Everyone has times in their lives when they feel a little down in the dumps. It could be a passing funk, or they may find that they are dissatisfied with the status quo. During these times it is normal to turn to external things like shopping or focusing on your career to make you feel better. However, these will only provide a temporary fix.
Regardless of how you define happiness, there are certain universal, time-proven strategies that will bring genuine and sustainable happiness into your life. The following 15 tips to living a happier life can be adapted to fit your needs and personality. Over time these strategies will become positive, life-changing habits that will begin to bring more happiness, joy and peace into your life.
1. Fake It until You Make It
Yes, this may seem like a temporary fix or having fake happiness, but the point is to train your body and mind to act in a more positive way. Try this simple exercise: Take on Charlie Brown’s defeated pose. Sit with your entire body slumped forward; put a frown on your face and look down toward the floor. Notice the way you feel when you’re in this position. Regardless of the way you felt before, you will begin to feel sad and depressed. Now sit or stand straight and tall, put a huge smile on your face and open your eyes a little wider than normal. Once again, notice how you feel. Did your heart rate increase? Do you feel a little more alert and energetic? By changing your physiology you change your mentality. So, walk down the street like you’re in a shampoo commercial or on a catwalk. Wear clothes that make you feel sexy and confident. Act like you’re happy and you will begin to feel happy.
2. Get Rid of Stinking Thinking
Change your internal dialogue. When negative thoughts creep into your mind, push them away and replace them with something more positive. If you’re the type of person who feels homicidal rage for the driver in front of you, stop to think about how the person behind you is feeling. Do they have an imaginary vaporizing laser gun pointed at your car? Probably. We all hate traffic, but why? Are you in that big of a hurry to get to the job you hate?
Turn up the music and amuse the grouchy drivers around you by doing some kickass car dancing. When you get to the job you hate, find something about it that you like. By focusing on what brings you joy, you will become a happier more pleasant person.
3. Set Goals for Your Life
Setting goals is a key element in finding success. This isn’t to say that success equals happiness, but a sense of achievement is a basic human need. If you arbitrarily state that you wish you had more money, you won’t know when you have reached your goal. Technically $1 is more money, but probably not what you had in mind. By setting very specific goals with a deadline, you will know exactly when you have gotten what you were striving to achieve. For example, if you decide that you are going to save $6000 in six months, at the end of the deadline you will be very happy with yourself for accomplishing your goal. Using goals will also give you purpose, a plan and more stability, all areas in life in which most people are unhappy.
4. Get over Your FOMO
Do you feel like everyone else is living the coolest life ever and you’re missing out? You know that they are because you saw all of them totally rocking life on Facebook, Twitter and every other social media site. There were pictures and everything. You have proof. Your ex-BF was ROFL with your (now) ex-BFF at a totes rad party. Everyone (but you) is out there right now living the good life. Together! In flash mobs!
The 21st-century has created an epidemic of FOMO (fear of missing out). First of all, realize that your FOMO is built on lies. Even the people who posted all of those cool things aren’t living the life they are portraying. Part of the fun of social media is being able to put only the best parts of your life out there, plus exaggerate those things to make them look even better. Just remember that most people are leading ordinary lives where they lose their car keys, have to sit in traffic and watch wackos dancing in their cars. So the next time you get FOMO-slapped across your lazy, uncreative face, remember that what you are looking at isn’t the complete story.
While it’s true that most people are living ordinary lives and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, there’s no reason you can’t live a YOLO life. Get out of your comfort zone and do things that are extraordinary, even if it’s only extraordinary to you. Who cares?! Just don’t be boring. YOLO!
6. Be Yourself
No one can do you the way that you do you. So, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Who cares what other people think? If you get your jollies by putting on a tutu and riding down the sidewalk on a unicycle while singing I Will Always Love You at the top of your lungs, by all means do it. Honey, fluff out that florescent pink tutu and sing it loud and proud. If it makes you happy and you’re not hurting anyone else… go for it! If a hater has anything to say about it, blow them a kiss and keep going.
7. No Worries
There are only two things in this world for you to worry about. There are things you have control over and things you have no control over. If you have control over it, there’s nothing to worry about. Stop procrastinating and fix it. If you have no control over it, your anxiety isn’t going to change the outcome. So, there’s no point in worrying over those things either.
Put things into perspective and figure out what is making you so anxious. Do you worry out of habit? Do you feel like showing concern means that you care more? Do you think you are one of the Real Housewives? No one needs all of that drama in their lives. Figure it out and let it go.
8. Help Others
The best way to make yourself feel better is by helping someone else. Volunteer your time at your favorite charity or help a friend in need.
9. Touch Someone
Literally touch someone. People are greatly lacking in human contact. A simple hug or even a loving touch on the arm raises your endorphins. Having a pet will also help, but it’s not the same as being with other people.
10. Have More Sex
Sex releases, well, several things. Think of how happy people are at the beginning of a relationship when they’re doing it like rabbits in heat. You don’t have to go out and have an affair or unsafe sex, instead make things new and exciting in your current relationship. If you’re not in a relationship, start a relationship with BOB (battery operated boyfriend). BOB never disappoints, he never argues and he’s always there when you need him.
11. Take Care of Yourself
As natural nurturers, women easily fall into the habit of ignoring their own needs. To make things worse, women as a whole have created an unhealthy and unrealistic ideal of what it means to be successful. If you’re a woman who isn’t running a fortune 500 company while being the perfect mother, domestic goddess, gourmet chef, marathon runner and a yoga master who can meditate into the seventh realm of consciousness, you are a failure. At least, that’s how it feels.
Get back to the basics. Create a proper sleep schedule, eat healthier food and exercise. Once you’ve established healthy habits to care for your body, then you’ll be better prepared to take care of your mental and spiritual needs. Taking care of yourself is not a selfish act. It’s imperative to your survival and well-being.
12. Create a Happy Home
It doesn’t matter if you live in a tiny studio apartment or mansion, you can create an environment that brings you joy. If something doesn’t make you smile when you look at it, get rid of it. Instead of trying to make your home look like the page of a magazine, make a space that is uniquely yours. If it looks like you’re living in a house featured on a hoarder show, clean it up. When your home is cold and uninviting, you will feel empty. When your home is cluttered, you will feel anxious and chaotic. Neither of these will bring happiness into your life.
13. Have Unconditional Love
Love yourself more. Love your kids more. Love your cranky neighbor more. Love life more. There is no room for unhappiness when you surround yourself with love.
It doesn’t have to be a special occasion. If you were able to successfully parallel park your car on the first try, do a happy dance and own that shit. Yeah!
13. Live in the Solution
Stress is in everyone’s lives, there’s no way to avoid it. It’s the way that you respond to stress that will determine how it affects you. If you focus on the problem, you will absorb stress into your body and mind. You worry, feel tense and will eventually have stress-related illnesses. That’s no way to live.
The more positive response to stress is to focus on the solution to the problem. By focusing on fixing and getting rid of the problems in your life, you will feel more productive, confident and secure. Living in the solution is a much a happier place to be.
14. Know Your Motivation
We are all motivated differently. Some people are more external and some are more internal. External people feel like they did a good job only after receiving praise from another person. They also seek other people’s approval and ask for their opinion when making a decision. Internal people feel like they did a good job regardless of what others say. They do things for their own reasons and make decisions on their own. Neither are good or bad and no one is 100% one or the other. We all have a little of both.
If you are an external person who never receives praise at work, you may chalk your lack of motivation up to laziness on your part. On the other hand if you’re an internal person, you may feel bad that you don’t take compliments well. By knowing what type of motivation you require, you can make sure you have your needs met and that you’re not unnecessarily hard on yourself.
15. Decide to Be Happy
Yes, it’s that simple. Just decide to be happy. You have control over your moods and emotions. Think about the last time you were home crying and the phone rang. You immediately shut down the waterworks and answered the phone in your most chipper voice. Or, if you wake up late, run into terrible traffic and have to walk into a meeting with your most important client, you don’t go in and start grumbling about your morning. As soon as you walk through the door, you put a smile on your face and greet your client with nothing but professional warmth.
The same process applies when it comes to being happy. All you have to do is decide that you are going to be a happier person, and the rest will work itself out. You will find what you need to be happy.
16. Get Out of Here
Once you have finished reading this article and shared it with a million of your closest friends, turn off the electronic device and go outside. Get fresh air, do something active, be more social and just get moving. While we love and appreciate you, gentle reader, your happiness is our top priority. So, click on your favorite social media icon and get out there to spread joy and happiness with the rest of the world. They need it!
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going through bouts of unhappiness. It’s not only completely normal, it’s necessary for balance. You don’t want to turn into some robot Stepford Wife who is more creepy than joyous. Do what you have to do to get yourself out of a funk, and then focus on the things that make you a more genuine, authentically happy person.