Call me an idealist, but I’m a big believer that we have an obligation to be healthy and happy individuals. Why would you waste your time being anything different? I see far too many people go through their everyday lives wishing they were somewhere else. I know how that feels because I’ve been there too.
For much of my young life, I struggled with finding happiness. I constantly found ways to be miserable and blamed a lot of my internal problems on my close family and friends. But then something clicked.
After the passing of my best friend, I realized that my relationship with happiness needed to change. I also realized that I was the one responsible to do so. For the past few years I’ve been dedicated to making the most out of my time here.
If you’ve read my work for long, you know that I’m not a big fan of the quick fix. In fact, I honestly believe there is no such thing. Searching for the quick fix allows you to procrastinate on the area that really needs a hard look at. Yet, although there is no quick fix, many of our problems can be solved with a simple shift in mind and a bit of effort on our part.
I recently read that 50 percent of our happiness is related directly to our genetics. I’m not here to argue for or against that statistic, but to make a point: 50 percent of our happiness comes from what we can control.
I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t have my bad days, or even weeks for that matter. But I can honestly say that I am blissfully happy nearly every day. That doesn’t mean I have everything figured out, or I’m some abnormal superhuman. I’ve simply dedicated time to making my relationship with happiness the best it can be.
The following are ways that I have found to make me happy on a regular basis. It is my hope they can bring a bit of extra joy into your life as well.
Mingle With Amazing People
One of the most powerful ways to better your relationship with happiness is to surround yourself with people who want to make a difference. This may see seem like a daunting task at first, but connecting with wonderful people is effortless if you make it so.
One one of the reasons I enjoy blogging so much, is because I interact with people changing the world everyday.
Thanks to social media you don’t even need a blog to reap these benefits either. It”s easier than ever to connect with people who are following their dreams. If social media isn’t your thing, join a club. Get outside. Get involved with your community.
Stop wasting your time with people whose only goal is to bring you down. Instead surround yourself with individuals who believe in you, and want nothing more than you to succeed. The quality of your friends and family determine the quality of your life.
Accept What Is
One of the greatest sources of misery in my experience, is refusing to accept what is. How often do waste your time with questions such as: What if I had done that differently? What if I hadn’t broken up with my ex? What if yesterday had turned out differently? Stop turning your back on reality.
Whenever I’m struggling, it’s because I don’t accept what is. And I have to admit I do this far more often than I would like.
If you’re happy, accept that you’re happy. You don’t try to justify that feeling. If you’re upset, accept that you’re upset, don’t pretend you’re not. If you made a mistake embrace your imperfection, don’t beat yourself up.
As you begin to accept what is, you will find that your experiences are exactly what you need at that moment. Sure, life won’t always go according to plan, but at the end you will survive, one experience stronger.
Application: Make note of 5 truths you can’t seem to accept. Write them down. Then let go.
Many of us, myself included, are deathly afraid of failure. Instead of being afraid, ask yourself how you can make failure your friend.
I’m not going to say you will ever reach the point to where you will actually enjoy failure, but with each mistake you make there is always a lesson to be learned.
When you embrace the opportunity of failure, instead of looking at it as a weakness, you will worry less and reduce your stress significantly. Often times, we blow our shortcomings out of proportion, because we mistakenly assume that others will look down on us.
While failure isn’t always the nicest person in the room, there is no reason you can’t become friends with one of the wisest people around.
Application: Write for 30 minutes on what you’re afraid of. Why do you think this is so? Are your fears rational? Can you let them go?
I may sound a bit Leoish here, but the guy obviously has things figured out. This past year I’ve made a conscious effort to slow down in my actions, specifically eating, and I must admit I love the results.
Believe it or not, you can choose the pace of your day. It may take a bit or work, but you can create a daily routine that doesn’t leave you out of breathe 24/7.
Two of my good buddies at university, often like to take their time. While this bothered me originally, I soon came to appreciate the gift of being slow. I regularly take time to just sit and do nothing, and watch the world go by. Funny thing is, happiness always seems to find me when I take the time to slow down.
Application: Spend an extra ten minutes taking a shower or eating your meal. Repeat.
This goes perfectly with consciously choosing to slow down. Is your day filled with hundreds of trivial activities? Are you spending the majority of your time reacting instead of creating?
When you begin to do less in your daily routine, you then begin actually doing activities that matter, and who doesn’t enjoy doing stuff they love?
I love writing and connecting with people, so I make it a priority to do that on a daily basis. This means I spend less time just refreshing Facebook and Twitter.
The less you do, the greater difference you can make.
Application: Cut out three tasks that you really don’t need to do today. Can you cut them out again tomorrow?
Find What Makes You Tick
Some people may not care to admit this, but I honestly believe that we each have something that makes us tick. Yet contrary to popular belief, your passion won’t always just fall into your lap.
While it’s true some people just discover what they love, many of us have to do some searching. Not knowing what makes you happy, is the surest way to remain stuck in a miserable state.
Finding what you enjoy to do is fairly easy. If you enjoy a certain activity (assuming it’s legal of course) continue doing it. I realize that is overly simplistic, but you get the idea.
Don’t worry about what your family or friends think, but rather focus on what brings you joy. I’m not suggesting you be selfish or hurtful in your pursuits, but it’s important you take care of yourself so you can give your fullest to the world.
Application: Do an activity you enjoy everyday without fail for a month. Write for 30 minutes each day. Knit every night before bed. Pick up that book you’ve been dying to read. What ever brings a smile to your face.
I can attribute much of my attitude and overall view on life to having a passion for reading. In the past several years I’ve read nearly 50 books, all of which have allowed me a tremendous opportunity for growth.
It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as it is inspiring and relevant to you. Although I suggest, you avoid material that is filled with negativity or superficial views of the world. I can’t tell you how many new ideas and goals I’ve come up with right after I read a wonderful book. Reading pushes you outside your comfort zone and forces you to contemplate different ideas and beliefs.
While reading isn’t everyone’s thing, there is no reason you can’t take advantage of audiobooks if needed.
Application: Spend 30 minutes everyday consuming inspiring material whether it be reading or audio. If you’re into blogs, here are five I read on a regular basis:
Stop Watching The News
I realize I’m not the first to suggest going on a news fast, but I have no doubt news is a leading source of negativity.
Obviously, I don’t suggest we turn a blind eye to the problems of the world, but constantly being reminded of them 24/7 isn’t going to get anything done.
Do you know of anyone who works better while depressed? I know I don’t. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, tune into your inspiration and create solutions to the woes of the world.
I check the news maybe once every few weeks, the rest of the time I have my friends tell me. You don’t need to watch the news for two weeks to know there is suffering in the world.
That being said, I know we have a long way to go to make this world a better place, and it starts with you.
Application: Go on a one week news fast. No T.V. No news websites. I promise you’ll be happier for it.
This is something, I’ve only recently picked up, but I can say it gives me a great start to my day.
Stretching is often overlooked, but it is a powerful way to quickly become present. You don’t have to be a slinky to enjoy the benefits of stretching. The more you stretch the easier it is to get around in your daily activities.
As soon as you get up, throw your arms to the sky and inhale deeply. Bend down and try to touch your toes. Loosen up your body that’s been still for an entire night. Do a few jumping jacks. Move your neck around in circles. Stretch!
Application: Stretch 15 minutes as soon as you get up every morning.
It is scientifically proven, that those who spend at least an hour a day outside are more happy then those who lock themselves into the darkness of their homes.
Disconnect from the computer and turn off the T.V. Go for a bike ride. A long walk. Have a neighborhood barbecue. Realize that you aren’t meant to be stuck in your house for the entire day.
Go to a park. People watch. Go swimming. The opportunities are endless.
Application: Spend at least 1 hour outside doing an activity you enjoy. Bonus: Bring a friend of family member along.
Choose To Be Happy
The scariest thing in the world is knowing that your results in life are primarily a function of your past decisions and actions. Accept the fact, the reality that you can live the life you want by taking the right actions, reject it, and you will continue to live under your means. Of course, there are things in our lives that we cannot control, yet for the most part, your actions or lack of them are responsible for your present circumstances.
You don’t have to live in a constant state of worry of fear. You don’t have to live with your dreams suppressed in the cage that you won’t open.
You have a choice. You can accept responsibility for your own fulfillment or you can continue to slog through life day by day.
While there is no formula to happiness I do know this:
You have more control than you think. Will you choose happiness?