Affirmation: I create my own happiness.
Happiness is a goal we are all striving for, but we must feel like we are missing it with all the books and articles there are on happiness. Wondering if my theory was true, I went to Google Keyword Planner and typed “How to be” to see what would come up. The first search phrase was “how to be happy.” This was followed by “how to be happy again,” “how to be happy with yourself,” and “how to be happy with life.” Happiness is this elusive thing we keep searching for.
Here’s the problem. Many people look for happiness outside themselves instead of looking for it internally. They hope that when they get the new job, a different partner, a bigger house, finish their manuscript, then they will be happy. The issue is once we get whatever we think will make us happy, it either doesn’t give us the joy we thought it would or it did for a moment and then we look for something else to make us happy. It’s a never ending search, like looking for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. But it’s not the “new shiny thing” that makes us happy. True happiness comes from within, and we can only give it to ourselves.
“Remind yourself daily that there is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” — Dr. Wayne Dyer
Studies have shown that we can be happier by acting and thinking differently. Happiness is based on our outlook. It’s not the situation itself that causes our happiness or distress, it’s our response to it. When we get annoyed, place blame, or become impatient, these thoughts can lead to negative emotions, causing us stress or worry. By changing our mindset and looking at a situation with a more positive view, happiness can increase.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” — Henry David Thoreau
For example, when I get impatient because the grocery line is not moving, I tell myself another minute more will not make a difference. This immediately changes my energy and I release the anxiety. To receive a different outcome, our thinking must change. Our thoughts and emotions follow our attention, so focus well.
Now I’m not saying that we can be happy all the time. That is an unrealistic and unattainable. There are things beyond our control that affect our ability to choose, like an unexpected loss or challenge. We need to honor and feel our emotions during these times. I experienced this firsthand with the unexpected loss of my husband, followed by a house fire just three weeks later. But I eventually made a conscious decision, and yes, it was a deliberate choice to look for small things that would bring joy back into my life.
Joy is in the Ordinary Moments
We may have future goals of pursuing more education, starting a family, or buying a house. Dream big dreams, but also enjoy the journey, because ordinary moments contain some of our most treasured memories. It’s not the big house or the promotion. What we treasure are the everyday moments, like teaching our kid how to ride a bike, watching a sunset with our partner, or making cookies with our grandchildren on a rainy day. It’s in these ordinary moments that we experience life and find great joy.
Happiness is a choice, but we must first make a decision to consciously seek it, then we can cultivate it. Here are twelve simple actions to boost happiness in your life.
- Focus on the good. Actively find and acknowledge things that are working in your life. Concentrate on the positive instead of the negative.
- Practice gratitude. When we truly appreciate what we already have, we find contentment, joy, and peace. Gratitude is an attitude.
- Do things you enjoy. Ask yourself, what makes me happy? Making an effort of what brings you joy leads to increased happiness.
- Create a happy list. Write events, people, or places that bring you joy. How do these things make you feel? It’s the feeling we are searching for. Now incorporate these activities into your life regularly.
- Find meaning and purpose. When you do something that is meaningful to you or following your life’s calling, you find joy. There is power in pursuing your purpose.
- Revise negative thinking. We can’t stop negative thoughts from appearing, but we can challenge or not agree with them. Just because we think a thought doesn’t make it true.
- Flip your script and rewrite your story. Briefly write a challenge you are facing or something you want to change. Acknowledge it and then compassionately revise it to something you would tell a friend, like it may be tough right now, but it won’t last forever. Many times, we are more kind to others than to ourselves.
- Get up and move. Studies have shown that movement helps to increase happiness. So go for a walk, dance, garden, or do some jumping jacks. Just move.
- Smile. Smiling helps to release stress, improve your mood, and boost your immune system. Plus, it is contagious. Those mirror neurons get working, so when you smile, other people will smile back at you.
- Spend more time with optimistic people. Optimism is contagious, so surround yourself with positive people that will lift you up, not tear you down.
- Help others. When we shift our focus from ourselves and concentrate on others, we forget about our own problems. And when we see other people’s challenges, this can make us grateful for our own.
- Create a happy song playlist. It will boost your mood and energy. Plus, it gives you inspiration when you are feeling unhappy.
Happiness does not need to be beyond our reach; it can be cultivated. What we give our thoughts and attention to is what we find. Life is meant to be joyful, so consciously seek happiness.