Do you want to be happy in life? We all do, right? And yet, in spite of volumes that have been written on the subject and all our personal efforts, it seems the more we chase the recipe for happiness the more it evades us.
However, if we stay observant, curious and eager to learn, life will give us a lot of clues. And as we grow older we tend to become much clearer about what to do and what to avoid in order to bring more easiness, peace and joy into our time here on earth.
It has been the same for me. Some of the lessons I had to learn were beautiful and uplifting, others were tough or even heartbreaking. But my life has definitely been growing fuller, richer and more meaningful as time goes by.
When I hear people say they would like to go back in time to when they were younger… I think, Oh, no, not me!
Yes, it was nice not to have wrinkles around my eyes and to have almost unlimited possibilities in front of me. But was I excited about it then? Not really!
I was a shy and anxious girl. I had not the slightest idea how to manage my sensitivities and intense emotions, my need to analyze things deeply, not to mention making peace with the transgenerational trauma I was trying to carry on my shoulders. (READ MY STORY HERE)
Years of personal development allowed me to grow so much. And today, life feels very different.
So, the other day, while sipping my morning coffee, I had a brilliant idea. I thought I’d share with you 10 most important lessons life has taught me about how to be happy in life.
1.Stop runing away from yourself.
You can’t imagine how hard I tried and how many creative ways I discovered not to feel, not to remember, not to look at things that felt uncomfortable, painful or simply unbearable.
But things you try to dismiss, ignore, hide or get rid of- do not disappear no matter how much effort you put into it. You can move homes (or countries!), change jobs and swap partners – it won’t help.
In all the new places, situations, relationships – you will find YOU again.
The moment I stopped running away, gathered all my courage and looked my fears, weaknesses, past traumas straight in the eye, life has shifted enormously.
Because peace and ease you’ve been longing for, for so long, always start with you looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly without turning your eyes away. It’s not easy but, I promise, not as hard as you imagine.
2. Life is not an emergency. Relax.
You can’t be happy in life if you change it into a race or a battlefield.
I used to rush through my days as if there was never enough time. I used to be tense and vigilant, always ready for a possible disaster waiting for me just around the corner. Expecting the worst. Ready to fight or protect myself at the slightest sign of a threat.
There are emergencies in life, no doubt about that. There are also war zones, people living in extreme poverty or under constant threat. But for most of us, reading this blog post life is relatively safe and abundant.
Do we feel safe, though? Do we feel abundant?
Or, do we change our lives into a constant race to do more, to be more, to achieve more, to have more? Or maybe into a never-ending war? With others, with what our life is or isn’t like, or with parts of ourselves that we do not like very much?
If you want to be happy in life, you need to put your weapons down. You need to reassess your need for protection. You need to soften your energy. You need to slow down.
Next time you catch yourself tensing up and getting ready to attack or protect yourself – notice what’s really going on, take a deep breath and remember -this is just learned behaviour. And what is learned can be unlearnt.
It is possible to feel SAFE INSIDE. You can learn this as well.
3. Stop playing the victim. You have the choice. Always.
Do you still feel like a powerless victim of circumstances, other people, past events?
This is one of the most sneaky prisons our mind can create for us. It is true, our control over what happens in our life is limited, but within these limitations, there is still plenty of choice.
Our power lies in our freedom to choose how we respond to whatever might be happening around us and within us.
We are not puppets. We might feel like the strings are being pulled, but it’s up to us if we make the move or not.
It took me a long while to reclaim this power back. But the moment I did my life started to change. Big time.
I understand well how scary it is to let go of the very uncomfortable (but very familiar) victim role and take responsibility for your own life. It can scare you to the bone. Do not let this fear stop you! Need powerful inspiration? Read Edith Eger’s The Choice.
4. Live as if you are the most important person in your life. Because you are.
Yes, I know…it sounds a bit weird. I remember the cringe when I heard my beloved breathwork teacher saying it for the first time (right into my ear, right in the middle of a breath session):
‘You are the most important person in your life.’ What??? Seriously? What does that even mean?
It was so different from what I believed in at the time. It took me a long time to wrap my head around this idea and even longer to accept it as my truth and to start living it.
But isn’t it the place where each of us needs to start?
Very often live like in a trans. We run through our days trying to take care everyone else and keep everybody happy and pleased.
Many of us have tried hard our whole life to fit into some outside standards. We have worked hard to fulfil the expectations of others and to do things we ‘have to do’ ‘should do’, ‘are supposed to do’.
Why do we do this? Because we deeply long to feel loved and to belong. This is one of our deepest, most natural needs. Unfortunately, until we fall back in love with ourselves – no one will be able to fill our cup.
You need to start with YOU, there is no other way. Want to be happy in life? Learn how to accept, appreciate and love YOU. To put YOU first. And to make this your default position (and if you still believe it’s selfish – READ THIS)
5. Do the work. I know, I know… but you want to be happy in life, right?
Our minds are full of subconscious beliefs that are not even our own. Our behaviours are often governed by automatic reactions, which might have saved our lives when were we little but have been suffocating us since we became adults. We make choices based on fears we have been too scared to look straight into the eye so we let them run the show from behind the scenes.
Having no understanding of how your own mind, brain and nervous system work, is like being stuck in a little boat at sea without rows or sails. You are at the mercy of the waves.
Freedom is a huge part of being happy. And feeling happy in life is the opposite of being a slave to your own emotions, thoughts and behaviours.
So, there is work to be done here, right?
Some basic understanding of how your own body works + paying attention, questioning your beliefs, taking a pause to notice what’s going on with you – will make all the difference.
And, of course, getting the right kind of support to help you break free from what no longer serves you is essential.
6. There is no way to please this negative voice in your head, so you’d better stop trying.
You will never, ever be able to please this inner critical voice in your head.
No matter what you do, how hard you try, how much you achieve, you will never satisfy, please or make this voice happy.
You’ll never get to a place where it will say:
‘All right, now. I’m really happy and proud of you. You’re the best girl in the world.’
It will never happen because you see,
the problem is not you. The problem is the voice.
Instead of striving to please it, try to understand what it is trying to do and why.
I promise the moment you stop resisting and fighting this voice back you will see that this voice is just a tiny part of you. A part that is trying to keep you safe.
You are so much bigger and more powerful than this voice.
7.You can’t build thriving relationships with others until you build a thriving relationship with yourself.
I learnt it the hard way and lost a marriage in the process.
You can put plenty of work into making your relationships work, into learning how to communicate effectively, how to set better boundaries and so on and so on.
But it won’t take you far if you haven’t figured out how to be in a reciprocal, supportive and loving relationship with YOU. If you do not feel safe and connected to yourself, you won’t be able to truly and safely connect with others.
As long as you feel confused and insecure inside it’ll be very hard for you to create clarity and understanding outside – in your interactions with others.
So, here are 3 steps you need to focus on first:
- Your self-worth. You need to believe that you deserve respect, kindness, and love.
- Emotional resilience. You need to be ok with whatever emotions and feelings come up to the surface so that you no longer feel frightened or overpowered by them.
- Self-love – You need to treat yourself with respect, kindness, and compassion. (Read more about it here: Managing difficult conversations)
Happy relationships start with you being happy in yourself first!
8. Remember that vulnerability is your superpower.
Wow, that was a tough lesson for me!
I learnt early in life how to hide my feelings and protect myself both from the misunderstanding and rejection coming from the outside and from the overflow of emotions coming from the inside.
I learnt I had to ‘get over it, ‘harden up’, ‘not make a big deal’ out of things. I also heard, more than once, that I’m ‘weird’ and there’s ‘something wrong with me’ because I was very sensitive and emotional.
As a result, learning how to show my vulnerable side to the world was a huge and very difficult process. But so worth every effort and tear!
Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity (just to name a few), all start with you allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
With giving yourself permission to be seen as human. That means being imperfect, making mistakes and failing at times. It is necessary to build true and authentic connections with others. And it also gives other people permission to be human and vulnerable.
No more hiding, no more putting a fake smile on, no more pretending to be someone you are not – there is such freedom and happiness in you being fully and unapologetically you.
Still not convinced that vulnerability is the way to go if you want to be happy in life? Read some of Brene Brown’s Books
9. Ease your mind- things are much simpler than they seem.
The vast majority of confusion, overwhelm and unresolvable dilemmas originate in our minds, not in reality.
Understanding this was a huge breakthrough for me as confusion and overwhelm are my strong ‘protectors’ (or defence mechanisms).
Whenever life got too challenging, I used to find my hiding in getting a bit (or plenty of) of brain fog. As a highly sensitive person (HSP) I process things really deeply which can easily lead to overthinking and overanalyzing.
But once I realized that these were just ways my nervous system tried to keep me safe, I started to see things for what they were. And life became much simpler.
I learn the best recipe for simplifying things from E. Tolle. Whenever you catch yourself diving deep into the draining spiral of analyzing different options and losing your perfective in the complexity of your thoughts remember his words:
“If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.’
10. Stop trying to do it all on your own.
Belief in self-reliance is glorified in our culture. We are all about being independent, self-sufficient, autonomous, self-supporting, self-regulating etc. In reality, and in the light of the newest discoveries in neuroscience, this is not only unhealthy but also virtually impossible.
As human beings, we are wired for connection. This need for connection is literally ingrained in how our nervous system is designed. We are shaped and moulded through our interactions with others. We need others, both for everyday functioning and for emotional closeness. We are all interdependent, whether we want it or not.
We need close, authentic relationships and we need a community around us if we want to thrive.
Trying to figure out on your own how to be happy in life is an impossible task. And it’s totally unnecessary. There is support, encouragement, inspiration available to make this journey easier and more fun.
All the 10 lessons come together as the credo of values I embody in my life and practice in my work with women.
It is also the credo for our SELF-LOVE INCUBATOR INNER CIRCLE where we support and encourage one another to live a full, rich and meaningful life, no matter what adversity we have been through in life. The enrollment is opening soon so sign up for the waitlist now and be first to be notified: