Ways to prioritise happiness
Happiness is an important goal. Although we can't expect to be happy all the time, new perspectives can bring us moments of joy in diverse circumstances. I'm exploring conscious mindfulness, self-actualisation and wellness to cope with the world. All my methods for higher purpose help me to feel better about circumstances even when moods are low or high.
We can meditate at home or during yoga and visits to serene places. We can also gain mindfulness in everyday ordinary situations. Mindfulness practice could look like this online example. Or it could be an inner journey wherever you are.
Consciousness and mindfulness help for navigating the world
I'm independently training myself to find joy in consciousness and mindfulness.
What is consciousness? The Scientific American says, "Consciousness is everything you experience." These mentally perceived experiences impact every moment. SA says the brain, "generates experience, day in and day out." Can we choose to be conscious of particular things? Maybe to some extent.
Our minds focus on particular aspects of our environments, memories and emotions. We can't give attention to everything. There must be a way to focus on purpose and joy.
I'm dedicating some of my time towards mindfulness. Experts from many fields, including spiritual and medical backgrounds, advocate for the benefits of mindfulness.
The simple definition of mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment. We can let go of the past and future because they are uncontrollable.
How can we give our attention to the present? Health Direct says, "Mindfulness is paying full attention to what is going on in you and outside you, moment by moment, and without judging. It means you observe your thoughts, feelings, and the sensations of taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. You are also fully aware of your surroundings." In short, we can be mindful by noticing our interpretations of our sensory reactions in the present.
Mindfulness can be reached through meditation. It can also be encouraged by just stopping and gaining awareness of the moment anywhere. We don't always remember to do this. When possible, let's just stop for a few seconds and become fully aware of the present perceptions.
Self actualisation as a journey towards connecting with the world
There are many paths to self actualisation. This concept may seem quite individualistic. People who follow collectivist world views or 'selfless' perspectives can better serve those others by also understanding the self. I find joy in reducing the confusion about my self and how my identity relates to the world.
I'm currently expanding my understanding of two questions. What is the self? What is my self? In other words, who am I and what does that mean? Let's start with what we are more than.
We all perform roles in our lives. These roles can either be fulfilling or limiting. Your core self is deeper than your titles, connections, jobs and activities. I have identified as a granddaughter, content creator, speaker, wife, expectant mother, blogger and so on. I am more than what I do or who I'm associated with. I am me. A constant internal identity is comforting, and therefore brings moments of happiness, when roles change.
Roles are not inherently good or bad. However, they are not necessarily permanent. If we depend on our roles for personal meaning, we can end up feeling lost when roles change or are gone. I needed to stop participating in an organisation earlier this year for health reasons, after years of involvement. I physically couldn't attend events for months. Part of my identity had been tied up in my membership of a group. Who was I besides my social connections? That role was not who I was. It was a thing I did.
I believe an understanding of the self can help our relationships with others because we don't need to depend on other people for happiness. If someone depended on me for approval or validation, I would feel pressured.
Projects might be done for a boss or customer. I no longer depend on people I work for when defining my self-worth. Working on a project, we could feel a desperate need for perfectionism if we tie our identities with success. That perfectionism can lead to panic. Nothing will ever be perfect.
Families are just one more example of not depending on external people to define our identities. I will accept the responsibility in becoming a mother at the end of the year. I want to responsibly care for my future child without defining myself by that offspring. Why? Kids grow up. I have known parents who cling onto that parenthood role even after the children become adults. I want to be an independent rounded individual to then eventually give my future child the safest amount of freedom. This is one of the many reasons I have seen for defining ourselves independently of our families.
Roles and connections can be valuable without having to define our individual selves.
That shows what we are not. But how do we know who we are? Psychology Today says, "The traditional philosophical answer, found in Plato and Kant and many religious thinkers, is that the self is an immortal soul that transcends the physical."
There's a typical dictionary definition of the self. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the self as, "the set of someone's characteristics, such as personality and ability, that are not physical and make that person different from other people."
Now I can find momentary feelings of happiness by knowing who I am. I have an eternal soul. I have a unique personality with inner values and preferences. I treasure truthfulness, whether I gain opportunities to express deep honesty or not. I care to the extreme. If something triggers my empathy, it resonates in my deep emotion and thought over time. I am able to think outside the box. There's an undefined beautiful oddness that has always been shining through me. That's who I am. That feels good.
A holiday mood during normal everyday life
We can't all stay on a tropical island, or other exotic holiday oasis, throughout the entire year. Reality happens. Ordinary routines are just part of life. If we only felt good on holidays, that's a lot of time allocated to being unhappy. Let's find ways to improve our moods even during the daily grind, long after a holiday.
I'm planning to install oceanic imagery in my next home because of the visual cues that encourage calmness. The water may not be too far away. But I want to feel as comfortable inside the home as possible. Images are my top choice of sensory serenity because I am a visual person.
If you respond more to scents or sounds, these simple changes could make a big difference. I recently found reed scent diffusers at a local dollar store. The smell of lavender reminds me of beautiful gardens. A rosy aroma instantly connotes romantic feelings in my mind. Scents are a very affordable way to prompt more positive mental associations in a space.
Indoor sensory changes can evoke a holiday mood at home or in any space. Maybe you visited a day spa that had a distinct scent. Try recreating that scent to mentally revisit that relaxed place. A scenic destination could have been the visual change you needed. Hang photos of that exact place, or a similar environment, on the walls at home. We do have to physically leave our holidays eventually. But we don't have to mentally and emotionally leave holidays if we don't want to.
A quiet space, like this example from the web, could become an accessible getaway from the chaos of life.
Providing space for spiritual growth
Normal life should at least include a small amount of time or space to focus on higher existence. Try establishing a room or quiet corner for this purpose. At least allocate a small amount of time, maybe a few minutes or an hour, just for your own spiritual growth.
In my next home, I will be setting up a quiet room dedicated to spiritual activities and relaxation. Those goals can be reached anywhere. My aim is a space that allows focus just on those aims, avoiding distractions.
Although entire getaways can be enlightening, let's do something to nurture our inner selves wherever we are. You don't have to be on a week-long retreat or conference to discover yourself. By all means, travel for a year if you can and should. But let's also joyfully pursue meaning at our homes or work places in appropriate ways.
Continue the journey towards joyful meaning
These are a few ways in which I am happily finding greater meaning in myself and the world. Give yourself the time to look for meaning that suits your needs.