Happiness, like anything worth having, takes effort. Mainly, it’s an effort to unlearn all the garbage we’ve been taught since childhood — the false beliefs, the lies about who we’re “supposed to be”, the insecurities, etc. To really be happy, all that phony nonsense has to go the way of the Dodo bird. We have to shed our costumes and facades and remember who we really are.
But it’s not easy to do all this on your own. Trust me, I know. During this challenging process, every little bit of support helps. It can come in the guise of loving friends and family, amazing books, live talks, apps (this is the digital age, after all), and all kinds of other tools.
To help make your journey a little bit easier, I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips and tricks: tools to help you get happier. Consider this your gift-wrapped happiness toolbox, just in time for Christmas.
If you haven’t heard of Happify, you might be living under a very large and very heavy rock (NO WIFI?! NO SUNSHINE?! Come out from under there already.). Happify is an app and website that, basically, teaches you how to be happier using fun games and activities. In other words, they make the brain training process easier, and that’s a MAJOR blessing. Trying to re-wire your brain all on your own ain’t easy, and it usually isn’t fun, either. But with Happify, it’s both. (Full disclosure: they’re sponsoring The Happy Wall, but I specifically pitched them as a sponsor because they exemplify everything I believe in, and I adore them. And this is a nonprofit project. So yeah.)
Oprah and Deepak’s Meditation Experience
Every few months, these two spiritual bigwigs host a 21-day meditation experience. It’s always free and it’s always awesome. Pair Oprah’s confident assertions with Deepak’s mesmerizing voice, and it’s the best thing ever. Every new session has its own theme, the most recent being Energy of Attraction. The themes are always timely, relevant and totally engaging. I highly recommend jumping on board when the next session starts.
The Science of Happiness edX course
MOOCs (aka massive open online courses) are one of the best assets to come out of this age of interconnectedness. Courses from top tier schools like Harvard, Berkeley, Princeton (and dozens of others) are offered for free. To everyone. EVERYONE. Well, everyone with internet access. But that’s still pretty outstanding. I recently completed the Science of Happiness course, an amazing eight-week adventure via UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. I already knew a lot about positive psychology (it’s kind of my thing), but this course was so comprehensive and so cutting-edge that I learned a TON of useful info. They have another session going right now. You can sign up anytime, and it’s self-paced. DO IT.
Abraham-Hicks is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Their teachings are, essentially, what inspired the creation of The Secret, a flick that most of you have probably seen. They advocate for embracing joy, following your bliss and being true to yourself, and their message is incredibly important and incredibly powerful. They have all kinds of books, DVDs and audio recordings available, but there are also TONS of free videos on YouTube. I tend to watch them whenever I’m feeling low, and they’ve been a huge help to me over the years. As far their other swag, I particularly recommend Getting Into the Vortex (a book and series of meditation recordings), Ask and It Is Given and The Law of Attraction. They also do cruises and workshops, neither of which I’ve been on or to (though I’d jump on the opportunity).
Other books I recommend:
You Can Heal Your Life – This is a classic, health-focused guidebook by new age legend Louise Hay. It helps you get to the root of your physical (and mental) ailments, something most medical practitioners fail to ever do.
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life – One of Wayne Dyer’s best, this book is a healthy mix of spiritual wisdom and practical advice on the power of your mind to alter your life’s circumstances.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy – The best of the best in cognitive therapy, this book will help you identify your cognitive distortions and learn to think in a more realistic and positive way. HUGELY important.
Mind Over Mood – A cognitive therapy workbook that really helps you tackle and re-structure your irrational thoughts.
The Joy of Living – When it comes to happiness, who better to learn from than a Buddhist monk? Particularly one who overcame severe anxiety, himself? This dude is proof of the power of meditation.
Happy for No Reason – This book outlines some of the key aspects involved in shaping a happier you, and drives home the concept that happiness is an inside job.
Other practices I recommend:
Daily exercise (preferably outdoors)
Keeping a gratitude journal
Volunteering (with a cause you really care about).
Performing random (or not so random) acts of kindness.
Meditating (see resources above).
Of course I could make this guide MUCH longer. And I will, in a book, hopefully sooner than later. 😉 But for now, I’m just sharing a few of my favorite tools of the happiness trade. I think you’ll dig them, too.
Anything I missed that helps keep you on a happy track? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!