Our daily lives can be happier, as in a brighter, with a more positive outlook on our current situation and on the world around us. All it takes is making the choice to be happy and practicing habits that help you find your happy side.
To say that we can choose happiness can come off as slightly unrealistic. All we have to do is say so, and by virtue of that simple act things things can turn around, miraculously come together, and we are magically transformed to a lighter, happier place? Truth of the matter is… Yep, it’s actually that simple. “Happiness” is all in our attitude, our perception, and our reactions to people and the circumstances around us.
Our days are filled with so many responsibilities, so many demands we place on ourselves that it’s true: not everything or everyone we encounter is conducive to happiness. We are not monks or impervious to the barrage of negative energy and dialogue that can fly from one moment to the next. We can however control how we react to particular events and choose to throw those heavy, dark and chaotic thoughts right out the window. Instead, we can recognize that even on the most trying and difficult of days we do have the power to step back and not let the negative stuff influence our feelings or cloud our perceptions.
In a yoga class recently I heard the instructor say, “be a servant not a slave.” My immediate internal response was, “Be a servant? I have no intention of being anyone’s servant!” Then I took my thinking out of my ego and realized rather quickly that we are all serving someone. Be it our employer, our client, our children, or our partner, we are serving, and serving all day long. So I changed my thinking (easy to be humbled when I am wobbling in crow pose) and internalized and owned the servant mentality – it feels so much better than acting the slave.
When we opt to bring in the forces of outer events and permit them to influence our moods, and get into our thinking, we have openly become the slave. We hand over, without debate, all our personal freedom. This just doesn’t jive with me. When I stop and recognize what I am doing, I get really affected. We all want our our freedom and to choose bringing happiness into our lives, and we can choose to be released from the crazy notion that we have to accept the daily negative hysteria from all those outside influences and let joy in.
Happy stuff comes from feeling balanced and grounded. No worry, no panic, no fears or obsessing thinking; LOVE is happy stuff. When we let ourselves have those experiences that help us to feel whole and valued, we tap into that sense of peace we all know is in there, our mood is boosted and we have landed there… the happiness.
I am someone who is “like a sponge,” absorbing every emotion, reaction, perception and communication around me. I can get stuck easily, feeling happiness is fleeting, struggling to gain my balance and sure footing, but each time I hone in on this really simple truth, this belief that altering our thoughts will bring us to a happier place, I quickly acknowledge the reality, give myself a quick kick in the bum, and I am once again, a bit more peaceful, a little more grounded, feeling the Earth and feeling altogether…happier.
While this may seem like stating the obvious, sometimes being really obvious and centering your objectives helps narrow the field and gives you an edge toward what it is that might get you happy in your daily life:
1. When you catch your monkey brain dragging you into the downer-zone, STOP IT. Literally stop right where you are and say “that’s enough of that, think about five positive things that are happening in your world right this minute.” I’m not sure how it is, but we are inclined to go to the negative far more often than the positive. Override your thinking and consciously recognize the good side of your situation. There is always always a good side.
2. Go for the solution. It’s much easier on your mental state, easier on your heart and a channel to a happier outcome. Daily duties can bring us to a place of complete despair or feeling like we can never manage it all. “Every problem has a solution” as the saying goes, and it’s true. When you get frozen with all the “things” that have to happen, shake yourself into sane thinking and “lock and load” for the solutions. You’ll find that it’s amazing what can happen in a day. Problem thinking will only give more problems.
3. Now this is going to sound so basic, but… listen to uplifting music. I’m not saying you have to pipe in Enya or Tibetan monk chants (however let me say monks chanting can be pretty cool if you’ve never checked it out), but I am saying CRANK IT UP. Whatever lifts your spirit, frees your mind, whatever tune, song or album brings you to a place of acceptance, strength, joy and just feeling flipping GOOD, there is a vibrational energy from music that heals your soul – you will feel a shift immediately when you hear those sounds that resonate with you.
4. Laugh out loud. Really. You know, the silly kind, the tears in your eye kind. The “oops, I felt a little bit of pee slip out” kind! An estimated 60% of all people suffering from chronic depression, when they decided to try an alternative treatment, were helped and some healed with laughter. If you do not have funny people around you, make a point of watching funny movies that make you laugh. Do it out loud, let yourself GO and feel the happy vibes and the release of tension and anxiety.
5. Try journaling. So I’m into writing about those experiences that I find inspirational, and I know many people gain a great deal from catching an uplifting article or story. Give it a try! Journaling is a very powerful healing tool that gives you a place to express yourself where you feel safe and open. Buy a nice notebook and devote some time each day to pouring your thoughts on the page. You can also do it on your computer, but I find the deepest thoughts come from the slow and mindful act of writing it down.
6. Stay present. Give yourself credit for being in the moment and look at what you have accomplished. Giving power to our insecurities, allowing our psyche to go off on a tangent of what we have yet do is defeating and destructive. Embrace that you are perfect just the way you are. In all our flaws and inadequacies we are human and we are here to serve, support, share and revel in who we are. Give yourself a little smile and be true to the expectation that happy is yours to have.
7. Stop being a martyr and treat yourself. It’s not impressive to always be the one who’s made sacrifices for someone else; it’s just really out of balance. Keep the flow moving in a healthy direction by treating yourself to a little something every day. Nothing big required, a walk on the beach, an afternoon of window shopping, lunch in a sweet cafe, a glass of wine (the good stuff) at your favorite spot, or even a whole two hours just for you to enjoy a movie uninterrupted. The idea is to give to YOU each day so that your giving to others brings you genuine pleasure.
8. Step out of yourself each day to do something unconditional for another person. This is one that I personally love doing, it fills me up more than anything. One small act on your part to help make another person’s day happier will let you feel some of that happiness. Make eye contact with the cashier at the market and tell them you think they are doing a great job, recognize your co-worker is in a rush to leave the office and offer to finish things up for them so they can get a head start on the traffic, or like I had the opportunity to do this week, carry in packages for an elderly person who might be having a rough time from the car to the door. The expression of gratitude on my sweet neighbor’s face was so worth the five minutes I gave from my day. The “pay it forward” possibilities are endless and feel pretty terrific.
8. Congratulate happy people – they are fun to be around. I know I’m headed for my “dark zone” when the nasty little green envy creature starts to lurk around my emotions and my thoughts. Our deepest insecurities can come slamming into reality when we hear of someone we know having a really incredible stroke of luck, or a big promotion, a windfall or a dab of celebrity. I’m surprised sometimes when the very people we assume would be elated for us, don’t comment, recognize or acknowledge our achievements. This is not a statement about you; it is most certainly a statement about their fears. Be big and gracious and hugely supportive, boost your mood instantly by telling them you are so happy for their success, let them know you truly believe they are worth every bit of happiness they have and I’m not kidding, doing this, raising the bar on what your capacity is for genuine sincerity toward another person will bring you a sense of personal peace and real, solid comfort in where you are in your own life.
10. Make a point of spending time with people that are living OUT LOUD. Be with those individuals who choose a light-hearted view of the world when you can. Their energy and happy ways are definitely contagious. It’s not for us to judge if we think their joy is genuine, most of us are pretty perceptive and we can sense authenticity. Gravitate toward that, get some of that, and you will feel lighter yourself. As you become lighter, your life becomes lighter and that light shines a way for new experiences and new, supportive, happy people to come into your world. It’s OK to accept some of the not so good, it’s all a part of it, we’re not saints, we’re just flawed beings wanting to stay balanced and have our moods reflect the highest level of our personalities. Acceptance has alot to do with being grounded and at peace with where we are – and that is a wonderful opportunity to boost yourself up and find the happy side.
Image Credit: Happy photo via Shutterstock