The Art of Happiness - Exploring the Ingredients of True Contentment


Material possessions don't offer lasting fulfillment for our human spirit; instead they eventually dissipate over time and can often leave us empty-handed. True happiness lies in finding peace within God alone.

This article draws upon Eastern spiritual traditions to teach readers how to overcome everyday anxiety, insecurity, anger and discouragement. Written with the assistance of a psychiatrist, The Art of Happiness has assisted countless individuals overcome such challenges.

1. Be grateful

Gratitude can be an immensely powerful source of happiness. People who express their thanks both to others and themselves feel happier; studies even demonstrate this effect! Trying to come up with three things you are grateful for every day may help increase happiness; consider aspects like health, family, friends and even commute time that you might take for granted; set reminders on your phone during different parts of the day to think about what it is you are grateful for - soon it could become as routine as brushing your teeth or drinking your morning cup of tea!

Practising gratitude can help you overcome a number of difficulties, from everyday anxiety and insecurity to anger and discouragement. Being thankful can also act as an antidote for self-pity which saps energy and leaves you feeling depressed or anxious; plus it stops us focusing on what we already have rather than dreaming about what more might be possible, something King Solomon talked about in Ecclesiastes 2.

Practice gratitude as an antidote to comparison and unrealistic standards of living; both are common sources of unhappiness that the Dalai Lama attributes as the source of frustration and depression. He points to an HIV patient who learned to appreciate every day as more precious, as an example. Sharing happiness is another intrinsic source of satisfaction, while practicing gratitude increases empathy towards others - something the Dalai Lama attributes with leading people toward greater levels of wellbeing.

2. Be appreciative

Gratitude is an emotion, state of being and attitude that can be developed and practiced like any skill or habit. Research has demonstrated that those who practice thankfulness enjoy higher levels of happiness and well-being even during tough times.

Understanding gratitude starts with awareness and perspective, so experts advise starting by taking an inventory of your surroundings. Consider all that has gone into making these things possible: roof over your head, ability to speak and read, food on your plate and warmth of bed are just some. Remember how someone had the idea, other people worked on its design, materials were purchased and finally delivered it all for your benefit - though this process might take time, it will surely pay dividends in gratitude.

Many spiritual traditions include prayers or chanting to express appreciation to a higher power, according to research conducted in 2021. Studies suggest these activities can increase feelings of gratitude and well-being. If you don't identify as religious, these types of activities may help increase feelings of appreciation and wellbeing. Even if you don't believe in any higher powers such as nature or your friends/family can serve as powerful allies.

Experts advise engaging in regular, deliberate practices to cultivate gratitude, such as writing down what you're grateful for each day or expressing thanks to others. Placing an emphasis on practicing gratitude at the same time each day makes it easier to remember, eventually becoming part of a daily ritual; perhaps before breakfast or bedtime? Gretchen Rubin, author of several books such as The Happiness Project and Happier with Gretchen podcast host suggests setting reminders or prompts that prompt gratitude, like changing password or screensaver photos to images that promote grateful thoughts or words from someone you're thankful for.

3. Be humble

Humility requires accepting that they don't know all the answers and being open to receiving input from others. A humble person doesn't get angry or upset if they make mistakes; humility means taking time out from self-focused thinking to experience wonder. Perhaps that means asking your kids to teach you their favorite game or traveling somewhere new without a map in hand.

The book's authors emphasize the fact that true contentment comes from within and cannot be purchased with money or trips abroad. Cultivating it takes practice; therefore they offer some tips for becoming a more humble individual to assist your journey:

One way to be more humble is to show kindness toward others by offering compliments. It could be as simple as telling your partner they look great in their new outfit or as complex as acknowledging a co-worker for their dedication and service to your company. Acting humbly shows appreciation of everyone around you while strengthening relationships.

Niemiec and McGrath suggest seeking feedback from those close to you as a means of developing humility. A trusted friend, romantic partner or coworker can offer honest assessments about the extent to which they perceive you to be humble; where your blind spots might lie regarding awareness, openness or empathy development; moreover they can advise how best to build character strengths using Strengths Builder. For more on developing character strengths visit Strengths Builder article.

4. Be thankful

Take time out for gratitude every day; it can help make life happier! Just by remembering all that we have and all the people and things that bring us joy, this simple act can help refocus our thoughts to what's good in our lives, alleviate negative emotions like worry, anger and fear and strengthen us as individuals.

Gratitude may be one of the most underappreciated spiritual ingredients to create contentment. While practicing it takes some effort and time, its benefits are many and powerful - one study found that participants who kept a daily gratitude journal experienced lower rates of depression and more frequent feelings of happiness compared to those who didn't keep such journals.

Focusing on what you have can help foster gratitude; being specific about it will do the trick! Instead of saying, "Thank you for my family," think about all they did to assist in your development - from teaching you how to tie your shoes, or reading bedtime stories, etc.

Mindfulness can also help foster gratitude. Focusing on your breath and tuning into the world around you allows you to tap into all your senses to find things to appreciate - like coffee's smell or the fresh air outside; or listening for any noises around you and noting them (even unpleasant sounds can still be appreciated!). Tuning into these senses allows for cultivating gratitude!

And to truly show our thanks and appreciation to others, you can also show it by being helpful. Taking someone to their appointments or sending out thank-you notes goes a long way towards making someone feel valued.

5. Be content

Being content is a learned trait that can be developed with practice. Expressing gratitude, appreciating, and accepting are three practices which will help bring contentment into your life. Being content does not preclude having dreams or aspirations for your future; rather it means finding fulfillment with what God has provided in the present moment.

Contentment comes from learning how to distinguish your wants from your needs. Failing to recognize this can lead to unnecessary stress and discontentment; believing happiness comes from material possessions or people when true joy lies within Jesus alone.

Establishing the habit of being content can be challenging. Once accomplished, however, it will prove extremely worthwhile. Being mindful in all circumstances is a useful skill that everyone should learn - particularly during these uncertain economic times when it's easy to lose sight of what truly matters in our lives.

The Bible mentions "contentment" six times, including passages in Luke, Philippians and 2 Timothy. It's important to keep in mind that "contentment" doesn't imply living without desires or goals; rather it refers to being happy with who and what you are right now - like enjoying homemade apple pie once finding the ideal recipe and ingredients; contentment comes from knowing you have done all that work yourself and accomplished something truly wonderful in this moment in time! Relationship with Christ gives us this joy; enjoy what He has given you today!


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