Stuck in a post-party season rut? Suffering from a case of the January blues? Well don't be - help is at hand. In a bid to help our readers make 2011 their best year yet, hellomagazine.com caught up with top happiness coach Helen Mumford Sole to get tips on how to be get happy – and stay happy - this coming year.
But first of all, what exactly is happiness coaching? "The biggest myth around happiness is that people think it's something that you're born with," explains Helen. "So people think there are happy people and unhappy people and that you can't help it – you're one or the other. Actually, it's a highly-researched subject and there's a lot of scientific evidence around it. The bottom line is that happiness is a result of your behaviour. You choose what to do so you choose happiness."
So how do we choose happiness, then? "If you habituate certain behaviours you become happy, and happiness coaching is all about doing things to help you achieve that. And it really works."
Top tips for happiness:
1) Be grateful. "The happiest people are those who are most grateful," says Helen. "Get a gratitude journal and keep it by the side of your bed. Every night, write down – very briefly – three things that you've been grateful for that day. While you're thinking it and writing it, really get in touch with it. Feel it." It may sound simple, but this technique gets results – and fast.
2) Make more connections. "People who have more relationships and are in more social groups are happier. So the more you're part of a society – aerobics class, a church group, your friends - the happier you are," she explains. "It's as simple as that. It does top off, so it doesn't mean 100 friends makes you 100 times happier than having just one friend. It's all about human interaction."
Make sure you're connecting with like-minded, positive people though. "You know which relationships and friendships are giving you energy and making you happy, and which ones aren't. I'm not saying ditch the ones that make you unhappy, but make sure you focus on balance - spend 70 to 80% of your time with people who are happy."
3) Meditate. "This is the most important but most difficult. People who meditate are happiest. It's about quiet time when you shut your mind off each day – even 5 to 10 minutes on a daily basis makes a difference," explains Helen.
4) Be generous. "The happiest people give things away. They're the most generous. The more you give away the more you have."
5) Don't focus on money. "It just doesn't make you happy," says Helen. "There's a surprisingly low financial level above which money makes no difference whatsoever. In the US it's $27,000 per year."
6) Live in the moment. "In our culture we have this belief that you do things you don't like much today because they'll benefit you tomorrow. For example, going to the gym, doing well at school, staying in a job you don't like because of the pension. But the happiest people live in the moment. They don't buy happiness tomorrow with today."
There are lots of clichés: 'It's the journey, not the destination', 'Live in the moment' - if you break them down, they're saying that the happiest people have a much better balance on enjoying today. But beware. "The reverse of that is hedonism, which makes you unhappy ultimately."
7) Be optimistic. "Learn how to be optimistic. I do whole six-hour classes on how to be optimistic because it's a learned behaviour – like happiness. You're not born either optimistic or pessimistic."
For further information or to contact Helen about coaching sessions, email her on Helen@loveandgratitude.com
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