So many of us are misguided on what it would take to make us happy. We mistakenly believe that happiness derives from external factors like more wealth, better looks, impressive friends, or a collection of luxuries. While these things can be fun bonuses to an already contented life, they do not create happiness. If that were the case, gorgeous celebrities with endless bank accounts would never suffer addiction or mental health issues.
Sometimes we suffer from “grass is greener” syndrome thinking that because someone else seems to possess things that we don’t, we automatically assume their life must be better. They must be happy. Right? Especially in today’s social media driven world where everyone is living their best life on Instagram. But that sort of personal marketing isn’t definitive evidence of their eternal struggle free life. It isn’t proof that life isn’t any easier for them. After all, when was the last time you posted a photo of yourself scrubbing your toilet? How about the last time you posted an unflattering image of yourself listing all of your insecurities and fears of the world? We can’t look outward to determine what our lives should look like because we may not even be getting the full picture.
The truth is, regardless of your position in life, every single person goes through highs and lows, successes and challenges and every life runs the emotional gamut from pure bliss to grief and everything in between. It’s just part of the human experience. Despite this, what should we do to ensure that in light of the ups and downs of living, that we identify ourselves as happy and fulfilled people? How do we ensure our life is one that is authentically filled with joy and gratitude and not just giving the appearance happiness on Facebook. How do we become happy from within?
- Be deliberate with your personal energy
Though everyone is deserving of judgement free respect as human beings, not everyone is entitled to your personal energy. Some people are so affected by past situations or a compromised psyche that it causes them to become toxic. You are not obligated to endure someone else’s toxicity at the cost of your own peace and happiness. Take stock of who you are currently giving your energy to. Are you too concerned with that infuriating co-worker, do you have an in law that doesn’t respect you, do you have a relative that constantly devalues you, what about that frenemy that you’ve known since middle school, do they constantly bring you down and negatively affect your mood? If so, it may be time to take stock of how much you allow others to affect your life and start implementing some serious boundaries. It’s your right to do so, social obligations are a myth. You have every right to be deliberate on who you give your energy to so spend this limited resource wisely and only focus on those who fill your cup… not those who steal your happy.
- Practice Mental Health Habits
Like with any other health habit, maintaining your mental health takes effort. If you know that you suffer from serious and limiting mental health issues like OCD, PTSD, anxiety, depression or any of the other countless mental health illnesses that affects millions of people every day, make it your full time job to fully understand your diagnoses and the developing treatments for it. Work with a credentialed practitioner to help you on your journey to developing your wellness. Mental illness is a major hindrance on life, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent roadblock on your journey to success and happiness. Many people after enough trial and error and diligent focus on getting better have seen their conditions improve to the point of becoming symptom free. And even after reaching that point the mental health journey still isn’t over because now it’s about taking the steps to maintain a strong mental health. Generally to get started you want to implement healthy habits like eating to make sure you are getting enough nutrition, making sure your gut bacteria is balanced and well fed, getting quality sleep every night, for some people avoiding stimulants like caffeine helps greatly, not abusing alcohol or recreational drugs, maintaining healthy and strong relationships and taking care of your physical health are all ways you can start improving your lifestyle habits so that you can live your best life.
Studies after studies continue to prove that meditation is one of the most powerful daily habits that you can implement to increase your sense of gratitude, develop more grey matter in the brain, improve focus and cognitive function and generate a sense of wellbeing. It doesn’t take an enormous amount of skill or time either. You can start with just 5 minutes twice a day and work your way up to whatever feels comfortable for you. There are different methods and techniques that you can look up and implement but the overall objective is the same: Do nothing.
- Care for your body
It’s hard to be happy if your vessel is not performing to its best. If we’re wrecking our bodies with a poor diet, heavy alcohol intake, poor sleep and no exercise it’s impossible to feel our best which means that we are not our happiest. Your body is your vehicle through this world and if we want to feel great in it, we have to take care of it. Aside from the obvious like eating to nourish and exercising, you may also want to maintain good hygiene, supplementation considering your age and physical needs, getting rest and just being kind to yourself.
- Re-program your subconscious
One of the biggest culprits that get in the way of our happiness is our negative self-talk. We tell ourselves we are not good enough, that we don’t have the intelligence or the talent, we convince ourselves that we are not deserving or worthy, we bombard our brains with all kinds of reasons that depress our mood and keep us stagnant in life. The worst part is that the majority of this self-talk is playing on a continuous loop in our subconscious so we may not even be aware of all the unkind things we tell ourselves every day. Luckily, with consistency, we can brake these chains of negative self-talk and reprogram our subconscious. Daily affirmations are simple yet an affective way to start addressing the issue. First identify a limiting belief that you have about yourself or your life, then question it. Is this is statement really true? Where did you get this idea from? Who told you that this was true and why should you believe them? After questioning your negative idea about yourself and realizing that this may just be a false statement, turn the negative thought around and repeat it as a daily affirmation. For example, your thought might be “I’m not smart enough to start a business.” Now question it. Is this really true? Probably not. Basically anyone can start a business including you. Now create a new statement and repeat it to yourself daily for 30 days: “I’m so smart, I’m going to start a business”. You can also use journaling and even talk therapy to start addressing those limiting thoughts so you can be well on your way to re-programing your subconscious.
- Set goals
A huge impact on your happiness is whether or not you’re living your life passively or intentionally. If you’re living passively you’re letting life happen to you. You’re not deliberately steering life towards the direction in which you want to go. Instead you just kind of let life happen to you and deal with whatever comes which leaves you at the mercy of others. However, if you want to live your life with intention and move forward in a way where you seek out happiness, you have to set goals. Big goals, little goals and all the goals in between are at the root of your happiness and satisfaction with life. Every time you reach a goal or accomplish a challenge it builds that inner confidence needed to pursue more challenging goals and in overcoming these challenges is where personal growth happens. Constantly look towards things with the intent of accomplishing them. Maybe you have fitness goals, maybe you want to accomplish things with your family, maybe you want to develop a certain skill. These goals and reaching them are a major ingredient in the recipe for happiness.
- Practice kindness
Being of service to others is one of the most fulfilling things we can do in life and studies have shown that this effects our level of happiness in a positive way. One of the best ways to cope if we are experiencing grief, or going through one of life’s hardships is to be of service to others. Make it part of your daily habit to practice kindness. That kindness can come in small simple forms like letting someone cut you in line or opening the door for a stranger, or in bigger gestures like volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about or making a significant donation to your favorite charity. Whatever it is, make kindness and assistance a daily habit. That intention to look beyond our own needs in order to positively affect other people’s lives is one of the most powerful things an individual can do with their day.
- Accept the imperfections
Of course identifying as a happy person or as someone who has achieved a high level of happiness doesn’t mean you are grinning 24/7. Life happens. Hard things happen. Grief happens. Accepting that the difficult parts of life are also an important part of life and not resisting the emotions that come up when we go through hardships allow us to process these difficult times so we can learn and grow from them. It doesn’t mean you are any less happy, it just means you are better equipped to successfully deal with unhappy times as a person living their happiest life.