Happiness. Easy for some, elusive for many. While many may disagree, I believe that you can make decisions which lead to overall happiness and contentment in life. It may not be easy; in fact at times it will be seemingly impossible, but by making the effort to monitor your thoughts and actions, and steer course towards a more balanced present, happiness can and will be achieved.
Taking time to reflect, and making conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work.
1. Choose The Right Opportunities
For most, happiness is an achievement; the result of effort and intention – not a mere coincidence. Happiness in itself is not a decision, instead it is the result of the decision to pursue attitudes and behaviours that will result in happiness over unhappiness. The key to obtaining happiness is to put yourself into environments that increase your probability and to avoid those which are detrimental or draining on our already scarce resource.
2. Foster Forgiveness
Bitterness serves as an anchor; a catalyst for stagnation. Holding onto anger and grief has been proven time and time again to negatively affect our mental and physical well being. While simply saying “get over it” is easier said than done – learning to foster forgiveness towards that which we cannot control is integral to the process of moving onwards and upwards.
- Recall the hurt.
- Try to empathize with the perpetrator – why did they do what they did?
- Remember a time when you were granted forgiveness.
- Commit to the forgiveness – mentally or physically (i.e. write it down).
- Do not dwell not the hurt/anger, hold on to the forgiveness.
Mulling will not get you very far, this I can assure you. Let it go, move along, don’t let the actions of other control your happiness.
3. Fake It Until You Feel Better
While the principle of this seems silly – you are sad/upset/angry/hurt why pretend to be something you are not (i.e. happy)? The psychology behind this practice is proven. Smiling alone can induce the feeling of happiness. All feelings are the result of actions, by acting happier your brain will begin to believe that you are actually happier.
4. Put Your Negativity In Check
Negativity will always be the default. It is easy to be negative, because positivity makes us uncomfortable. Negative thoughts serve no real useful purpose and can directly contribute to negative emotions. Negative thoughts leave us in a state of hopelessness, thinking we will never have enough, be enough, or find enough.
Given that negativity is the norm, it can be difficult to identify in ourselves when we have shifted into this state of mind. In order to learn how to change negative thoughts, you must first learn to recognize them. Start paying attention to your thought patterns; practice mindfulness. Pay attention to your present. Focusing too much on the past (what could have been) or the future (what may never come) is neither useful nor productive.
If you can catch these thoughts before they gain momentum, you will better be able to flip the problem into perspective and deal with it in a much more positive light.
5. Engage In Meaningful Activities
Think about how you have spent the last 24 hours.
Were you productive? Did you get something accomplished?
If no, how are you feeling?
If yes, I can bet you are feeling pretty good. Studies have shown that in order to get more [happiness] out of life, you have to put more into it. People are seldom happier than when they achieve a sense of flow in their lives; a state of mind in which you become absorbed in a meaningful task or challenge. While flow-inducing activities seldom come naturally, the reward far outweighs the investment. So determine something you wish to achieve and work for it. Reap the rewards of your efforts and feel truly happy.