To a certain extent we choose what we want in our life or, at least, we choose how we will respond to what life brings us. Sometimes we each need a reminder that we are responsible for our attitude and the joy we call into our own life. Below are seven strategies to increase your happiness.
1. Know and accept that you deserve to be happy. It’s often easier to live your life by default, that is, by absorbing whatever is in your environment rather than by changing your actions and attitudes. However, taking action is almost always empowering and provides you with purpose.
2. Be willing to take risks and move beyond your comfort zone. When our son went to college he had the wisdom to try one new thing every day. It varied from something small, like taking a different path to class to something more dramatic like deciding to learn a new instrument (that choice led him to become a professional drummer and artist). Your mind and heart expand when you try something new. Get your adrenalin moving a little bit every day (or a LOT on some days). You will learn and appreciate more about who you are.
3. Select your entertainment carefully. Although there is a plethora of movies, books and causes that are meaningful, many are depressing. Review your entertainment to see if it makes you feel good about yourself and your universe. Find material that suggests solutions, has humor or is just plain fun. Sing, dance, draw or do some other creative venture that makes you happy. You needn’t be a professional artist to enjoy artistic dips and spins.
4. Avoid negative people, especially at work. Don’t give people permission to spew their negativity on you. Try to create a buddy system by being honest enough to explain to complainers that you are trying to be more positive in your life. Invite them to turn the conversation around by sharing solutions and bringing humor into work situations.
5. Be grateful for what you do have. Start each day thanking the universe for at least 2 people, situations, possessions or ideas you have in your life. Be sincere and explore how to expand the role that gratitude takes in your life.
6. Find a passion and purpose in your life even if you only engage in it an hour a day. We can’t all make our living from what brings us passion, but that shouldn’t diminish the significance of that activity. Rather than lament that you still need another source of income, celebrate your opportunity to enjoy whatever your purpose is. Have something in your work environment that reminds you of the joy you feel when you have a way to express your passion.
7. Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. This is one of the most difficult tasks when you are feeling down because you may already be feeling awful about who you think you are. But this is the time to look at yourself as you would your dearest friend who needs some cheering up. Do whatever you can to force yourself to be there for that friend: yourself. Give yourself encouragement, buy yourself a treat, say kind words to yourself, have fun with yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, mediate, journal. Never accept abuse from anyone, even yourself.
Sometimes you can’t find joy on your own and that’s okay. There are many available tools including therapists or coaches, support groups, books, and videos to introduce ideas and encourage you on your journey.
Life is precious and deserves to be joyful. Do something new and different today.