A few years back while at a party someone said to me “I love what you are doing with your blog and social media, but are you really happy like that all the time”?
I stopped for a second to think about her question and said “If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that happiness is a choice… so yes…I really am happy, because I am choosing to be.”
Stressing over Things Beyond my Control
When I think about all of the years that I spent allowing myself to get caught up in negative thoughts I realize I spent a lot of time worrying about and focusing on things that I had no control over. I couldn’t change things that had already happened in the past, and allowing myself to get sucked into the drama of friends was an easy way for me to not have to deal with my own issues when I was busy solving theirs.
Robbing Myself of My Own Peace
My serious road rage was a clear indicator that I was unhappy, and I used it as an opportunity to yell out loud when I was behind the wheel…which is every day. Because someone else just did something “totally stupid,” I felt perfectly justified to lose my shit. One day my husband sat me down and told me he was worried for my health and my safety, since I was definitely raising my blood pressure and was concerned that someone would retaliate against my outrage. This made me start to examine why I was so angry. I have a beautiful life and have been so fortunate. Why would I allow myself to be so consumed with negative thoughts and fixate on the actions of others to the point that I would yell at people while I was driving?—and in so doing, rob myself of my own peace.
Practices for Shifting Mindset
Through yoga and IntenSati practices I am continuously reminded that we are each the co-creators of our lives and that we have the ability to choose our thoughts and our attitude. We can either choose to live in a negative mindset and get sucked into that space or we can choose to change our perspective and live a fuller and happier life. I know it sounds hokey at first, but it’s so true…and you don’t just “Get Happy” overnight either—it takes real work. Even then, once you are in a state of happiness you have to continue that work to remain there. The difference is that when you are living your life from this place everything feels lighter and easier, and the joy that you feel on the inside is felt by others around you.
Protect Your Energy
We all have negative stuff that we could dwell on from work problems to relationship issues to friendship drama to weight issues, and the list can go on and on. For me, I had a lot of feelings wrapped around my being adopted, not feeling worthy or enough, and always feeling that I needed to prove myself to everyone. Since doing the work on myself and taking a happier approach to life, I am learning to let these things go, as well as the people in my life who do not wish me well or brought negative vibes to my universe. It’s hard but perfectly acceptable to cut the cord on those relationships that do not serve you. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own mental health, and you must protect it.
Happiness as a Lifestyle Choice
Happiness by definition is more than a simply positive mood. It is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction. To find happiness you first need to find yourself. Ask yourself, who am I honestly, and what makes me feel joyous and my life feel full?
Are you ready to choose happiness as a way of life? Are you ready to feel lighter, more positive, and enjoy an all around easy energy that feels good to you and to others around you? Below I share some of my go-to techniques that work for me time and time again for putting myself on the road to a happier, more energized, and more fulfilling life.
Take time for yourself
Designate 15-30 minutes for yourself every morning…like, really to yourself. This can be difficult when we have kids or a partner, but it is so important to start your day with a few minutes of “me” time. This time should be social media free. Maybe it is enjoying your morning coffee or reading the paper. It could be a morning walk, jog, or workout class. Whatever it is it should be something that feeds your soul first thing before you give yourself and your time to others.
Studies show that when you exercise you release endorphins which help to stabilize mood. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Serotonin in particular is helpful to fight depression and increase positivity, leaving you with a “natural high.”
Get some sun
Don’t you just love that feeling of the sun on your face…it always makes me feel warm and excited! There is a real reason we feel that way after a day at the beach or a simple stroll down a sunny road. Studies show that 20 minutes of sunlight a day boosts mood and increases happiness. Wear your sunblock…but get some rays!
Smile often at yourself and others. Smiles are free, so share them regularly and often! A smile can shift the energy of your day and that of those around you.
When we take the time every day to show gratitude for even the smallest of things we have it leaves no room for us to focus on the thing we don’t. It helps to put life into perspective and reminds us that we are unique and amazing just the way we are now.
Listen to music
Music brings joy, so give yourself a theme song. This song can change from day to day or week to week…or it can forever be the same anthem. Whenever you are feeling stressed or down sing that song to yourself, or, if you can, blast it on your stereo or phone.
Live in the present
Often people will say “I can have this, when I have done that.” Don’t deprive yourself of simple satisfactions. Remember that you deserve to care for yourself now and in every state you find yourself along your life journey.
Choose your thoughts wisely
Our thoughts have so much power that we need to be mindful of the ones we choose and the conversations that we have in our heads. If we continue to give brain space to negative conversations, we will never lead a happier life. When you find yourself having negative conversations with yourself, say something positive to yourself so that you can change the script and lead yourself toward a new direction.
Give compliments to others
Don’t we all feel happy when someone pays us a compliment? I know my mood shifts when someone says they like my outfit, hair, or shoes. Why not share that same good feeling with others? You will find happiness in the reactions it brings and the joy you have shared with the person on the receiving end.
Surround yourself with positive people
The old adage “positivity begets positivity” and “negativity begets negativity” rings so true. When you surround yourself with happy and positive people, those vibes rub off on you and others.
Get some sleep
Studies show that when you are well- rested you have a more positive attitude, so do your best to get your eight hours.
Stop looking for happiness and start living it! Happiness is a choice, and you can choose to start being happy now.
Have you thought of happiness as a choice or something you are waiting to experience “one day?” Which one of my happiness cultivation tips resonates with you the most? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.