5 min|Dr. Jam Caleda
How To Be Happier in the MomentWellness
True Happiness Comes From Peace
Happiness I think is a very complex topic to understand. Actually I don’t think happiness is its own thing, I think a lot of what we think happiness of is pleasure. These pleasures can come from immediate moments of something tasting really good or enjoying the sounds of a tune to longer lasting pleasures such as the excitements of a relationship or fulfillment of a career. The important aspect to understand is that pleasures are external. I think happiness is internal, and I think true happiness comes from peace.
Where Does Peace Come From?
Peace comes from many things, but fundamentally it comes from knowing yourself. It comes from looking inside yourself and understanding how much of what you’re reacting to is emotional attachments or self-inflicted suffering or desires for things that maybe don’t require as much care.
Kamal Ravikant, an author and philosopher wrote a book called, “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It” and he has a great story about asking a monk on his interpretation of happiness, and the monk said, “To everything that happens, I say yes.” This doesn’t mean agreeing to everything that everyone says, or finding yourself inebriated with a monkey at 4am, but more about being open to the collective experience of being a person.
I think saying ‘yes’ is a very difficult idea to experience, because in life we default to reacting, or pushing against conflict, or fighting to get what we want. We are used to judging our current state constantly, “this is good, this is bad, this feels nice, or I am uncomfortable.” And what judging does is that it separates us from that thing that we are judging, and frames it outside of who we are. And when we continuously judge, we invariably separate ourselves from things, the people around us, and then ourselves.
This disconnect from the world ultimately leaves us lonely or empty, which leads to suffering. So we mask this suffering by trying to fill that void with external distractions that are unsustainable or temporary. We fight against the world and this mindset continues to fuel suffering. So the absence of suffering is peace, and I think this is the derivative of happiness.
In our reality, it’s impossible to not judge or be upset but peace is about noticing when we judge or react. We can realize that the feeling what we feel is temporary and is an internal manifestation of what is happening around us.
7 Steps to Being Happier in the Moment
So to get practical about it, I’ve compiled a series of tricks on how to be happier in the moment. I’ve used most of them throughout the years and at first it seemed very awkward and difficult and required a lot of energy, but now they’ve become assimilated and second nature to practice.
This has evolved through different forms for me, and I’ve experimented with guided meditations and more free flowing practices. But what has worked for me is simply to be more aware of my experiences, whether it be physical sensations or emotions that I’m feeling and why I am feeling them.
2. More sunlight on the skin
This is an easy cheap one if you’re from Hawaii, but really spending more time outdoors, even in Vancouver, can be very helpful. If need be you can purchase a full spectrum light to normalize circadian rhythms (https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/854857) or talk to your health care provider about vitamin D supplementation.
3. Smile and laugh more
There is some social evidence and theories on why this actually works. Some researchers attribute smiling and laughing to a release of neurotransmitters in the brain but I’ve just used it in my own life and found that it strengthens relationships with people.
4. Telling people you are a happy person
This is predicated on the idea of having consistency bias. If people around you know you as a happy person you will be accountable for it and more likely live up to the expectation.
5. Check your desires
Taking the time to understand why you really want something can be a powerful introspective tool to realizing the importance of many things in your life. And you are going to find that the vast majority of things are just really superficial desires.
6. Check your caffeine
I enjoy green tea once or twice a week, more so for the health benefits and ritual, but I’ve found consuming less caffeine has made me a more stable person and being conscious of the way my body feels. I confess I do appreciate that caffeine insanity when it does happens.
I move or workout five times a week and I have found that having peace of body can make it easier to have peace of mind.
These little hacks accumulate overtime. They won’t necessarily pull you out of a deep depression, but can definitely upgrade a happiness scale that you already feel. If I step back for a second and try to summate what is importance about our own path to happiness is that happiness is a skill that you practice at and a choice that you make.
You choose to be happy and then you work at it, like building muscle, or learning the guitar. You actively decide that it is important to you, you prioritize it over everything else, you attain knowledge about the subject, then you practice it over and over.