Firstly, a few words about the belief that “people don’t change.” It’s total nonsense. You change every day more than you even know. Don’t believe me? Pull up your Facebook photos from a couple months ago and tell me you don’t look and feel different now.
But, awkward Facebook photos aside, change is difficult. Lifestyle change is difficult. If you’re having too many “off days” where you end up angry, frustrated, or just plain unfilled “at the end of the day” you’ll want to read this entire article.
Here are 9 refreshing ways you can rediscover happiness no matter what life decides to throw at you.
1) Find your direction:
A life without purpose can be painful. So the next time you have a totally “free” day, use it to really think about your direction in life. What do love doing? What gets you out of bed? Where does your sense of accomplishment come from? With a clear direction, you can build towards success in a linear fashion. Every day, every moment you move further in your direction, you’ll get a boost of happiness-producing dopamine. Good job, you! You know you feel happier and present a better side of yourself when you feel successful. Direction is where it all starts.
In my case? I found blogging two years ago and now love it more than bacon. A new comment on the blog is all I need to brighten my day, and I rush home from work each day to log in.
2) Practice gratitude:
Gratitude is a strange sensation. It comes from acknowledging someone has helped you and having the grace to thank them, both internally and externally. Understanding gratitude can help you in two ways. You’ll “get” that others care about you, and you’ll form a bond with someone who has helped you. Both lead to a stronger sense of belonging. Gratitude is not to be confused with indebtedness, which can lead us to avoid those who love us. It’s all about how you perceive the help you receive.
For me? I find saying thank you important, but not as important as following up. When someone helps me, I see an open door to help them back, perhaps in a funny or unexpected way.
3) Adopt more optimism:
We all know a “happy-go-lucky” lifestyle can lead to problems. But with the right balance of optimism and responsibility, one can feel invincible going through the day. Understand that things won’t always work out, and don’t let negative results in one part of your life spill into other areas. Realize the road will be bumpy, and embrace the challenges ahead. Laugh at them. If your current strategy isn’t working, find a new one. Don’t dwell. Do, not, dwell.
My strategy? I know I often dwell on stress, it’s a problem of mine. Stress is like a warm corner of a cold, damp, room that I should be escaping from. Stress can give me purpose, but it’s the wrong kind. Knowing this, I try to seek-and-destroy stress creators wherever I notice them.
4) Consider religion:
I’m not a very religious person, though I will say a quick prayer before a flight or long bus ride. While I’m 99% practical and scientific, I have known friends to find peace of mind through spiritual outlets. Plus, the recent work of Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests that religion helps people recover from aversive events and return to happiness.
In my case? Religion wasn’t my focus growing up, but it did provide some framework for solving problems and certainly helped me help people. Helping others is a sure-fire path to more happiness.
5) Reduce material wealth:
It’s tempting to spend heavily, especially if we’re wealthy or supported by someone else. But surrounding ourselves with new TVs, the latest Apple products, clothing well beyond our means, and a closet full of shoes will only cloud the path to happiness. In fact, reducing our material possessions can free up our sense of being and make us realize what actually makes us happy. Buying a new possession will bring short-term satisfaction but when that feeling vanishes you’ll be worse off than before.
Personally: I love donating to Goodwill and though it’s a thankless deed, I feel great afterwards. My apartment looks a bit neater too.
6) Put your health first:
Your health should always be number 1. Yet in a world where that new bar is right around the corner and social pressure through fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) is everywhere, we often forget how much we’re stepping on our health. Try seeing how a weekend full of herbal tea, yoga, and extra sleep feels compared to a weekend full of late nights at the bar trying to impress your friends. Despite how strong and smart we think we are, much of our happiness begins with health.
For me? Simply keeping myself in on Friday is enough to make me healthier and happier the next day!
7) Face stress head on:
This is a BIG one. We’re all bound to have bad days. People crap on our desks, don’t thank us, and treat us like garbage. Moreover, we have to deal with ourselves. Doubtful, insecure, and depressed at times. At the end of the day we’re sometimes so drained even our favorite things look ugly. How we deal with these issues and release them from our minds is crucial. Drugs, alcohol, and other vices will worsen the problem. Healthier outlets like the gym will help. But most important of all is how we process our problems.
How do I cope? I often remind myself how meaningless and random my life is. It’s an odd technique but it helps me realize that the world doesn’t hate me, or purposefully throw me a bad day.
8) Communicate often:
As simple as it sounds, some of the happiest people are the ones who can stomach their pride and talk through problems. Communication, just like going to the gym or considering religion, is a positive coping mechanism that helps us find the source of unhappiness instead of burying it.
In my case? Phone calls are free in the evening…
9) Seek out family members:
As we grow up and move to new parts of the world, it’s harder to stay in touch with family. But we all have email. If we’re lucky, our family members live in the same country. Making an effort to check in, listening to your sibling or parent’s problems, and actively helping them will actually generate more happiness in your own life.
What do I do? I try to stay current with my grandparents. Just a phone call to them creates some happiness in their life and I can’t help but feel happier because of it.
If all nine methods fail you, I have a final question you can ask yourself. Where do your strongest talents intersect with the world’s greatest needs? Find this point in life and you’ll surely have arrived at happiness.
About the Author:The Blogger is a 25 year old guy from Manhattan who answers 150 blog questions before breakfast. He builds websites professionally on nyc.gov and does freelance design and landing page building for only the right clients. Find out how you can get free updates from his email club.