Is there a magic elixir for happiness? Should we be that thing called “happy” all the time? Is there value in disappointment and trials? Down days are inevitable. Sometimes all you need is a little boost to get you over the hump.
- Call a friend and tell them something you admire about them. This isn’t the same as giving someone a compliment when they have accomplished a noteworthy achievement. This is recognizing a trait that helps others or that has had a personal influence in your life. You know your friends well enough that coming up with an admirable trait or activity should be easy. It’s important to call instead of e-mail. One-on-one interaction is how we build relationships.
- Smile. Motivational writer and speaker Denis Waitley wrote: “A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” Your smile makes you feel better and has an equally beneficial impact on those you encounter.
- Make peace with yesterday. Are you carrying a grudge? It’s probably the heaviest weight you will ever carry. You may not even know how it began. Someone did this, you did that, they retaliated, you pushed back. Suddenly a long standing friendship (or family relationship) hit the iceberg of anger and broke apart. Even if your offer to make peace is rejected, you will know you made the effort, which will lighten your load.
- Hang in there. Success is not measured by how many times you fall down; it is measured by how many time you get up and try again. If you have an achievable goal, go for it with everything you have in you. Be energized by the small successes and treat mistakes as learning experiences. You will feel better about your accomplishments and have a more positive outlook.
- Be flexible. When life does not go your way, be open to other options. Not getting the promotion or the perfect job is a bump in the road, not a barrier. Too often we believe, “My way or the highway,” shows strength or power. It creates roadblocks to communication and personal growth.
- Maintain perspective. My husband jokingly says the words “always” and “never” should be stricken from the dictionary. When you think of your life in absolutes, you begin to see your problems as overwhelming, insurmountable. Take life in small increments and check off the solvable objectives one box at a time. You will feel better with each accomplished goal.
- Guard your thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 reads, “… for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. ‘Eat and drink,’ saith he to thee, but his heart is not with thee.” (KJV) When you are helping, reaching out, lifting up, do so with the right mental attitude and with a generous spirit. A gift given begrudgingly is no gift at all.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others. Yes, you are unique. Don’t argue with me. You are you, created in a mold solely your own. You have been given a wealth of gifts and talents. How – or if – you use those gifts and talents is up to you. While it is true that the beautiful people seem to have ideal lives, they’re just like the rest of us, as full of insecurities as you or I. And think about it, some of the most famous actors were anything but beautiful; they were talented men and women who capitalized on their talent and opportunities. You can do it, too.
- Disappointment is part of life; get over it. Pain and disappointment are inevitable. It happens to all of us. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that life is not fair. Living under the rationale that what happens to you is unfair will bring you down and create a defeatist attitude. “This, too, will pass,” may be a cliché, but it is a valid, positive way to handle disappointment. Tomorrow is another day. How can you make it a great day?
- Trust yourself. Self-doubt opens the door to defeatism. If you think you can’t, you won’t even try. If you think you can, you will make the most of every day and use the gifts and talents you’ve been given in the best way you know how.
Being happy is not a single thing, or getting what you want; it comes from contentment, loving others and being loved, helping those around you and making a difference in the ways you can. Believe in yourself. Live your faith. Make the most of who you are. You will feel better.
NOTE: Clinical depression is a serious illness. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes you can’t make yourself feel better. Seek help. See your regular doctor and ask for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional. See the signs of clinical depression here.