When life starts getting you down, may begin to wonder, can you choose to be happy, or is happiness simply circumstantial? This article will explain how you can choose to be happy!
Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy by doing the following:
- Put your best foot forward. Work hard at everything you do to gain inner satisfaction and a sense of self-accomplishment.
- Surround yourself with happy people. Happiness is contagious!
- Be grateful. Take a moment out of each day to think about the good you receive and you will have a basis for true happiness and gratitude.
- Be positive. Think positively and you will be able to add joy to even the dreariest days.
- Do exercise. Exercise helps to boost endorphins – the feel-good hormones in your system.
- Be honest. A clean conscience will help you to sleep better and will alleviate you from unnecessary feelings of guilt.
- Help others. There’s more happiness in giving than there is in receiving!
- Forgive others. Let go of the load.
- Spend quality time with friends and family.
- Smile more. Help spread the joy you feel with others.
What Some People Think About Happiness
A lot of people are under the impression that happiness is purely circumstantial, that you can only be happy if you are working at the job you love, live in the house of your dreams, and are happily married to your childhood sweetheart.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t often deal us straight aces, so if you are living a normal life with average circumstances, does this mean that you can’t be happy?
Of course not! Happiness is more of a state of mind than it is circumstantial, so whether you are living a life of riches and fame or you are just plodding along living an average life in the suburbs, you can still be happy.
Do Riches and Fame Make You Happy?
Money is important, you cannot get through life without it, but it’s important to remember that money isn’t everything. While money may allow you to buy the latest trends, go on the most expensive vacations, and eat the most exquisite food, once you have obtained everything that you wanted you will often find yourself feeling empty, waiting for the next trend, or searching for something new to buy.
But how can you be sure that riches and fame don’t make you happy? If I asked, I am sure you could instantly reel off the names of at least 5 celebrities that reached stardom and seemingly had it all, but that ended up taking their own lives or destroying them with drug or alcohol abuse. Why do some celebrities act this way? Because money can’t buy true happiness.
Ok, so what does this all mean, that it is impossible to be happy? Far from it! It just means that you can be happy, no matter your circumstances – now, isn’t that a relief?
Happiness is a quality that comes from within, but there are certain things that we can do to boost our happiness and encourage this quality to display itself regularly. What are those things? Take a look at the following steps that will show you how anyone (even you) can choose happiness!
1. Put Your Best Foot Forward
The first key to choosing happiness comes with making an honest effort with everything you do, no matter whether it be for your colleagues, your family, or your friends.
But does everyone always strive to put their best foot forward? Let’s face it, we all know that one work colleague that complains about being paid too little and protests that, and is hell-bent on doing next to nothing during every workday. But ask yourself, how happy does that person appear?
Ok, while I’m not condoning overworking or turning into a workaholic, you should know that striking the balance with work is key to finding true happiness.
What are some of the things that usually put us off from trying our hardest when doing jobs?:
- Feeling like you’re being underpaid. Working hard and not receiving the wage you would expect is discouraging.
- Working under a boss that makes things difficult for you, with negative coworkers, or for someone that irritates you is challenging.
- Feelings of inadequacy. Working hard may seem futile if you don’t have the right experience to complete the task at hand.
The above-mentioned situations are all valid reasons for you to feel like you should ease up on the effort you are putting into your work. But what can you do to combat these feelings?
You’re Being Underpaid
If you feel like you’re working too hard for your wages then that can be extremely frustrating. When you find yourself in this situation you can only do one of two things:
- Do the bare minimum at work, because they are paying you next to nothing so you may as well do next to nothing.
- Put your best foot forward and leave work with a sense of achievement every day.
So, why is option two better? Trying your best at work will help you to have a feeling of accomplishment at the end of each day. Being able to look back at your work and be proud of it is something that will bring you inner joy, even if you are the only one that notices the hard work that went into the task.
On the other hand, lumping around and making a minimal effort all day will only give you time to think about all the things you could be doing with your time and could make you begin to resent your life choices.
Working With Difficult People
Working under an overly strict boss or for a family member that you – let’s put it nicely, don’t get on with too well can be exhausting. But why will you be happier if you try your best?
Being able to hand in work that you have tried your best with and are proud of is something that will bring you happiness. If you are working hard and are concentrated on what you are doing, you will have less time to deal with people that irritate you at work. In fact, getting your work done on time and to a high quality could make a somewhat miserable boss display kindness to you, even if it’s only for a moment.
Remember, happiness is contagious, so if you are working hard with a smile on your face, you may be able to transmit some of your happiness around the office!
Working hard could also help you interact better with your family members, as they may be impressed to see how hard you work and end up commending you.
Feelings of Inadequacy
If you are working on a project that you feel that you cannot do well, it can be tricky for you to maintain your joy. But trying your best on the project will help you to feel happier.
Work hard and you may just surprise yourself – the project could turn out to be easier than you thought and you may just end up impressing the person you are working for!
2. Surround Yourself With Happy People
Negativity is contagious and if you surround yourself with people that are gloomy and are constantly carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, then you could find that their miserable attitude starts rubbing off on you.
You should be selective about who you choose as friends and remember that you don’t have to accept negative people into your life.
Here are some of the types of friends that you should choose for yourself that will help you to have a more positive outlook on life:
- A listener. Everyone needs that one friend that is great at listening. This friend can empathize with you and pick you up when you feel down.
- A champion. This friend will stick up for you when others put you down and constantly has your back.
- An energizer. Everyone needs a life and soul of the party friend that will get the good times rolling and will not stop insisting until everyone is having fun.
- A builder. These friends encourage you to go for your dreams and to stop at nothing until you reach them. These friends are often able to see the big picture and warn you before you make decisions that will affect your happiness.
3. Be Grateful
Displaying feelings of gratitude is another great way for you to choose happiness. There are so many things that we can be grateful for in life, but how often do we actually stop and say thank you for them?
Writing a gratitude journal is the perfect way for you to reflect on the little gems in life and say thank you to the people who help you out the most. But if you have never written a gratitude journal before, how can you begin doing so?
Dedicate a time each day to writing in your gratitude journal. The best time to do so is in the evening while the day’s events are still fresh in your mind. You could try organizing your thoughts into the following categories to help you structure your journal:
- Mundane things that you can be grateful for.
- Nature and the world around you.
- Kind gestures that you would like to be thankful for and return the favor.
What can you do to get into a routine for writing your gratitude journal?
- Keep the journal somewhere visible. Take it off the bookshelf and place it somewhere you will see it every day and be reminded to write in it.
- Link gratitude journaling with another action. Linking your actions will help you to remember to do them. Try linking journaling with brushing your teeth, having dinner, or taking a shower.
- Make it appealing. Purchase a new notebook for gratitude journaling that will encourage you to use it. Choose a notebook with sections that will help you to organize your thoughts and look back on your memories with ease.
4. Be Positive
Having a negative outlook on life will most certainly rob you of your happiness. So what can you do to start looking at the glass as half full rather than half empty?
Reframing a situation is all about taking a new approach towards a situation even when things go wrong.
The next time you are disappointed about the way something turned out, try asking yourself the following questions that will help you to see the lighter side of the situation:
- What positive thing came out of this situation?
- What have I learned?
- What can I do to avoid making the same mistake?
Savor Good Times
As human beings, we are great at recalling the times when things went wrong and can reel off a list of all the negative situations we have been through without batting an eyelid. While we cannot ignore the bad things that happen to us, we should also spend time thinking about the positive things that take place in our lives. How can you do so?
- Make a conscious effort to take photos of happy moments and place them in a “feel good” folder. Visit this folder to relive the good times whenever you’re feeling down.
- Write positive events and experiences down on a piece of paper and place them in a jar. Open it up and read through them when you are going through a rough patch.
Phone A Friend
None of us are immune to facing difficult situations. So, instead of locking yourself away, talk about your feelings with a close friend that will help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Having a good friend is all part and parcel with being a good friend, so if you want people to listen to you when you’re going through a challenging period, make sure that you lend a listening ear when others are in need.
5. Do Exercise
Ok, this may well be the suggestion that is the most difficult to apply, but getting some exercise is an essential key that will help you to choose happiness. In fact, even if you don’t like exercise and loathe the thought of doing it, let me assure you that the end result will be completely different.
But just why does exercise make you happy? Consider a few reasons:
Exercise Reduces Stress
When you start exercising, your body increases in endorphins, adrenaline, and a bundle of other chemicals that make you feel happy. That is why you always feel pumped after a good cardio session or even after a brisk walk around the park.
When your muscles contract, your body releases myokine – a chemical that helps to boost your happiness and reduce your stress levels.
Exercise Boosts Confidence
Everyone wants to feel happy about their body and exercise can help you to do so.
The feeling you get when you reach your target weight or are able to improve your stamina or even the number of press-ups you can do in a row will help to boost your confidence levels and will make you feel proud of your achievements.
Exercise Helps You Bond With Others
Going to a workout class with a good friend or your partner can be a great way for you to bond and have fun. Not only is spending time together great for your relationship, but the workout will help you to stay in shape and will make you happier in the skin you’re in.
6. Be Honest
They say honesty is the best policy, and they’re right! Being honest could stop you from harboring feelings of guilt and make you happier.
Why is honesty important? Lies cause stress and if you are caught lying, then people may start to doubt how much they can trust you and this could be very painful. Also, it is very easy for one lie to lead to another and yet another, and before you know it you are faced with a whole chain of lies that are very complicated and are ready to fall through and embarrass you at any given moment.
When people get caught up in lying it also affects the way they view others. They could find that they have a very cynical way of viewing people and find it difficult to trust anyone’s motives.
So what are the perks of being honest? Take a look at just a few:
- When you are honest, even about little things, it encourages people to trust you. People may feel more inclined to ask your opinion about sensitive matters when you’re honest and you may even receive more privileges at work. Also, knowing that people feel confident enough to confide in you is a positive ego-boost.
- Being honest is also beneficial as you can rest assured that you have tried your best. Instead of boasting and lying about your achievements, be humble, and tell people the things you struggle with and what you do to overcome obstacles. People are drawn to humility.
- Telling the truth relieves you from feelings of guilt and the stress that comes with racking your brains to remember the backstory you created before you speak.
7. Help Others
Another nice thing to do to boost your happiness is helping others.
Let’s face it, at times life deals you a bad hand and it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by our problems and lose sight of the good in life. When we’re focused on other people’s problems and helping them out, it forces us to shift our concentration from us to them.
This shift in concentration can be beneficial in two ways:
- It helps us to empathize with others and get a feeling of achievement when we help someone.
- It helps us to appreciate the things we have in our lives and our circumstances.
But if you feel like you are lacking inspiration and are not sure who to start, then take a look at the following suggestions that will give you ideas on who could use your help.
They say charity starts at home and that is definitely true when it comes to helping people. Is there a family member that could use your assistance doing some maintenance around the home? Or perhaps they could really use someone to help them look after the kids once in a while? Or how about just lending a listening ear to someone that’s going through some problems?
It’s time to spur that neighborly spirit back into your zone. Help a neighbor out. Perhaps there is an elderly person living on their own that could really use a hand raking in the leaves in the fall. Or why not wheel your neighbor’s garbage cans in when you go out to do yours?
Helping colleagues at work will also bring you satisfaction and will help them to feel more drawn to you. Doing so could also lead to promotions and praise from your boss.
There are countless charities out there that could use your help, not only monetarily but they could also use the manpower for managing stools, organizing fundraisers, and inspiring the people in your community to get behind good causes.
Most importantly, you should offer to do things for your partner. Ask yourself, when was the last time you:
- Looked after the kids so they could have the night off?
- Did the grocery shopping?
- Cleaned the house?
- Cooked dinner?
- Volunteered to do the dishes?
- Lent a listening ear?
Remember, you don’t have to do something big for it to be appreciated. But whatever you do with the right motives will lead you down the path of happiness.
8. Forgive Others
Finding yourself in the position where you have to forgive someone who has wronged you can be extremely difficult. But what are the benefits that come with forgiving and forgetting and what impact can it have on your happiness?
- Forgiving will help you to release negative thinking and will help you to focus on the positive.
- Forgiving will also encourage you to move on and will stop you from fixating on negative experiences.
- Forgiving makes you more empathic, helping you to see the situation from someone else’s point of view and will encourage you to try to understand their way of thinking.
Apart from all of the practicalities, forgiveness also has a tonne of health benefits that you need to get in on. Forgiveness:
- Reduces stress and anxiety levels.
- Reduces headaches.
- Lowers your risk of a heart attack.
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Helps to combat depression.
- Helps you to sleep better.
9. Spend Quality Time With Friends And Family
For most people, spending time with family and friends is a necessity that comes before all else.
Even if you cannot physically be with your family and friends, you must make time to communicate with them even if it is just via social media. Building close friendships and ties with family members and friends is essential for happiness.
But what can you do if you feel like you don’t have many friends or don’t spend much time with your family?
- Take the initiative. You may find you have more friends than you realize when you take the initiative to invite people to spend time with you instead of waiting for them to do the same for you.
- Be hospitable. Invite your friends and family to your home. If this causes you some anxiety then keep it simple! Start with small gatherings of just four to six people until you feel more comfortable inviting more.
- Take a personal interest. There’s nothing worse than having to listen to someone speak for hours on end as they talk about themselves. Don’t be that friend! Make sure your conversations are 50 50 and that you ask questions and listen to your friends as they share their opinions.
- Make time! You will never regret the quality time spent with family so take the time out of your schedule to visit them, or invite them to drop in for a coffee and a chat.
10. Smile More
When someone looks at you with a sincere, beaming smile, then you can do nothing else than feel compelled to smile back. Make it your aim to smile more, even when you don’t feel like it!
Not only is smiling good for you as it will help you to feel more positive but as previously stated, smiling is contagious! Your smile could kick off a whole chain of smiles that could make someone feel better about their day, now who could say no to that?
Scientists say that even the mere act of smiling can lift your mood, so give it a try! Smiling will help you to choose happiness and also comes with the following health benefits:
- Smiling can lower your stress and anxiety levels.
- Smiling can boost your immune system.
- Smiling can trick your brain into happiness.
Has there ever been a better reason to get your grin on?
The best part about it is, that if you follow the other nine steps mentioned in this article, then it won’t be a facade, you will have real reasons to smile. And when happiness comes from within, you will have no choice but to smile at every given opportunity.