Take care of yourself posted on strong-woman.com

6 Ways to Keep Your Happiness Flowing

“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?”

Happiness fortune cookie posted on strong-woman.com
Happiness will come to you Fortune Cookie

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.

Ebb and Flow
Happiness is fluid; it ebbs and flows.

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.

Do something for you picture published on strong-woman.com
Do something just for you.
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.

Take care of yourself posted on strong-woman.com
Exercise and eat nutritious food to keep you feeling well, strong, and happy.
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.

Love posted on strong-woman.com
Do things out of love, not obligation.
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.

My dog and me dancing posted on strong-woman.com

Tips to Shake Off the Blues

Everyone gets sad sometimes, maybe a little blue and not very energetic or joyful about anything. Sometimes you know exactly what’s going on and why you feel that way, but sometimes the blues can set in for no apparent reason. You may have had an incident that directly impacted you, or feel sadness and grief by an event that doesn’t directly affect you at all. Or, you may be experiencing hormone issues (menopause, menstruation) that can make you feel off kilter and not yourself.

Everyone gets sad sometimes posted on strong-woman.com
What can you do?

Whether you know for sure what’s causing the blue mood or not, here are some things you can do to try to help yourself feel better.

  1. Gratitude Journal

    Write about a few things or people that you’re grateful for and why. Focus on the positive and be specific. A grateful heart helps open your eyes to what you have and takes the focus off of what you don’t have. Journaling can help clarify your emotions.

    journal posted on strong-woman.com
    Keep a gratitude journal to help shake the blues.

  2. Listen to uplifting music.

    Whatever does it for you: upbeat tempo, uplifting message, love the artist, oldie but goodie. If you can dance around while you listen or sing along, that’s a bonus. Really.

    My dog and me dancing posted on strong-woman.com
    It’s hard not to smile when you’re dancing with your dog. This is an old picture of my dog, Douglas, and me dancing. He loved to dance.

  3. Have a good cry.

    I’m not a scientist, but something must really happen in the body when you have a good cry. It can provide such a sense of release, especially if lots of energy has been spent to keep it in. Hormonal changes, like what happens during adolescence and menopause, can make crying more reflexive, like crying during a Hallmark or Subaru commercial or tearing up when some one asks you if you had a chance to check the mail. Just let it out. You’ll feel better.

  4. Pray or meditate.

    The basic difference is that prayer is connecting to God or the higher power in whom you believe and meditation is connecting to your self or your spirit, which some would say is where God resides within you. Focus your breathing and deeply inhale and exhale to help calm your spirit and give you a greater sense of well-being.

  5. Exercise.

    Get your heart rate up and move your body. Go up a few flights of stairs, go for a run or a brisk walk, dance, do calisthenics…whatever. Our bodies were built to move and exercise helps keep us chemically balanced, like releasing endorphins, the “feel good” hormone. You may be able to think of lots of reasons why you can’t exercise, but do what you can. Even a short walk can help clear your head and change your disposition.

    Move more graphic posted on strong-woman.com
    Start where you are.

  6. Nourish your body.

    Nutritious food helps you feel better than not-nutritious food. Unfortunately, when you’re feeling down you may crave more sugar, salt, or fatty foods. Cravings are your body telling you what it needs and reaching for sugary, salty, or fatty food is a quick fix that may send you in a spike and crash cycle that can be hard to shake. Keep nutritious food handy and the not-so-nutritious food as unavailable and minimal as possible.

  7. Connect with people.

    Invite a friend or neighbor for coffee or a meal, visit a relative, meet up with a workout group, or volunteer. It seems that the more connected we get with technology, the less connected we seem to be with each other. Avoid isolating yourself.

  8. Listen to motivational messages.

    Just to hear some one say, “You can do it. Keep going,” is sometimes very reassuring. The trick is being open to receive the message, instead of arguing with some one you don’t know and may never meet and saying, “But what about this stupid thing I do or that stupid thing I do.” One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Why not think you can?

These are a few things that work for me. The most important thing is don’t beat yourself up. Take baby steps. Keep going. You can’t re-do the past. Move on and take care of yourself so that you’re able to do all the things that are important to you.

If you’ve tried these things, given it some time, and can’t shake the blues, it may be time to talk to a Health Care Professional for additional assistance. Living life to the fullest requires that we feel well and strong in body, mind, and spirit and sometimes we need a little extra help.

What’s your remedy for shaking the blues? Share in the comments below.