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You’re probably thinking, happiness?! What’s that? Come on Michelle, who really gets to be happy in life?
Work is often a frustration, then there’s rush hour traffic, there’s not enough hours in a day to get everything done, and, when the poop really hits the fan, your idea of productivity is more often than not binge-watching something on Netflix (Outlander? GOT?) while eating an entire bag of chips. #amiright?
That’s not happy, that’s called existing. And we don’t do just ‘existing’ here. Life is to be enjoyed not simply endured.
Do you remember the last time you were happy? Do you remember what it felt like?
I’ve searched for happiness for the past 40 years. I searched for it in success, in busyness, in people pleasing, in lots (and lots) of clothes, in shopping for stuff I didn’t need, and guess what? The happiness I found was fleeting, temporary. It never stuck.
So I’d buy more, chase more success, and it still didn’t stick. My brain hadn’t quite yet gotten the memo that chasing more and buying more was not the key to happiness or fulfillment.
Then one fine day a little voice inside started telling me to simplify.
‘Hey lady, we need to make things simpler. Life shouldn’t be this complicated.’
I quite literally had this revelation. It was during one of my two-hour commutes in rush hour traffic a few years ago. I realized I wasn’t happy and asked myself (out loud), ‘why am I doing this? There has to be more to life than this. How do I change this?’
And so, the journey began to getting my happy back. It’s been full of ups and downs of course. The ups being the high of discovering gratitude and the low being losing a job, divorce, etc., but that’s life. You adapt to the curveballs and keep focusing on getting your happiness back.
How to get your happy back without stressing yourself out – 7 tips to get happy
Focus on the little things.
We often overlook the little things in life and these, not surprisingly, are the good things that make us happiest. Mini marshmallows in hot chocolate? Check. Dark chocolate sprinkles on your hot chocolate? Check. Your cat chasing her own tail or pouncing on a dry leaf like a maniac? Check and check. These are all little type things we often neglect in our day-to-day but make us the happiest. Don’t forget to laugh too! My cat is sooo zany, I’m laughing on the regular.
Related: Finding Happiness “For One”
Try a bit of gratitude.
Gratitude removes the stress of more. When you’re grateful for what you already have, you forget about keeping up with the Joneses, you slip into and are more comfortable with who you are, and yay, happiness sneaks up on you. I’ll put it this way, when you’re grateful for who you are and that you have all you need, you don’t give two shits what anyone else thinks. And as we all know, comparison kills not only creativity but happiness.
Since I started my own gratitude practice, I have been happier than I’ve ever been in life. I appreciate every opportunity and sunshine filled day that I’m given. Simple as that.
Love you. Be you. Understand you.
You knew this was going to be on the list right? When you take care of yourself instead of treating your body like an amusement park, you’ll feel a lot better. You’ll have more energy, more positive thoughts, and as they say, a body in motion stays in motion. Taking care of yourself is key to getting your happy back. For me, simple things like quitting coffee, sugar, and gluten make me feel great inside. Food allergies suck but the adverse reactions they have are far worse. An example? Me + coffee + gluten = raging Michelle. I can go from zero to cranky in a matter of moments. In fact, when my cousin was 4 years old, he used to scream for hours after a meal until my aunt realized he had a gluten allergy. Get rid of the allergy-causing foods and hey, happy kid again.
Now, taking care of you and understanding who you are don’t end with food and allergies; self-awareness and self-knowledge will also take you a long way. When you also understand who you are, you can take much better care of your mind, body, and soul.
Related: Books: Healthy Eating
Related: Books: Self-Help + Personal Growth
Of course, the previous point leads us to exercise. When you exercise, your body is better equipped to process stress and anxiety. And we can’t forget about all those happiness producing endorphins we get from exercise. Even if I can’t get a full workout or walk in, my quick pick me up is putting on T. Swift’s Shake it Off and shaking a tail feather. Truthfully? I dance around like a maniac for the entire song and when I’m done, I feel so much better.
Make peace with your fears.
Fear holds us back in so many ways. It’s limiting. It stops us from truly embracing life and yep, happiness. Who wants to be a fear-ridden stress ball when you can be a chill happiness embracer? Take time to uncover what you’re afraid of, tell your fears that they’re not serving you or your happiness, and find ways to overcome them.
Carve out time for thinking.
Sometimes you have to ponder life. You need to take time to daydream, to understand yourself and to think about what really makes you happy. This is not meant to be stressful! It’s meant to get your creative juices flowing so that you can really figure out what genuinely makes you enthusiastically happy in life. Dream a little dream. Imagine what could be. Change your thinking, change your happiness level.
Laugh even when it’s hard to.
Have you ever just laughed at rush hour traffic and the antics other drivers can get up to? Try it sometime. You’d be amazed at how happy it can make you. When you start laughing off the things that would normally stress you out, happiness starts to find its way back to you. You’ll begin to realize there’s no point in getting upset at something that’s out of your control.
We all need bonds with others, to feel like we belong. It’s in our nature to want to give and get support from others. According to a Gallup survey, people who spend six to seven hours a day socializing with family and friends are 12 times as likely to report feeling happy and joyful rather than feeling stressed or anxious. How’s that for getting your happy back?
In all honesty, happiness depends on you. It’s easy to fall into thinking that there’s some magic pill or ‘best’ way to be happy, but truthfully? There is no right way. It’s all you and a choice. Do you want to be happy?