The start of the year and into the spring is for many a time when they struggle to accept and be happy around the short days. So it’s a good time to contemplate the very essence of what happiness is and what contributes to it.

What is happiness and where do you find it? Two questions that are as old as the hills. Some people think it comes from a set of circumstances in their lives. The penthouse apartment, the yacht in the harbour, the diamond jewellery. Of course not. Since when did money and the THINGS that money can buy contribute to our happiness?

According the Buddhist master, Thich Nhat Hanh, it’s simply this : A way of being. But what does that mean? It means the right way of being is based on two things in particular – inner peace and NOT focusing on the negative. He goes on to say that “Many people think excitement is happiness…But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”

He also advises us that Acceptance is a key element in being peaceful. So what does that mean?  Acceptance is basically accepting yourself as you are and working on the bad bits which we all have and especially NOT trying to change ourselves by wanting to be like someone else. I sometimes think that we are especially prone to that when we imagine that we are falling in love. We try to be the girl or boy of his dreams. But if that’s not really you, you’re going to be found out sooner or later. So what’s the point? If you’re born a rose, be a rose. And if you’re born a daisy be that daisy. If you try to change yourself to suit the Jones’ next door or the guy from heaven that you’ve just met it will only cause you anxiety all your life.

You don’t need to be accepted by everyone. It’s not humanely possible. But if you follow the path of just being you, the right people for you will find you and stick with you.  And you, in the process, will come to an acceptance of yourself. This is a powerful contributory factor to inner peace. And therefore to happiness.

Then there is the other key element of not focusing on the negative. How many negative thoughts do you have in a day? Well, it is estimate that we have somewhere in the region of 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day. That sure is a lot of thinking. How much of that is negative? That’s the question you have to ask yourself. For example, how many times do you think of certain people you know in a negative way? Check your commonly used language to get an idea. Do you use phrases like ’ he’s an eejit’, ‘she’s a dope’, that family is good for nothing.’ Awful stuff.

It still amuses me when I hear people saying about TV presenters  ‘I don’t like him. I don’t like her’ People they’ve never even met! I know that sometimes it’s just a casual throw-away comment but see how negative it is. There is good in everybody. You just need to search for it sometimes. Make it a focus. It reminds me of an old saying that my mother taught me. You maybe know it. “There’s so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it ill behoves any of us to talk about the rest of us.” Good advice from my beloved late mother, Hilda.

So there you have it. Two crucial ingredients for happiness. Two is a nice number to get working on. It’s enough for now.

So go on. Give it a go!

Bibi Baskin lived in India for fifteen years where the holistic Wellness system, Ayurveda, was a prominent part of her life. She now lives in Cork and gives talks/workshops to corporates and individuals on Mindfulness, Meditation and Public Speaking.