Sitting in my car at the traffic lights one morning I was staring into oblivion. No, I didn’t crash my car, or miss the lights, but I did have an apocalyptic moment. “What do I want from life?” I asked myself. “I just want to be happy”. I had plenty of reasons to be happy. My life was FULL of happiness, surely. My husband was the tall, dark and handsome love of my life. We had four beautiful boys, I had plenty of friends and I loved the colour of my hair.
Why then, was I often cranky, occasionally snapping at people and feeling that I should be at least 10kgs lighter? Minor things could get me down and I lost my temper easily, and if I got hungry, watch out! Is that how a happy person would act? I began to research, test-driving the wisdom of ages, scientific studies and online happiness blogs with their tips on popular culture and the latest joy-giving app.
Well with my mind full of tips, tricks and downloads, I began my happiness project and attempted to reap the rewards of my research and put them into practice. I made myself happier and along the way learned a lot about how to be happier. Here are some tips I’d like to share with you.
1. Attitude is everything: Positive people attract positive things. Tell yourself daily that “this is going to be a GREAT day”, and it will be! You are effectively ordering a great day.
2. Look after yourself: We need to start with the basics, like getting enough sleep and eating a well-balanced diet. Science backs this up, these two factors have a major impact on happiness.
3. Never stay angry: It’s not good for anyone to remain angry at things that may irritate them. Expressing anger at these fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, whilst not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate.
4. Fake it till you feel it: Feelings follow actions. If I’m feeling low, I deliberately act cheery, and I find myself actually feeling happier. If I’m feeling angry at someone, I do something thoughtful and my feelings towards them soften. This strategy is quite effective.
5. Buy some happiness: Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and fulfilled. You also want to have a sense of control. Money doesn’t automatically fill these requirements, but it sure does help. You want those boot-leg jeans or that digital camera? Go ahead, buy them, they may be expensive but they will make you happy.
6. Boost your Energy with Exercise: I know, the dreaded word that immediately instigates feelings of guilt. However, endorphin-boosting exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10 minute walk can make you feel better.
7. Take Action: Some people think that happiness is inherent, that some people are just naturally happier than others. However, you need to take time and reflect and make conscious steps to make your life happier.
8. Surround yourself with happy people: This is one of my favourites, as I almost yearn to be surrounded by happy people now. I find myself disassociating with those around me who emit negativity. As much as I try to inspire or uplift an unhappy or negative person, I often find they tend to dampen my spirits and drain my energy levels. On the upside, nothing beats being able to make an unhappy person smile or make them feel even just a little better.
Although we all have different lists of dreams and goals, we all want a meaningful and happy life that affects others for the better. Happiness is a moment-to-moment choice, and one that some may have a hard time making. Other people will notice if you make that choice. And you will motivate them to do the same. I don’t think happiness is so much about what you have. Happiness is about how you interpret what’s in front of you. How proud you are of the way you live your life. How willing you are to enjoy simple pleasures, even if things aren’t perfect.
Though I haven’t always done this well, today I choose to focus on the good—both in the world and myself—to feel happy right now. How will you tune into happiness today?