7 Steps to Becoming a Happier Person to Appreciate Life's Moments
Photo © Frank Busch
Balancing family, life, career and self-care can be exhausting. Add to the mix the instability of our current political and social climate as well as the surprise hardships life throws at us, and it's no wonder it's becoming harder to find peace and happiness. The growing pressures of our fast-paced society have contributed to a rise in anxiety disorders and depression, both of which affect women more commonly than men. Let me tell you a secret: you don't have to give in. Use these seven methods to keep your heart light and your smile resolute.
1. Don't Worry. Be Happy.
One of the most common reasons we become so unhappy is that we can't stop worrying, especially about situations that are beyond our control. Back in high school, one conversation with the guidance counsellor changed my life. I was worried about my family's health and financial situation and was having a panic attack. She looked at me and said, "Has any of what you are describing happened yet?" It had not. "Then, why worry now?" She was right. We spend a lot of time catastrophising situations and thinking about the worst possible outcomes. This causes us emotional and physical stress, which is detrimental to our health. Instead, try to think logically about the situation. Oftentimes, our problems have a way of working themselves out. So, if you can learn to stop worrying and start organising your concern methodically and statistically, you'll find you have more time to live in the moment. Today is the only day we have; let's make the most of now.
2. Look at The Bright Side
During tough times, think about what you have to be thankful for. Focus on how the situation benefits you or teaches you a lesson. For example, if someone gets into an accident, it is easy to be angry at the other driver and distraught over the totalled car. It is not the end of the world. A car can be replaced, but a life can't be. Every day being alive is a day to be grateful for. This may sound trite, but a sunny disposition goes a long way. A positive mindset breeds positive outcomes. So not only will you overcome the negative moments in your life, but you will also start to notice that more good things happen for you.
3. Be the Best YOU; You Can Be
I wish I had her body. Her car is newer than mine. She has a huge office. It's not fair. Girls, it's time to STOP comparing yourself to others. Life is not a competition or a race. Everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses. We are all part of a complex but complete puzzle. There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing who you are and being yourself relentlessly. All you need to do is be the best version of yourself – the best mom, employee, boss, wife, or friend – that you can be and never settle for less. Competing with yourself is the only way you can improve your health, your career and your character. Think about how happy we would all be if we loved ourselves regardless of what others do or think!
Another way to keep yourself centred and living with happiness throughout life's moments is to take time to decompress. This doesn't just mean to relax or watch TV. Finding time to be outside in nature, quiet time on your own to think and to process the events and emotions of the day, as well as taking part in reflective exercises like yoga or meditation has important benefits not only for your happiness but also for your physical wellness. Remember, physical, spiritual and psychological well-being are all linked. When one is out of balance, it is much harder to remain happy.
5. Be Generous
Take a moment to think about how you are spending your money. Are you using it to look more well-off than you are? Are you a penny-pincher? How you spend your money directly influences your happiness. Whether you're spending too much or not spending at all, you are not maximising your income in a way that is conducive to positive financial well-being. It's important to budget, but, according to psychologists Elizabeth Dunn, Lara Aknin and Michael Norton's, it's also important to spend money on other people. This is because humans need social connection, enjoy a feeling of competency and feel a sense of satisfaction when choosing to give. Spending money on other people can provide this. Believe it or not, this kind of generosity is linked to a decrease in cortisol, one of the hormones that cause stress. Instead of binging on ice cream when you're upset, try donating that money to a good cause or giving it directly to someone in need. You'll save yourself from some wasted calories and give someone else a reason to smile, which will benefit your neurological and physical health.
6. Have Faith
Faith is not only in God. We need to have faith in ourselves, and faith things will work out. When things are looking down, remember that everything happens for a reason. We just don't know what that reason is yet. If we look at the bright side and don't have our worry early, we can make room for this ideology. How many times have you had total doubt about a situation, but it turned out better than you expected? It happens all the time. If we stop doubting the direction life is taking us and trust in our path, we can get to the destination without all the frustration. Imagine you are leaving a little late on your morning commute. You are hitting every red light. You get stuck behind a bus. This is going to be a bad day, you think. But, as you make your way to the last intersection, you see there was a massive accident just minutes before. That could have been you if you were on time. You get to work half an hour late, but you are so grateful for that. Sometimes when it seems like life is throwing heaps of garbage upon us, that everything is going wrong, it's going exactly how it is supposed to.
7. Give Yourself a Break – Allow Yourself to Be Human
We don't expect others to be perfect. We accept that people make mistakes. Why, then, do we always chide ourselves for dropping the ball or having an off day? Everyone has bad days. Sometimes it's hard to decide to get out of bed. It doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you human. Bask in your humanity. Give yourself a break. Imperfections are what make life interesting and what makes each of us unique. People are not robots with preloaded software, expected to make exact calculations at every turn. So, why then would you hold yourself to that standard? If you can find forgiveness in your heart not only for others but also for yourself, it will make difficult days a whole lot easier.
We all have our struggles, and we are influenced by external forces that are often negative or stressful. Things happen; all you can do is control your reaction. Happiness is a decision we make. There is no medication or brain surgery that will unlock the door to happiness. The door is already open. It is up to you to choose to walk through it.