When I was much younger and I was asked what I wanted out of life, I would say, “I just want to be happy…”
In my past, I suffered from debilitating depression. There was a period when even getting the dry-cleaning and buying toilet paper was difficult.
So I made it my mission to study what happy people do to stay happy. Then I started doing what they were doing. Sure enough, my happiness increased until I became one of those people I used to be envious of.
Here’s a list I now use on a daily basis as a reminder to increase my happiness:
- Give yourself permission.
Permission to be who you are; permission to laugh big, to cry when you need to, to fail brilliantly, to make stuff; permission to fall apart, breakdown, and get back up again; permission to be different and unique; permission to go too far and reach your dreams.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Hold yourself with a “light hand.” Laugh at your foibles with amusement.
When things get tough or stress arises, lift your shoulders with an “oh well…” Know that it’s never as big or life devastating as your mind thinks.
Happy people trust that whatever glitch happens will work itself out.
- Don’t self-ruminate.
I remember a friend of mine from Mississippi saying, “Lynn, when are you gonna’ stop starin’ at your own belly button…?” (Insert: Southern drawl here.)
I learned happy people don’t fixate on themselves and their problems. They don’t over-analyze the issue du jour.
When they start to get stuck on a problem, or in their head, they focus their attention on something else.
I remind myself to not have to have it all figured out.
- Don’t compare.
Comparison has been compared to a little death. When we compare ourselves to others, we harm ourselves.
Happy people know that they’re no better or less than another person. Someone will always be at a “more evolved place” and someone will always be “less-evolved.”
Note to self: Be concerned with only how to do your best and that’s all.
- Be of service and know how to take care of yourself.
Happy people want to give back. They have plenty to share. They volunteer, take time out to help a friend, offer to connect people to others for their betterment, and aren’t in need of getting anything back.
Commit to service, but also stay aware of how to take care of yourself. When your energy gets depleted, remember to not give to the point that you lose focus on your own emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual health.
Have loving boundaries to care for yourself so that you have more to give.
- Choose uplifting friendships.
When we have friendships and conversations that are uplifting, supportive, and loving, with people interested in our betterment, we are on a faster track to our own happiness.
If you hang out with someone and don’t feel great afterwards, see less of that person and seek out other friendships instead.
Know which friends increase your happiness and nurture those relationships.
- Be less interested in being happy and more interested in your peace of mind.
I used to think happiness was about being totally ecstatic. In order to balance out my feelings of hopelessness and depression, it seemed natural that my goal would be to maximize my bliss.
But with any high, there’s a low. We eventually come back down.
Remember to not get attached to the highs and focus more on experiencing peaceful aliveness.
When your life is at peace, there’s a relaxed balance; and the chances of sustained happiness and contentment increase.
Wishing you continued happiness!