How happy are you? How do you define the word happy? When you feel unhappy, how do you attempt to change that? We all have different interpretations of the word “happy.” We all employ different strategies to try to achieve happiness. But there are some proven strategies for becoming happier, more content person. In this uncertain world, sometimes focusing on small joys can make a big impact on your level of happiness.
There are many different daily practices that help individuals achieve happiness. These vary from person to person, but some ideas include:
- Spend time outside or in nature
- Regular exercise
- Prayer or meditation
- Spend time with friends
- Cultivate meaningful relationships
- Get extra sleep
- Eat well
- Think positively
- Help others
- Give a gift
- Practice patience with loved ones
- Don’t let the sun go down on anger
- Play a game
- Organize something, even if it is a small task
- Identify short term and long term goals
- Observe happiness in others
- Be grateful
Finding What Works For You
So this is a long list of suggestions, but what do you do with it? Where should you start in attempting to become a happier person? First, you need to try out different things and identify which suggestions on this list, or practices that are not on the list, actually produce happiness in you. No one can tell you what makes you happy. This takes time, and is a lifelong process of becoming aware of the things that truly make you happy. It seems simple to say, “Be happy! Think positively!” But in reality, for most people, it is a process that requires work and intention. What makes one person happy may not work at all for others. Reading a book may increase the happiness of one person, but bore another to tears. Introverts find happiness and peace in solitude, while extroverts are energized by being around others. Spend time learning yourself, and finding what makes you happy on a daily basis.
Make it a Priority, and a Habit
What next? Once you have identified a few things that bring you happiness, you need to take the time to make them a daily habit. Again, this may not be easy, but it is something that you will need to take time to schedule, right along with dry cleaning and work meetings. It may seem hard to take time for yourself to nap, call a friend, or read a good book, but these things can make you more peaceful, and thus more productive overall. In the nonstop rush of life, focusing on yourself can be almost impossible. Get the kids to school, make lunches, get dinner on the table, finish that project at work; the list goes on and on of the things we feel obligated to do nearly every day. With this pace, we rarely have the chance to just stop, and find something simple that can increase happiness and peace.
Give Yourself Permission
Finally, does all of this attention on your own happiness make you feel selfish or self-centered? Put that thought to rest right now. When you focus on learning what actually makes you happy, you are taking the first step in being a person that can help others find their happiness as well. If you are stressed, tired, overworked, and irritable, you have little room for connecting with others and really listening to them. Think about how you treat your loved ones, your spouse, or your kids when you are stressed. It is not the best version of yourself. When you become happier, you shine a light for everyone around you. You help others see what is possible, and how their own lives could be better. Be that light. Choose to find ways to be happy, and put them into practice today.
Amber Shimel MA – Thriveworks Raleigh Counseling