Sometimes when you're feeling sadness or grief or hopelessness, do you give up on feeling happy? Let's try on a new habit—expecting at least tastes of happiness even in hard times. Here are 6 ways to experience happiness most any day.
- Notice, talk about, and write about what does feel good in your life today. It could be the pancakes for breakfast, the call to or from a dear friend, yoga at the gym, the flowers you saw on your walk, your good vision and hearing, the cleared desk or table, or anything that leads you to more peace and contentment. I sometimes read my list of gratitudes when I'm feeling grumpy or overextended. When I take a few moments to focus on what does feel good, I'm usually much more able to settle down and do what feels important to do.
If you've caught yourself spending too much time in the past or the future, read the 4th Pathway of Ken Keyes: "I always remember I have everything I need to enjoy my here and now unless I am letting my consciousness be dominated by demands and expectations based on the dead past or the imagined future." Remind yourself you have food, clothing, shelter, mobility, vision, hearing and basic necessities. Many people don't.
You needn't try to convince yourself that everything in your life is fine; just know that right here and right now, if you aren't stuck in "how awful it is," you can calm yourself and change your negative thoughts to accepting what is so now. That doesn't mean you won't do anything about your situation; it just means that what you are and have right now can be dealt with, minus panic and fear.
Do as Burkeman suggests in The Antidote: Happiness for Those Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking. He believes people work too hard on some goals. For him, life is about being comfortable with uncertainty. What may support you in that awareness is to pull up some examples from your and others' lives of when you made it through tough times. It could relate to financial, romantic, career, or other situations. For me, when I added a very large amount to what I'd owe on my mortgage for a real estate investment in 2008 which lost money, I remember my fears about possibly losing my own home. I remind myself even now when financial concerns come up that I made it through that difficulty. I do have a larger mortgage payment now, and am able to pay that with rent from my six housemates. I see no value in spending time thinking about what bad things could happen. I don't mean to ignore what's going on. I do mean to remember that, right now, you are probably managing the best you can, and you can't expect more than that, from yourself or from others.
Find at least one or more ways each day to treat yourself. That could mean anything from reminiscing over favorite photos, to enjoying a dish of ice cream, to sitting in a park daydreaming, to watching TV or swimming or dancing. If you make a list of favorite activities and feel stuck on a particular day, pull out that list and pick one that feels good to do, now. If it serves you to complete one or more tasks before your treat, that works too. Just know that, right now, you are doing the best you know how to meet your needs. I believe that self-care, self-love and treats are good for all of us.
- Sometimes a change of location is enough to change your mood. If I wake in the morning and remember all that I didn't complete the day before, I usually have the wisdom to get out of bed right away. When I lie there, I end up feeling guilty or ashamed or frustrated that I'm not doing or having what I want to do or have. Who would think that feeling stuck could be softened merely by leaving the bed or the desk or the kitchen. Even five or fifteen minutes away from that mentally stifling place can turn discouragement or worry into acceptance, and lead you into a mental or physical detour that can give a more satisfying slant on what felt so heavy minutes before.
- Keep a folder of quotes from 14,000 Things to Be Happy About or affirmations, happy memories or travel photos where you can easily access it when you notice you need a lift. You can even combine (4) a treat, (5) a change of location and (6) a folder and promise yourself that you will take a positive action when you notice that your peaceful place is slipping away. You may still be less than satisfied in your relationship, with your child, parent, or friend, or with your check book or any other part of your life. It may seem difficult to imagine yourself in a state of happiness when you observe your life. Well, if you can do even one thing to feel more peaceful, your thoughts are likely to follow. How about an "afformation" (a question)—"What makes it so natural to focus on what is working?" From there, you're on the trail that leads to happiness. If you detour, you can always get back on the main road. Happy trails to you!
I'd love to offer you a complimentary 30-minute coaching call to explore whatever areas you think might bring you more happiness. Call me at 206-938-8385 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome a challenge!
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