A year ago, I wrote something in my journal that has stuck with me every day since. “I have to work hard at happiness every day.” A year ago I was in a much more difficult place. I was in a relationship that I didn’t feel supported in, I was drowning in debt while trying to maintain my current bills, and hating my place of employment. Even though there was so much that was pulling me down, closer to the lower frequencies that are negativity, I refused to relinquish myself to sadness. I refused to accept the idea of being unhappy as my normal. In today’s society where our layered identities are attacked in various outlets, it can be difficult to find a space and time to just be happy. I had to coach myself through the darker time periods in order to create a light within myself to uplift myself. Below I want to offer some common and most of all FREE techniques to keep happiness at the forefront of your life.
Re-frame your perspective:
In a different post I will break down the science behind happiness, but for the purpose of keeping this post as digestible as possible I will cover the basics. Surprisingly, 50% of our happiness is genetic, 40% is controlled by our thoughts, actions, and behaviors, and finally 10% is determined by our present circumstances. With that being said, while genetics can’t be changed, we can definitely make the efforts to be mindful of our moods and how they shift accordingly. Both men and women experience hormonal cycles once a month that is closely tied to the moon cycle. By examining and studying ourselves in a way where we can predict these fluctuations in hormones and mood we can assign ourselves methods to keep us happy and at peace during those genetic times of upheaval.
Nearly half of our happiness is dictated by the things we do and what we think about. If you find yourself constantly feeling unhappy examine why. Is it your body? Your job? Your relationship? Once you’ve identified what makes you unhappy, and if it is something that you can’t immediately change re-frame the way you think about those things. Find the silver lining, or positivity in the issue before spending time on the negative aspects the next time it pops in your head. Secondarily, if your actions or behaviors are effecting you negatively, change them. This is often easier said than done, but draft a plan and start little by little until you’ve completely transformed the patterns in your life that have you feeling stuck and unsatisfied.
Learn the art of gratitude:
Gratitude is one of my favorite words and forms of expression. Defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation and to return kindness”. While gratitude is categorized as a noun, it is as much an action as any other verb. For myself, my gratitude is deeply connected to a higher power, but that is not true for all of us. Gratitude is more about intention than spiritualism, when we wake up with the idea in our mind that we are going to be grateful for all the good in our life both big and small we are setting the course of our day. Be grateful to be alive, be grateful for our families, be grateful to earn a paycheck, be grateful to see a beautiful sunrise on a long commute into work. When we stop focusing on all that is going wrong and start to appreciate the things that are right both internally and externally we began to manifest better circumstances for ourselves and the ones around us. Letting go of a negative mindset can be very difficult but all it takes is that half second to re-think that initial negative thought and turn it into an opportunity for gratitude.
The second part of gratitude is to return kindness. The best way to receive kindness, love, and opportunity is to give it to others. Helping others also scientifically improves our outlook on life and contributes to our happiness. Whether it’s calling to check on a loved one, stopping to help someone on the street, or something as simple as waving and saying hello to a stranger. These little things will boost the mood of the party you are blessing as well as boost your own mood and give you a greater sense of purpose and happiness in your day to day life.
The Value of Being Alone:
Often times when we hear this we think of spending time at homes watching TV by ourselves, taking the time to zone out at the gym, or reading a book by ourselves. All of these are great ways to start your journey with being comfortable alone, but there are steps that we can take that will truly make us happier people. For at least 15 minutes every day we need the time to just sit quietly, in silence with just our thoughts. Nowadays you hear the term meditation frequently. In essence this is what meditation is, taking the time to tune into your own mind while simultaneously blocking out the rest of the world. As a mom who works full times and commutes to work/school by bus, I do this early in the morning. I wake up at 5:45am and I take the 15 minutes before 6am to breathe, thank God for breathing life into my lungs and set my mental goals for the day. When I’m having a hard day, one where I wake with thoughts of stress and anxiety, I pinpoint the affliction and decide what I can do about it, if the answer is nothing I let it go and relinquish it to God to handle.
For those that don’t find comfort in God, assess whether this problem is so big that it is effecting you currently. Is it stopping you or preventing you from moving forward today right now? If the answer is no, save that problem for the day it is holding you back and address it then. Meditation is checking in with ourselves to remember that we need to be present in this time and space right now. It is removing the stress of tomorrow and the anxiety of yesterday and being happy in the moment that is today.
Working hard at happiness in a healthy and mindful way takes a lot of practice. We are working to rewire our brains and train our way of thought. Sometimes this requires letting go of decades worth of patterns and behaviors, but the pay-out will be worth it. We owe it to families, our children, and most of all ourselves to at least attempt to be happier. Life is too short not to enjoy as many days as we can.
Peace & Love