Let’s face it. Life can throw a lot at us in any given day, and it can be difficult to feel happy through much of it.
I have friends all around me who are overwhelmed and exhausted, trying to fit everything into their day. They face the demands of their jobs, their family life, busy kids, and long to-do lists. Running a household and running a life can be a real energy drain.
Can you relate? Do you fall into bed exhausted at the end of a day, certain that you have not served one person well, and least of all yourself?
And, listen, I get it that there is a lot of joy sprinkled into our days. A blend of joy and overwhelm.
Do you have a mild under-current of unhappiness? Have you ever thought to yourself, “I just don’t feel happy?” “I’m not happy like I used to be.” You may even ask yourself, “Will I ever be happy again?”
If you have any of these thoughts, you are not alone. The world is filled with people who are searching for happiness.
You can take control of this. There are things you can do to influence your happiness in life. Below are five ways to get you started. After you read these, please add your own to the list.
5 ways to be happy, even when you’re not:
- Choose to be happy. Yes, pick it! Decide. Choose. A great starting point is to tell yourself, “I am deciding to be happy.” You don’t even have to know how yet. Just choose the what. Put a stake in the ground and make a decision that you will be a person who chooses happiness in your life.
- Plan a happy event. Give yourself something to look forward to. Anticipation is a good thing. I have a friend who lives her life this way. She experiences joy more easily if she has something on the calendar that she is anticipating. For you, it may be a weekly night out with girlfriends or a monthly week-end get away with your special someone. Or perhaps it’s your once-a-year big vacation. Thinking, dreaming, imagining and planning helps take the place of over-thinking your problems. Stay productive and pro-active.
- Pick one thing in the moment. Right now, what is one thing you feel happy about? What are you grateful for? There are so many things: sunshine, running water, clothes to wear, a hot cup of coffee, a fluffy pillow when you go to bed, a cozy blanket plus a great novel, a great movie, friends who love you, a job that allows you to make a difference for someone. Too often, we spend our moments thinking about what we don’t have. In fact, to be even more accurate, we spend our time looking at what others have. Then we compare ourselves, wishing we had the same things. Is comparison a happiness gremlin for you? Does it gobble up your peace of mind and contentment? Without regard for others, look at what youhave. Be grateful and happy for these things.
- Change your environment. Are you overwhelmed by what you see in your home and space? There are so many things to not like: too much clutter, messy drawers and closets, paint colors that you’ve outgrown, dust balls in the corner, too much junk food to tempt you. What can you do to create more peace and joy? Commit to cleaning out one closet or drawer per week, choose one room to paint over the next 60 days, rid your kitchen of food that ultimately makes you sad or mad when you eat it. Create a cozy nook for yourself for reading. Imagine sitting in your chair with a candle on the end table, a soft blanket, a cup of coffee and a good book. Create spaces that you can love.
- Write in a journal. We all have a lot of life details swirling around in our heads. It can be overwhelming. When we feel stressed, it is difficult to feel joy, peace and happiness. In what ways could writing in a daily journal help you? Perhaps you need to write down lists of things you’re fearful of, like “I won’t ever have a job I love, I won’t have enough money for retirement, I’ll never be able to have children, I’ll never feel happy.” Write them down, then you can write another list titled, “What can I do about my fears?” Or you may want to write down two or three things you’re grateful for that day, or things that made you happy. Your journaling can be five minutes a day or an hour a day. You get to choose. When you look at your thoughts on paper, you can do something with them.
Make your happiness an intentional part of your life. Turn it into a goal. Decide.
There are no magic wands and pixie dust that will flip on the happiness switch, but you can start somewhere. You can start small. A long time ago, I decided that I wanted to be happy regardless of my circumstances. I’ve turned it into a bit of an obsession. I read about happiness, talk with my friends about happiness and even research happiness.
If you’d like to contribute your thoughts to my research, you can find my survey at aletanorris.com/tribe.