I am sure you have often heard that happiness is a state of mind. However at turbulent and distressing times in your life this becomes meaningless as you try to calm the storm within, and process events and feelings (which is essential for growth and healing). Happiness isn’t a stagnant consistent emotion and it can’t be faked. As humans we experience a range of joyful and difficult emotions and challenges in life. Through these experience we learn, we grow and we appreciate the lessons of both the good and bad times in life.
I wish I could tell you the secret ingredient to happiness, or give you the miracle cure. The truth is there isn’t one. Experiencing all the hardships in my life and learning all the lessons being at my lowest points has made me realise that even if there was a happy pill so to speak, I probably wouldn’t take it. There are things however, that you can put in place for being happier regardless of what is going on around you. It grounds you and helps you deal with harder times head on because you understand that it will pass, you can get through it, you have done it before and it will be OK.
1.Express daily gratitude
I do this every day with the kids on the school runs. We all take turns and say three things we are grateful for to start the day with a positive mindset. you can do this at any time of the day. Before you go to bed and when you start the day are my two favourite times. You can make a note of it in a journal, verbalise it with others or just think about it clearing your mind of negative thoughts. Whichever way you decide to do it is entirely up to you, however when you actively concentrate on all the blessings you have around you you feel better emotionally an it helps your overall health and well being. You sleep better and you wake up with a better outlook to life.
2. Great things take time to build- Don’t give up.
Everything takes time, effort and commitment. Don’t expect things to fall in your lap or your success in life to happen overnight (I mean it could but that is quite rare). In the world of success being determined by followers or likes we can tend to loose sight of what really matters and how much we have that we should be grateful for. Set yourself small goals you can work towards and big visions you hope to reach in the future. Its Ok to start a small business that is struggling in its first couple of years, or writing a book that isn’t getting approved by publishers, or starting at the bottom of a company. Think about what success means to you, is it solely monetary or does it have more depth to it? Remember if you wait for happiness as if it is something that happens to you, you will be sorely disappointed and will miss out on all that life has to offer you. Happiness is a state of mind, it truly is and the thought of I will be happier if I have a certain job, or have a bigger house, have children etc can be really damaging. Be happy with what you have and remember you will get to where you want to be, enjoy the journey because it is equally as important.
3. Say yes to things that feel right (don’t overthink everything).
In order to live life to the fullest its ok to not be overcautious about everything. It is ok to treat yourself now and again (but not to fill voids in your life or as a temporary fix when you feel low). Your instincts can be a great indicator of when to take the leap and try something new or when to let loose and enjoy a new experience (although this all goes out the window when anxiety takes over, in which case ask yourself: is it me that’s saying no or my anxiety?)
If someone wants to take you out and it feels right go for it. If a new job opportunity comes your way and you know its what you have always wanted to do, take it. If moving to a new city or far away in the countryside is what you need take the step, then do it. Don’t let the fear of change hold you back, you only get one life and its yours for the taking.
4. Be generous and give back.
I find the best way to feel instantly happier is by helping others in times of need. Sometimes you can see the subtle signs of someone struggling, other times you can literally see someone about to explode from trying to keep it together for too long. Baby sitting while a new mum gets a nap, buying someone a hot meal when they really need it or checking in with people with a simple phone call is easy to do but could mean the world to them. A kind word or a connection on the street with someone through a smile can go such a long way if they are having a bad day. I truly believe what you give comes back to you. I have had so many instances where complete strangers have stepped forward to help me in my times of need (and at times sheer panic) which has always been a blessing that I believe should be passed on to someone that could need a little helping hand too.
5. See challenges as opportunities.
Sometimes the challenges in life can come unexpectedly and can blindside you. But just like everything in life the outcome of what life throws at us depends on how we view the situation and the steps we take to overcome them. Remember to take a step back, take a deep breath and try to approach the challenges using fresh eyes. Challenges can be opportunities for learning something new, growing and understanding something new about yourself. There is nothing you can’t do if only you gave yourself more credit.
6. Eat well, hydrate and rest- no compromises.
Sometimes some food, a good night sleep and a cup of water can do wonders for how you feel. At times I might be overcome with emotions and I have to go through a checklist of elimination (much like I did with my children) of whether or not “its everything” I am upset about or if I am just overworked, overtired and hungry. It is so important to take care of yourself so that you can deal with situations in a better way, in a way that a well-looked after you would. Again this doesn’t apply for more serious mental health issues which needs to be managed by both yourself and a professional.
7. Remember the ups and downs life throws at us are natural and inevitable.
If you accept this, remind yourself of it regularly and then again some, you will be able to deal with the rollercoaster we call life in a more manageable way. This too shall pass is my favourite reminder of this. The bad times pass to make way for better times whilst leaving us with valuable life lessons and opportunities for growth. The good times also pass us by so cherish them and fully embrace every smile, elating emotion and the people you shared with as a beautiful memory you can carry with you through the bad times.
8. Say no to harmful habits and toxic people.
In order to be happier you need to make active changes in your lifestyle. This includes recognising things that make you feel bad and are bad for you and swap them for things that are good for you and make you feel better. This is a challenging task however if your bad habits are a significant crippling part of your life (in which case you might need the support of external agencies or professionals- and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.) Just remember it takes commitment, persistence and consistency to make changes in your life where you can confidently say no to harmful habits.
It is also really important to surround yourself with positive influences, people that support and love you as you are. People that leave you feeling good and have your back and are your greatest cheerleaders. Anyone that puts you down, makes you question yourself, is abusive or controlling in any way needs to be shown the door without a goodbye. In all seriousness toxic people really are a void of happiness and anyone that makes you feel upset and anxious just by being around them are the type of people you need to stay away from regardless of who they are and how long you have known them for.
9. Stay connected to loved ones.
This can be a tough one but so important. We all seem to be so busy, we hardly have time for ourselves let alone others, But staying connected to those we love reminds us of who we are and what matters. Put your phones away at dinner time or around the children, really make time for dinner, catch up on birthdays or even schedule in a date every month where you can get together with family or friends. It is people we love and all they have to offer that really gives meaning to our lives, so stay connected and reach out when you need help but also be there when those you love might need you. The worst feeling ever is not knowing someone you love is going through a tough time when you would have really loved being there for them.
10. Always take time for self love and self care.
When you are overwhelmed, have a thousand things to do, feel sad/ angry/ hopeless etc turn all attention to yourself. Do something that perks you up, take out those special bath oils, make yourself your favourite drink, spritz on your favourite perfume, read a good book, pray, go out with your friends… whatever it is that you need (and only you know what that is) don’t wait for someone to do it for you. Do it for yourself. Be your own best friend, take yourself out on the most amazing dates, be there for yourself so you can deal with the things around you.
These are just some of the things that work for me, that help me look outside of myself to see the bigger picture . You are really special, unique and worthy of happiness but it will take work and practise. Happiness is inner peace and being ok with who you are, what you have and where you are in life so that whatever comes next for you, you are able to really appreciate it and it is a bonus to what you already are and what you already have.
I would love to know what things make you truly happy so please leave a comment below!
respect. love. heal. always
Brown Girl N.