“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” – Dale Carnegie
What’s your happiest memory?
When I was in my mid-twenties I suddenly became ridiculously happy. Everything seemed brighter and better than it had ever been before.
I delighted in the birds singing, the flowers growing, the blue sky, and the joy of being alive. I went on an amazing, natural high.
Nothing bothered me. The simple act of living was mind-blowingly good.
Maybe you think I’d fallen in love, but it was just the opposite.
I’d ended a relationship.
After surviving years of unhappiness, and physical and emotional abuse, I finally found the courage to fight my way out.
I was elated just to be alive. I knew this natural high couldn’t last forever, but I was determined that my new life would be better.
I was determined to be happy, and to live a happy life.
And I have. Twenty years have now passed and while the euphoria of that time gently evaporated, the lessons I learned about happiness carried forward.
From what I’ve learned, there are a few secrets that all happy people know. Some of them might surprise you.
1. It’s OK To Be Sad
You don’t have to be happy all the time, or even every day. Happy people know that it’s OK not to be happy some days. It’s important to process whatever feelings we have – sadness, anger, frustration or surprise.
When bad things happen, as they do to all of us, be gentle on yourself. Don’t past on a false smile.
The contrast of negative emotions can be beneficial, because they remind us how wonderful happiness is.
2. Being Happy Takes Work
There are things that we can do to increase our happiness every day, but they take a some effort. Things like eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of rest help keep our bodies healthy.
Searching out people and entertainment that makes you laugh or feel good, nurtures your soul.
Taking the effort to eat right and surround yourself with good people pays off. You feel good to your core.
3. Self-Appreciation Is Mandatory
You need to learn to love and appreciate yourself, just the way you are. You are just as interesting, unique and remarkable as anyone else.
Sometimes it’s hard to see our own best qualities. Or if we see them, we don’t always value them.
So make a list of the things you love most about yourself, and remind yourself of these qualities regularly.
4. People Must Be A Priority
We all need to feel loved and appreciated, and spending time with the people closest to us fosters warm feelings. Human beings have always been pack animals – we need to connect with people.
When we’re just hanging out, enjoying each other’s company, we’re sending and receiving subtle messages of love and appreciation.
Strong relationships help us survive the tough times, as well as celebrating the good times.
5. Comparisons Are Futile
Comparing yourself to someone else is always going to end in tears. It doesn’t matter if you compare body shape, bank balances, or boyfriends.
There’s always going to be people both ahead of you, and behind you, on any scale. The only person you have to satisfy is yourself.
Try to consider the things that people might envy you for, so you can value those things too.
6. Sometimes Memories Surface
Everyone has some unpleasant memories. They’re part of life, and trying to suppress them is futile.
When we work through the pain and learn to accept the past we’re able to close the door gently on those ‘rooms’ in our mind. We can choose to visit those rooms if and when we feel inclined. But we can also gently close them off, so that we can grow and heal.
Your memories are part of you, so carry them with grace.
7. Over Analysis Is Your Enemy
We’re all capable of analyzing a situation to death. Wondering whether someone else’s actions have deeper meanings than they do, or endlessly turning things over in our mind.
It’s fine to think about situations, and establish what you can learn from them. But sometimes our mind gets a little obsessed and repeatedly churns things over, on an endless, self-flagellating loop.
When this happens think, Thanks Mind, and move on to other things.
8. Attitude Can Be Chosen
Choosing your attitude is easier said than done. I never used to believe it was possible. But it is.
The key is to change can’t to can. Whenever you find yourself thinking that you can’t do something, it’s important to stop and force yourself to think about what you can do.
Try thinking, ‘If someone could solve this, how would they do it?” Distancing yourself from the problem in this way opens up new ideas, and pretty soon you’ll be capable of anything.
9. Living Happens Now
Don’t put off living. We tell ourselves we’lI happy when the kids are older, or when we get the next pay rise, or when we get a new job.
But when we get those things we put off being happy until we achieve the next great milestone.
Happy people live now. They feel now. They love now. This doesn’t mean they don’t have goals, but they appreciate what they have now.
No one knows how many tomorrows they’ll have, so make sure you live today.
10. Happiness Is Not For Sale
Sometime we don’t realize that all those little ‘rewards’ we buy ourselves are really a way of compensating for a lack of satisfaction in some aspect of our lives.
If you’re living for your next holiday, or wondering why the latest tech toys don’t make you happy, it might be time to look a little deeper.
Maybe you’re trying to buy yourself some happiness, instead of addressing a major issue in your life. Maybe – only you will know.
Get Happy Now
Wouldn’t it be great if happiness was a gift that we could go out and buy for ourselves, or give to others?
Imagine opening a gift of happiness, and letting it flow over you. All warm and cozy and pleasurable.
Imagine giving that gift to those you love. Watching them relax into gentle contentment.
Guess what? Happiness really is a gift you can give yourself.
And the truly great thing about this gift is that in making yourself happy, you make those around you happy too.
So, go and grab a little happiness today, and share it around.
You just need to think good thoughts. Not falsely happy thoughts, just good thoughts.
Focus on enjoying what you have. Practice choosing a positive attitude. Motivate yourself to live in the moment.
Pretty soon you’ll be much happier, and so will those around you.
What better gift is there?
Photo by Mateus Lunardi Dutra