I was thinking about happiness the other day. It seems to be such a simple feeling, but it’s so much more complex underneath. Pretty much like an iceberg, but bigger.
So, I wanted to ask you:
- What is your source of happiness?
- Where do you take your groove from?
- What gets you all thrilled and ready to conquer the world?
Lately, I’ve been feeling happy every single day, which is such a rare phenomenon in my life, and I thought that I can’t keep it all just to myself. I’m going to share with you some strategies I apply to keep myself happy and motivated. And I hope that some of these will help you with whatever you are going through right now.
1. Happiness comes from within you.
Psychologists say and insist that happiness is a state that grows from within us. And it’s true. Whatever happens in our lives and whatever we are going through, it’s our perception of the situation or the problem that defines how we feel about our life and about ourselves. It also has lots to do with the confidence, but confidence is relative because we can work around it when we decide it’s time to.
I, myself, am bearing an internal war every single day, in order to achieve a better state of mind and soul. I struggle with many things in life and God only knows how many times I failed. I found that working on your own happiness is harder than actually going to work, doing a job. But in the end, it’s DOABLE. The secret is to never give up. Persistence, discipline and consistency are key when we want to be happy. Because once you hit a wall and life overwhelms you, it’s the key ingredients that make you decide what you choose in life – constant feeling of low, or happiness.
2. Know yourself, accept yourself and love yourself.
We, human beings, are all made of flaws and perfections. Yet, flaws are the ones that bother us most. Society constantly dictates that we must fight our flaws, be perfect in everything we do, personally and professionally, and that we must never expose our flaws. In real life, flaws are just as important as those great traits we have. They make us who we are and they help us succeed, as strange as it may sound. If we know our weaknesses and our true self, then we can accept ourselves easier. Don’t reject your flaws! Accept them, let them do their work in your everyday life, tell yourself “I’m amazing the way I am”, and see how quickly you fall in love with your own personality and your own being. Love comes naturally to us, all we have to do is accept who we are, because there is no better version of ourselves than us!
3. Accept stress and negative feelings as a normal part of your life.
Again, society has a huge influence on us, and stress and all the negative feelings are still a stigma out there. But, you see, stress and our emotions are an everyday occurrence in our lives, and we still haven’t learnt to live with them.
There’s this amazing book by Kristin Neff, Ph. D., called “Self-Compassion”, where the writer basically says that we should start building resilience by practising self-love and deal with our emotions in a gentle way. Easier said than done, right? I know.
Yet, the idea is, and I’ve been doing it myself for the past couple of months, to actually make peace with all the negative things that happen or appear in your life. Stress is something you can’t avoid or predict, and it brings different kinds of emotions and reactions, depending on each personality. In those times – resist to judge yourself, let the negative emotions flow through your body and live the physical pain when it does, repeating personal mantras of self-love like “I can do this”, “I am capable”, “I am good”, or anything that lifts you up. Take 10 seconds – only 10 seconds! (the length of a deep breath: 4 seconds inhale through your nose, 6 seconds exhale through your mouth) – to give yourself a break, and decide what to do next. If it helps, in your spare time do some yoga, meditation, go to the gym, read a book, watch a movie, cook, sing, dance, grow a plant, just anything that will de-stress you.
Remember, the key is to make peace and accept all the wrong things in your life. That’s when the unexpected becomes expected, and overwhelm just fades away.
I know, it’s easy for me to write this, you might say because we are all busy human beings with personal and professional lives constantly fighting each other. But, I don’t actually ask of you to take a full day off (although sometimes it’s advisable), but spending some alone time every morning or evening, for as little as 10 or 20 minutes, can actually help a big deal! Been there, done that.
The thing is, when you spend time by yourself, you have a clearer vision of your own life. You have time to prepare yourself mentally for whatever you must face, and you have time to recharge your batteries. Keep it simple, don’t overthink the situation, just take time to breathe through life and accept it.
5. Say NO.
Aham, great advice Ina, right? Let me explain.
It’s hard, I know, I’m still learning this part myself, but it’s actually doable and it brings a satisfaction you wouldn’t believe it could.
You see, for all those times when we feel obliged or uncomfortable refusing a favour or request from our family, friends, colleagues, or whomever, we end up burdened with additional things to do we don’t always have time for.
And here, I specify, we’re talking only about the situations where we really have no way or any possibility of helping, but we still end up accepting!
In the end, we risk not delivering to their expectations and needs, we feel frustrated by the lack of resources, we end up involving other people in this, and, the general feeling is of “this is too much”. Instead, try to say “No”, just once, and see how you feel. Keep the guilt aside! Just stick to your “No”, because you, fundamentally, have the right to say NO in life.
These are my top-five strategies that work my happiness at its core. I have several more, which, I believe, each of us could come up with in a more individualized way, so I didn’t mention them here. Yet, I encourage you, first of all, to understand who you are and what you want in life. And, again, keep it simple, because even an “I’m a workaholic and I love to travel” is enough. You can then work around it and create your happiness just the way you want it. Accept who and what you are, don’t fight it! Accept what you feel, love your emotions – good and bad – and you’ll find that it’s easier to accept hardships in general.
And, last but not least, be yourself and love yourself with your whole heart, because there is no other YOU in this Universe!