FOUR SIMPLE WAYS TO FEEL HAPPIER
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How To Be Happier Right Now
As summer stretches ahead into the distance, the temperatures creep up and the mood lightens, I've been thinking more and more about happiness, how we define it and why sometimes, achieving it might feel like a never-ending pursuit. I came across this Omar Khayyam quote in a book I'm reading and it has literally been going around my head on a constant loop. Aren't they just the wisest words you've ever read?
Maybe it's in part due to the demands and expectations of the world we live in, but happiness can sometimes feel like it’s something we can only achieve after we’ve actioned a whole bucket load of other stuff. Why on earth should we feel we have to tick things off of an ever growing list in order to feel contented? Surely we’re entitled to feel happier in the here and now?
Here’s A Few Myths And Truths I’d Previously Added To My Own List...
“If I get back to being a size 10, getting dressed in the morning will be a much happier and positive experience”.
Size 10 is in all probability, a distant memory unless I go though some kind of life trauma - those were the only times that my weight plummeted to that dress size. Getting dressed already is a positive experience because I'm in love with style and clothes in general. Also, (and I’m still learning this one), happiness does not equate to a dress size. It equates to a healthy, strong body, calm mind and a sense of being comfortable in your own skin.
“If I can just get ahead of my blog posting schedule by about two weeks, I’ll feel much happier about work”.
It’ll make me feel more organised, not happier. There’s always something that drops in your lap to upset the balance or bring along with it some kind of minor stress. I should focus instead on how I deal with those things, stop procrastinating over them… and get them done. Then I can continue to enjoy the parts of my work that do make me so very happy.
“If we can just get through these next few weeks of H’s two residential school trips without any hiccups, I’ll feel a lot happier”.
If you’re the mother of a teen daughter (or son I would imagine for that matter), you’ll know that there is always another challenge right around the corner. Some way bigger than others. Getting one particular challenge under my belt will not make me happier – it’ll just make me better equipped to deal with the next one. Because there’s always a next one.
In the spirit of that gorgeous quote I mentioned at the start of this post and one of my favourite hashtags, #TheHappyNow, I’ve been giving some thought to what can we do to nurture our own happiness levels. I’m betting there are lots of small changes we could make that would bring great returns. For a start, here's four simple ways to be happy right now…
Stop Thinking It’s Something You’ll Have One Day
Exactly that – there is no waiting list for happiness and even if there was, you don’t have to join one. Who says that a state of happiness is one giant be all and end all and that the stars have to be in alignment for you to say you can feel it? Because you’ll probably end up waiting your whole life if you hang around for that moment.
There’s always at least two or three areas of life that will be challenging and throw out problems for you to deal with on a regular basis. If you shift your entire focus to trying to solve things that, in all probability aren’t yours to solve, you could be missing out on appreciation for the good stuff that's already present.
Find It In the Small Things
I think this is where our old (new) friend mindfulness comes in. We’re always so busy running hither and thither that it feels like a rare thing to stop and appreciate the small things.
MY SMALL THINGS ARE:
Smile at or make small talk with a stranger. The reaction you get when you exchange a few unexpected pleasantries with someone or just pay them a genuine compliment will always make you happy. And I’ve yet to have someone say “Go away you weird, over familiar woman and stop being nice to me!”
Getting outside in the fresh air with Biscuit always makes me happy. I mean, you may have noticed a lot of beach/dog related content pops up on my Instagram Stories and with good reason. It affords me a small space in time to shut down everything else and just be. And the bounciness of a Labrador is always a joy to behold and is I swear, infectious!
Do something you would consider to be indulgent at least once a week. Are you so tired that your eyes are closing? Go take a nap. Feeling bored with the minutiae of life and in need of a little escapism? Sit down with your favourite box set and snack and watch a couple of episodes back to back – Hello Dawson’s Creek * and strawberry liquorice!
Do something good for no reason – I love the pay it forward concept. It’s hard to have a downer on yourself, your mood or a bad situation when you’re doing something caring or thoughtful for someone else.
Also, I’m fairly sure that using the words hither and thither as much as possible in your vocabulary helps happiness levels immensely!
It is what it is. How wise are these words? Yet sometimes, when Patrick says them to me after I’ve spent eons regaling him with the detail of whatever is ailing my mind, I’ll look at him with that “Don’t be such a simplistic male!” death stare. You know the one. But he’s right… Goddamn it!
Sometimes things are just the way they are and you can’t change them - to fight against them only brings further grief or pain. So you have to learn to accept and then move on. I'm still working on this on this for the most part but I’m a willing student.
Spend Time With People Who Lift You Up
If I’ve learned one thing in my fifty years on this planet, it’s that spending time with negative people will affect your own mood pretty quickly. Likewise, when I spend time with those who are a force for positive, I without fail, come away on a fizzy happiness high.
A relationship audit can sound like a scary and callous thing – I get that. But you only get one chance at this thing called life. Do you really want to spend it in the enforced company of people who sap the joy out of you and who make you want to run screaming in the opposite direction?
Whenever possible, spend your days surrounded by people who lift you, and others, upwards. Happiness is infectious and a condition worth catching. As difficult as it may be, (and I do know... in some cases, actually impossible), have a quick audit of your relationships and begin to think about sifting out those that no longer bring joy and positivity into your life.
Over To You
What do you think about our ability to stop, take stock and be happier right now?
I’d love to know if you've given this any thought - feel free to share in the comments below or let me know if you have a tried and tested happiness strategy!