How To Be Happy: A Pessimists Guide To Happiness

Note: At over 2000 words, this post may be a bit longer than normal but I was feeling rather inspired to write it. Hope you enjoy. 🙂 I can’t be happy because I’m without ____________. I failed my last presentation so my career is over. My last relationship was a disaster so I won’t ever find real love. Have you ever had some of those thoughts? I know I have. I’ll be the first to admit, the battle with negativity is something I struggle with nearly everyday, and it’s safe to say I’m not alone. Each day we have thousands upon thousands of thoughts go through our head. Unfortunately, many of our thoughts are negative and self defeating. We all have a pessimistic voice  among us. But also living in the six inches between our ears, is the voice of optimism, one we all too often fall deaf too. Although many of us are conditioned to be miserable, it’s entirely possible to reprogram our way of thinking completely. In a world filled with pessimism, it’s far to easy to succumb to the negative energy of our world. Take a look around, and it’s not difficult to find someone or something to justify you’re shitty mood. Today I’d like help refine the way you look at the world, and  share with you a fool proof guide to happiness, even for you hardcore pessimists.

Go For A Walk

Walking is one of the quickest ways to boost your mood. Have you gone for a walk just for fun? Scientifically speaking, walking means you’re exercising and when you exercise you release endorphins, which is a component of feeling cheerful. I’ll spare you the details, but walking is good for your brain and overall mood. Not only is walking good for your body, but it also helps you tune into the present moment, assuming you leave the phone and i-Pod at home of course. When you walk take notice of your surroundings. Listen to the sounds that nature orchestrates, you may be surprised at how beautiful the music really is. I realize exercising isn’t enjoyed by everyone, but walking is relatively easy. You pick one foot up and one foot down. Feeling gloomy? Going for a walk is a start.

Journal

While I don’t journal as much as I used to, I’ve found the process to be an effective therapeutic tool when I’m feeling down. Far too often, we let our jumbled thoughts dictate our state of mind. Writing your thoughts down whether it be on a piece of paper or word document, helps to clarify your emotions and better understand your current situation. I can recall several times in which I’ve been very angry or upset and after typing my heart out, I nearly always came away feeling relieved and grateful. Usually, I’ll go back and read my thoughts only to laugh at how silly they were. This generally gives me a feeling of acceptance and reminds me that we should never get caught up in the small stuff.When my best friend passed away, I used the process of journaling to help deal with the pain I was feeling. I can honestly say that writing down my feelings helped significantly in the healing process and opened my eyes to how fortunate I am. Don’t overlook the simplicity of journaling, it truly can make you appreciate your emotions, and your life that much more.

Choose To Be Grateful

Perhaps the greatest way to experience happiness is to choose to be grateful. So many people (myself often included) fail to realize that we ALWAYS have a choice. If we want to eat healthier that’s OUR choice. If we want to start our own business that’s OUR choice. If we want to be grateful for the experiences and material possessions we have in our life it’s OUR choice. Choosing to be grateful doesn’t mean to chase happiness. Chasing happiness leads you nowhere. When you chase happiness you’re repelling enjoyment.Deciding to be appreciative means you’re open to experience joy  in every and all forms. Becoming attached to a certain outcome is one of the quickest ways to misery. Being grateful doesn’t cost a dime. You don’t have to spend 29 dollars on an e-book to be grateful. You can start right now. What are you grateful for?

Become Aware of Your Complaining

The average person (especially American) complains a ton, and I’m included in that list. Over the past few months however, I’ve attempted to cut back on my complaining and  become more aware of the pessimistic voice inside my head. The math is simple: When you complain you attract negative thoughts. Negative thoughts = unhappy. Being unhappy = no fun Part of the reason we complain so much is because it has become a habit. In our society, complaining has been accepted as normal. When you first begin to become aware of your negativity, you will be absolutely astounded at how much you complain.I say become aware of your complaining, because I feel awareness will benefit you more than if you were to “stop complaining” entirely. As you become aware or your thoughts you will begin to complain less and less. And according to our math formula (which by the way I completely made up) doing so will cut back your anguish significantly. Start small and go a just one hour without complaining and notice how you feel. Gradually increase the duration until you can comfortably go without complaining for a least a day. Just don’t complain about how difficult it may be. 😉

Celebrate Your Success

Whenever I’m feeling down, I’ll often review some of my past projects that have really made a difference. Generally, this is enough to get me on track and back to kicking ass and taking names. When we’re stuck in a train of negative thought, it’s very easy to feel as if we aren’t making a difference or that we aren’t worthy. No matter who you are or where you’re from I can assure you’ve done something note worthy. What are you proud of? What can you look back on and say you did your absolute best? Celebrating your success allows you to appreciate the hard work you’ve done. There is no better feeling that knowing you’ve made a difference in someones life.

Use Pocket Reminders

This simple but effective technique has tremendous potential. I originally picked up the idea from the movie the Secret and have since implemented it into my daily routine. Find an object that you can place in your pocket during the day. It can be any item small enough to fit into your pocket. For example: my uncle carries a chipped coin in his with him to remind him that life isn’t always smooth. I often cary a small stone in my pocket, and every time I notice its there, of it I take a moment to reflect on all that is right in my life. Having a pocket reminder is a simple method to keep you open and aware of the magnificence in your every day life.

30 Hour Famine: A Personal Story

When I moved to Shanghai, I attended an International School that was very service oriented. Having not taken part in any service at my old school, I thought it was a good idea to get involved. One event that my school in Shanghai held was called the 30 Hour Famine. Nearly 50 students and myself got together and fasted for 30 hours, raising money for kids in Africa who could not afford their next meal. Surprisingly, fasting for 30 hours wasn’t the part that enlightened me most. The tipping point for me, occurred during an activity in which we made thousands of red thumb prints for all the little children who die of hunger every day. Upon completion we pasted the thumb prints all across the wall. I remember just sitting there looking at one thumb print in particular, and imagining that one thumb print being my little sister. Looking at the wall not only made me cry, but realize how truly lucky we are. If you’re reading this you are more fortunate than 90 percent of the world. Count your blessings. You have plenty.

Help Others

There is a saying,that one of the quickest ways to be happy is to help someone else be happy, and I agree with that statement whole heartily. Helping others doesn’t require much but effort on your part. I try to help at least several people a day. How can you help others? As Gary Vaynerchuck says, you must simply “care.” You can help others by listening. You can help others by giving encouragement. You can help others by sharing your passions with the world. When it comes to serving, there are no limits. Don’t worry about expecting anything back in return. That’s not the point. Focus on the feeling you get when you genuinely make a difference in someones life. Part of the reason I love blogging so much, is because I’m both my successes and failures with thousands of people each day.  Nothing beats knowing you’ve changed someones life. Never underestimate the difference that YOU can make.

People Watch

A lot of my  inspiration for my writing and life comes from just observing people. I know that may sound weird or even creepy, but people watching is something I’ve come to love. While I may not be all that observant when it comes to directions (just ask anyone who knows me) there’s something about watching humanity in progress. Not only is observing the world around us incredibly relaxing, it also helps to keep us in the present moment. Go to a park or mall and just sit on a bench and observe. Notice the many wonderful acts that occur everyday. When you allow yourself to experience your surroundings you can’t help but soon be at peace.

Surround Yourself With Love

Our relationships play a larger role in our life than we often accept or even realize. Unfortunately, many of us surround ourselves with individuals who do little to raise our spirits or challenge us to be at our best. Consciously choosing who you hang around with can, have a dramatic affect on your over well being. Thanks to the likes of social media, it’s not difficult to find and connect with people who share similar interests and goals. Making an investment in your relationships does take time and effort but it pays off in the end. You are 100 percent responsible for creating the social life that you need and desire. As you continue to surround yourself with love, more love will begin to flow your way.

Find Motivation Daily

Without a doubt this is one of the greatest habits I’ve implemented. While it’s certainly possible to rely on too much motivational material, it does help in creating a new perspective to view life’s challenges. Read motivational blogs. Listen to inspiring audio. Watch uplifting videos. Anything that raises your sprits is fair game. I’m not suggesting you run away from reality by reading motivational material, but instead use it to help you strengthen your problem solving arsenal. There are literally thousands of resources  that can help keep you moving when your inspiration is weak.

Tune Out Negativity

Just because we have a negative voice inside our head doesn’t mean we have to listen. Learning to tune out negativity  becomes incredibly handy, especially when you are in the process of chasing your dreams. You will always have that voice telling you to quit, or telling you that you’re not good enough, but in the end you have the ultimate say on whether to pay attention. It’s not the end of the world if you choose to ignore those negative voices, and it gets easier to tune out as time goes on. Not all ‘negative’ thoughts are bad, some actually help to get you back on track, however most are rooted in silly assumptions that social conditioning has created. You wouldn’t turn the radio on to a station that you dislike. So don’t waste your time listening to all the negative stations out there; there are plenty uplifting alternatives.

Appreciate Sadness

This is something that has really transformed my life over the past year.  So often we look at sadness as something that shouldn’t exist. We try to eliminate hurt and pain entirely. But in doing so we attract more of that into our life. When I lost my best friend in a jet ski accident, my life began to spiral downwards. I was lost and confused, but it was also at that moment I realized that pain was inevitable. Sadness plays an important part in our growth and experience of life, and I’ve come to realize  at an early age, that our relationship with sadness is as important as our relationship with happiness. Learning to appreciate sadness isn’t easy. It goes against what we’ve been taught growing up. We often believe that our ideal life is one without sadness. Yet, we need to be sad. We need to fail. We need to hurt. Some will tell you otherwise, but there’s no way around it. I’m not suggesting for you to be purposefully miserable but instead embrace it when you are. Sorrow is life’s greatest teacher.

Finding Happiness Your Way

In this guide I have laid out ways that can make you happy, but ultimately this guide is just that: A guide. I can’t tell you what’s going to make you happy. I can’t tell you what’s going to make you come alive. That’s up for you to decide and figure out. What I do know is this: If you do what you love and surround yourself with people who care about you, your life will be rich in joyfulness. Be open. Be creative. Find happiness your way. Your journey begins nows. Yet another editors note: This is not a complete guide by any means. Although I’ve personally tried and tested every thing I write, there is no one single path of happiness. I’d love to hear how you find happiness in your own life. Please share in the comments below.

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