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Building Your Happiness Muscle

lifestyle mindset the retreat tricia scott May 27, 2022

What do you think of when you hear the word happiness? 

Many people have a complicated relationship with joy. It's perceived as something 'out there' or something to work towards or obtain when we have something better to be happy about.

Spoiler alert, If you make it so, you'll quickly find yourself with an uncomfortable just-out-of-reach itch you can never quite scratch. Happiness is not reserved for the lucky ones; it's attained through practice and choice, and It's a mistake to think you need to have your ducks in a row (come on, who does?) or perfect order in your life to obtain it. 

It's not complicated; it just takes repetition. 

If you want to make happiness a priority and a basis for your life, there are certain things you can do to help cultivate it. Remember to play with this; joy, by its very nature, is meant to be enjoyable! Here are a few tips I've picked up along the way on my journey, and no, I do not have all of my shit together all of the time. In fact, I often feel like that quote 'I do not have ducks in a row, I have squirrels, and they're at a rave,'  but just like most of us, I strive to be better and to progress beyond my current state so here I share with you what I've learned along the way. 


Get your mental game on. 

This may sound simple, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's that simple isn't always easy. Happiness is a choice, and it starts with a decision to allow ourselves to be open to the possibility. A great place to start is to quiet down our negative brain chatter. That voice in our head often overlooked because we're so used to hearing it, complaining about everyday annoyances like queuing for coffee, the rude person in the street, the workload your boss expects us to get through and the traffic on the commute. 

She's doing you no favours, so we need to learn to shut her up or, at the very least, mute her now and again. I recommend looking for the positives in the same instances, and it's easier than you think when you become conscious of it. For example, rather than listening to your negative Nancy chatter about the awful traffic, look at it as the perfect time to catch up on a great audiobook or your favourite music before work. The traffic will move at the same pace, and time will pass the same whether you complain or enjoy it, so you might as well choose to make it productive or fun. Get to reframing your mental chatter and up your game. 


Get social. 

By our very nature, humans are designed to be social animals. We crave interaction, community and contribution, and this is a great place to start building our happiness muscles. 

Pick up the telephone and connect with friends, family or local organisations. When we contribute to each other, we not only cultivate our happiness but also spread it to others and get back a sense of well-being. This is not to be underestimated. The law of attraction states that what we give out, we get back in abundance and I, for one, am a firm believer, so why not try it. Engage, contribute and get social. You never know who you might meet! 

I do have a small caveat to this one, getting social does not mean just on social media. We have to learn to unplug from our screens once in a while. Stop, breathe and Look around. Remember to appreciate the real-life relationships surrounding you. 

Take a break. The media can be unrealistic and, in some cases, outright damaging (young girls following impossible accounts on Instagram, anyone?), so while social media is a fantastic tool, it's not real life. Take yourself away from the smartphone, screen or TV and rediscover the beauty of a real-life hug and a coffee with a great friend. You'll be glad you did. 


Default to gratitude. 

I love my simple daily gratitude practice, but it wasn't always so. I talked a lot more about this in my 'What are you grateful for' article, and you can read more here about how I overcame my gratitude hurdles and designed a habit that fits my lifestyle. I used to find gratitude stressful and chaotic, and I could never seem to find the time or get into a rhythm for it. The key is to simplify. Having an attitude of gratitude has now been proven to reduce stress, improve self-esteem and social connections, and improve physical health. It really is the underpinning of happiness itself. However you choose to do it, I promise you it's worth it. 

However you decide to approach it, do not put happiness off for another day, believing that you will be happy when you reach a particular outcome. Find your joy, get social and get grateful, and the things you want will come to you. Waiting to be happy 'when' is backward thinking. 

None of us can be ecstatic all of the time; it's not realistic to believe that we can go around in a constant state of joy and awe every minute of every day, but we certainly can appreciate the highs when we've experienced the lows, and the trick is to establish a baseline. A marker in the sand, and these simple tips are all about recognising and cultivating joy, whatever that means to you. It's as individual as you are. 

There are no wrong answers, only self-discovery. 

Happiness looks gorgeous on you.


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