You may not want to believe this…but it is true: You control your happiness. That’s right. Whether you like to admit it or not, there is no one else responsible for your well-being or happiness other than you. And for many that is simply a very uncomfortable thought and so we reject it. We prefer to think instead that someone or something will “make” us happy. But in all reality, that doesn’t really happen. That’s just a temporary fleeting moment that passes and then we’re on to the next thing we believe will “make” us happy…but then it doesn’t either. And, I find that this is when sometimes people become really despondent…when the things they thought were going to make them happy, don’t. True happiness and real joy come from being fully present in the here and now and embracing what IS while knowing that you have the absolute power to create your own life. There are possibilities and opportunities all around you but they may not look exactly like you imagine or you may not be able to see your own blind spots. When you shine a light in those shadows and open your eyes to new possibilities, you may see non-typical options and unveil your happiness. It lives right inside of YOU!
So often I hear: “that’s easier said than done.” Trust me, I know because I’ve been there! So I want to share some tips on how I work on my emotional well-being & happiness daily, and you can, too.
- Choose to be happy. It’s really simple. You can choose to allow yourself to wallow, be down, be depressed, and unhappy if you let your mind to just spiral out of control (and it can happen SO fast). Or you can make the choice to work through the obstacles and uncover the happiness and joy that already exists within you. It’s in there, I promise. It’s covered with the sludge of some difficult life experiences, pain, and hurt; but it is still there. You don’t have to FIND it; you allow it to come to the surface. You choose it. Everyday.
- Understand what makes you happy. Honestly, I don’t think enough of us know the answer to this. We live today so focused on becoming people who are supposed to conform, perform, and produce academically and professionally, that we have lost sight of exactly WHO we are. We’ve been taught to do this, say that, or look like another in order to be considered a success. We need to discover what really makes us happy and define success for ourselves, not others. Usually, happiness comes from truly BEING who you were designed to be.
- Take time to enjoy the simple things. What makes you close your eyes and breathe a deeply contented, happy sigh while enjoying one of life’s moments of peace and joy? Admiring the beauty of nature? Finishing a wonderfully written book? Taking a Saturday afternoon nap? Playing with your children and hearing them laugh? Visiting your best friend? Take a moment to enjoy the truly simple yet wonderful moments in life on a regular basis.
- Change your thinking. Your self-talk can make or break you. Negative self-talk can make challenging circumstances turn into suffering. You can’t control everything that happens in life but you can control how you respond to it. And the first place of action is in your mind. Reframe all those negative worse case scenario doomsday gloomy predictions turning them into positive planning and look for solutions instead of dead ends.
- Be forgiving. Unresolved anger for past hurts is a surefire way to kill your happiness. It takes a significant amount of energy to hold on to angry feelings and you will be robbed of all joy. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that whatever happened was right or your fault. It has nothing to do with who is responsible for whatever hurt you experienced. But what forgiveness does allow is for you to take back your power. Being forgiving means putting the pain and suffering where it rightly belongs. In the past. This then allows you to move forward with your life without the baggage of the anger weighing you down. You’ll then be back in charge and free.
- Get some perspective. It may sound cliche but truthfully if you change your outlook by focusing on what can go well, IS going well, and has gone well, you really will change everything about the way you look and feel about your life. When faced with challenges, the viewfinder through which we look at our life and circumstances can become very small. We turn inward and start believing that our lives are terrible and will never get better. And, to make matters worse, we then look for validation in the environment to support our view that things are terrible. Remember that like a phoenix, you can rise up from any fall, misstep, tragedy, or failure. No matter what has happened, you have the ability to rise up, stand strong, and keep moving forward.
- Have fun. Life is a journey and it peaks and valleys somewhat like a roller coaster. When you learn to live in the here and now you can be present and enjoy the ride. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Have fun getting outside that box of your comfort zone you exist in. Do something you’ve ALWAYS wanted to do but either never had the courage, or thought it would be this thing you do someday…when you have time. Well, there is no such thing as someday. It doesn’t exist. And, soon enough, someday will become never. And life will have passed by while you wait on the right time or circumstances to have fun. Would you like your legacy to be that you loved, laughed, and lived life to the fullest? IF so, then get out there and do it!
- Surround yourself with positive people. If you’re prone to struggling with being positive, please limit contact with others who encourage a pattern of negative thinking. If you feel like your energy is being drained around certain people or have friends who love having a pity party, it’s time for some new people in your life. Seek out friends and family who are living the kind of life you are envisioning. You want people who will uplift you, energize you, and are a joy to be around.
- Be grateful. Each day, spend some quiet time thinking about all the things you have to be grateful for and write them down in a journal. Write down things about your self, your day, your life, and the people you love and care for. Keep the words only positive and spend time really reflecting. Then, each and every time you find yourself stuck focusing on a negative perspective that you can’t shake get out your journal. Remind yourself of all the good around you. Focus on these things until the negative thoughts pass.
Happiness isn’t something you have to go searching for. You don’t have to find it. It isn’t lost. It exists within you. It may be buried underneath some things that need to be healed or forgiven or moved beyond, but it IS in there. If you follow these simple steps daily, you will start to see something incredible unfold. The vice grip that negativity and pain have on your heart will loosen and joy and happiness will be set free. And before you know it, you won’t be trying to be happy, you WILL be happy because you will have the freedom to enjoy the roller coaster of life. You’ve got this!