What if I told you the key to overall happiness and satisfaction with your life was simply to decide that you are going to be happy?
It hurts my heart to read the news, though I won’t dive into politics or world events in detail here. It’s enough to say: yes, my darling, I know that the world is kind of a scary place right now.
Still, each day, I also make the conscious decision to be happy.
No, I don’t just ignore the news. No, I am not a Pollyanna. No, I don’t don rose colored glasses and pretend that life is easy when it isn’t. What I have come to understand is this: obsessing over events I cannot control is using precious energy. I embrace the truth in the cliché that life is short.
Yes, my dear, happiness is in many cases a decision. And, yes, my darling, it’s easier said than done, so I’m going to share fourteen ways to help:
1. You must choose to be happy, daily.
Deciding to be happy instead of waiting for happiness to come to you will shift your whole being.
2. Stop playing the If-Then Game.
Stop waiting for the new house, the new job, to lose weight, fall in love, etc. in order to be happy. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that the endless pursuit of happiness and the Next Big Thing led to continual unhappiness.
3. You are responsible for your own happiness.
It is no one else’s job or responsibility – it is yours. If you look to the outside world for it, you will always be reaching for it.
4. Find pleasure in small things.
Buy the grocery store flowers, sip a beautifully made latte, and wear that bright dress that makes you smile. When you find joy in the simple pleasures of your daily life, you’ll more easily choose happiness.
5. Stay informed, but don’t obsess.
You don’t want to be ignorant about the happenings in the world, yet focusing on what you cannot control is a waste or your precious energy. Yes, write a letter to your senator and donate to your favorite animal shelter. Just balance our your passions for politics and causes with healthy perspective.
6. Cultivate (and cull) your social media feeds.
Follow positive, loving, and uplifting folks and pages in social media. Find accounts that make you smile. If that means your Instagram feed is full of cupcakes, puppies, and nature, then so be it. Also, cull your social media feeds. Do your uncle’s political rants raise your blood pressure? Unfriend him. Does the newsfeed from your favorite newspaper irritate you? Unlike them. Yes, my dear, un-follow the Negative Nellie’s from Twitter and un-friend (or hide) the Facebook friends that only complain.
7. Find something to love about your work.
If you are unhappy at your job, you have two choices: stop complaining and find the good in it or leave it. If changing jobs isn’t an option, then it’s time to find some delight in what you do each day.
8. Remember your actions are a choice not an obligation.
Reminding yourself that you are always in choice shifts your mental dialogue from “I must” to “I am choosing to…” The shift in your approach to even the least pleasant of tasks helps wire your life for being more satisfied and feeling more joy.
9. Love is an answer, but not THE Answer.
I am the first person to sing the praises of how love has shifted my world. The right love relationship can make happiness a state of exhilaration. However, it is not your partner’s responsibility to make you happy, it’s yours.
If you believe that you would be happy IF your partner changed, then you will be unable to discover any satisfaction. If you are not happy with who you are, then having a loving partner won’t fix it. If the state of your partnership is disintegrating, then you have a responsibility to yourself and the relationship to either change your attitude or your geography.
10. Stop complaining and ditch the complainers.
Distance yourself from negative acquaintances. Don’t chime in when a co-worker complains. Don’t participate in gossip. Smile and walk away from negative social interactions.
11. Distance yourself from drama.
If you hang out with drama queens, you will become one. Remind yourself that someone else’s drama is not yours. Allow those that you love – siblings, friends- to unburden themselves to you without attaching to their stuff. Turn the conversation to a happy memory, a funny anecdote, or an exciting upcoming event. Suggest to them a good therapist or coach – not as a judgment, but out of love.
12. Be grateful.
Every night before you go to bed, write down at least three things you are thankful for. Remind yourself what’s good in your life. Going to sleep with gratitude on your mind will bring you a more positive approach when you wake to a new day.
13. Fuel your body.
You cannot thrive on fast food and four hours of sleep a night. Adequate sleep and quality food will fuel your body and also help you focus on choosing to be happy.
14. Stop being “Busy.”
There is no badge of honor for being the busiest. Instead, being constantly busy puts you in the mindset of always seeking more.
Most importantly, remember that happiness is never going to be a constant state. It’s normal, healthy, and perfectly okay to be something other than happy from time to time. I’m certainly not suggesting you deny all those perfectly valid feelings.
Stop dwelling in the negative. Don’t allow sadness, anger, bitterness, or fear to push those happy moments aside.
Choosing to be happy doesn’t mean turning off your brain. It means tuning your brain and heart to work better together than separately.