“Don’t be sad! It is such a waste of time”. “Hey you look sad, don’t be, try being happy?”. “Try being happy, you will enjoy your work more”.
These are the things that we all must have heard at some point in our lives or when we were not feeling happy to be more specific. Do you ever think about what makes you happy or why you do want to be happy? For some, listening to music can make them happy, for some dancing in an empty room is happiness. For some, simply enjoying a good cup of coffee or going for a casual walk can make them happy.
These are just a few activities that make people happy. It shows that different people have different ways and activities they do that make them happy. What is happiness? American Psychological Association defines happiness as an emotion, emotion of joy, gladness, satisfaction and well-being. What creates happiness in the brain?
4 primary chemicals can drive our positive emotions and they are- dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. The part of the brain that is responsible for positive emotions and other emotions in general is the amygdala. This is just a brief piece of information, but for those who did not know about this, learned a new thing and that will make them happy even if it is just for a few seconds. Here it’s all about happiness.
There have been so many researchers conducted on happiness and why it is important. Still, we don’t take time to think deeper and introspect what are the things that make us happy? Most people are constantly looking for ways to make themselves happy without knowing about that one thing that is truly going to make a difference. We constantly keep on hustling with the pace of our lives and try to make the most out of it.
We certainly don’t realize what we are missing because at that time we feel that we have everything and that’s the only thing that matters. Ask yourself these things; what am I? How well do I know myself? Can I write 10 lines about myself? Surely, most people will not be able to answer this, as they never gave it a thought.
It could be the reason why they are not aware of the real things that make them happy. It could be the reason that even though people think that they have achieved everything in life like the best job, house, and a lot of money, but still feel incomplete in some sense or feel that something is missing. What if that “something” is the joy of discovering yourself?
From the very beginning, since our childhood, we are conditioned in such a manner that while growing up and becoming adults, we feel that the outer world is something that is going to make us happy or there will be a person who will take the responsibility of making us happy. In this process, we tend to miss the importance of knowing ourselves and knowing that even we can be enough for ourselves.
Some might feel that the external world also plays an important role in making us happy, making our lives meaningful and deriving happiness. Self-awareness could be the key. being aware of yourself is not all concrete as each one of us is different and unique in our ways. What is self-awareness in a general sense? It can be described as knowing about your likes, dislikes, your behaviours and feelings. It’s about giving yourself attention. “You deserve!”, it has been emphasized a lot on being aware about oneself, but how to go about it and initiate the process of knowing about oneself?
Give yourself time
It is possibly the first step that you need to take to gain insights and awareness. As humans, we have a bag full of responsibilities and duties that we carry every day with ourselves. But sometimes it is okay to keep that bag down so that you can have some time for yourself. It is very important to take a rest or to just do nothing as it helps restore the energy for the body and motivation to fall back into action. Give yourself some amount of free time that you deserve and earn after doing all the things that you do for a living and others. Connect with yourself daily even if it is for a few minutes. Solitude is important, even though you will be alone, you will have yourself.
Now that you have managed to take time for yourself, try to think. Explore your experiences; try to learn how you dealt with them, the emotions and feelings they created, how you reacted to those experiences and what they taught you. It allows you to explore your emotions, thoughts and behaviour. It will help you in gaining insights about yourself, about your likes and dislikes. Moreover, you will be able to know about your strengths and weaknesses.
It will also help you in increasing your attention. It is an overall process of introspection that will allow you to explore and reflect on your past experiences. We all have negative memories that do not make us happy when we think about them, but thinking about such experiences also highlights the potential you had and how courageous you were. It can motivate you at the same time prepare you for future experiences.
Pen down your thoughts
You might have heard about it a lot, but penning it down helps if you practice it regularly. Writing about your emotions and thoughts helps you feel emotionally light and you experience a feeling of relief that you have finally taken out those emotions and feelings. It helps you develop a habit of writing and helps you to be constantly in touch with your thoughts.
When you write about something and reflect, you get to learn from your mistakes and manage yourself in a better manner. You learn to keep track of your mood and try to avoid things that make you unhappy or create any sort of discomfort. It helps you become more emotionally organized.
As we all know about the diverse benefits of meditation, it is no surprise that it helps in increasing self-awareness. It helps the mind to calm down focus and pay attention entirely to oneself. It reduces all sorts of negative thoughts and helps to be present in the moment. Improving self-awareness is one of the goals of meditation which also improves mindfulness. A recent study by Harvard Medical School states that mindfulness meditation affects the grey matter in the hippocampus associated with compassion, self-awareness and introspection.
These are just some ways but there are so many things that can be done. After all, it’s all about knowing yourself and getting to pick a way to do it. Experimenting and learning a lot of new things about yourself. As Carl Rogers said, “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly”. Keep looking for yourself and you will truly find happiness.