Though life circumstances can be challenging at times, there is still happiness to be had. It’s easy when things are tough and emotional to fall into a slump, but your joy doesn’t have to be controlled by your situation. Making a few, small decisions throughout the day can have a huge impact on your level of happiness and outlook. Consider some of these suggestions.
- Make a list of your accomplishments. When I have a to-do list to complete, I get huge satisfaction out of crossing things off. The only issue is, sometimes I get so busy with other things that not many things get crossed off and I look at the list at the end of the day with dismay, feeling like I got nothing done. The fact is, I did a ton of things! So I started adding the extra things I did and crossing them off right away. For example, on the way to the grocery store I remember that I have items in the trunk for Goodwill. When I get home I write ‘take bags to Goodwill’ and cross it off. At the end of the day I look at all the crossed off items I have and feel happy and proud of myself for everything I’ve accomplished.
- Start a gratitude journal and make a list of simple things throughout the day that made you feel happy. It’s so easy to blow right past all the little things that bring you joy when life stresses are pressing in. They can be major things, such as your child or significant other… or minor things, like a stick of gum. Today I would add to my journal: warm hug from the boyfriend, new salad for lunch, pulling in and seeing our new apprentice already hard at work. Try it and see what a profound difference it makes. (If this idea really intrigues you, look into the book 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
- Related to the above suggestion, surround yourself with things that make you happy. Instead of waiting for those little happy things to happen on their own accord, bring them purposely into existence. Light your favorite candle and turn the lights down in the evening, get the dangle earrings you saw and loved, snack on your favorite childhood candy, seek out a hug from your favorite person.
- Imagine the best, not the worst. This is a hard discipline but one worth of pursuing. It’s easy for me to imagine the worst outcome in the current situation of my daughter living 1400 miles away from me. Boyfriend encourages me to think of all the amazing things that could open up for us as she builds a new life with me during her stays here. It’s making a big difference in my anxiety.
- Be a part of something greater. Probably the most significant way to get your mind off your own troubles is to become involved in something bigger than yourself. Join a political cause, volunteer, spend time with extended family, join a spiritual community, etc… Think of something that is important to you and research some ways you can use that passion.
- Be a loving person. Loving people and being loved in return is the single most potent factor for experiencing happiness. Look at people with the kind of care and compassion that you would like for yourself, and dish it out with reckless abandon.
- Make a list of new things to do and then, get ready for it… go out and do one! At different times in my life I’ve sat with paper and pen and made a literal, physical list of things I’d like to do someday. Relatively small things that don’t require a lot of time or money to accomplish. Bake a cupcake recipe I saw on Food Network, walk a new path at the park, buy a vintage book and read it, plant rosemary, take a drive through the country. Trying new activities boosts your mood and increases your ability to receive hope for the future.
Your unhappy circumstances do not need to turn you into an unhappy person. It really is possible to take control of your mood by making simple, everyday choices. Do any of these ideas appeal to you? Do you have any of your own to add?