Not too long ago, i was on the phone with an old and dear friend. Few minutes into the conversation, he said ” Gina, everything about you sounds unhappy, are you ok?”
Later that day, i caught myself wondering if i was really unhappy or he just caught me in a mood. All that got me looking inside, because at the time, i was going through some changes. My meditation session brought to surface my anxiety and control issues and how that had impacted my happiness. You see, i was so focused on surviving, that i had forgotten to be happy. So, it took a short conversation with a dear friend, to poke me into awareness and have me essentially call myself out on my own BS.
Like me, many of us get stuck in limbo, trying to manage our career ,family and day to day life affairs. We do so to our detriment, because we then forget the quintessential part of life, which is being happy.
First off, what is happiness?
I appreciate that happiness is subjective. So, the umbrella definition of happiness would be the general sense of well-being, peace and content in a person. This means whatever brings about that sense of well-being, peace and content is not the same for everyone. I believe sustained happiness is the outcome of conscious habits , over just sitting and expecting to feel great all the time. E.g, it isn’t realistic to say affirmations and expect to be happier, when you have not unpacked your mental issues and emotional insecurities . Happiness is the result of balance and wellness in all areas of life. So you have to consciously choose happiness and start practicing habits that mirror your definition of happiness
So below are a few habits to start or stop doing, that would make you a happier person:
1) Define Your Happiness
You cannot be happy if you do not know what makes you happy in the first place. So you have to define your happy. What brings you joy and makes you laugh? Where are you emotionally and mentally? What are your core values, your hobbies and skills? Get an idea of what happy is to you and consciously practice habits that would allow your happiness prevail.
2) Stop The Incessant Worrying
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” Leo Buscaglia
The fastest way to lose your smile and start stressing is to give into the tricks of your brain. Your mind would build up potential problems or circumstances that may never happen and we just hop and dwell on them. And unfortunately we always conjure a thousand ways things could go wrong and not one instance where things are right. Hence we begin to worry, stress and feel anxious about imaginary problems we literally created. That alone is draining, exhausting and the ultimate thief of joy. There are indeed circumstances where we cannot help but worry, but we have to remember worrying will in no way improve it. So work on the situations you can fix and find the courage to let go of what you cannot change.
3) Let Go Of The Idea Of Perfection
Another reason why our happiness is constantly stolen, is because we hold onto the idea of perfection. There is no such thing as perfect, at least not in the actual sense of the term. Even we as human beings aren’t perfect. So it would be delusional to expect a perfect life devoid of challenges or exigent circumstances.
Look at this way, there are always going to be hiccups and bumps no matter how well we plan life projects. So why do we berate ourselves anyways on what we could have done better, instead of enjoying the experience? We wouldn’t even try concepts we’re passionate about, because all the odds aren’t stacked in our favor. We want to have perfect bodies before we can start dating, we want perfect alignment of events before taking a dive. So we stay sabotaging ourselves and missing out on our blessings, all because we’re holding on this idea of perfectionism. That is an illusion we should let go of.
We have to learn to cherish the pockets of joy life offers us, no matter the circumstances. For those pockets of joy ,bumps and hiccups (which helps us grow), conjointly bring about the real perfection.
4) Letting Go Of Control
Our happiness is stolen when we feel the need to control every single thing in our lives. Controlling everything slows us down, given we’re in a constant battle of wanting things to be a certain way. We miss out on great times because instead of being in the moment, we’re trying to fix it. This also goes to reiterate the previous point on perfectionism.
We have to change our mindsets and accept that not everything has to go our way. Looking inwards would help locate the root cause of our desire to control and we can then work on it. Working on anxiety, self esteem and perfectionism issues. Talking to specialists if we feel we’re ill equipped to process the emotions on our own.
So give up control and accept the general state of things, be it at work, school, home or relationships. Stop having to be right all the time and listen to others, you may learn a thing or two. Entrust tasks to others and have faith in them to do a great job. Let people be and live their lives and refrain from always giving your two cents how their lives should be. Go with the flow and enjoy wonderful moments of spontaneity.
5) Stop Living In The Past
As humans, we are prone to making mistakes and experiencing hard times. However, living in the past is detrimental to our happiness because we are mentally stuck there. We sift information through the lens of that past mistake or trauma. Those mistakes or traumas begin to color our outlook on life. So we project our unresolved mental and emotional related issues incurred from the past on our current life. For example, because you were cheated on in your past relationship, you live with the belief that you will always be cheated on. Because you lost loved ones in the past, you stave off deep connections for fear of losing them.
Therefore, let go of the past, stop living in fear, shame and let go of the hurt. Focus on your happiness, forgive your past and build positive habits. Talk to someone you trust or pray or seek professional help when you feel you cannot unpack your traumas on your own. Slow down, do not beat yourself up and remember to be mindful and enjoy the gift of now.
6) Be Your Own Man/Woman
When we pay heed to societal expectations on how to live our lives and who we should be, we lose ourselves. We scroll through our instagram feeds and feel less than because of xyz reasons. We’d go to a party, even though we don’t feel like it and drink alcohol even though we do not normally drink. We do all that to fit in, to be validated by others, to be regarded as ”cool”. Thus, we disconnect from our true selves. This is because we’re busy trying to fit into different types of molds, instead of just being ourselves. In other words, life becomes performative. All this gets tiring and takes a toll on our minds and has us feeling like we’re not enough.
So be your own man/woman. Stay in your lane and let go of the need to compete and compare with others. Remove yourself from situations that constantly leave you feeling small. Center yourself, pay attention to your needs and what makes you happy. Live your life for yourself, expressing nothing but the beautiful hues of your truth and authenticity.
7) Stay In Touch With Yourself
Being in touch with yourself is a wonderful step to being happier. If you think critically, the solution to every existential query is literally always found if we tune inwards. Checking in reminds you of who you are, at the core. It could simply be touching base with yourself on your emotions, mental health or just where your head’s at. Taking stock of your current reality, brings to surface, areas that you’re great at and those that need work. You get to define, redefine and establish your goals and decide the person you want to become. As you gain in experience and expand your horizon, you get to learn more and more about yourself.
So cultivate the habit of always connecting with yourself. For it enables you to know who you are, appreciate how far you’ve come, as you evolve into your best version.
8) Adapt To Change
The most constant thing about us is change. Change sometimes springs up on us when we least expect it, so we resist it. Resisting change, trying to control and holding onto what feels familiar is what makes transitioning harder than it should be. We fear the unknown and are not comfortable with the concept of not being aware of what to expect.
Therefore, choose to stay positive and accept that change is inevitable. Take life as it comes and make the best of it. Go with the flow, learn whatever lessons experience teaches you. Let go of the idea of permanence, live life fully and when life gives you lemons… make lemonade.
9) Appreciate The Little Things
One of the best and easiest ways to feel and be happier in life is gratitude. Appreciating your journey, helps you realize how far along you’ve come and how lucky you are. Be grateful for the little things often taken for granted. Like sunshine, little favors from loved ones, a bed,dry laundry, a warm meal etc. Yes your finances may not be up to par, but be grateful to have gotten out of bed with a functioning body. Be thankful for life and count your blessings.
Even if you have been taking losses, be grateful for what the process taught you. Even if you’re not where you want to be in life, be grateful for your journey and its nuances. Appreciating and enjoying the little of pockets of joy, goes to increase your quality of life because the little things, matter most . You’re happier, more positive and can appreciate the big days because you gave thanks for the small things.
The pay off ,as you can tell, is pretty much a greater quality of life. Imagine feeling happier, no matter what the circumstances are. So put in mindful effort into making your life much better. Take your time, be patient and kind with yourself , as some habits take long to break. Consciously choose your happiness and start being aware of the things that inhibit and facilitate it.
Take from this, only what serves and feeds your soul. May your journey reveal your beauty, give you innumerable reasons to be happy and grateful for life.
What helped you along your journey to be happier?