Learning to be happy

Today is International Happiness Day, established in recognition of the importance of happiness as a goal and aspiration in people’s lives.

I fully believe that joy is always the best way to go forward, and while I don’t want to minimize many people’s struggles to be happy amidst a sea of challenges, what I’ve been exploring is that happiness is a state of being that can actually be learned, primarily through changing one’s outlook and reframing of negative thinking. Our minds are predisposed to criticize and make us feel anxious. What if we decided to start from a place of peace – even if we have to construct and work at it?

Of course, this is easier said than done, and like most big changes we want to make in our lives, it takes regular practice. For me, this has been through daily affirmations, positive thinking and actively asking the universe – and people – for what I want. I’ve also learned the value and power of deep breathing and mindfulness, while also feeling gratitude and hope and expressing kindness in action.

 There are always going to be obstacles and setbacks, but just by choosing to be happy – to view experiences with the prospect of a positive outcome – has helped me to try new ventures and has given me more energy and determination to succeed at them.

Most of all, I would say, give yourself time. Our feelings can change by the hour and fluctuate with the seasons, but what better way to start anew on the first day of Spring, also today. By chance (?) this afternoon, I saw my first snowdrops of the year, and after a prolonged, wintry darkness, I feel life is stirring all around, and for the first time in a long time, within me too. Take faith in the return of light and choose a path of happiness and let it lead you to a burgeoning future.

Transformative femininity

Today is International Women’s Day, a time to appreciate and celebrate the women in our lives, past and present, along with the achievements of women in our community and over time. There are so many unsung champions – what a blessing to have such kind, caring, bold, smart, adventurous and innovative women in our midst.

For me personally, I would like to acknowledge the devoted team of personal support workers and caregivers who’ve looked after my elderly mom with dementia over the past number of years. They’ve done so with admirable gentleness, reliability, skill and grace, and I’ve been touched by their continued patience and kindness towards my mother. For your work and steadfast presence in my life, I applaud and thank you.

As a society, we continue to progress towards reducing stereotypes and bias and embracing equity, diversity and gender parity. There is always more work to be done, but for me, one of the biggest steps is simply to treat one another humanely, regardless of gender. Showing respect and compassion to one another is one of the best ways we can demonstrate a commitment towards equality and inclusivity.

Our world needs more collaboration over competition. Let’s bring each other up instead of putting each other down. Let’s cultivate aspects our own feminine energies – people of all genders – and be proud to express them to one another. And let’s expand further and apply the transformative power of femininity to find solutions for each other and for our planet.