A Cherokee Legend goes like this...
A wise Cherokee elder is teaching her granddaughter about life. “A fight is going on inside me,”she said to the girl. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is filled with evil - anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.”She continued, “the other wolf is filled with good - joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, gratitude, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too.”
The granddaughter thought about it for a minute and then asked her grandmother, “which wolf will win?”
The wise woman simply replied, “the one you feed.”
Flex your positive attitude muscle and cultivate happiness and life satisfaction
How you see everything —from yourself to your job to your views of the world —depends largely on your attitude. Researchers in the field of positive psychology have found that you can cultivate happiness. What it takes is an inner change of perspective and attitude - which, with practice, is something anyone can do.
Strategies for boosting happiness and a sense of well-being include:
• Train your brain to be more positive
Our brains are wired to notice and remember things that are wrong. However, this biological disposition to focus on the negative contributes to stress and unhappiness. We can train our brains to be more positive by choosing to notice, appreciate and anticipate goodness. Gratitude helps you experience more positive emotions, feel better about yourself and strengthens your immune system. One exercise you can do to cultivate gratitude is keep a gratitude journal.
• Nurture and enjoy your relationships
Research shows that happier people are more likely to have a large, supportive circle of family and friends. Nurturing your relationships is an emotional investment worth making and can be done by: making a conscious effort to stay connected, invest quality time with the people you care about, and offer sincere compliments.
• Live in the moment and savour life’s pleasures
Mindfulness is about living life with attention and intention: it is moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment without judgment.
Exercises that foster mindfulness include: adopting enjoyable daily rituals, minimising multi-tasking, and mindful movement.
• Help others and live a life of meaning and purpose
People who help those in need and give back to others and their communities tend to be happier, have higher self-esteem and psychological well-being. Practice living a more altruistic, meaningful life by: volunteer work, and practicing kindness through small ways to be more compassionate and giving in your daily life.
• Invest in your health
Exercise and sleep are especially important vis-a-vis happiness. Make exercise a regular habit. Not only is it good for the body, it also improves mental well-being. And, get the sleep you need as a good nights sleep improves energy levels, productivity, creativity and decision making abilities.
Joanne has lived overseas for the last 15 years as the spouse of a DFID officer, and grew up as an expatriate child whose father was with the British Council. She is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and Licensed Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshop Facilitator & Personal Coach who works with clients remotely via Skype, email and phone. You can contact Joanne at firstname.lastname@example.org