“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” ~Unknown
I had just returned from an amazing trip to Italy and quite honestly I was on cloud nine. Yet – I was home less than 36 hours and I suddenly found myself feeling frustrated and negative. I had been riding on the happiness train and it suddenly derailed.
Why? Life dared to get in the way. We must all face daily imperfections in life and those imperfections had wiggled their way into my world.
Work, schedules, to-do lists and our brand new puppy did not seem to care about jet lag. I tried to hang on to the happiness I had felt during vacation but it was fading.
In truth I allowed negativity to take over and instead of choosing to be positive I chose to be negative. I felt unhappy and found myself complaining about every little thing. Not cool.
Negativity is a big problem for a lot of people and it will steal your joy.
Have you found yourself feeling negative and unhappy when life is hard? Do you know people who always seem to be negative, complaining or unhappy?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions there is good news. It is possible to be happy even when skies are gray.
We all know someone who is positive and happy most of the time. It is contagious and while I fall back into old habits of feeling negative when life feels hard, I do try to stay positive. In the end, happiness is a choice for all of us.
You can find happiness even when life seems tough, less than what you desire or a little bit gray. Remember these important things when searching for happiness:
- Find joy in the present moment.
Learning to enjoy the present is a habit that requires practice. It is easy to focus on the past or to always look into the future searching for happiness. It is important that you appreciate what is in front of you and stop thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Most of the time it is not. Take the time each day to truly absorb what is in front of you and embrace those things. Life somehow seems sweeter in the moment when you do.
2. Laugh – ALOT.
When was the last time you had a really good laugh? Studies have shown that laughter is good for your health and good for the soul. It is difficult to feel negative or to feel unhappy when you are laughing or smiling. Try it. Surround yourself with people who can make you laugh, watch a good movie or television show that is full of comedy. There are benefits that come with laughter and in my opinion a good belly laugh is healing.
3. Forgive others and forgive yourself.
An inability to forgive can create big problems in your life and it can stand in the way of happiness. If you are struggling with forgiving others or forgiving yourself it is important that you find a way to let go. The past does not define you and it should not control you. Forgiving comes with great freedom and can lead to a much happier and peaceful life.
4. The little things matter the most.
Human beings tend to focus on the big events in life and are sometimes in search of the next big thing. The result? People end up feeling dissatisfied and empty. Instead of putting so much energy into big events try focusing on those small daily things that bring you joy.
Find your “joy spots”. Take a hot bath with candles. Read a good book by the fire on a rainy day. Go to a yoga class. Watch a great movie or take your dog for a walk. Enjoy a beautiful sunset. Go out with a good friend. It is the little things that truly do matter the most. Embrace the little things and you can feel happier when you are having a bad day.
5. You are in control of your thoughts.
To have a positive attitude and to be happy is a choice. You can choose to be negative or choose to be positive on any given day. It takes awareness but you do get to choose. Viktor Frankl gained infinite wisdom under incredibly difficult situations. Viktor was a Holocaust survivor and endured horrific things. Yet – Viktor held on to the one thing that no one could take away from him: his attitude.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl
Life will throw you curve balls. But remember it is not always what happens to you but rather what you choose to do with what happens to you. Maintaining a positive attitude will make a difference.
6. Live a life of gratitude.
If you are constantly focused on everything you don’t have it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling unhappy. Shift your focus. Try to pay attention to all that you do have. You will be amazed at how much good is in your life. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Start each day making a mental list of those things you are grateful for. Write a gratitude journal. Today I am grateful for my family, my health and having clean drinking water. Do not take those things for granted that others will never have.
7. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and to be unhappy.
Life is life and in reality it will sometimes throw you into a really tough situation. There will be times when life can feel really dark and like there is not a light at the end of the tunnel. I have been there – more than once. It is human nature to want to run from the pain, to ignore it or to hide our grief. We tend to try to stay busy or to engage in behaviors that are nothing more than a distraction. Typically those things are temporary and short-lived. Ignoring the pain often prolongs it. Allow yourself to feel all that you need to feel. It is okay to feel sad, angry or to grieve. In fact, it is important to do so. It is when you allow yourself to feel that you will start to heal. In the end, it is the healing that leads us back to a place of happiness and peace.
8. Give to others.
One of the best gifts you can give to yourself is to give to others. Giving is healing and it ultimately promotes happiness and fills your heart. If you are feeling bad or life is feeling really hard, do something kind for someone else. You will be amazed at how good that can make you feel inside. Helping others in need and just being kind is healing and leads most people to shift their perspective. Giving does not have to be something big nor does it have to cost anything. Try a small act of kindness today and be aware of how it shifts your mood or makes you feel.
9. Take action and if you are able to change something – do it.
People tend to fall into the trap of blaming or complaining when things are tough. Sadly, this is a waste of time and an energy drain. Complaining will not solve the issue and it will keep you stuck and unhappy longer than you need to. Look for solutions and if there are things you can change to improve the situation take action. Life is full of opportunities and sometimes making a small change can help you to feel happier.
10. Take care of YOU.
It is easy to get into a rut when feeling bad. One of the first things to do is practice self-care. If you are having a bad day or feeling miserable do something for you. Take a short walk and get some fresh air. Get together with a good friend that will listen or that makes you laugh. Go to the gym. Take a hot bath. Get a good night sleep. Pay attention to your needs and when you are feeling depleted fill your bucket back up. It is hard to deal with tough times or feel happy if you have run yourself ragged.
There is no denying that life can feel hard and sometimes skies will be gray. However, there are things that you can do every day to improve your mood and help you to feel happier. What other strategies have you used to feel happier? Share your comments below.
In Peace and With Love-