Though it is far more reasonable to aim for contentment, than for a constant state of happiness, we all want lots of joy in our lives. As summer approaches and many of us spend more time doing things we love, we have a great opportunity to establish habits that will bring more joy into our lives going forward. Below are several ways you can make the most of your happiness.
The Power of Gratitude
It is well established that being thankful for what you already have is one of the best ways to bolster good feelings. Taking a little time to think about all the great things you have in your life each day and even keeping a daily or weekly journal of all you feel thankful for, helps you to recognize how great your life already is. It keeps you rooted in the present. When you are thinking about how fortunate you are, it is hard to feel sad or inadequate, or to compare yourself to others.
More and more psychologists are realizing that being happy is a choice. Obviously, if one is clinically depressed, there is more to the story, but generally speaking, intending to be happy, is one of the best strategies for being happy. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it, behaving as if you are happy until you start naturally feeling that way, but truly, you can achieve happiness by acting as if you already have it. Some ways to choose happiness include: doing things you love, spending time with people you enjoy, resting when you need to rest, eating well, and getting regular exercise. By caring for yourself, you let everyone know that your own wellbeing matters and you welcome in more people and things that bring joy into your life. Try to make conscious choices each day that demonstrate your commitment to happiness. Do things that make you feel good and you will find that other people with similar values will gravitate to you, creating a more harmonious life.
Eliminate Negativity and Negative Habits
Some negative habits that can kill joy are:
Letting these habits go can change your life dramatically. Cut away the negative behaviors that make you feel bad about yourself and try to see others the way you want to be seen. Instead of gossip, choose compassion. Instead of comparing yourself to others, try to celebrate their achievements with them and to enjoy your own as well. Remember, the grass is always greener and the same person you think has it all might be looking at you and thinking that you have it all. Try not to worry, it causes stress and emotional pain and seldom helps us improve our lives. Instead of worry, try to come up with ways to improve the situations that you would normally have worried about. Taking small actions will help you feel more in control of your life, while worry makes the mind spin and can even cause stress hormones to be released. Let go of the past. Take the valuable lessons you have learned and let the pain go. Release resentment, it seldom has any effect of the object of the feelings, but can cause significant pain to you if you choose to carry it into your future. Forgive others and you will feel lighter and more open to joy. Finally, instead of trying to control things, be flexible. See what comes to you when you are open to new experiences.
Be Active with Friends
Spending time with friends and engaging in activities that you enjoy are some of the best ways to add more joy into your life. Research shows that those who have close, meaningful relationships feel more satisfied with their lives. Sharing your triumphs and sorrows with others connects you and makes you feel like you are part of something larger. Further, engaging in activities that inspire and challenge you can increase satisfaction even more. When you are active and pushing yourself to achieve new goals, you are going to feel better about yourself and your abilities.
Feeling happier is not easy, but it is simple. You can choose practices that science has proven will improve your overall feelings of joy and satisfaction. Train yourself to look for the advantage in every situation. Choose things that make you feel good and eliminate negativity when you are able, be grateful for all your blessings, and you will start feeling lighter and stronger.
Dr. Eileen Wynne