We all want to be happy, and the ways we find happiness can be as unique as we are. But there are a few tried-and-true ways to be happier that don’t involve dream jobs, fantasy vacations, or mythical love interests.
What I’ve listed here are things you can do, regardless of other circumstances in your life, to get a boost of happiness.
There’s a reason this tip is offered all the time: it’s effective. Social media and cell phones make us constantly accessible, and that’s not a good thing. It’s great to know your kids can reach you anytime, but not your boss or a client.
Unplug every day. Even if it’s just for an hour or so, make yourself unavailable to anyone who isn’t in your physical presence. Give yourself room to breathe without worrying that someone will call, text, instant message, or otherwise demand your attention right this very second.
But don’t just unplug from being contacted.
Take it a step further and unplug from everything. Turn off the cell phone, computer, TV, and unplug the landline (if you still have one). Give yourself a break from the constant stream of information. Get some relief from knowing every detail of everyone’s lives.
Grab a book and head to a different country, planet, or time period. Grab a puzzle book and do some crosswords, word searches, or sudoku. Put together a jigsaw puzzle. Play a board or card game with your partner or the kids. Take a swim, a walk, or a long bubble bath.
We all need a break from all the external stuff that bombards us. Unplug without guilt and enjoy the time to yourself, whether it’s all alone or with your family.
People hurt us. They upset us. They betray us. It’s just part of being human. People hurt people. You’ve hurt people while also being hurt by them.
But when we hold on to the things people have done to us, we decrease our happiness in life. Instead of being able to fully embrace joy and contentment, we have this little part of us that’s filled with resentment, bitterness, anger, or pain. And until we forgive, it’s like we keep pressing a finger against the painful bruise of that offense, keeping that little part alive and making sure it reminds us our happiness is not complete.
But our happiness could be complete.
You’ve heard it before, but here it is again: Holding a grudge doesn’t affect the person you’re holding the grudge against. Lack of forgiveness doesn’t impact them at all. It just hurts you.
They have no idea you’re still harboring these negative feelings toward them. If they do know, they don’t care — or they’re happy to know they still affect you like that.
But when you forgive, you let that painful bruise heal. You let your happiness spread and become complete. You allow yourself to be whole, happy, and content. You let the negative feelings go and with them, all the stress and tension that often comes with them.
Many people are reluctant to forgive. It’s often seen as saying that what the other person did to you was okay or that it wasn’t that big a deal. But that’s not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is simply acknowledging that this thing happened and letting go of it.
Letting go might also mean letting go of the person. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you keep the person who hurt you in your life. It doesn’t mean you bring them back into your life if they’re already out of it. It doesn’t mean you let that person, or any other person, do the same thing to you again.
It just means you acknowledge that it happened and you let it go. And that will give you peace which leads to happiness — and that’s what’s really important.
Start chasing a dream
What is something you’ve always wanted? To own your own business? Travel the world? Get married? Have kids? Build a house? Write a book?
Life can be rough sometimes. We get caught up in running a household, working to pay the bills, and just generally trying to keep our lives from derailing and forget about the fun stuff.
We all have dreams. Some are big, some are small. Some are free and others require a lot more money than we might have. But chances are good that we all have at least one dream that we can start chasing right now.
So do it.
Pick a dream. What’s the first step toward making it happen? Maybe you need to research how to open your underwater basket weaving school or whether you need a business license to start selling products online. Maybe you need to make a travel itinerary, find someone to fall in love with, sketch out those building plans, or come up with a book outline.
Whatever that first step is, get started on it. Let the excitement at the mere thought of making this dream come true flood you.
Reached a point where you’re at a standstill? Maybe you’ve gotten to where you need money you don’t have or you can’t take the next step until you have some vacation time, so you just can’t go any further with this dream right now.
Pick another one and get to work on it.
Your happiness is up to you
No one else can make you happy. It’s up to you to make your happiness happen.
You might not be able to do the big, fantastical things that you think would make you happy. But you can do the small, simple things that can definitely make you happy. And those small, simple things are ones that fit into your everyday life, without spending money or making dramatic changes to your schedule or life.
Even if it’s not one of these three things, surely you can think of something else that’s small and simple that would make you happy. When you think of it, do it. And make it a real part of your life.
And when you find your happiness, savor it. Immerse yourself in it. Let it wash over you. Hold on to the feeling so you’ll always recognize it and be eager to find it again and again.
Wendy Miller is a Certified Happiness Coach, freelance writer & meditation teacher. After years of settling for abusive and otherwise toxic relationships, she got fed up. Using meditation and other tools, she got to work on healing herself, setting boundaries, and only engaging in relationships (romantic and otherwise) that bring her joy. She wants to help other single parents find the love & happiness they seek, including and going beyond romantic love. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
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