I have been thinking a lot about happiness lately. I believe that happiness is a choice that is not related to the situations, circumstances and experiences in your life. You can choose to be happy at any point in your life regardless of what is happening around you. I have put together a list of tips to help you cultivate “Happiness Thinking.”
Don’t play the “one up” game with other people. When people tell you of their woes stop yourself from “one upping” them with “You think that’s bad, listen to this….” When you do this you tell yourself that having is worse than someone else is a badge of honor. This gets all twisted up with pride and ego and before you know it you can’t wait to tell people all the bad things that happened that. Instead practice gratitude by thinking I am so grateful for… when someone shares something negative that has happened to them. This shifts your thinking to remind to be grateful for everything in your life.
Look for meaning in everything. Every experience can teach you something and bring something positive into your life. While nursing my Dad through his terminal illness I was so grateful for all the little moments we had. In the last few months of his life I spent more one on one time with him than I ever had. His illness actually gave us more time together and strengthened our relationship.
Trust the process. Things take time to work out and sometimes everything has to fall apart so that you re-build your life in a better way. Shift your perspective when things start to go wrong and ask yourself, what am I making room for by letting go of some things in my life?
Choose positive people to be around. We tend to sync up with the people we are with the most. If you spend a lot of time with people who think and communicate negatively you will find that you do the same.
Cultivate your spiritual practice. Feeling connected to something has a huge impact on your happiness. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, just cultivate them and actively practice what you believe.
Get plenty of exercise and time outside. Your body needs movement and sunshine to function properly.
Stubbornly choose to be optimistic. Expect the best in people, most of the time you will get it. I don’t mean to say that you will never be disappointed but most of the time you will be pleasantly surprised. Look for the good in every person and situation. It’s easy to find the bad, actively seek the good qualities, positive outcomes and unexpected lessons.
Think of yourself as happy now. Happiness isn’t something that you have to work to achieve. There is no right set of circumstances that magically create happiness in your life. Choose happiness now, right where you are, with exactly what you have. This way your happiness is not contingent on getting, doing, or having anything.
When you feel sad (mad, angry, hurt) be sad. The moment will pass and you can return to your normal place of happy. Emotions are meant to be expressed, not stored. Happy people feel sad sometimes, but it isn’t permanent. It’s not like you will get stuck there if you allow yourself to feel sad. Emotions are energy that need to be expended, let them burn off so you can move forward.
Get help if you feel sad all the time in spite of your efforts to feel happy. Depression is a very real problem that can be treated in many ways. If you do get stuck there, you will need help to get out. Reach out and do something good for yourself so that you can return to your state of general happiness.