I’ve struggled with this question several times in my life. Sometimes there are little pockets of unhappiness that come and go. Sometimes there are big pockets, that can last months or years. But how can one be truly happy?
In the past, I’ve actually been in a place where I Googled “How to be happy.” Surprisingly, it was a good place to start, and from there I began formulating what works for me. I read self help books, studied spiritualism, and followed recommendations from friends and family about how to be happy. I tested all kinds of things, and continued doing what worked for me. I went on a ten-day silent retreat to try and look inside myself and find a path that worked for me. I’ve fought against sadness, despair, anger, frustration, loss, grief, and depression. But the underlying theme in all this: I took action, and I found happiness.
So, what have I found?
I’ve found that if you’re unhappy, that it’s up to you to fix it. If something is wrong at work, in a friendship, in a relationship, with money, with a job, or in life – if you ignore it, it won’t go away. Things don’t just get better on their own (unless you’re healing physically, but that’s the magic of science and biology!). Change is always in our hands – but it’s good to remember that sometimes change takes time.
One of the first steps to being happy is figuring out what makes you happy, and what is making you unhappy. Then, it’s simple… be honest, and get rid of or seriously limit those things that make you unhappy. Take the time to enjoy and appreciate what does make you happy, even if it’s the smallest thing; revel in it.
Sometimes it’s hard. You find yourself in a rut. You can’t get up in the morning. You don’t want to go to work. You don’t feel like leaving the house. You’re too tired, or have no motivation for even the smallest thing. If you want life to get better, then you can only rely on yourself to make things better. No one else is going to do it for you, and happiness isn’t just going to ring your doorbell and ask to come in for coffee. Happiness takes work.
The only thing that got me moving was forcing myself to move, to change, to make choices. Doing nothing only sweeps problems under the rug, and you WILL have to deal with them eventually. If you find yourself so lost you can’t seem to get anywhere, talk to someone – anyone. Ask for help, or for that little booster of love or laughter can give you even the tiniest morsel of motivation – sometimes that’s all you need.
You have to decide to be happy; You can’t wait for it to come to you. Once I figured that out (it all started with that Google search) I found a root to hold onto. I told myself what was going to happen by setting goals (even if I didn’t believe it). I got up and forced myself to do the things I needed to do (even if I didn’t want to do them). Sometimes, that’s the only way to get the ball rolling. Fake it ’til you make it. Eventually I got used to the routine I had set for myself and began building on it.
What do you do if something’s bothering you? Tell them – especially if it’s a particular person or their actions who is bothering you. Just be kind in your delivery, and be honest. Getting it out in the open will make you feel better, and once the problem is identified, you can start to find a solution – hopefully together.
What do you do if you feel like a bag of dead kittens and don’t want to even move in the morning? Force yourself to get up. Go watch the sun rise. Play with your pets. Read a book. Call an old friend. Go to a coffee shop and people watch. Go for a drive. Do something different. Because doing something is important, even if you only take action for few minutes a day for the first little while…
What do you do if you’re in a situation that you can’t just step out of – a job, a relationship, a living situation? Take steps to set up how you’re going to change your situation. Set goals. Start saving. Do research. Because when the time comes you’ll be prepared, and that first step will be much easier knowing there’s a safety net you’ve already built for yourself.
What do you do if you’re having a crappy day? I’ve found that often it’s the little things that make a huge difference:
- Look at the stars (you don’t have to know what you’re looking at, just enjoy the beauty of our planet and the universe!)
- Go outside
- Get some exercise (even a walk to the store)
- Look at or read something funny – laughter (even if you’re laughing AT someone :D) will boost your mood
- Do something completely out of the ordinary for you – rock climbing, target shooting, knitting
- Eat a meal and savour every bite – you’d be surprised what an experience eating is!
- Call, text, or email your Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Best Friend, Estranged Friend, anyone
- Think of someone you love, and send them happy thoughts
- Do something nice for someone else
There is no one key to happiness. But it starts with taking action, getting moving, setting goals, and appreciating life. It snowballs from there…. Anyone can be happy. I had to choose to be happy.