The Pursuit of Happiness

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Tom Meyers offers seven tips on the road to true contentment
Article published in Together Magazine 54 December 2014

The promotion of wellbeing is essential to the pursuit of happiness. Self-Realisation or honing and living your potential and the sense of fulfilment it brings you is one way to promote that wellbeing.

However, self-realisation, being in alignment with your life’s purpose, is a long-term process, a life-long mission, to be enjoyed every step of the way as there is no true end to self-realisation – it is more like a direction than a destination.

Just like a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, it’s not about arriving, it’s about the experiences, the teachings on the way, the stories, the landscapes, the smells, the tastes of the local delicacies, the culture and, of course, the victory over oneself, having walked the distance and fulfilled a dream.

When you arrive you do look back on your achievement, contemplating on how you did it and then look towards the future, ready for the next challenge on your path. Self-Realisation is being in perpetual discovery of oneself, of pealing off the layers, in order to come closer to the real you.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are also about short-term objectives. To have a vision and become who you were born to be is essential, but living is about here and now. Do not get caught up in the vision itself and forget to live in this moment. And that moment is very much in peril in today’s hectic, online, harder, better, faster and stressful environment, where time becomes as elusive as our health, wellbeing and happiness.

You can change the tide and become a master of your own happiness and live a life where you manage your stress. Stress is after all an essential survival response and part of being human. If you’re living a super-human life, stress does become a nuisance.

Research suggests that up to 40% of happiness depends on our habits and activities.

How to promote health, wellbeing and happiness in seven simple steps:

Step 1: Take time-out

If not you, who will do it for you? Taking breaks is essential and short breaks now and then help you to make up time afterwards. This might be counter-intuitive but it’s true. For example when you struggle writing, when you hit that wall, go for a walk, breathe in some fresh air. You’ll feel more focus afterwards.

Step 2: ‘Return to Ease’

Numerous scientific studies have proven that breathing exercises, where you become mindful of your breath and induce a sense of calm and joy, a meditation or a mindfulness exercise, help to reduce anxiety, treat depression, reverse the effects of stress and help you to be more focused. The more you practice the quicker you’ll get back into the zone after a stressful moment.

Step 3: Inner forgiveness

Can you forgive yourself? There is something very liberating in inner forgiveness, which changes your attitude towards a past experience. To be the observer of yourself, your thoughts, your feelings and to forgive yourself by accepting what was and to let go of the anger, fear, rage and other emotions that you feel when recalling an unpleasant memory, to detach from past experiences and to let bygones be bygones. In the process of self- observation and changing your attitude, you self-correct, heal wounds and ultimately alter the direction of your future.

Change your dream and your world changes.

Step 4: Gratefulness

What have you been grateful for recently? Practicing grateful living as inspired by the teachings of Br. David Steindl-Rast is a universal practice that fosters personal transformation, cross-cultural understanding, interfaith dialogue, intergenerational respect, non-violent conflict resolution and ecological sustainability. Instead of seeing the worst in everything, start seeing the opportunities. Stop complaining, pointing the finger at others and take an observer‘s perspective. What has this situation taught you? Then be grateful for the lesson learned.

Step 5: Compassion and altruism

When is the last time you helped someone? Research suggests that meaningful social

interaction helps you to reduce stress and enjoy better mental and physical health.

Step 6: Hugs

Our society is deprived of touch, especially single people and the elderly, and it has a detrimental effect on their health. Hugs have healing power, even hugging yourself. Hugs trigger the release of the hormone oxytocin which is known to be important for trust and a sense of wellbeing by reducing fear. A hug a day keeps…

Step 7: Creativity

When was the last time you created something? Knitting, painting, cooking, ironing, doing the dishes or hands on, physical work are all activities with an end result, which help you gain resilience and prevent and treat depression.

In other words the ‘pursuit of happiness’ is in your hands.

For more health and wellness tips, tune in to the feature Health Matters on www.radiox.eu or visit www.tommeyers.be

TomTom Health Navigator

http://www.togethermag.eu/sites/default/pdf/TOGETHER54.pdf

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