Am I happy? This is a question I ask myself a lot, and to which I have no definitive answer. When something great happens around me, I know I am but the following day something awful happens (my coffee machine is not working, we have a small fight) and then I question it all again. I find it difficult to take a step back, look at the overall picture and evaluate if either or not I am satisfied and happy with my life.
So, Am I happy? Most days, I think I am, or at least I should be. I have everything to be: I have a great partner by my side, providing us with a comfortable life. There is have a roof over my head, delicious food on my plate and great circle of friends I can rely on. But there are so many factors to consider when answering that questions, that I often lose myself in it while trying to answer it. And more importantly, I lose sight of what truly matter when I try to answer it.
I have been working on improving my happiness lately. I have everything that is important in life and I know I should be happy, but more often than not, I focus on the small meaningless things that bother me instead of looking at the bigger picture, at what should actually matter.
Working on that, I have done some research lately and here are five easy(ish) things that you can do to improve your happiness.
Conquer you negative thinking
I don’t know about you, but I tend to focus on the negative. I can have a great win one day and completely lose sight of it if something bad happen within that same day, even if it’s a minor thing. And then, I will focus on the minor thing over and again. I will overanalyze it and it will keep me up at night because I can’t get it out of my mind.
The trick here is simple, you should focus on the good stuff, on the win (I mistakenly made a typo and wrote wine here – maybe it was intentional, maybe it wasn’t but sure thing is, a glass of wine do help conquer the negative thinking) you had that day. But I know, I hear you, it is easier said than done. And if like me it’s not that easy then the second method is to acknowledge your negative thoughts. Just take a step back and acknowledge that you are thinking in a negative way, or that you have negative thoughts. Don’t try to bury it, on the opposite, try to own it, and question yourself about it.
- “Is It that bad?”
- “Can something be done about it?”
- “is this based on feeling or fact?”
Try to own the situation, there might not be a quick fix to it, but having a better vision of it will definitely help you get over it. By practicing mindfulness, meditation and by smiling, you can train yourself to be happier. Start here. Smile.
One other thing, that I found very helpful in the bad days, is to remember what’s good about my life in general. There is always something good in your life. Just the fact to have a roof above your head and some food in your plate already make you part of the lucky people. Try to remind yourself of what is good and be grateful for it. I consider that I am a lucky person because despite being 30 years old, I still have both of my parents. A healthy and cheerful kid. A great partner (well mostly great, because sometimes shit do hit the fan among us). I have a roof and food. And, I have a hobby that I enjoy. I could focus on the fact that I don’t have a vision for my hobby or sometime lack of inspiration – but for now let’s just focus on the fact that I have a rewarding hobby.
This one should be really simple: forgive yourself, go easy on yourself. I am mostly compassionate and supportive to people around me. Why I am not doing the same with myself? Why do I need to beat myself up over my failure, when I could just move over and focus on my success.
They say the best way to do that is to write a letter of compassion to yourself. So just to it, write a letter to yourself, trying to support you and advice you on the situation you are in. do it, the same way you would do for a friend in need.
It’s been said that writing about oneself and personal experiences, lead to behavioral change and improve happiness. Expressive writing can boost overall happiness and well-being. It allows to put negative thoughts, feelings, aspirations and anything else that might be going through your mind to paper. Giving you some mental distance from these experiences, you become more mindful of your emotions and the circumstances.
There is a say that money doesn’t buy happiness, and while it truly doesn’t (remember that lottery winners are no happier than the rest of us), being comfortable with money sure help.
The issue here isn’t actually money. If you earn enough money to cover your basic needs you should be ok, right? The issue here is that we always want more. There is no point where we say, “Ok, now I have all I need”. We constantly crave the next thing. The newer phone, the latest bag, the gym membership that we won’t use… and we find reasonable reason to our desires. Who doesn’t want a phone with a better camera, so they can snap the happy moments in their life?
A key to happiness is to realize that we are pushed to desire these things and they are not all necessary. Quite the opposite. It has been proven that decluttering and owning less is good for your health. Decluttering is leading to lowering stress levels and anxiety, to find inner peace and self-confidence and to improve health habits, like a better sleep. A clutter-free environment allows you to perform tasks of daily living more efficiently because everything you need is readily available and within reach. Your environment will be tidier, which helps ease your mind. So, declutter! Plus, you can donate all the extra things you don’t need, and donating is one of the thing that provide happiness. It’s a complete win-win situation.
Did you know that optimism is partly genetic, partly learned? So, even if you are coming from a pessimistic environment, or even if you are French (you know how they always complain and go on strike…), you can still find or learn to find the ray of sunshine in your life. And by being optimistic, I don’t mean living on a cloud surrounded by rainbows and unicorns all the time. I don’t mean ignoring the reality of life. By optimism, I mean acknowledging the challenges life through at you in a more hopeful way.
You need to think positively to be happy. But almost as importantly, you need to surround yourself with positive people. Optimism, like pessimism is infectious. So, if you are having a bad day, don’t meet with a pessimistic friend, make it a point to hang out with an optimistic one.
Remember happiness isn’t something that just happens to you. Happiness is not a simple goal, but it is about making progress, when it’s as elusive as ever. Everyone has the power to make small changes in their life that can help set them on course for a happier life. One small step at the time.
I’m always interested to learn more technic. Let me know how you bring happiness in your life in the comments below.