It’s easy to put off being happy. It sounds silly doesn’t it? Everyone strives to be happy so why would you consciously put it off into the future? But do any of these sound familiar to you?
• I’ll be happy when I’ve lost 5 kilos
• I’ll be happy once I’ve saved $5,000
• I’ll be happy once I finish my degree
• I’ll be happy once I find my perfect partner
• I’ll be happy when I’ve bought my new house
• I’ll be happy when I get a new job
Somewhere deep inside, some people have that belief that life has to be perfect before they can be happy; but do you know what? There’s no such thing as perfection! At least not in the way most people choose to think of perfection. Perfection is balance – not the total lack of anything negative. Meaning the light with the dark; the good with the bad; summer with the winter; so when you put your happiness off until your life is perfect, you’re creating an unachievable goal.
Thankfully though, you can learn to be happy – at least most of the time. It’s not always easy, but read on to discover 7 Habits that happy people use to keep them bouncing through their day.
1. BE GRATEFUL
Happy people choose to focus on what they already have and are grateful for everything, even while they’re working towards even more of what they want. Gratitude for what you do have in your life is one of the fastest ways to feel happy straight away. It’s easy to get busy with work, life and commitments and forget to stop and remember all the good things you do already have in your life. Always looking for more, working towards the next big ticket item or worrying about all of the things that you don’t have in life yet, makes it easy to miss all the things that are already in front of you. Do you have food on the table tonight – do you even have a table to put food on? Will you be sleeping in a comfy bed with blankets to keep you warm? Do you have someone who loves you . . . do you have someone to love – a friend, a partner, a family member? Do you have good health or the resources for medical assistance if you need it? Simple things like this are easy to take for granted, but not everyone is given these basic rights, so taking the time to remember all that you already have in your life will keep you feeling pretty good about life in general.
A great habit is to create a gratitude journal. Each night before bed, spend 5 minutes to write down 5 things you are grateful for and something good that happened today.
Following on from feeling grateful, giving is another incredible way to make yourself feel good – that is if the giving is done with no strings attached. Giving to someone and expecting something in return doesn’t count as you’re not really doing it from the heart – you’re doing it for reward. Giving reminds you of how fortunate you really are as when you give something to someone it shows you how much you actually have and that you’re free to also share that gift with others.
You can give, time, money, support, donations of unwanted clothes, household items; the list is endless, but more importantly you can give yourself to others. Take the time to help an old lady cross the busy road, spend a few moments to speak with someone who seems lonely, remember to smile at someone who was just rude to you because you know they’re probably going through a rough patch right now. All these things can make a difference in the day for someone else, but they also make a difference in your life too.
The swelling in your heart that comes from knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life cannot be expressed – it’s only something that can be experienced.
3. MEDITATE / TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
Life is busy, and it seems to only keep getting busier. There are jobs to go to, housework to finish, meals to be cooked, gardening to be done, kids to be dropped at sport, committee meetings to attend and businesses to run. Before long it can feel like you’re spinning your wheels and not achieving any of the things on your to do list, and then you start to feel grumpy, you snap at your partner, your kids and your work colleagues. No longer are you smiling at the bus driver as you get on to go to work; you’re caught up in your own thoughts and recycling all the items on your to do list and you’re certainly not feeling happy whilst you’re in this state.
Taking some time to be selfish (yes you read right) is actually really important for your own happiness. Trying to be everything for everyone else only leads to resentment, so when you take some time to spend on yourself, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to recharge your batteries and refresh your soul. Plan a day to yourself, book a facial or a massage, read a book or just spend a few hours doing whatever feels good for you. Make a regular booking in your diary for weekly (or even monthly if that’s all you can managed to start with) dates with yourself and make sure you treat it as importantly as you would an appointment with anyone else.
Meditation is a wonderful way to help clear those thoughts and stresses from your mind. Even if you can only manage five minutes to start, you’ll begin to notice amazing differences. If you’ve never meditated before, guided meditations are great places to start. Keep persevering as you’ll get better with practice and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying 5, 10, 15 or even 30 minutes of peaceful bliss.
Make sure you get some time to exercise on a regular basis – and preferably try to do it outdoors. Exercising will help to increase your energy, gets the blood pumping through your body, reduce your stress levels and obviously has the added health benefits of fitness and cardiovascular health. But also (and maybe more importantly?) you feel better about yourself knowing that you’re taking good care of your body and treating it with the respect it deserves. Exercising outdoors or somewhere in nature has the additional benefits of filling your body with beautiful fresh air and can also have a calming effect. If you can, take a walk in the bush, take your dog to the park, or have a run along the beach and while you’re doing it really take the time to enjoy the beauty surrounding you.
One of the biggest stresses people have in life is over money. By making a commitment to regularly save money into a ‘Freedom Fund’ you’ll give yourself the comfort of knowing that you have a pool of money saved for emergency situations. If your air conditioning was to break on a 40 degree day; if you needed some emergency medical treatment that wasn’t covered by the public healthcare; if you needed to hop on a plane to be with a friend or family member – all of these situations would be a lot less stressful if you had money in your ‘Freedom Fund.’ You’d have the Freedom to repair your air-conditioner without guilt as you put the cost on your credit card. You’d have the Freedom to say to the doctors to go ahead without having to check your bank balance and you’d have the Freedom to say to your loved one – I’ll be right there!
Re-look at your budget and see where you can find some extra funds to start putting into your Freedom Fund.
6. ENJOY THE SIMPLE THINGS
It’s easy to think that it’s only the big things that are amazing and to overlook the simple things that really add up to be the big things in life. Every day life has beauty and wonder but because you get busy, it’s easy to forget to see that. Take time to notice the colours of the world; the green of the trees, the blue of the skies, the colours of the flowers. Notice the clouds in the sky and the smiles of the people you meet. Appreciate how excited your dog is to see you when you get home for the day, notice the cold sensations as you enjoy an ice-cream, relish in your children’s delight as play.
As the saying goes; stop and smell the roses. Being happy means finding the joy, beauty and appreciation in the little things in life and giving full appreciation for all the good that you have right now.
7. LET GO OF THINGS YOU CAN’T CONTROL
It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go your way. A friend lets you down when you were looking forward to a night out. You missed the bus because your child was too slow, you can’t wait for a coffee but the line at the shop is huge. Things like this will happen all the time, but when they do, stop and take a breath. You can’t control these situations and getting angry or upset won’t affect the outcome, so just let them go and remember that sometimes things happen for a reason. Whilst you’re waiting in that long coffee line you may find someone to have a great conversation with; not going out with your friend may have saved you a lot of money and also given you the time you really needed for some self-indulgence. Always look for the positive out of any situation and let go of things you can’t control
8. BONUS HABIT: KEEP WORKING TOWARDS YOUR GOALS
Whilst it’s great to be happy and content with what you have and where you are; you still need to be working towards your next goal. I love the saying ‘You’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.’ Which one are you? Having a goal that you’re not working towards just makes it a pipeline dream and in the end can even make you unhappier because you keep seeing this goal as unachievable and out into the future. By working towards your goals, you have a sense of achievement and you feel more satisfied with your life and yourself. Look back on your life say 5 or 10 years ago. Are you in a different position now? How would you feel if your life was EXACTLY the same as what is was back then? You’d most likely feel frustrated and annoyed at not having moved forward. As humans we’re designed to grow and working towards our goals gives us that growth we need.
Always remember to invest in yourself, continually push yourself to grow, develop and learn and most of all, remember that in most cases happiness is a choice. Simply waking and deciding to be happy is the best habit you can develop.
What habits do you have to create your own happiness?