I used to think that sustainable happiness and inner peace were a bit of an urban myth — until I discovered a few key happiness lessons that transformed the way I felt about myself, and the way I showed up to the world.
Here are seven key happiness lessons we could all do with remembering.
1. You are your soul, not your ego.
Your ego is the image you have of yourself, including your social masks, titles and roles. It's easily battered by things not going to plan and bruised by the opinion of others. Your soul is who you really are deep down below all the facades and labels. Your inner spirit doesn't change and can't be harmed — it's strong, wise, loving and joyful.
2. Fear is a one-sided fence.
When you're facing something you fear, it can seem daunting and insurmountable. However, if you move forward anyway and make it past what you feared, you'll look back and realize the fence has disappeared. It was never there — most of your fears were just your imagination; your mind playing tricks on you to keep you in the safety of your comfort zone.
3. Forgiveness sets you free.
Many people find it hard to forgive because they don't believe the "wrongdoer" deserves forgiveness. Instead of focusing on the other person, focus on yourself — forgiveness is about setting yourself free. It releases you from the prison of the past and rids you of toxic emotions that will continue to prevent your future happiness. Try journaling about the memory to release it, or picture the other person involved and repeat the mantra: "I forgive you. I release you. I am free."
4. Unconditional self-love is the key to a successful life.
We often love ourselves with strings attached — as soon as we take a misstep, say the wrong thing or succumb to bad habits, we criticize ourselves and feelings of inadequacy start to surface. It's so important to practice unconditional self-love and acceptance. It will give you the courage to take risks, pursue your goals and dreams and show up authentically in life, because your self-worth is not at stake. Regardless of how life unfolds, you know your inherent worth.
5. You can choose again.
So you've made a mistake — you snapped at your loved one, you procrastinated instead of doing work, or you skipped your morning workout. The good news is that you can always choose again. Instead of beating yourself over the head and losing hope in the future, pick yourself back up and choose again. Apologize to your loved one and shift your energy to embody love and gratitude. Get a good night's sleep and give work your full care and attention tomorrow. Go for an evening run or attend a yoga class.
6. Life is meant to be noticed and enjoyed.
Most of our life is spent in a daydream, contemplating the past or trying to control the future. In the meantime, we miss life happening around us, even though it's the only real moment in our lives. Try to bring your mind back to the present throughout the day by noticing the air on your face, the sensation of your clothing against your skin, the weight of your body in the chair, or the sound of your breathing.
7. Emotions don't have to define your entire experience.
When you experience strong emotions like anger, jealousy or pain, it's tempting to get so caught up in the feeling that you allow it to take you over completely — you lose all control. Instead of being consumed by your emotions, try observing them instead. Where can you feel it? What does it feel like?
By observing your emotions, you immediately distance yourself from them, seeing them as a passing visitor rather than letting them become part of your identity. As you're playing the role of observer, ask yourself, What is the lesson here? Often our feelings are trying to teach us something — either that we have important self-work to do, or that we need to make changes to our life situation.