Want to live a happier and more fulfilled life? Who wouldn’t?! Happiness is what we’ve all be searching for since we were kids. Remember when you were a kid, and someone asked you what your definition of success was, and you said “to be happy”? That’s the goal, friends! And yet, sadly, for a lot of people, “true happiness” seems impossible to find.
But that’s because all too often people are searching for happiness in the wrong places. You’ve heard it a million times: money doesn’t buy happiness, and you can’t rely on other people to make you happy. Happiness isn’t about buying new things or meeting new people or traveling to exotic destinations. Sure, any of these things may give you a taste of happiness, but that feeling of happiness is often fleeting (which can start an endless cycle of people buying new things and going new places and chasing happiness like it’s a high).
So what’s the secret for achieving true, long-lasting happiness?
The secret to finding happiness is to look inward. True, long-lasting happiness comes from within, and it is translated through our habits.
Keep reading to find out how you can start adopting these 5 “happiness habits” in your own life!
1. Become more optimistic.
I have always been an optimist. I think optimists get a bad rep for being unrealistic or living with their heads in the clouds. But by definition, optimism is simply “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something” (New Oxford American Dictionary). And this is exactly how I see it – I truly believe that no matter what, everything in my life will turn out for the best, or that something good will come out of every situation.
This doesn’t mean that I just let life happen to me, and that I just sit back and watch as everything turns out all rainbows and butterflies. I am a planner and a goal setter by nature; I love having wild dreams and setting goals for myself to accomplish, both personally and professionally. And as an optimist, I am confident that I can achieve these goals, but I also understand that I have to put in the effort.
I also grew up with the notion that “what’s for you won’t go by you” (or, as my dad used to say in his Scottish accent, “Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye!”). In other words, if something is meant to be, it will be. If you were meant to get that job, you would get it. If you didn’t get it, it means that something greater is coming your way, you just have to be patient!
So how do you become more optimistic?
Try reframing situations using a more positive lens. If you tend to be more pessimistic, stop yourself when you hear yourself start complaining, or having negative thoughts. Instead, reframe the situation so that you’re focusing on the good. For example, if you had planned to go for a run outside, but it started to rain, instead of focusing on how your run was ruined, focus on the sweet snuggle time you got with your kids or your pets or significant other while you cozied up to watch a movie instead.
Acknowledge what you can and cannot control. I think this is so important for our emotional wellbeing. There is no point staying angry or beating yourself up about a situation that is out of your control. Focus instead on what you can control: how you react to the situation. For example, if you lose your job, you could storm around in a bad mood for weeks. Or, you could acknowledge that the situation was out of your hands, and try to view it as an opportunity. Maybe this was the push you needed to start your own business, or to go ofter the job you always wanted. But whether you’re being pessimistic or an optimistic, at the end of the day, you’re still going to be faced with the same problem: you’ll need to get a new job.
Pay attention to what, and who, you pay attention to. What kind of information do you consume throughout the day? Do you spend your morning watching or reading about the horror stories in the news? Do you scroll through endless negative comments on social media? Who do you spend the majority of your time with? Are they a bunch of Negative Nancys and Debbie Downers? Negativity is contagious, and the more time you spend connecting to these types of people, the more negative you are likely to feel and become. Luckily, positivity is also contagious, so if you can find more positive people to connect with, you’ll likely find yourself feeling and becoming more optimistic yourself.
2. Gain some perspective.
I have found that gaining some perspective is one of the best ways to help keep you from getting too stressed out about everyday things in life. There are two aspects that are important in gaining perspective: looking at the big picture, and considering other points of view.
Look at the big picture. Next time something happens that frustrates you, take a step back and look at the big picture. How is this really impacting your life? So someone cut you off while driving on your way to work this morning… is dwelling on it really worth your time and energy? Unlikely. Is it really worth ruining your whole day? Probably not. Is it really that important? No. Everyone is still safe and healthy, which, in the grand scheme of things, is the only thing that matters.
Consider other points of view. The other way to help you gain perspective is to consider the other person’s point of view. Maybe the person who cut you off this morning couldn’t see you properly because it was extremely sunny and the sun was in their eyes. Or maybe they really didn’t realize that the lane ended and had to quickly get over. Is it possible that they were just being a jerk? Of course! But let’s not jump to that conclusion just yet. Not everyone is out to get you, and since you can’t ask them, let’s assume that they had a good reason.
3. Seek out the little things that make life so beautiful, and be really, truly grateful for them.
I keep saying it, but I truly believe that that having an attitude of gratitude is one of the greatest ways to find happiness. There have actually been several studies that support this notion. For example, this study found that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on feelings of hope and happiness.
Here’s why this works: the more you focus on appreciating all the things in your life that bring you joy, the more you will start to notice things to be grateful for. Does that make sense?
Try this: Get a notebook and write down 10 things that you’re grateful for every morning when you wake up or every night before you go to bed – whatever works better for you and your schedule. And don’t write the same big things over and over again (e.g., I’m grateful for my family, friends, job, etc.). Instead, look for the little things that bring you joy throughout the day. For example, I will often include my coffee, or tea, or something delicious I ate that day on my list. Or I’ll write that I’m so grateful for the beautiful lilac tree in my backyard because it makes me so happy every time I look at it. Once you start writing down all the small things that bring you joy throughout your day, you’ll naturally start noticing more and more to be grateful for as you go through your day.
The key: Don’t just write things down because it’s an exercise that is supposed to make you happier. You have to really feel it. As you writing things down in your notebook, try inhaling and exhaling as you visualize each thing that you’re grateful for.
4. Become more self-aware
Pay attention to what relaxes, energizes, and inspires you, and do more of that. Ask yourself the following questions:
What do you do to relax and unwind? Do you watch TV? Read a book? Have a hot bath? Drink some wine with a friend?
When do you feel the most energized? Is it after a stimulating conversation with like-minded people? During a quiet walk by yourself in nature? After an invigorating workout? While listening to music that pumps you up?
When do you feel most inspired? Is it at church? While strolling through an art museum? After attending a personal development conference? While listening to inspirational podcasts?
Knowing these things about yourself can help you determine exactly what your body and mind need to feel a certain way, which will ultimately help you to live a happier and more fulfilled life. I loooooove quiet mornings to myself. I especially love getting up just a bit before everyone else so that I can sit and drink my tea in peace. It energizes me for the day and makes me so deeply happy. I am also the type of personality that loves being around other people – especially positive, motivated, ambitious people. I feel energized when I get to express myself in social situations. I feel rejuvenated when I am able to have good conversations with my friends. And I feel inspired when I am able to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of others. All of these things make me feel happy.
Becoming more self-aware and understanding your personality type and what kinds of situations help to clear your mind, inspire you, energize you or calm you down is an important step in living a happier and more fulfilled life. Once you figure that out, do what you can to put yourself in those situations when you need them, and you will ultimately become a happier person!
Want to find out more about your personality? Here are a few resources to help get you started:
The Enneagram is a personality test that has become really popular lately. If you haven’t heard about it, you can find out more go to the Enneagram Institute. Want to find out your number for free? Try this quick and accurate test.
16 Personalities is a modern take on the classic Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test. It’s very user friendly, and has loads of information about each personality type. Find out your personality type for free here.
5. Make “fun” a priority
Did you know that anticipation is a key stage to happiness?
It’s true! Think about a time that you planned a family vacation, or bought tickets for a concert, or just had lunch with some friends you don’t often see. You probably thought about it in advance, put it on your calendar, and eagerly awaited the event. Your anticipation of the event itself was part of what made it so much fun!
But as we all know, it’s so easy to get caught up in the logistics of daily life, especially with kids, that it’s easy to let life start passing you by without really having any fun. Before you know it, it’s been 6 months since you had one of your favourite scones from your favourite cafe down the street. Or it’s been a whole year since that new movie theatre finally opened up in your neighbourhood, but you haven’t yet carved out time to see a movie.
So how do you make fun a priority?
Schedule it. No, it isn’t sexy or spontaneous like in the movies, but putting into your calendar will make you much more likely to actually follow through. Create accountability by inviting friends, adding reminders in your calendar, making reservations, or booking classes in advance. Your future self will thank you for it!
Try this: Get into a habit of planning your week on Sunday night after the kids go to bed. Pour yourself a glass of something delicious, open up your calendar and start filling it with stuff that makes you happy. If you’ve got a significant other, get them involved too! Make sure you
So there you have it, friends: my recipe for happiness! What tips do you have for living a happier and more fulfilled life? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!