How To Be Happy
How to be happy, you ask? You just “are” or “aren’t” happy, right?
Wrong. It’s a proven fact that happiness doesn’t just happen. Unfortunately, like losing that extra 10 or 20 pounds, you have to work for it. I know, it sounds counter intuitive. Happiness should be like love, either you’re in it, or you’re not.
Sorry, it doesn’t work that way, just as most of us know by now that true love doesn’t work that way either. It takes a conscious effort and lots of practice. And it’s quite easy to get so wrapped up in your busy, hectic life that you forget to practice. You forget that you are supposed to be working at being happy…or being in love, for that matter.
Originally, I wanted to come up with a list of 10 things to help you be happy. So, I sat here, thinking about the little (and big) things that I have done over the past few years to boost my own happiness. But my list just kept growing and growing, and the truth is, I could make it much longer. And I may very well come up with a “List 2” in the future. For now, here is the simple list. I plan to make a longer blog entry for some of the “bigger” things, going more in depth.
All of these are tried and true things that I have actually found contribute to my happiness and helps me to remember to be happy! The one thing that has never waivered with all of these things, is that I have to keep reminding myself to practice them.
Start practicing today!
- Practice being happy.
- Say Thank you. Cultivate gratitude everywhere in your life. Tell people why you appreciate them. Every day write down at least a few things that you are grateful for.
- Say I’m sorry. Chances are, you can do it much more than you think.
- Say I forgive you. It’s tricky, I understand that. Forgiving someone is often more difficult that apologizing.
- Say I love you. There are a lot of people you love, that you haven’t told recently.
- Fake it. Even if you don’t feel it now, say Thank you, I’m sorry, I forgive you, or I love you, anyway and you’ll feel it later. This is especially useful for apologies.
- Stand in awe of a Higher Power. God, Buddha, Jesus, The Incomprehensible Universe, Ronald Regan. It doesn’t have to be a religious figure, but let something have a deep, spiritual meaning in your life.
- Turn off the TV (or at least the news). Stop soaking in all that negativity. Murder, rape, child abductions, politics. It’s stress that you don’t need. Many people will say they can’t do this, but you might be surprised how much you DON’T miss it after turning it off for a week or two.
- Make a list of things you want to do. And do them! Learn sign language, or Spanish. Make a blog, get a dog, learn to play the piano, go to a Star Trek convention!
- Listen to happy music. Or at least relaxing music. I have a “Relaxing Music” station programmed in my Pandora. Ahh…bliss…
- Surround yourself with happy things. Writing, blogs, movies, poetry. Stay away from the dreary, sad things. You may think it cathartic to immerse yourself in art and form that reflects your spirit, but you will only encourage your dark spirit to flourish.
- Smell happy things. You may think me weird, but I actually have an (almost) empty toothpaste tube on my desk here. It’s the hard bottle type, so that I can put it up to my nose, squeeze the bottle and inhale that minty freshness. Yum.
- Stop nagging. Yeah. I said it. Ladies, it may be the hardest thing in the world to do and believe me I know all the reasons to do it. If you don’t nag, then he won’t do anything. Ever. EVER. This is one of those entries that will need an entire post all to itself…Here’s another one you won’t like…
- Leave the dishes. …and laundry…and dusting…and weeds…at least for a little while.
- Take a walk. Outside. Preferrably with your family, or at least your dogs. You will markedly add to your dogs’ happiness levels. Or without any of them. Sometimes, just getting away from them for a while can be sheer bliss, especially if you are a full time Homemaker.
- Use financial planning software like Quicken to get your finances under control. The relief you will feel at having real control over your money will take a load off your shoulders! You’ll be amazed at what Quicken can do. I was blown away, and couldn’t imagine life without it now. It will do for your finances what smart phones did for you social life.
- Contribute to a Savings account on a regular basis. Mine is set up to automatically transfer $100 from our checking to savings every month.
- Give to a worthy cause on a regular basis. Again, automatic contributions are easiest. We contribute to a child though Christian Children’s Fund. You don’t have to be Christian, and most of the children aren’t either. Our girl is named Jemila and she lives in India. We have been sponsoring her for ten years now! I’ve watched her grow, and get letters from her every month, and she tells me exactly what her family buys with the money we send her!
- Give yourself (and your spouse and children) an allowance – make kids earn it though, and set up a bank account for your children. Teaching them financial responsibility early will bring you peace of mind and contribute to their happiness later in life.
- Floss your teeth every day. Seems simple enough, but how many of you actually do it? It will help you feel good about yourself, and boy will your teeth thank you.
- Wear perfume or cologne. That’s more of the smell something happy advice. Don’t over-do it, though. Spray it in the air and walk through the mist. That’s all you need!
- Look up. Really. As in, lift your head and look above you. It’s amazing the things you will see. Trees, birds, great architecture. It’s easy to forget. I have to remind myself of this constantly, but usually, I find something that makes me smile.
- Laugh (or at least Smile).
- Let someone cut in front of you on the highway. And smile and wave at them when you do! Letting go of road rage is one of the most vital and relaxing things you can do to boost your happiness. But it takes practice! Grit your teeth if you have to while smiling and waving, but do it. It gets easier the more you practice.
- Along with that point…Smile at nasty people. What I started doing to help me with this is think to myself, “I’m so glad that I’m not that angry inside all the time.” That helps me have more compassion and patience with nasty people.
- Don’t lay awake at night. Try listening to guided meditation or relaxation music. I put my CD’s on repeat in case I wake up in the middle of the night…which I do…a lot…
- Do something nice for a stranger. Holding the door open is easy. Try giving up your seat on the bus once in a while. Harder, isn’t it? Just try it. You will feel wonderful inside.
- Find happiness in the job you have now…or quit.
- Have deep, meaningful conversations. Not debates. Those can be fun, sure, but I’m talking about the kind where you discuss your emotions – fears, hopes, dreams, regrets.
- Recycle. It promotes your sense of self-worth and makes you feel good about yourself.
- Play games. Preferrably board games or charade-type games instead of video games. It will bring you closer to your family and help with that laughing more suggestion. Heck, it might even jump start one of those deep, meaningful conversations!
- Exercise every day. Yeah, groan…just do it. Get a Wii or Xbox with Kinect. That way you can exercise while playing games with your family. You can even learn how to dance like Michael Jackson!
- Eat healthy food. Start simple and easy. Commit yourself to eating one fruit and one vegetable every day.
- Follow your gut. Often, The Universe, Fate, God, Time, Instinct, whatever you call it, is trying to guide you in the right direction. But you second guess yourself, hesitate, waffle. Trust that feeling.
- Be optimistic. Look at the glass half-full instead of half-empty. Your girlfriend broke up with you? Now you have a chance to meet someone else! You lost your job? Now you have the opportunity to find a better one! Adjust your mentality so that, in everything that happens to you, there’s some kernel of good.
What do you think? Have any other suggestions to help people practice how to be happy? Comments are always welcome and encouraged!