Not many times I have had the luck to get to know someone with such a beautiful mind as my friend and South-African beauty Beatrix du Toit. Beatrix has been a model for over 15 years. Every month she shares with us her experiences and thoughts about life and modelling.
How Happiness Is Defined
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]aving shared my house with models and witnessing what the economic climate has done to our careers, I could not help but notice how many of us attached our sense of well-being or happiness to working and earning money.
As kids and as young adults we are conditioned from an early age to place happiness outside of ourselves and attach it to external conditions to be obtained. There is this constant wishing by us that once I book this job or make that much money then I will feel better or treat myself to a nice holiday or be able to relax etc etc and the list carriers on. But is this rosy destination really possible?
Happiness is a place to visit , not a place to live
A Visit at Happiness
Recently I read a book by Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness, in which he claims that we are not meant to be happy all the time. I must say I tend to agree with him, as we have emotions for a reason and they serve as a primary signaling system to your brain, letting you know if you are doing something that enhances or hinders your survival.
Whether we listen to those signals or not is an entirely different article for later discussion. What grabbed my attention though was that Gilbert said: ‘Happiness is a place to visit, not a place to live‘.
6 Ways to Visit Happiness More Often
So the question I posed to all my friends around my dinner table on numerous occasions was: “how do we visit this place more often?”
1. Unanimously almost everyone said go with the flow. If you allow yourself to be completely absorbed by whatever you are doing in this moment, the mind has a way of intently focusing on purely that, setting your mind free from the jungle of harmful thoughts that is robbing you of this moment. So ladies: try to flow and focus.
2. Exercise was another suggestion and I agree Lions Head did me wonders after my last article. The endorphin boost of exercise relieves anxiety and helps you sleep better.
3. My little niece once told me she is too upset to talk, she needed to take a nap first. Little did she know willingly but more so intuitively, that taking a nap and getting enough sleep allows your hippocampus to rest, which makes recalling happy memories easier.
4. Shopping and spending money were also mentioned as a possible escape to visit happiness by mostly the females at the table, but once I challenged the short lived joy of a new pair of heels the argument did not have so much weight anymore. However some felt that when they spent their money wisely it did bring them happiness. The key however was on experiences and not material goods.
5. Friendships and family ties can bring great joy so cherish and nurture them. Connecting to others is a fundamental part of being happy. This reminded me of something mentioned in the movie ‘Into the Wild’; the lead character mentions that happiness is only real when it is shared and he was so right when he wrote that in his diary.
6. And last but not the least was my own contribution to the list. Try and have a love affair with yourself. If you wish for flowers, then give it to yourself. If you long for a romantic dinner then add a candle to your next home cooked meal. Nothing brings greater joy to me than the practice of self-love and appreciation. Give it a try and let me know if it works.
Bonus Tip: Mind Training
Whilst researching more about this topic and reading up on our constant chase for happiness I found this really entertaining clip on TED by psychologist Shawn Anchor, whom made a career of studying the art of happiness:
What struck me the most about his talk was that we can train our minds to choose a better thought process that is conducive to happiness purely by focusing our intent and remaining centered to that.
It however is an ongoing process of continuous practice, which eventually in time will become a way of life. Imagine that!
You are a unicorn baby
I find myself staring at my blue eyes in the mirror every morning, hearing Shawn Anchor’s voice saying “you are a unicorn baby”. Just that thought alone makes me smile and continue this process of living a happy life.
My Kitten, Your Tail Will Follow You Everywhere
My coach once told me a tale of an elderly cat watching a kitten run in circles chasing his tail like he was possessed. The old cat eventually asked the kitten why he did that, to which the kitten explained that it gave him great joy to chase his tail. He assumed therefore that happiness must be in his tail and he would like to hold onto happiness.
The old cat just stretched and got up to walk away and replied to the kitten:
‘You see, my kitten, I learned with time that if I go about my business, my tail seems to follow me everywhere‘.
And that is the cat’s meow for now.
Copyright featured image: Milan Cronjeh