It’s the Little Things in Life: Happiness Practices Around the World

Happiness Practices Around the World

Happiness isn’t all about grand ambitions and big achievements, it’s also about the little touches that make daily life a bit nicer.

All over the world, people have found their own ways to brighten up a difficult day without the need to spend money. Our new series of illustrations takes a look at a few that you might like to try for yourself.

Japan: ‘shrinrin-yoku’

Happiness: ‘shrinrin-yoku’ Peace Revolution
Japan: ‘shrinrin-yoku’

It may sound like an ancient rite, but Japanese forest-bathing was first developed as a scientifically verified aid to conventional medicine in the 1980s. Take yourself for a mindful walk through the woods when you feel low and you can rejuvenate mind, body and soul.

Hawaii: ‘Ho‘oponopono’

Happiness: ‘Ho‘oponopono’ Peace Revolution
Hawaii: ‘Ho‘oponopono’

Hawaiians have a good awareness for the idea that anger and resentment hurt the person that feels those emotions more than the one who provoked them. Literally meaning “to make right”, the double use of the word pono – right – indicates that you must make things right with yourself as well as the other person. When you feel your anger swell, sit down with that person and talk openly about your feelings.

Norway: ‘friluftsliv’

Happiness: ‘friluftsliv’ Peace Revolution
Norway: ‘friluftsliv’

Norwegians define themselves by their connection to the natural world and outdoors living. The winter is so dark that they have to roam a little to keep their spirits up, and summer days last so long that there’s always time to visit nature. Putting some time aside each day to walk in the park or really listen to a nearby river can help you find your place in the world.

Germany: ‘gemütlichkeit’

Happiness: ‘gemütlichkeit’ Peace Revolution
Germany: ‘gemütlichkeit’

When you picture a group of Germans sitting around and laughing, that’s gemütlichkeit. Difficult to directly translate, it describes a very special kind of social bonding where being playful and lively can create a sense of belonging. You can create this feeling with your family or friends by treating each meeting as an occasion and always taking an opportunity to dance or sing together.

Spain: ‘siesta’

Happiness: ‘siesta’ Peace Revolution
Spain: ‘siesta’

The famous Spanish afternoon nap has been around for thousands of years and, if it used to be considered a physical necessity, today it is often regarded to be a luxury. Even if you don’t live in a hot climate, a 20-minute nap after lunch can help avoid that energy dip that derails so many good starts.

Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil: ‘mate’

Happiness: ‘mate’ Peace Revolution
Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil: ‘mate’

“Yerba mate raises morale,” wrote the French Society of Hygiene in 1909, “sustains the muscular system, augments strength and allows one to endure privations. In a word, it is a valiant aid.” This miraculous tree leaf tea can be taken alone as part of your morning ritual or sipped from a calabash bowl and passed around with friends.

Turkey: ‘keyif’

Happiness: ‘keyif’ Peace Revolution
Turkey: ‘keyif’

If keyif is a central part of Turkish national culture it is also, in practice, a very personal thing. Keyif means just finding a moment to be by yourself and to quietly live in the moment. You can choose to do so on the beach, on a park bench or in the bath.

Bosnia & Herzegovina: ‘kafa’

Happiness: ‘kafa’ Peace Revolution
Bosnia & Herzegovina: ‘kafa’

The tempo in Bosnia is somewhat slower than elsewhere in Europe, and kafa – the coffee break – is a big part of that. Sitting down with this specially prepared brew means committing to a discussion of world affairs and personal gossip, and forgetting about time for a few moments to concentrate on the flavor of the coffee and on the quality of your company.

Nigeria: ‘ubuntu’

Happiness: ‘ubuntu’ Peace Revolution
Nigeria: ‘ubuntu’

The word ubuntu is taken from the Zulu phrase ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’, which is the idea that a person only exists and thrives through community. If you are open and affirming to your neighbours, you can acknowledge your part in society and strengthen yourself by strengthening others.

Next time you find yourself in need of something extra to brighten up your day, remember these nine things that make people happy around the world.

Source

Shinrin Yoku (2017). Take a walk in the forest. shinrin-yoku.org
James, M. (2011). The Hawaiian Secret of Forgiveness. psychologytoday.com
Gelter, H. (1999). Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy of Outdoor Life. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 5, Summer 2000
Whiteoak, J. (2007). Making ‘Gemutlichkeit’: Antecedents of ‘Bavarian-style’ Musical Entertainment. search.informit.com.au
Willis, S. (2017). Siesta. msu.edu
Trigg, R. (2017). The aperitif: All you need to know about France’s ‘evening prayer’. thelocal.fr
Smith, J. (1988). More Than a Drink : Yerba Mate: Argentina’s Cultural Rite. latimes.com
McKirdy, C. (2016). How to Drink Yerba Mate in South America. vice.com
Thomas, O. (2010). Cultural encounters in Istanbul. bbc.com
Sarajevo Times (2016). Drinking of Coffee in BiH: A Ritual that is much more than plain Need for a Drink. sarajevotimes.com
Kimmerle, H. (2012). Ubuntu and Communalism in African Philosophy and Art. rozenbergquarterly.com
Ifejika, N. (2006). What does ubuntu really mean? theguardian.com

Illustrations: NeoMam Studios

You’re Good Enough, And Always Have Been

If you’ve ever struggled or still struggle with loving yourself, know that you are not alone. And more importantly, know that there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling this way. In a world full of pressures and expectations, it is easy to feel less than. It is easy to compare ourselves to others or seek perfection when it is not necessary (or healthy).

Learning To Open Up About Your Struggles

I wholeheartedly believe that it is important to be open and honest about your own struggles. Without communicating our struggles, fears, and negative thoughts, it’s nearly impossible to start on the road to a healthy mind. Whether this means talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or even a journal, it helps tremendously to release your emotions.

Let me start by opening up about my own personal struggles with perfection and never feeling good enough.

Throughout high school, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get spectacular grades. While it was fabulous that I wanted to get good grades, my approach was not healthy. Rather than being satisfied with my achievements, I would dwell on the smallest mistakes. If I missed one question on a test, I would see only that mistake, not the achievement. Spectacular was not even enough. In fact, perfection wasn’t even good enough–it was just “all right.”

When my high school years came to an end and I no longer stressed about grades, perfection slithered its way in differently. This time, I became obsessed with weight loss and health, never seeing myself as worthy of happiness if I didn’t achieve a certain weight or maintain a specific diet.

This struggle was with me from a young age; even when I was in middle school, I struggled with my weight and in high school I attempted diets, but ultimately made a lifestyle change. At first, I lost weight healthily but then I began to obsess over it. Weight and calories were always on my mind and thin was not enough–I had to keep losing more and more weight.

The peak of my eating disorder lasted the first semester of my freshman year of college, but the mindset took a long time to fade away. Throughout these struggles, I’ve realized that if you don’t love yourself, happiness is hard to come by.

Taking Care of Yourself, Every Day

After I began focusing more on loving myself, my mindset began to change. I replaced negative thoughts with positive thoughts, bad habits with good ones, and hatred with love. My whole mindset needed to change. It took a lot of time and work, but it paid off, and I work every day to be good to myself.

I want to repeat those last few words: I work every day to be good to myself.

Loving yourself isn’t something that happens over night. It also isn’t something that, once learned, can be thrown under the rug. We are constantly changing, so we need to constantly reevaluate our approach to self-love, and cater our efforts to the needs of the moment.

I want to remind you of a phrase that has helped me tremendously: You are good enough, right in this moment, and always have been.

I think we can easily spend too much time thinking about the person we want to become rather than the person we are right now. If we don’t work on loving ourselves in the moment, how can we expect to love ourselves in the future?

Of course, we can always improve and strive to be better people, but we don’t have to give up our happiness during this journey.

Self-love starts with this very moment.

Without caring for ourselves and communicating our struggles, fears, and negative thoughts, it’s nearly impossible to start on the road to a healthier mind.
If you want to read more by Jerry Ehlers, please visit his website Discovery Overflow.

Plan Your Happiness

Do you think it is possible to plan your happiness? Let’s see.

There are some things we can do to make sure we are as happy as possible. This is mostly about our self development, inner work and attitudes. There are also some things out of our control – such as natural disasters, actions of people around us, and to a certain degree – political and social situation. This is mostly about outer things. If we assume that we cannot change outer circumstances, but we are in charge of our inner harmony and peace, we can start a totally new path.

On our path of self love and self acceptance, we do not concentrate on blame, shame, guilt and judgements anymore. Yes, I was born into this family where I was taught bad habits, yes, I live in a country where everyone is drinking, but I cannot do too about it if I start complaining. Instead, I will become in charge of my actions through my words and thoughts. I will change my habits through changing my behaviours and emotions, and I will be in charge of my own happiness to the degree to which it is possible.

So, how exactly do we plan happiness?

1. Make a powerful intention

If you want a new incredible lifestyle, you will have to do things you have never done before. This may be tough, and your habits and lack of motivation may start dragging you back into your old daily routine.

A possible intention may be:

  •  I will meditate every morning.
  • I will practice yoga every morning.
  • I will do a good deed – something for a person who could not do this to themselves – every day.
  • I will smile to those who frown in the streets.
  • I will hug ten friends daily.

Your intention can be about anything, but make sure you believe in what you do and you know it will make you happier. Once the intention is made, never question it again. At least for a year.

2. Choose your power-word that will support you every day. What is it that you need from life the most at the moment? Here is a list of example power-words, or you may choose your own too.

Live. Focus. Health. Purpose. Compassion. Stability. Kindness. Celebration. Confidence. Peace. Mindfulness. Change. Positive. Grace. Consistency. Commitment. Hope. Trust. Courage. Presence. Patience. Meditation. Believe. Be. Freedom. Healing. Self-love. Extraordinary. Action. Routine. Adventure. Integrity. Positivity. Fearless. Work. Growth. Discipline. Listen. Balance. Intention. School. Original. Magic. Harmony. Dedication. Dream. Giving. Calm. Awaken. Faith. Joyful. Equanimity. Accomplish. Gentleman. Partnership. Effort. Persistence. Communication. Alive. Inspire. Passion. Ritual. Learn. Acceptance. Actualize. Playfulness. Aware. Union. Flow. Respect. Intention. Frugal. Social. Wellbeing. Tend. Risk. Travel. Productivity. Complete. Friends. Control. Strength. Fruition. Congruence. Impact. Determined. Resilience. Explore. Art. Bravery.

3. Make a list of activities that make you happy

For someone it may be skiing, for another – it is writing. Once you have written your list, plan to do at least one of these activities regularly and at least one exciting activity each month.

While writing this article I have drafted my Happiness boost year plan and I share it as an example.

To do regularly: find time for writing every week

To do monthly:

July – ride a water zorb

August – ride a hot air balloon

September – go to a meditation retreat

October – practice yoga every day

November – learn how to make chocolate

December – study a new language

Remember – no matter what you do, even the smallest things – everything you read, hear, see, smell and taste – remain in your subconscious memory. Everything you encounter in your daily life constitutes who you are, and it is good to make such resolutions to empower yourself.

Remember – when you make an intention, may it be strong and full of inner responsibility. It is you in charge of your life, and with your power of choice you can always always make it better.

To Be Happy Here and Now

New shining dress, new job promotion, vacations in Malaysia… Do you often catch yourself thinking that you need to achieve something, become someone or go somewhere to be happy? How about being happy here and now with something that you already have? Is it possible? Join us in the SEE Peace Summit in Tirana, Albania from December 15 to 18, and together with young leaders from all over Europe we will explore tools for self-sustaining happiness and personal development.

Many people are frustrated looking for lasting happiness and thinking that things such as abundance of possessions, co-dependent relationships and the acceptance of others will help them reach their goals. SEE Peace Summit wants to introduce meditation techniques as a new way of positively affecting individuals’ habits and transforming their life, thus refocusing all of our personal priorities from an outward search to an inward quest.

With personal development as one of the thematic areas, the summit will also explore sub-themes such as mindfulness, art and meditation, as well as stress management in order to better understand how to keep a peaceful mind while coping with daily life challenges; how to move towards one’s goals in a peaceful manner, not forgetting the gratitude and happiness for the present moment.

During the SEE Peace Summit, different speakers will be giving workshops to help discover various aspects on personal development. For instance, Vesna Laković, Mindfulness Trainer and Education Coordinator at Familylab Serbia will be leading workshops on how to embrace difficult emotions with mindfulness. Participants will learn to recognize, understand and accept their different emotions, especially the unpleasant ones. Meanwhile, Peace Educator Manuela Puscas will deliver a workshop on how to become aware of our inner conflicts and have practical tools that help in dealing with them.

Apart from trainers and speakers, the SEE Peace summit will feature two Thai Buddhist monks – Venerable John Paramai Dhanissaro and Venerable Pasura Dhantamano – who will not only guide meditation sessions and give lectures, but offer a unique opportunity to have a one-to-one or a group conversation in the Meditation Clinic.

The SEE Peace Summit is organized by the World Peace Initiative Foundation (WPI), an international organization that promotes the culture of peace in the world through a practice of meditation and mindfulness. The summit aims to bring together young people from all over Europe, offering them a space to exchange experiences and create ideas for improving themselves and their communities back home.

Apply for the SEE Peace Summit here.

Find your meaning by breathing.

Does your life have meaning?

If you are anything like me then you try to distract yourself (which is made easier with social media) whenever this question to mind. It’s easier to watch cat videos than have the ‘talk’ with ourselves. It’s similar to the performance evaluation with your boss except that it’s not compulsory and you can get by (not live to the fullest) without it. Continue reading “Find your meaning by breathing.”