Happiness is a choice. The sooner we learn this, the sooner we can make that choice and get to work finding true happiness and fulfilment. These days the world is such a fast-paced, stress-filled place, and sometimes it can be hard to reconcile this with finding happiness in ourselves.
1.Make the choice and take responsibility for your own happiness
The first thing is to make the choice to be happy. In my own personal experience I was not happy. I didn’t think it would be possible to be happy without x y or z factors that were largely out of my control. What I discovered was that making the choice to be happy was the key empowering moment that pushed me on my journey. Once we take responsibility for our own happiness it becomes much easier to set other external factors aside and to be happy for what we have got.
2. Material possessions do not = happiness
In western culture we are constantly being told by media, brands and others that we need [insert dollar valued material object here] to be happy. Here’s some news for you: material possessions will never make you truly happy. So stop trying to accumulate them and instead focus on yourself and your relationships with other people and the world.
3. Stop relying on others for your happiness
We also tend to rely on others for our happiness. Particularly in romantic terms it becomes easy to be defined by the relationship. Doing this makes us vulnerable any time human differences occur. Cultivate your own sense of self and take responsibility for your own happiness and your relationships will benefit too. Relationships can suffocate when one partner feels that the other is dependent on them for any form of things, whether it’s money or emotional support. When you take responsibility for your own happiness relationships will become a lot less strained, and issues with individuals and issues with the relationship can be more easily separated. As a result, a partner’s problems don’t necessarily have to become relationship problems.
4. Fake it until you make it
As with many things, this applies. This doesn’t mean you have to fake smile or gush about how happy you are as a defence mechanism. What this means is also faking it to yourself. Tell yourself and others that you are happy and do all you can to make that statement true. Surround yourself with positive people, keep yourself busy with activities you love, and verbalise a positive outlook on life even if you don’t quite feel it. Going through the motions of being a happy, positive person will help and eventually you will start to believe it and become it.
5. Be grateful
No matter how difficult a time you may be going through, be grateful for those things that are positive in your life. If it starts out as being something difficult to do, start with the absolute basics and fundamentals: “I am happy to be alive”, “I am happy I am healthy”, “I am happy at least [insert name here] is there for me” or the such like. Wake up in the morning and start the day with verbalising what you are grateful for and it will work as a reminder and set the tone for the day. I find verbalising this helped me in the beginning when I didn’t believe there was much good going on in my life so I even started out with being grateful for sunshine, for rain that nourishes the land and the animals and so on. If verbalising still doesn’t work, try writing it down and putting it in an obvious place like above your desk or your bed. Eventually you will find so many things to be grateful for and this snowballs hugely!
6. Do good for your body
Do good for your body. Nothing is worse than being depressed or in a bad way emotionally only to get sick as well. You may be amazed by how much being healthy can completely change your mood. Give yourself a solid commitment so it’s harder for you to give up when you are feeling down. Make your goals measurable, and achievable. Start out with “I will run for thirty minutes, three times a week.” or “I will cut out takeaways or greasy food to one meal per week.”. As you start to achieve these goals you can move further, but just be sure not to set unrealistic and unachievable goals for yourself as there is nothing worse to add to a difficult time than a feeling of failure and lack of accomplishment. Use positive self-talk to help you achieve, and constantly remind yourself how good it feels when you have accomplished those small goals like finishing your first run; making a new personal best; or successfully pulling off a new, healthy dish.
7. Meet new people
New relationships are a great way to get out of a dark spot as they serve as a reminder of all the good things about you. While your old friends may by now know the punchlines to all your favourite jokes, new friends will enjoy them and remind you that you are witty/funny/[insert positive attribute here]. However, misery loves company, so make sure the new friends you make bring out the positive aspects of your personality and appreciate you for who you are. Positivity attracts positivity, and once you start making more positive friends and you start to show this yourself, you may well find that this opens up positive opportunities for you to further boost your self-esteem and love of life.
8. Learn the lessons
I am a firm believer that we are continually faced with the same problems until we learn the lessons within them. Had a bad string of exes? Maybe you need to reconsider what is important to you in a relationship, or learn to value yourself more. In my early post about forgiveness, I wrote about the lessons we can learn from hard situations. I stand by what I said about writing down lessons. It may seem silly, or you may think you can keep them in your head, but writing them down is cathartic and also means that if you ever do need a reminder, then you always have them there. Once you learn the lessons in the problems you face, and once you learn to appreciate the things you learn from the difficult times, you will be able to weather them much more constructively and positively.
Most of all, remember you are beautiful and worthy of happiness.