No one true path to happiness exists. There are no step-by-step instructions or checklists to follow, no right or wrong ways to be happy. More importantly, it is not some hidden secret.
Happiness, pure happiness, is not a magical place only open to a lucky few. It welcomes everyone. But to be completely honest, achieving such joy does require effort.
Yes, we need to work to be happy. Everyone has their own definition of happiness and many people do attain it. It is not a place where anyone stays for very long, however. Life happens, stress and demands and troubles keep coming, and the counterpart of sadness (and any other emotion) is equally important to our well-being. The key is to find a healthy balance. If we cannot be perpetually happy, then let us at least be happy most of the time. The way to do this is simple, but the actual implementation is not.
We must seek happiness and continue to seek it as often as we can.
Negative thoughts are needy and possessive. They want us to dwell in the dark along with them. They are also smart and manipulative. Being down is effortless, easy, and because of this a tempting place to stay.
Express and acknowledge the low feelings, but do not linger in the shadows for long. Learn to recognize when the hurt, fear, frustration, or anger have overstayed their welcome. Some signs to watch for: irritability, outbursts, procrastination, avoidance, depression, intolerance, impatience. Recognizing the negativity seeping into daily life and interactions is the first step. The next step is to move toward a solution.
When life pulls you down, reach for whatever lifts you back up. If responsibilities or people push you way past your limitations, step away and fill the time with something you enjoy. And do it until you either forget what bothers you, find a solution, or realize the silliness of it all. In the grand scheme of life, most things are not a big deal. We give them importance because we a) put too much pressure on ourselves b) have pressure put upon us by someone else or c) create drama in an effort to avoid a real problem.
Quick ways to pull back the curtain and let the light in…
- Take a break from negative news or social media.
- Breathe in fresh air and soak up sunshine with a brisk walk.
- Get down on the floor and play with a child.
- Whip up something comforting in the kitchen.
- Crank up the music and dance.
- Take a nap.
- Read a book.
- Put your thoughts in a journal.
- Watch a stupid, lighthearted movie.
- Reach out to someone who always makes you smile.
- Go screen free as a family and play board games.
- Change the scenery – getaway for an hour, day, or weekend.
- Have a coffee date with a friend.
- Complete a long-overdue project.
- Snuggle with a pet.
- Pamper yourself.
- Disconnect from toxic people or situations.
- Solve a puzzle.
- Engage in a favorite hobby.
- Hug your partner and kids.
- Tap into your artistic side and create.
- Take a class on something you always wanted to learn.
There is no surefire solution and what works today may not work tomorrow. Be flexible. Mix it up. Try new things. Step outside your comfort zone. But above all, be patient and do not give up.
You will find joy. You deserve joy. Happiness is for everyone.