Can happiness become a habit or dare I say, a choice? Ok. Stop right there. I am the first one to stand up and say, don’t give me the “just think happy thoughts” BS. You and I both know that during times of tragedy, severe loss, depression, and trauma, that happy thoughts or feelings are simply not an option!
Happy is an adjective defined by the feelings of being delighted, pleased, glad, or lucky.
Sure, I can make some choices that result in me feeling happy, but I can’t control every event. I’m pretty sure all of us have varying emotions throughout the day and even on an amazing day we don’t stay on the top of our happiness mountain either. Even when sadness hits we end up having a range of different emotions flooding our mind. On the other hand, most of us know of people that are generally happier than others.
You know the ones, people who seem to handle even difficult situations with a positive outlook. Many people even learn skills to help them cope with depression and anxiety by moving away from negative thoughts. So, is positivity a choice we can learn and practice which results in a happier mood and outlook? Science says yes and personally it has worked for me.
I think it’s important to remember the differences between Positive thinking and just feeling happy. I believe we all know how very damaging it is when you’re made to feel like a failure because those around us simply tell us to “be happier” about our circumstances.
Although happiness may not always be an option to choose, positive thinking can be, and we know that our thoughts do affect our feelings.
It takes practice and the process will look differently for each of us. When we begin to combine some of the choices we do have with positive outlooks and behaviors, we can be a “happier” person.
1. Smile More
Studies show that smiling is contagious. Spend time with others that make you smile and laugh. Watch a comedy that cracks you up. Laugh at yourself more.
2. Find Purpose & Share it With Others
It’s very fulfilling to simply be a part of something and contribute. We tend to feel better about our own lives as we help others. Volunteering, social media-based advocacy, or exploring your faith may open a new purpose and vision.
3. Do Things You Love
We all do tons of things we don’t really like because we must. Choose to do something you truly enjoy and love. It can be easier to work on positive attitudes when we have some rewarding moments for ourselves to look forward to. Not sure where to begin? Ask yourself about times when you really had fun and loved what you were doing and write them down. Find some connections to these great moments.
4. Be Thankful
OK, I admit there are times this can be very hard. Practice looking for even the smallest speck of gratitude if life is super challenging right now. It’s autumn here as I write, and I see the leaves changing colors. I am thankful for those red and golden leaves outside my window right now.
5. Get Outside in Nature
Sit outside on a nice day. Even in the winter all bundled up, the warmth of the sun can warm you from the inside out.
6. Focus on The best, Not the Worst
Have you ever heard of a vision board? Many people cut out pictures of their goals or needs and create a vision of success. Don’t be afraid to look at what you really want because you fear disappointment. No one ever failed because they had positive thoughts, but many fail because of negative.
7. Eat Healthier, and Drink More Water
Need I say more?
8. Exercise and Move Around
I added the phrase “move around” because I don’t want you to only think of a gym routine. Playing with the dog, shopping or taking a walk can be just enough to begin to release those happy endorphins and perhaps create a new routine.
9. Be Open to Change
This is one area in life you can count on! Change will happen and it may not always feel good. Certain situations may require a plan that may better equip you to face them. Don’t obsess over life’s what-ifs yet don’t avoid facts. Practice enjoying the here and now as well.
10. Listen to Your Heart
The person who knows what you need the most in life, is you. Our friends and family all mean well with their suggestions of what we should do in life, but ultimately you are the only one who can decide what fills you up.
“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ”
― William James