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Do you want to make yourself happier?

Are you prone to negativity? Thinking happiness is something that just arrives one day? Well then listen up, because it’s actually possible to make yourself happier. Seriously.

Happiness is a hot topic right now. Who doesn’t want to be happier!? But did you know that you can actually develop habits that will help you become happier?

You really can! In fact, such big business is happiness that since the 1930s Harvard University has bee researching it. Yup, for over 80 years they’ve been delving into studies in the hope of revealing clues about how to we can lead healthier and happier lives. However, it was only in the last twenty years or so that research trends shifted to a positive focus. Until then for every piece of research done on happiness, 17 were done on depression.

However the tide is turning.

With the rise of mindfulness and advances in neuroscience there is more of a focus on how to cultivate a more constant state of wellbeing/happiness and a shift in perspective about how we look at mental health as a whole. Instead of an ‘it’s broken lets fix it’ mentality, studies are now looking at how can we stop it breaking in the first place.

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Here comes the science bit

I could nerd out for a few pages on how we can change our mindset but I’m trying to keep this fairly bite sized and digestible for our impatient distracted brains (mine included!!). I’m quite nervous about writing on such a sensitive subject and I want to firstly flag that this is not a ‘how to be happy’ blog. I am not here to pontificate about the power of the mind and how you can just choose happiness with a click of your fingers!

You will have noticed that I am referencing steps towards happier, heavy on the er… We all have genetic predispositions and just plain bad luck some days. I woke up one morning in Australia a few years ago, where I had been living my very best life, put on my yoga pants and got the dreaded 6am phone call that no one wants to get. My parents were in a head on fatal collision and I needed to get back ASAP.

Developing new habits

There was lots of sadness in my life for the months to follow but through yoga, which has the same foundational principles as many of the new mindfulness research, I chose not to completely spiral out of control. And when I did, and boy did I, I at least had a pathway to find my way back or… at the very least the tools to forge that path back. That, my friends is the key to all of the sometimes-confusing influx of research, books, podcasts, and wellness events. HOPE. The realisation that in your darkest place that there is actually things that can create positive shifts in the body and mind.

Yoga talks about important but surprisingly non-complex practices to improve well-being; contentment (santosha), non-striving (aparigraha), self-study (svadhyaya) are just some of them. But you can start to see how from this ancient practice to all the modern day ‘happiness tools’ that ultimately they’re all singing from the one hymn sheet. Dedicate time, effort, self-care, compassion, gratitude whilst steering away from comparison, striving, negative self-talk in order to give yourself the best chance at battling this crazy thing called life.

I try and live daily by most of the happiness inducing principles. But in order to really kick start the creation of new habitual patterns, research suggests taking 21 days. Experts say that 21 days of consistent practice gives the best outcome. If you only have time to start one new habit, please try to be grateful every day. Each thing you are grateful for takes up precious space in the mind that leaves less room for negatives.

Sinead Mooney is a qualified yoga teacher who spends her time teaching hatha vinyasa, prenatal and MBSR mindfulness meditation. She loves to watch people float out of her classes feeling lighter, with a big fat smile on their face. Follow her on Instagram or for more information visit moonsyoga.com

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