Simplicity and Happiness

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ~Leonardo da Vinci

PHOTO CREDIT: SHI
Have you noticed how many people are discontent and dissatisfied with their life situation? I’ve seen people throw away good relationships and jobs (in an unrealistic search for a perfect partner or job). I’ve witnessed friends buying things that they really don’t need in order to fill the emptiness they feel in their lives.

I have traveled extensively. I noticed how content those with less are. I remember the beautiful, smiling faces of people in the country side of Portugal, northern Spain and Turkey. They looked happy and healthy. They made their own bread, yogurt, butter, cheese and grew their own vegetables. I still remember the wonderful flavors of the seafood, vegetables and county bread. They didn’t have cell phones, nor computers. They were content with their lives. The women didn’t wear any make up. Their beauty was glowing from within. Happiness does that to people.

It is not easy to determine what brings joy. But, one thing is for sure: There is more to life than chasing after money and possessions.

I know this: When we are content, we are also happy. When we are happy, we have more energy. We are more productive. We are healthier. We have a stronger immune system. The best part is, happiness is contagious. You pass it on to others.

I don’t believe happiness is biologically-driven. I believe happiness is a choice. And I don’t see any correlation between money and happiness. I’ve met rich people who have it all but are not happy. During my travels, I’ve also met poor people who were the happiest people ever.

I’ve also found that people who volunteer and do good in their communities are happier. Reaching out and giving is always fulfilling.

12 ways to be happier:

Appreciation and Gratitude: Be thankful for what you have. Send out a message to the Universe that you’re grateful for your life. Appreciate the things you already have. If you have a TV and are still looking for a new one, sit back and think: Do you really need another TV? If you have a reliable car and your eyes are on your neighbor’s newly purchased car, think again: Do you really need another car?

Recharge and replenish your reserves: Whether you like spending time on a beach, hiking up a mountain or listening to music, give yourself some time everyday to boost your energy (and your spirit).

Cherish your memories: Remembering beautiful moments from your past will refresh you and put a smile on your face. I think of my beautiful travels and those wonderful people and places I’ve had the privilege to share my life experience with.

Don’t dwell on the negative: It’s counter-productive and leads to sadness and depression. Move forward not backward. Your (negative) past does not define you. The past is gone. The present is what ever you make it and the future is unknown.

Be a giver: In my experience generous people tend to be happier. It’s human nature. We enjoy sharing. We enjoy giving. I’ve been a giver all my life. I don’t publicly boast about it as it’s between me and the universe. Giving gives back. The universe rewards good deeds.

Indulge yourself with your favorite snack: I don’t know why but Serotonin levels drop considerably after noon. I found eating a snack that is rich in B vitamins, makes me feel upbeat. Dark chocolate or sesame seed toasted seaweed is an excellent choice!

Exercise: Walk, hike, bike, dance or lift weights. Yoga and Meditation seems to have a calming effect on the brain and nervous system.

Keep your home tidy, organized and clean: Your life will be more pleasant and efficient.

Declutter: Less is always more. When you clear your cluttered home, you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction. It’s also a great stress reliever. Keep things simple. Simplifying your life can have a lasting and meaningful impact on your well-being.

Start cooking. Start baking: These are simple pleasures in life. One of my happiest moments is when I create different dishes in the kitchen, while listening to music and sipping a glass of wine.

Start growing herbs, plants or start a vegetable garden I know people who do this, not only do they eat home-grown organic veggies and herbs, it brings them joy. Being in touch with nature will do that to you. Even if you live in an apartment just like me, you can still have some plants and herbs on your balcony.

Invite your friends for dinner or lunch: Nothing is as more enjoyable as sharing conversation with a delicious meal and wine with your friends.

Life is not perfect. We will never understand the secrets of our world. Life is a journey, not a destination. Why not enjoy the ride?

What makes you happy?