“Happiness will come to you.” That was the message in a fortune cookie I received recently. My first thought was, “Oh great! I’m ready to be happy : )” My second thought was, “Wait. Am I unhappy?”
I started thinking about the whole idea of happiness and what determines happiness. At what point can a person finally say “I’m happy!” without hesitation? What if that happy feeling goes away? Does that mean you’re unhappy?
Are you happy?
Happiness is tough to measure because it’s fluid. It ebbs and flows and it feels like our source of happiness is something external, something that happens to us. The reality is, it’s all about us. Each of us is responsible for our own happiness.
Here are 6 ways to keep your happiness flowing:
Have an attitude of gratitude.
It can be tempting to focus on the negative when you face roadblocks, but there’s always something to be grateful for, even when everything seems awful. Focus on what you’re thankful for and continue to move forward instead of using the roadblocks as an excuse to settle where you are.
Do something just for you.
It might be something you’ve always wanted to do or something you love to do, but haven’t done in a while. What are you waiting for? What would make you feel alive and inspired? Skydive, learn another language, learn to do the tango, run a marathon, help kids learn to read, adopt a dog – whatever it is, take steps toward doing it. No excuses.
Take care of yourself.
This is just a friendly reminder to take care of yourself. People need you, but you can’t take care of anyone or anything if you don’t take care of yourself. When you take good care of your body by exercising and eating nutritious food, you’ll feel better. Really. Make your health a priority so you can do the work you’re meant to do. Click on these links for more about how nutrition and exercise can affect your mood.
Do things out of love, not obligation.
Years ago, I had a a call center job that I didn’t like much. I wanted to quit but I didn’t have another job lined up and I lacked the courage to leave my paycheck safety-net. I was a single mom with 2 kids in elementary school and went to work every day out of obligation to provide for my kids. And every day I wanted to pull my hair out. I was cranky and unhappy. Then I realized something: I had a choice. No one was making me work there. I could leave any time I wanted, but I chose to keep going to that job every day because I loved my kids, wanted to provide for them, and wasn’t ready to switch jobs. It seems like such a small change, but that simple shift in thinking improved my experience. By realizing that my motivation was love, not obligation, I was happier.
Understand the ebb and flow.
There will be ups and downs. You may have days that are completely perfect, where everything is good and things just work out in such a beautiful way, where your cup overflows with blessings. And you may have days when you feel cranky and annoyed. It happens. Remember that you are the determining factor. Your attitude determines your experience.
Be the gatekeeper of your happiness.
Seek out positive people and avoid chronically negative people because attitude is contagious. And don’t give other people control of your emotions by getting angry or upset when things don’t go your way.
Happiness. Everyone wants it but how do we get it? My fortune cookie message was half right – the entire truth is: Happiness will come to you when you choose to be happy.
Choosing happiness is simple, but it’s not always easy. Like most things, we get better with practice.
Do you have a strategy to help keep your happiness flowing? Share in the comments below.