Happiness can be elusive, distant, and hard to define. But it doesn’t have to be. Some guidance and a little concentrated effort can help you truly understand what happiness is and how to be happy in the moment.
Live in the Present
“True happiness is...to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“I’ll be happy when…” Fill in the blank; I am skinnier, when I am married, when I move away, when I make a new friend. Sound familiar? This world is a beautiful smattering of experiences and opportunities. There are so many places to see, so many people to meet, incredible things to learn and understand. By dwelling in the past, or deciding to be happy in the future, you may be distracting yourself from your present.
Try taking a walk one day and really looking around you. Drive somewhere and don’t use GPS for 30 minutes; just drive and see where you go. Talk to a stranger and really listen to them. Be where you are today.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
Gratitude is one of the best ways to focus on what is going well in life; then project that joy outward. Noticing things to be grateful for has a snowball effect. Finding the first five things might be hard, but the next five will be easier, and the five after that easier still. Expressing that gratitude to the people around you has a marvelously uplifting effect, not just on you, but on them as well. You will feel joy knowing that you were able to brighten someone else’s day too.
Science can actually back us up on this one. Many studies dealing with SWLS (Satisfied With Life Scale) report that regular small pleasures have a greater impact on happiness than fewer large ones. So go for it, treat yo’ self. As the wise Lucille says in this quote, you will only be truly effective in this world if you love yourself, which sometimes means an ice cream cone in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon.
Endorphins are real and they are effective. The amount of research that links exercise to mood improvement is staggering and indisputable. But not only does it help your mood, exercise has been shown to improve self-image, confidence, and productivity in other areas. It may be the worst 20 minutes of your day, but that 20 minutes will absolutely improve the other 23 hours and 40 minutes. Find an exercise that you can handle and stick to it.
Develop Meaningful Relationships
“There is simply no pill that can replace human connection. There is no pharmacy that can fill the need for compassionate interaction with others. There is no panacea. The answer to human suffering is both within us and between us.”
― Dr. Joanne Cacciatore
The connections you make could come from anywhere, but maybe start in your home. Develop or renew the relationships you have with your family members. Ask them questions, do things that they like to do, learn new things together. Open up about your fears and uncertainties. Reach out to old friends and tell them you miss them. The vulnerability in this tip could be scary, but the joy you will feel after will be sure to motivate you to continue developing relationships actively.
As a final note, it is important to remember that sometimes it is okay to not be happy. Sadness, frustration, and loneliness are real and powerful emotions that can teach, motivate, and help you to feel compassion. But you shouldn’t feel them always. If you feel overly depressed, anxious, or worried and have been for an extended period of time, it may be time to get professional help.
You deserve to be happy and we hope that these simple tips can help you to feel joy more often. Live well and enjoy life!