Over the course of the year many people tend to wait until November and December each year to celebrate the abundance of joy and happiness in their lives. Why is that? We celebrate with lavish gifts and too much food. I say, break it all down over the course of the year to feel more joy and abundance every day of our lives.
Each of us contains within us the capacity to change the world, to make it a better place – by creating and elevating our own level of happiness and by sharing that happiness with others. As a speaker, I have witnessed other people’s face light up every time I offer the audience an opportunity to share their most joyful moments with the group. Taking control of your own happiness means your positive mood will affect others, especially those closest to you.
Harvard Med School’s Dr. Nicholas Christakis and University of California – San Diego’s, Dr. James H. Fowler conducted a study on, “How Social Networks Affect Mood”. The study suggests that “happiness is influenced not only by the people you know, but by the people they know.” (For more, check out their book, Connected")
“Happiness spreads through social networks like a virus”, says Fowler. It can affect people we don’t even know.
The most significant changes found by the doctors were seen in the first three degrees of separation. The study found that your happiness levels increase:
15% in immediate contacts
10% in 2nd degree contacts, a friend of a friend
6% in 3rd degree contacts a friend, of a friend, of a friend
Wow! It is so empowering to know that we all have the capacity to feel more joy simply by knowing happy people.
Fowler said, “We need to think of happiness as a collective phenomenon – If I come home in a bad mood – I may be missing an opportunity to make not just my wife and son happy, but their friends, too.”
To create more inner happiness, that reflects outward, adopt a Merry Blissmas attitude. Embrace “holiday spirit” living every day of your life. Take baby steps. Begin learning the habits of happy people, then incorporate some of those habits into your own life. Studies have shown that it takes a minimum of 21 days to make “something” a habit and that those habits take practice. Star athletes, musicians, and dancers, practice, practice, practice.
Here are six common practices that just might help you along the way:
Be grateful – We ALL have something to be grateful for; like BREATH, food, clothing, heat, children, snow days, smiles, music, partners, and lovers. You get the point. Live with thank you more often. The first and last things I do everyday and night are think about what I'm grateful for.
Savor simple pleasures – When was the last time you sat in a park watching the birds or listening to children play? Stop for a few minutes every day to enjoy and savor the simple pleasures of life, nature is full of wonder and amazement. (Just don't video tape birds and walk dogs at the same time like I did - you may end up with a fractured femur!)
Join in – Be a part of “something”; engage yourself in a cause, a club, a city council, a religious group. Participate in something you believe in or create your own community.
Love yourself – To truly love anyone, we must love ourselves first. Create a self-love appreciation list and look at it often. Start with just 3 things you love and appreciate about yourself. Place the list somewhere you can see it often.
Surround yourself with happy, supportive people – You saw the statistics above, positive energy is contagious. Your happy level will increase simply by being around happy people. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for regular doses of happy/bliss/joy!
Ease up – Don’t beat yourself up on the off days. We all have them. Give yourself permission to feel crabby, angry, frustrated. Simply allow it to move through you and reconnect with those moments of joy, happiness, and gratitude as quickly as possible.
Live your bliss. We were born to be happy. Enjoy the trip by being as happy as possible and share that joy with those whose lives you touch.
Merry Blissmas to all and to all joyful year!
(This post is reprised and has been edited from 2014, Simple Steps Real Change Magazine and 2011, The Bliss Network)