Why it’s so important to learn how to be happy
Are we happy or does happiness matter in our life? We all react to this question in a surprising different manner. Some of us respond that it doesn’t matter and there are more significant things that they need to worry about. Some of us ignore it and are busy achieving personal and professional goals and become a part of the unnecessary blind race. But, in reality, happiness is the ultimate ingredient of our life. In fact, happiness does have a pretty important role in our lives, and it can have a huge impact on the way we live our lives. If it is missing, everything is meaningless.
In a Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies on happiness, has followed around 724 men since their teenage years in 1938. The group consisted of various economic, social and cultural backgrounds, from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods to Harvard undergrads. The group includes some world-famous personalities like President John F. Kenedy was part of the initial group. The researchers have collected a cornucopia of data on their physical and mental health and study their lives including their triumphs and failures in careers, marriage, relationships. With the interval of every two years, they questioned members regarding their lives, their mental and emotional wellness, interviewed their family members, etc.
The outcome of the study:
“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships have a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study at present time, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”
The summary of the study is quoted by Robert J. Waldinger as
The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”
So, to having healthy relationships is the key to happiness. But, how to achieve healthy relationships? Study shows that people who are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy, tend to have healthy relationships because to establish a healthy relationship, you need to connect with yourself first. There are a lot of reasons that we got disconnected from ourselves like our materialistic lifestyle, uses of electronic gadgets like mobile phones, computers, tablets, the internet, etc. When we get disconnected from ourselves, we lose control of our lives and as a result, we have unhealthy lifestyles, eating disorders, loneliness, and unhealthy relationships, overall an unhappy life, whether we are aware of it or not.
When we connect with ourselves, we start realizing the spiritual being that resides deep within us which is perfect, never changing, always has been and will be. It is our inner stillness and when we are connected with it, it gives us mental calmness, a sense of well being, and overall happy life.
How to connect with yourself to be happy
Yoga and Meditation are the best way to connect the dots within ourselves and our outer world. It starts affecting our relationships, our experiences, our success & failure in life, our habitual patterns, our values. The disciplined yoga practice makes us responsive rather reactive and allows us to respond mindfully and keep us unaffected from external happenings.
Before we talk about restoring the connection with self-being, let’s talk about what it feels like to be disconnected. When we disconnect from ourselves, I feel rushed, overwhelmed, trapped in overthinking everything, doubted, procrastinate, frustrated and angry. There are some alarming signals of disconnections – lack of sleep, no time for healthy habits, too many commitments and poor communication, trying to escape the current situation or challenging communication rather than facing it.
We can store this connection with a disciplined practice of yoga and meditation. There are following ways to restore this connection :
Meditation: Being with yourself – People who practice it, recognize the importance of spending time with themselves in a disciplined manner. It is not a matter of the amount of time but quality time. Like in every relationship required quality time to nourish it, in the same manner, you need to spend some quality with yourself, be with yourself. Meditation is an instant connector with higher inner self and allows us to be an observer rather than being judge. It gives mental peace and keeps us in the present moment.
Pranayama: Correct Breathing Pattern – The correct pattern of breathing is a way of breathing that is physiologically optimal for your body. It is our natural breathing. If you watch a sleeping baby carefully, you will realize the natural pattern of breathing. You can listen to it thoroughly. It’s the way that the human, is designed to breathe, only we were never taught or our hectic life disconnects us from our natural position. Your regular breathing pattern contains over-breathing, chest breathing which is shorter and leads to the shortage of oxygen, energy and is very stressful to the body. The solution to these issues is to learn the right way of breathing and then consciously reshape your breathing pattern accordingly.
Mindful Eating: Nourishing our body – We all have followed the diet chart and followed the dieting routine. Now, eat consciously. What do I mean? Ask yourself: Do I watch myself while eating? Eating is one of the most pleasurable activities for human beings. But, if we do it mindfully, it can be turned into a spiritual experience. When we bring our full attention to our eating, then we will feed only the required amount of food. Take three long, deep breaths and listen to your body. I.e. become aware of the physical sensation in your belly. Always eat according to your hunger and practice peacefully eating. You need to focus on chewing not on swallowing it. Slow down and breathe deeply while you eat. You will notice that your eating is peaceful and healthy.
Mindful Relaxation: Rejuvenation – Study shows that 95% of our behavior comes from our impulses not from our conscious brain because our neural network resides under our habits and we react instantly rather than acting responsively. Mindfulness is the exact opposite of these processes, it slows our brain initially. It puts executive control on action rather than being an autopilot or preprogrammed. You need to refresh your triggers regularly and shift your balance to a slow brain to make it more responsive in place of your fast-brain. It enables responsive action, willpower and rewiring the decision making patterns. So, create a mindful pause in your activities to relax with deep, long breathing and rewire the responsive patterns before reacting on something.
Detox from Technology – When we feel disconnected from self, we are TOO connected with technology and electronic gadgets. We are living in a technology-driven world and it’s hard to imagine our life without the use of technology but it is extremely important to take some time off from the screens, gadgets and give a break to your eyes and mind. Develop the discipline to take some time to be a digital detox each day and connect with your real world.
Spending time in Nature – Being in nature is also another instant connector with self as it helps you to shift your energy paradigm. Being with mother nature is a very comforting technique to relax and connect with ourselves.
When we restore the connection with ourselves, we start becoming aware of our external world including our relationships. We start listening to our loved ones, learning about their passion, understanding their personality. As a result, we start building healthy relationships which is a key to happiness.
In a nutshell, being happy is the main purpose of life and we need to learn it by being with ourselves, with our loved ones and with our surroundings. We can cultivate being with ourselves by practicing yoga and meditation. You can start your journey by joining a reputed yoga school or find a yoga mentor in your city who can help to initiate your yoga journey and helps you to restore your connection with yourself.