How To Be Happier: Start Noticing

December 21st, 2016

It’s been a while since I last wrote. Life has been busy. I think I reached an important inner discovery a few weeks ago and wanted to share it. It’s kind of silly to think that the things that I’m about to write have been discovered over and over again, generation over generation, and that while time advances forward, human nature changes very little. We rediscover the same old truths about ourselves.

I left the nomadic way in search of greater happiness. I talked about that a little bit here. After going back to a more typical lifestyle, I found myself slightly less happy. The routine catches up to you quickly, work keeps you busy, and sooner than you know, you’re old.

So I asked myself why such a minimal lifestyle brought me such a greater level of happiness. I studied a few books on joy and happiness (interested? Start with Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan).

Then a simple truth hit me:

  • With self awareness comes joy. Train your mind to be continuously self aware, for every small thing that you might take for granted, in a positive manner. Joy leads to happiness.
  • Self awareness is about noticing. If you don’t notice, you don’t see.

A minimalist lifestyle forces you to notice things around you, because you have so little. You notice a warm shower, the taste of a meal, the availability of fresh drinking water, the sight of a new place. The good news is that all of these things are still around, even if you don’t live a minimalist lifestyle. Unfortunately, for whatever evolutionary reason, our brain is so good at tuning out noise. We stop noticing things that are repeating in nature. Until we consciously notice them again. With practice, self awareness becomes easier and you start to notice things again. You have to put a conscious effort to practice self awareness. Evolutionary biology pushes you in the opposite direction. To be happy you must notice.

Silly things you might have failed to notice today:

  • I ate a meal today
  • I took a shower
  • I’m relatively healthy (or I’m getting better)
  • I have a comfortable place where to sleep tonight
  • I have a friend, a significant other, or family that loves me
  • I have electricity, internet, a computer

Start noticing, because if you don’t notice, you don’t see.

Happy holidays!

 


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