Nine steps to happiness

It’s a never-ending quest, but you don’t need money and designer labels to be happy. These nine tips will help you find a more content way of life.

It might sound a bit airy-fairy, but if you can accept the downs with the ups, the sadness with the happiness, you’ll find it easier to get on with living and loving life.

Realistic expectations don’t mean settling for second-best: it’s impossible to be positive about everything all the time – and comparing our reality to the ‘happily ever after’ romantic ideal is one of the major causes of our unhappiness!

TIP 1: stop being self-righteous
You probably have a similar trait to the very issue that bothers you – and you might not even know it! They might be stingy with money and you might be stingy with time. The world is your mirror: consider what it’s reflecting about you and you’ll gain valuable insights that will bring you down off your self-righteous pedestal.

TIP 2: make requests!
This one simple act can change your life. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, whether it is acknowledgement, affection, a promotion, a pay rise, help, assistance, or a break! No one is a mind reader: help people to help you so you don’t simmer with resentment when they don’t.

TIP 3: be present in the now
Don’t spend precious energy fretting about what may (or may not) happen in the future. The only thing that we know for sure is what is happening to us in the present.

TIP 4: identify one action to complete
It can be tiny – cleaning the car, doing the filing, throwing out old clothes: anything that is quick, easy and gives a sense of action and achievement. If we feel empowered, we feel healthy and strong and less stressed.

TIP 5: be grateful
Every day, look around you and identify what you are grateful for – the sunshine, the fresh flowers on your desk, the sound of the birds, the coffee you just drank… Being grateful makes us happier by encouraging us to appreciate what we have in life.

TIP 6: be mindful
Slow down and enjoy the sensations of life. When you are in the shower, be mindful of the sensations of the water on your skin. Notice when your mind is being pulled into your 10 o’clock meeting, or what to feed the kids, and take your awareness back to the sensations in your body. When you are eating, just eat: our minds can be so distracted that we miss the tastes, textures and sensations of our food. Practise slowing down your eating and really tasting what is in your mouth.

TIP 7: let go of guilt
As weird as it may seem, ask yourself whether you are your own worst enemy. Do you really believe you deserve to be happy and to have life go well for you? Let go of any guilt associated with being happy and embrace it.

TIP 8: take a baby step
If there is something you want to do or become, why not think about taking one small baby step towards it? It will give you such a sense of accomplishment and joy that it can fuel your desire to take the next step. If you want to start a business, what is the one small step you can take to get your first client without drawing up a business plan or having a business card?

TIP 9: be kind to someone
Scientists have found that the nicer you are to the world, the nicer the world is to you. So make someone’s day.