Here we are on another Monday. Personally I LOVE Mondays and I know that many people don’t so I generally like to keep quiet about it. My favourite weather is rain, fog or cold. I might as well just admit it all now. 😉
So… back to “It’s Monday”. What a great day to start the week out right! Do you agree?
I’ve been wandering around the internet on and off for a few days looking at articles both personal and scientific to find out what seems to make people happy. I’ve found there are 13 things that seem to make almost every list so I will give you my version of them all wrapped with a nice bow for you here. Good? 🙂
Of course, everyone brings their own set of experiences to the table and some people might be living with mental illnesses like depression or anxiety that make things more complicated. But hopefully you might be able to find a few pieces of advice here that can help life feel a little easier.
13 tips to being (or becoming) a happier person.
Realize that happiness doesn’t mean having everything you want and being problem-free all the time.
We cannot control everything that happens to us in life, but we can choose how we respond. When we respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening to me?’ and adopt a victim mentality, we suffer. When we choose to respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening for me and what can I learn?’ then we feel a lot more empowered, which impacts our mental state positively.
The biggest misconception about happiness is that we can outsource it — that something external is going to make us happy. Happiness is NOT a constant state. As humans we experience and grow through a variety of emotions. The expectation that we should be happy all the time will leave anyone with an expectation hangover. What we can be is grateful.
Cut “should” from your vocabulary, because it basically guarantees whatever you think “should” happen, won’t.
When we use the word ‘should,’ it’s like this big, judgmental finger wagging at yourself. ‘I should work out more, I should be happier, I should be more grateful.’ It causes us to feel guilt and shame. It depletes our happiness. It causes us to engage in behaviours that are completely against what we want.
Instead, replace ‘should’ with ‘I would like.’ For example, ‘I’d like to lose weight, because I want to have more energy and be a role model.’ That is more motivational, it’s more based on passion rather than the fear and judgment of ourselves that prevents us from being the people that we want to be.
Remember that your negative thoughts are not true. They’re just thoughts.
Sadly, many people (myself included) make the mistake of believing the negative things that their ‘inner voice’ tells them, often without even being aware of their right to question whether these things are accurate! Catch, challenge, and change negative thoughts.
Start your day by reminding yourself one positive thing about your life.
This can be a small observation like enjoying beautiful weather or something more profound like recognizing you have achieved one step towards a life goal (working on a project you enjoy, having a best friend who you are grateful for, etc). We tend to hold onto negatives a lot stronger than positives so this can be a small way to give yourself a moment to check in with the ‘happier’ thoughts and realities.
Anyone can benefit from therapy, so consider making an appointment for a checkup.
There is a stereotype that many people have about the unique person who chooses to see a therapist. ‘They must be an emotional wreck,’ or ‘they can’t take care of their own problems,’ or ‘they must be crazy.’ That last one is probably the most popular and worst misconception of them all!
It takes a lot of insight and emotional awareness to realize that you want to enlist the services of a trained mental health therapist to get the right help you need. Yes, there are some people who seek therapy when they are at the absolute lowest emotional point in their lives, but there are also just as many who simply want to become emotionally healthier people to enhance their work and intimate relationships. No problem is too small or large. It’s all welcomed because their job is to meet you where you are at in life, not where we or anyone else thinks you should be.
Don’t think about your work responsibilities at home, and vice versa.
Be present which requires dropping the guilt. Guilt has no benefits for anyone. When you are at work, stay focused, when you are home, give your undivided attention. Doing your best in each place will keep you sane and feeling good about your output.
In my opinion, it is not just “work” and “home” that should be lived separately. When you have a date, be on that date. When you go out with friends, really be there. If you are shopping, do the shopping. You will get far more done and feel happier if you can find a way to slow your mind down. This is one of my biggest challenges but I am really trying hard to change and remain present .
Stop checking your smartphone randomly. Instead, give yourself specific times to catch up on social media and email.
Most people would be happier (and less stressed) if they checked their phone less. A large study of college students at Kent University found that people who check their phones frequently tend to experience higher levels of distress during their leisure time (when they intend to relax!).
Instead of willing ourselves to just check less often, we can configure our devices and work time so that we are tempted less often. The goal is to check email, social media, and messages on your phone just a few times a day — intentionally, not impulsively. Our devices are thus returned to their status as tools we use strategically — not slot machines that randomly demand our energy and attention.
If I may add my own opinionated 2 cents here? I live in a very rural place and we have no cell phone service. When I go to town I am shocked that no one even looks up any longer. Families sit together at a restaurant and never speak because they are in their individual phone world. I think it not only healthier to change this habit but you will be much more connected with those who are standing right beside you.
Make keeping up with your friendships a priority.
People think that when work or school or family responsibilities get busy, then hanging out with your friends becomes a luxury that has to be cut. It’s often the first thing to go. 😦 In reality, making sure to spend time with your friends has enormous mental health benefits, and keeps your stress level in check. It’s a great coping mechanism and a necessity for your health that should not be cut when things get tough — on the contrary, you need it more then than ever.
Actually take the time to plan short-term pleasure AND long-term goals. Actively make your life what you want it to be.
Many people rush around without devoting a few minutes each week to reflecting and strategizing. We may all recognize we’ve periodically contemplated signing up to volunteer at Big Brother Big Sister, then totally forget. Or we mean to switch jobs and then procrastinate, [then] we’re facing our second year in a position we planned to quickly exit.
As Greg McKeown notes in his book, Essentialism, ‘When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and times, other people — our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families — will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important.’
I couldn’t have said it better myself so I let him say it. 😉
Spend time each week planning ahead — plan activities you may enjoy in the moment and also think bigger, considering what you want long term
Treat yourself with compassion and lots of love.
Some people believe that self-care is selfish, so they avoid doing things that are actually necessities. Self-love, self-care, and self-fulfillment. It’s a lot of self, because happiness starts from within. Self-love includes eliminating negative self-talk and accepting yourself, flaws and all. Self-care means setting boundaries and taking time to refill your energy. Self-fulfillment is all about living your values and having authentic relationships.”
I need to print this out and read it every single day. You?
Don’t forget that your physical health has an impact on your mental health, too.
Here are a few physical things you can do to create a habit of happiness:
—Honour your circadian rhythm by waking shortly after sunrise and going to sleep a few hours after sunset. Not only do we need seven to nine hours of sleep in order to be happy, but our brain functions better by sharing the rhythm of the sun.
—Incorporate play into your life: Some easy ways to this are when you exercise, do something that makes you laugh, like a dance class, jumping on a trampoline, or playing a group sport.
—Meditate. There are a ton of videos online that can guide you or just take a walk and focus on the things around you. There are a ton of ways to meditate that do not include sitting cross-legged on a floor chanting.
Several times throughout your day, take a deep breath and tell yourself that everything is OK. Eventually, your brain will get the memo.
The bills may be piling up with you having no idea of how they are going to get paid. Your mother may have Alzheimer’s, and dealing with that is wearing you out. You may be starting to wonder if there really is someone out there for you. BUT in this moment, your heart is beating, you’re breathing, and you have food in your tummy and a roof over your head. Underneath all the circumstances, desires, and wants, you’re OK. While fixing dinner, walking through the grocery store, driving to work, or reading emails, come into the present moment and remind your brain, ‘I’m all right, right now.’
Over time with repetition, learning to come into the present and calming your brain and body will actually change the neural pathways in your brain — a scientific truth called neuroplasticity — so that this becomes the norm for you.”
Make a conscious effort to take care of your mental health the same way you would your physical health.
Too many people neglect to make their mental health a priority! And so it gets forgotten about and put in the ‘too-hard’ or ‘too-busy.’ But just like physical health, mental health really should be considered non-negotiable because without it, we have nothing else.