How can we lead a happier and more meaningful life?

There have been more challenges in Australia and across the globe this year than most of us have ever experienced or could even imagine up until now.


Communities have been ravaged by drought, bush fire, floods and now this global pandemic is taking even more of a physical, emotional and economic toll on so many. And at this point in time we don't know when the world will ever find a new 'normal'.


When challenges build and compound, it can be easy to wonder about the meaning of it all, and we might find ourselves questioning our own purpose, or lacking drive at the very least.


So how can we lead a happier and more meaningful life? Especially when it seems more challenging than ever to find things to feel happy about.


I was recently asked in a podcast interview to share some thoughts on what I believe makes for a happier and more meaningful life, based on my personal experience and the research we have conducted at Positive Living Skills, so here are some ideas that have helped me feel connected to meaning and purpose, even when things haven't felt like they've made much sense. We'd love to hear from you with anything you'd like to add to the list too.


Contribution.


When we think about how we can help others, or we give our time or attention or support to other people in our lives, or contribute to a cause that is greater than ourselves, firstly it takes our focus away from the things that aren't as we would like them to be in our own life. That's the number one and immediate benefit, but there is so much more to it than that. Adding value to the lives of those we love, or those we might never meet, taps us into motivation, drive, purpose, value, which is really the gift and far outweighs what you put out.


If I could only share one tip, this would be it.


Appreciate the simple joys.


Anyone who knows our work at Positive Living Skills would have heard of 'highlights'. These are the simple pleasures that don't cost money and are available to just about all of us on any given day. A cool glass of water on a hot day, a smile with a friend (even over facetime), the touch of a soft blanket or the warmth of the sun. When we fully experience these moments and 'take them in', we are experiencing happiness and we can build our neural networks to notice them more easily and feel them more deeply.


The little things really are the big things.


Take yourself lightly.


Even when times are tough, if we can take ourselves lightly and allow ourselves to smile and laugh more (especially at ourselves) we give others permission to do the same, and smiling and laughing releases feel-good hormones like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. These signal your body that you’re happy, and in turn, you feel happier.


Keep Learning.


The best decision I have probably ever made (apart from marrying my husband) is to start learning about how my own mind worked. After visiting a counsellor a number of times in my life, I eventually decided to study counselling, coaching,and NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) and have been learning ever since to gain more understanding of who I am, how I can understand others even more, and how I can help the next generation to do the same. Learning keeps our mind sharp, engaged and open, which is why supporting children to develop a growth mindset