Has it been a while since you felt happy? Perhaps you think happiness is a “pie in the sky” kind of feeling that others have. The pandemic, health issues, job concerns, money, loss of loved ones, and so much more in life can bring times where you feel the future is gray and bleak. Many life experiences can leave us feeling utterly broken.
I remember when my first thought of the day was, “I hate my life.” I had been through a traumatic divorce late in life. Now what? I slipped into thoughts and feelings that life was too hard and always would be too hard for me.
As I look back, I was way stronger than I knew. I found ways to have courage, start again, snap out of it, and love life.
To clarify, happiness doesn’t mean we live without hardships! Tim Hague Sr. sums it up in the article “Let Go of the Happiness Myth,” in which he discusses the hardships athletes go through in training. Life brings hardships, yet we can and need to get through them to get to a happier state of being.
Here are a few steps to guide you to simple everyday happiness, no matter what your circumstances are right now.
First Things First
Start by checking in with your health professional. You may need more help than what’s suggested below. They can refer you to counseling or prescribe medication to begin a new journey.
How to Start Your Day
We all have heard about the benefit of exercise for depression and a myriad of other things that bother us. What would it take for you to start your day with a few minutes of stretching, gentle yoga, or some form of exercise? It’s a strong start, wouldn’t you agree?
I admit that in the morning hours, I feel lazy. But in those days when I do get up and stretch with a few yoga poses, I have a stronger beginning to my day.
For inspiration, I checked into Silver Sneakers, which provides easy and FREE exercise videos on demand or even a class you can sign up to attend with others by Web ex (you don’t have to be on camera!).
Stop Looking in the Rearview Mirror
One day, I realized that for me to keep crying throughout a day, I had to focus and bring to my attention the overwhelming situation – again and again. When I consciously clung to my misery, I cried!
This simple realization was a breakthrough for me. It showed me that I had some sort of control over my emotions. If I kept checking the rearview mirror – in other words, looking at the event of the past – it would perpetuate my pain.
Please don’t misunderstand me here. When a tragedy or upsetting event takes place, you will need to allow yourself time to feel those crappy feelings. But as time passes, try to stop looking back. When experiencing the past over and over holds you from going forward, it also keeps you from happiness.
This doesn’t mean you have to try to forget your pain completely or fool yourself that your tragedy didn’t happen. But letting go of the intense pain, instead of rethinking or reliving it, will free you from the feelings that keep you crying. (Sometimes a skilled therapist is needed to help you with this part.)
Try a Good Laugh
Pamela Gerloff wrote an article for Psychology Today called You’re not Laughing Enough, and That’s no Joke. She talks about the benefits of laughter on your everyday happiness.
Smiling and laughing do a body good. Sometimes, when something makes me chuckle, I just expound on that thought and let myself have a good old belly laugh over it. Give it a try by allowing yourself to laugh more deeply today.
Make a List
Right now, take a minute to rate your state of being on a scale of 1-10. Ten, you feel content, happy, and peaceful and One, feeling the opposite.
Now write a list of the things that you like. This can be anything from popcorn, to warm socks, to petting your dog or cat… anything! Make this list as long as you can, adding small things, or bigger things as you think of them. Try to fill up a page.
Choose one thing on your list every day to try. Then rate yourself on that same scale of 1-10 mentioned above. You will have moved up a notch or two!
Allow yourself to truly be present to enjoy the moment. As an example, if I choose from my list drinking a steaming hot cup of mocha, then for the entire cup, I allow myself to consciously enjoy it, thinking about how wonderful it is. This brings my rating up, just a little bit.
You can use mindfulness to enjoy your grandchild’s laugh, or petting your cat, you get to choose. Zero in on what brings you joy in the present moment.
One day I decided that I didn’t need to speed while driving. I used to be in a semi-frantic state every time I got behind the wheel, where I had to get to my destination fast. This happened especially when I was late for work, a meeting, or even just joining a friend for coffee.
Now, not only do I try to start out earlier, I tell myself, just slow down. Who knows, this could save your life, as it’s probably saved mine a few times.
Put the Brakes on Worry
You know what? Worry affects me, not the person I’m worried about. When my sons call and relate something that’s scary about their life, I spend the next few days shaking that off. By the time they call again, guess what, they can’t remember what was bothering them when we talked last.
Sometimes the whole situation has turned around for them, they just didn’t update me. The worry affected me and certainly didn’t help them! This could be true for most things we worry needlessly about.
There’s something about uplifting quotes that builds me up. I know that’s not true for everyone, but for me, it really works!
Try to allow yourself a small slice of happiness, every day. It seems simplistic and a bit unrealistic doesn’t it? But trust me. Start small with a few of these baby steps to change your world from what it is, to just a bit happier. One step at a time.
As you practice, you’ll notice more things that bring you that grounded happy feeling. And you are worth it.