to get rid of some of your clothes! How many of us are holding on to things that we even forgot we had?
The lesser the stuff, the lighter and happier you’ll be!
2. Choose your activities and friends carefully
If we want a happier life and an enduring happiness that is not dependent on the outer world but is cultivated from within ourselves, we will have to re-think how we spend our time and whom we spend it with. After all, we become what and whom we spend time with.
The people with whom we spend our time, the flow of our conversations, the news we listen to and read, the social media platforms we participate in, the programs and movies we watch—all these have to be scrupulously chosen.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Is this (activity) worthwhile?
- Is it draining my energy and taking more out of me than giving to me?
- Am I doing it just to pass the time?
- Is it bringing me what I really want in life?
- Am I learning and growing?
- Is (name of person) someone I want to spend time with?
- Are our interactions respectful, kind and loving?
We tend to do things out of habit, even if we know we are not making the best choices. Taking some time to stop and question our activities and the company we keep helps us recalibrate and make higher choices so we gain a greater peace and happiness in life.
3. Keep spiritual company daily
We are spiritual beings who take ourselves to be our personalities and rarely remember our essential nature. For a happier life, we need to stay connected with our true essence and purpose in life on a daily basis.
We can do this through regular satsang. Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means associating with spiritual company.
Keeping spiritual company can mean listening to talks given by spiritual teachers, meeting with like-minded people to discuss spirituality, or reading spiritual or inspirational books, magazines, and articles on our own. We can attend services at a place of worship where people gather to pray, sing devotional hymns, and read from holy books.
There are countless spiritual teachers giving talks on the Internet providing inspiration for our daily life. There are also innumerable spiritually focused groups that share inspirational stories and quotations.
Take a few minutes at the start of your day for satsang. Then, put aside the book or recording and reflect on what you just read or heard.
Reflection helps to clarify the ideas you just took in and imbeds them into your consciousness. This will still your mind and make it peaceful.
It will infuse it with positive vibrations that will influence how you view and respond to the rest of your day. What’s more, the words will instil your mind with spiritual values that will build faith and inner strength.
Knowledge is power and spiritual knowledge and inspiration through satsang can literally transform you whole life.
4: Focus on giving rather than getting
There comes a time when getting and enjoying isn’t enough to make you happy. No matter what you do and possess, there remains a nagging feeling that tells you that that’s not enough and there’s more to life. You wonder what else you can do to take you to the next level of your happiness.
This is when you stop looking to get and start thinking about giving back.
“How can I serve?” is now your focus. You now look for opportunities to help and uplift others with gestures of kindness and love. You want nothing in return, just the joy that comes from being of service. You are grateful for the opportunity others give you to serve. You are not looking for tangible rewards but rather, a sense of peace and fulfilment that comes from selfless giving.
Kahlil Gibran once said, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” For a happier life, look for opportunities to serve and relieve the burdens of others.
5. Dedicate your everyday activities to the divine
Performing various duties at home, at work or in the community are an inevitable reality of life. We often feel drained from juggling our duties from one area to another.
A school teacher who is a mother also has to take care of her children at home. She cooks, cleans, tutors them and drives them to school or other extra-curricular programs. At work she’s physically and emotionally drained by the needs of her students. Her principal may be demanding, she may have various reports to submit to the school board, and she has to deal with the parents of her students. She feels shredded and depleted.
If you can relate to this scenario, the solution is to simplify your focus without sacrificing any of your duties. You can mentally invoke the divine and dedicate all you duties to this one source. Simply invoke the divine and mentally say, “For you” whenever you do a particular duty. You then don’t feel you’re doing it for any particular individual but you feel that everything that you do is for the divine.
Why is dedicate our actions to the divine? Since we gain our abilities and faculties from one divine Source, we offer all our actions to It with feelings of gratitude and surrender. Dedicating our actions to the divine benefits all people everywhere, man or woman, young or old. This divine dedication divinizes you mind and life. You grow in inner maturity and equanimity. You experience less stress and more energy for your life.
Serving others as a dedication to the divine is the simple secret to a happier life.
6. Daily Prayer
Prayer tunes the mind to the divine, the infinite source of power and strengthens your connection with it.
Whenever you feel anxious, fearful or even just overly excited when facing a challenge, your ability to meet it is compromised. A powerful solution is to surrender in prayer and ask for help and support. Pra
yer opens the heart, fills it with calm confidence and inspires the mind with solutions as well.
When you tune in to that source which has infinite power and knowledge, you lighten yourself of the burden of your worries and sorrows gain peace and inner strength.
Prayer has to come from the heart. When it does, your mind gets uplifted and peaceful.
Remembering the divine, having faith in it, and surrendering to the great power is the way to overcome all our problems and live a happier life.
For a happier life, daily meditation is a must. The greatest gain is the peace that you feel when you shift your awareness away from the outer world, your emotions and thoughts and place it on being the inner witness.Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s an overview of a basic method.
- Go to your dedicated sacred space reserved only for prayer, meditation and reflection.
- Sit on a chair or on the ground in a comfortable posture, holding your back straight.
- Keep very still and close your eyes.
- Keep your breathing slow, deep and even. As you do so, your mind will become calmer.
- Chant a mantra or affirmation very slowly expanding the gap between the chants.
- Hold the inner peace for as long as you can.
- When thoughts come up, chant your mantra again and shift your attention to being the observer of your chanting.
- Repeat until you start to tire and then end your practice.
8. For a happier life, practice gratitude
Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast, tells us to find beauty in every moment and reminds us that today not just another day—it is a gift. And, the only fitting response to that gift is gratefulness.
He says, “If you do nothing else but cultivate that response [gratefulness] to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.”
What you focus on grows. And so if you focus on the good or the blessings in your life instead of what is not going well, you will be a happier person.
Gratitude is appreciating all the things that support you and make your life easier. If you make it a practice to look for the blessings in every situation and express your gratitude for them, you will always be happy.
No situation is absolutely bad. The higher you shift your perspective of the situation, the greater the chances of you finding the good in it.
From the highest spiritual perspective, nothing happens without the sanction of the supreme intelligence that oversees and governs our lives. That supreme source is inherently benevolent and no death or destruction is without a higher purpose.
For example, if trees are destroyed in a forest fire, it could be that the fire paves the way for new growth and regeneration. Even if humans are plundering the natural resources, there is learning and growth happening from the experience of the repercussions of those actions.
At a personal level, if tragedy or death occurs, there is always growth and soul lessons in it. We will have to tune in with faith and seek out the blessings in that situation.
9. Confess your mistakes
A clear conscience is the best sleeping pill—Swami Tejomayananda
We all make mistakes that we regret or feel guilty about. Admitting that we were wrong or that we made a mistake is the first thing to do to clear our conscience.
Guilt, regret and shame are heavy energetic loads that weigh us down. Carrying a nagging unease underneath our daily interactions is indeed an unhappy state to be in.
As soon as you become aware of making a mistake, admit it immediately. Get it off your chest. If you are not able to do it then or to the person directly, then sit in solitude in your sacred prayer space and get it off your chest.
The next important step after confessing is having a sincere desire and putting in the right efforts to make the necessary inner and outer changes. This step will ensure that you will not repeat your mistake again.
Lessening your mental stress through sincere confession is an important step to living a happier life.
10. Forgive and move on
Holding a grudge towards others traps you in bitterness. Forgiving sets you free.
One of the biggest reasons why we deliberately hold back on forgiveness is because we think the perpetrator of the hurt doesn’t deserve it. We make the irrational decision to hold back forgiveness because somehow, we think it punishes him when we do.
Holding back forgiveness does not impose punishment or suffering on the wrongdoer. It punishes us instead.
Whether the person who hurt you apologizes or not, forgiving her frees you of stress, anger, resentment and feelings of wanting revenge. You become lighter and are able to construct a happier life for yourself.
Obviously, this is easier said than done. The heart has been hurt and it doesn’t heal easily. This is when you can turn to the divine for help througha earnest prayer. Here’s a sample of a prayer asking for healing and gaining the ability to forgive and move on.
Help me, save me please. I am completely exhausted. I no longer want to hold on to any bitterness or hatred in my heart. Please release me of this pain. I can’t do it on my own. I seek your grace and healing and surrender totally to you. Please heal me from within, release me and bring me peace of mind. I surrender myself wholly to you and beg for your grace and healing. Thank you.
A happier life begins with these steps
A happier life begins with making positive changes in your physical environment and being very discerning about the company that you keep. You keep your mind positive and inspired through daily satsang. You begin to focus on giving and doing more to help others and dedicate your actions to the divine.
You practice prayer and meditation daily. You cultivate gratitude for the blessings in your life and keep your mind clear through confession and forgiveness.
A happier life can indeed be yours with these 10 steps!
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