Always on the search for topics that will interest and help people, I did some research and found several key messages being shared on a wide variety of websites and blogs. One theme I kept seeing was info about happiness. In fact, from what I saw, I can only assume that the majority of people out there are unhappy, possibly even depressed, and looking for ways to fill their lives with joy. There are countless articles about being happy at work, having a happy relationship, being happy with yourself, etc. Rather than give you links, which you may or may not have time to follow, I thought I would share some of the good ideas and advice I read, as well as some personal suggestions from my own experiences.
When you think about it, it’s kind of funny how much money is being spent on books, workshops, webinars, and blogs that promise to help people find happiness in their lives, especially when there is no quick fix. That’s right -there is no “special sauce“ ingredient that will instantly take away all your woes.
Everything I read (and all I’ve experienced) indicates that happiness comes from inside. Think about it – how many times have you thought “If I just ____(fill in the blank)____ I will be happy. Then, that event happens, or you acquire that “thing” and, while it’s nice for a while, eventually, you return back to your normal state, wishing you were happier.
You Don’t Have To Be Happy All The Time
First, it’s ok if you’re not happy all the time. Ignore all the happy faces in the media, ignore your friends’ Facebook posts that make it look like their life is always awesome, and ignore that voice in your head that scolds you for not being happier. Life is full of ups and downs – for everyone – so appreciate the ups, but don’t expect them 100% of the time. The “down” days should help you appreciate the up days more. Feel what you feel – it’s ok. The key is to experience your sadness and then let it go.
You see, the problem isn’t in feeling unhappy from time to time; the problem is that people get caught up in their unhappiness. They make the mistake of believing their life is doomed to be unhappy, and as a result, they stay unhappy. You have to ask yourself: “Do I really WANT to be happier?” Do you REALLY? Then, the key is to change how you look at your life. Change your reality by changing your personal beliefs. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but have you really absorbed the message? Think about this…What we think shapes our life. Believe everyone dislikes you, and you won’t have any friends. Believe that you are stuck in a bad job, relationship, or financial circumstance – and you will always be stuck. Believe you are a depressed person, and you are. Believe that life is out to get you, and you will be so focused on the negatives, you won’t be able to see the positives – and trust me, there are positive things around you everyday. EVERY day!
Recently, I was running late to an appointment and so I was driving faster than usual in order to make up some time. (Nothing ridiculous, but definitely ticket-worthy.) Wouldn’t you know there would be a police officer on my road with his radar gun in full operation? Yep, he pulled me over. I was so frustrated because this was going to take time and make me even later. However, I was very calm, polite, and apologetic to the officer. (A police friend had told me this is the best way out of a ticket!) 25 minutes later, I promised to slow down, he gave me a warning, and I was free to continue on my way – more late than ever. I took a couple deep breaths, drove away slower, and felt thankful that all I got was a warning. I reminded myself that there MUST be a reason I was forced to slow down. It wasn’t that life was punishing me; I must have needed this for some good reason. So, there was no sense being upset about it. Believe it or not, (and it’s all true) two miles down the road traffic was crawling. (Another slowdown!) There had been an accident involving 4 cars, one of them seemed really mangled. From the scene, I estimated the accident occurred about 25 minutes earlier. If I hadn’t been pulled over, I may have been in that accident. TRULY!
The lesson is that there are reasons for everything in life. Sometimes we get to find out those reasons, sometimes we don’t. BUT, if we look at the “bad” things as an opportunity to learn, or a chance for something better to come along, then the bad things really aren’t that bad. I know it’s not easy to accept this all the time, but the more we do, the happier our life will be. A friend of mine exemplified this a couple years ago when her dad died four days after her wedding. She was overwhelmed with distraught and sadness by the loss. She had every right to be depressed, frustrated, and angry that she didn’t get to say goodbye. But, amidst her sadness she realized his unexpected death was what was best for him. He lived right up to the end. He didn’t suffer. He still had all his faculties, and he never had to rely on anyone for his care. He died the way he would have wanted to if he could have made the choice. With that, she found comfort. With that she could feel her sadness without letting it consume her.
If You’re Happy And You Know It…
So, you have to DECIDE to look at life differently. Be open to happiness rather than deciding things are so bad you must constantly feel sad or angry. Realize that the “bad” time will pass; tomorrow brings a new day with new experiences. Accept that there ARE good people out there. Don’t listen to the negative rhetoric of the news. Instead, believe that the majority of people are good, and will bring positive things into your life. And, realize that every struggle brings an opportunity for something better. See these struggles as a gift to help you grow, and maybe even save your life!
Happiness comes with acceptance, but it’s hard to accept anything if you don’t accept yourself. Many people spend so much time disliking themselves that the disapproval spreads into all other areas of their life. If you believe you are anything less than special, your life will be less than joyous. If you think you are unworthy of happiness and success, I’m here to tell you that you are very wrong! You are a good person! Every person is special and has something to offer the world. Regardless of your mistakes, weaknesses, and flaws, you are incredible. So, understand and accept the things that make you feel “less than” others, and recognize your qualities that make you special. Only then will you be able to see the goodness in others and the life around you.
And, there is a plethora of goodness in the life around you. Love is EVERYWHERE! Find the love inside you, and the love around you will start to shine, too. Love (and happiness) comes from appreciation, inspiration, gratitude, and peace. It is in doing the things you love such as reading, being out in nature, watching funny movies, spending time with family and friends, or simply petting the dog. Love surrounds us at all times; we just need be open to it. Look around you right now, what love is there or possible if you acknowledge it? What can you do RIGHT NOW to bring some love into your life? A light and funny movie? A call to a friend? A walk on the beach? Go do what brings love and happiness to your life and others, nothing else is more important.
Happiness Surrounds You
So, here’s the bottom line – love and happiness surround you always, but you need to be open to them, and even look for them. The more you look for them, the more you will see them. The more you see them, the happier you will be. You have a choice, you can either look at your life and experiences from a negative perspective, where every struggle is bad and makes you miserable. OR, you can look beyond the immediacy of the struggle and choose to see the positives that surround you, and find your happiness. While it’s often easier to be a victim, that won’t provide you with a fulfilling and joyful life. So, which do you REALLY want to be – miserable or happy?