As someone who spent too many years feeling sad, being down, drowning in the negativity I grew up around and was made to believe was normal, I now think and talk a lot about chasing HAPPY, and finding small, meaningful ways to be happier every day. I can’t pin point exactly when the light bulb went off in my head, but I just know I suddenly jumped up and thought, “This is bullshit.” Happiness is out there, I deserve it, and I’m going to find it. Sure life is supposed to be hard and complicated, but it is also meant to be lived, enjoyed and celebrated.
I know it can be hard to stay on the fast track to HAPPY with so many Negative Nancys and Nellys roaming the streets of our lives and our hearts, so here are 14 things that have helped me find and nurture my HAPPY – try ‘em!
Ways to Be Happier #1: Believe in yourself
I grew up hearing I’m a piece of shit. So what! Am I? No. I am anything but. Always believe in yourself and your talents. Believe that you can do it, you can make the impossible possible. Don’t listen to people who say you can’t. Just show them and show you that you can. Go where they say you can’t go, make the leaps they say will be too hard, make the changes they say are impossible. Believe that you are smart, worthy and beautiful, and tell yourself that every single day.
Ways to Be Happier #2: Nurture your friendships
We all need people. Make the time to stay in touch with friends, make dinner dates, go out for a drink (alcoholic or not), plan a fun outing. Let people in, and take care of each other. Don’t keep everything bottled up. Take perspective and input from others you trust. Get out of your head a little, laugh a lot, connect, and nurture those relationships. They will be your savior more than family or romantic relationships, because when those sometimes go sour, who will still be there to hold your hand without bias and judgment? A good friend will.
Ways to Be Happier #3: Practice positivism
Smile when people are cursing and fussing. Be nice and genuine even when people are being terrible. Believe things will work out how you want them to, and more often than you think, they will. Consume positive media, and surround yourself with positive words and people. Every time you feel a negative thought creeping in your head, say no to it. Fight it. SMILE!
Ways to Be Happier #4: Be and love the authentic you
As long as you’re not hurting anyone, be you. Believe what you believe. Say what you want to say. Do what you want to do. Listen to the music you want to listen to. Don’t listen to people who tell you you’re wearing the wrong thing, or chasing the wrong dream, making the wrong decisions. But, pay attention, and learn to decipher when it’s good advice you should listen to, and when it’s just someone trying to change you or put you down.
Appreciate all your gifts and talents, and put them to good use. Laugh at yourself often, and know that while you are not perfect, you are enough. You are worth it. You mean something.
Ways to Be Happier #5: Remember to be grateful
Sure life is hard. Less than desirable situations come our way all the time, and sometimes we feel unlucky. But don’t let yourself drown in that cesspool of negativity. Take time to reflect on all the good in your life every single day. Focusing on the negative just takes away from all the good things I know you have and often take for granted. No matter how small the positive might seem in light of a bad time, take time to list it out, in your head or on a piece of paper, and remind yourself, as often as possible.
Ways to Be Happier #6: Be more self-aware
We all have flaws. Be open and honest with yourself about your not-so-great qualities as much as your best qualities. The more realistic you are about your limitations and issues, the easier you can find ways to make the best out of the negatives and leverage the positives. When you mess up, apologize. When you know you’ve done good, celebrate.
Ways to Be Happier #7: Have excellent follow-through
Don’t just say you’re going to do something. Don’t let dreams die. Want to start a business, run a marathon, learn how to cook, move to a new city? Whatever it is that your heart wants to accomplish, follow through, make it happen. Research online. Figure out how others have done it. Make yourself a list of action steps. Talk to people who have accomplished similar things, and gather motivation, insight and advice. Don’t listen to people who say dreams are for quacks. People make their dreams come true every day. Why shouldn’t it be you?
Ways to Be Happier #8: Be corny
Yes, revel in corny! Listen to positive music, seek out motivation, reach out to and connect with believers, doers, dream chasers. Believe anything is possible, because it is. Laugh at yourself. Share your feelings. Be open. Let people know when they’ve touched you or made your day. Show appreciation. Smile, a lot. Offer hugs, give love, offer compliments.
Ways to Be Happier #9: Celebrate small victories
Celebrate more. Whether it’s a good day, accomplishing a small goal, finding the perfect pair of jeans, a sunny day, a great song, a new friend, a new job, breaking a bad pattern or habit….CELEBRATE. Make time to go out with friends more often. Share your triumphs. Celebrate the good days with a treat. Dance more, have fun, just celebrate, damn it. If you’re alive and well, celebrate! There is no need to wait for something huge just to rejoice.
Ways to Be Happier #10: Learn to be more selfish
Learn to say no more often. Do more of what you want to do, and not everything everyone else wants you to do. Of course it’s great and necessary to sometimes put others before yourself. Be generous, be kind and stay giving. But don’t be manipulated into never taking care of you, going where you want to go, eating what you want to eat, making the decisions that make the most sense for your well-being.
Ways to Be Happier #11: Know when to reach out for and accept help
Don’t be too proud to reach out for help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Reach out for help when you know you need it, whether it’s from a friend, a family member, or a professional. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to offer you their hand, their expertise, and their time. Then, one day, when they need a little push, help them right back.
Ways to Be Happier #12: Take better care of yourself
Eat healthier. Exercise more often. Nurture your heart with friends and positive relationships. Say no to negative people and nay-sayers. Let go of people who do not accept you for who you are. Surround yourself with all the positive you can find. Be productive. Chase dreams. Find your passion and follow it. Be your own best friend. Talk to yourself. Love yourself. Appreciate yourself. And most of all, be hard on yourself, expect a lot and don’t let yourself go, but don’t over-do it. Always make time for fun – whatever that might mean to you.
Ways to Be Happier #13: Listen to your gut
Is your gut telling you this person in front of you is bad? He/she probably is. Listen. Get away. Do you have a feeling you’re making the wrong decision? Listen. Reevaluate. Gut feelings are your body’s way of giving you information. Don’t throw it out. Use it, and make better choices with it.
Ways to Be Happier #14: Fight for it
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking HAPPY will just come, it just happens. No sir. You have to fight for it, every day. There are too many people and situations out there that will try to take it away from you, and try to bring you down, because they are unhappy, and they want a pout buddy. Fight. Stand up for yourself, and what you want and believe in. Say no to negativity, and fight off the bad feelings with activity. Starting to feel down, someone say something that made you doubt yourself? Go to the gym, go for a run, work on a project you’re passionate about, buy yourself something nice, call a friend – fight. Don’t let the other side win, ever.
Sonia, Word Share Junkie