Updated: Jun 6
Laura Bentley I That Balanced Life Coach I 20 March 2021
Happiness. It's such a vast and intangible concept, how do we begin to figure out how to 'have it'? In a world where we are surrounded by so many awful things, toxic positivity and directives to 'keep your chin up' we can feel pressure to believe we need to be happy all the time. And we know that's not possible. We cannot always live a life of sunshine and roses. But, equally, we thrive when we have more happiness in our lives. So how do we get the balance right? How do we have a happy life even though it is hard at times?
As my business name suggests (www.thatbalancedlifecoaching.com) I'm a fan of balance. Not balancing it all so perfectly so that you can't ever let the balls drop, but having a balanced mindset in how you approach life. I believe that this leads to an overall happier way of being.
I have come to realise that I am happiest when I am doing small, quiet and reflective things. I like dinners with friends, sitting around a cosy fireplace in a pub (remember those?!), going for windy walks on the hills, exploring hidden temples in Southeast Asia, practicing yoga, beaches at sunset, reading, listening to podcasts and cooking. I have a big extended family and so I also feel happy surrounded by noise, chaos, food and wild children. The opposite of small and reflective I know, but it is where my heart feels fullest. Even writing about the things that make me happy has made me feel happier!
When we are in times of stress - and this year has been the pinnacle of stress for a lot of us, myself included - it can be easy to forget what makes us happy. To be caught in the humdrum, the repetitive arguments about taking out the bins, the food shop, entertaining bored children and paying the bills. When you are in the thick of it, happiness can feel like a distant lighthouse. I cannot speak for those who suffer with depression but I imagine it can feel extremely dark; the lighthouse light switched off completely. But if you can still imagine that speck of light on the horizon then you can reclaim that happiness, even when you cannot do all the things you love to do.
Things that have helped me to do this are gratitude, compassion, awareness and empathy. In practice this means trying, where possible, to act from a place of mindful thought rather than reacting in the moment. Noticing what is going on for you and getting curious with it. For example, a lot of my clients struggle with mum guilt and if the feeling of guilt carries into their life more widely it can be really difficult. That guilt turns into shame, taking happiness from so many moments in the day to day. Instead of shame, I invite my clients to get curious with the guilt - what is it there for? Why did it crop up in that moment and what needs to change because of it? In this more self-compassionate way we can allow in more happiness - there's more room because you've acknowledged the negative feeling and moved through it, rather than being stuck in it.
I journal and reflect a lot; it helps me put my feelings into perspective. I talk, a lot, to anyone who will listen! I try not to apologise for 'moaning' because I believe we are all entitled to feel pain and express that. But I am conscious of putting a boundary on that feeling once I've got it out in the world. I ask myself whether it helps or harms me to continue feeling low, angry, sad, resentful or ashamed. I move on from the feeling by doing something I enjoy, or being with someone I love.
And when you do this there is more room for joy, not negativity. More space to re-ignite your motivation and find the thing that gets you leaping out of bed in the morning (or if you are a parent, be dragged out of bed by a child demanding breakfast...). Joy is a part of happiness that feels nurturing, connected to your inner wisdom and part of you. Joy brings you happiness because it encompasses gratitude for who and what you have. It invites self compassion and empathy for others.
So on World Happiness Day, look for the joy in small things. Accept that happiness ebbs and flows, but that you can have the tools to deal with whatever comes your way.
Where are you finding joy today?
Laura Bentley - That Balanced Life Coach
Book a 60 minute Wonder Hour session for £99 and re-ignite the joy in your life www.thatbalancedlifecoaching.com/wonder-hour