How often do you think about your happiness?
Sure, you might think about what’s coming up that you’re looking forward to. You might even think about your kids and their accomplishments, and how excited you are for each and every new stage.
But how do you make yourself happy? It’s a popular topic, especially in the 21st century. I can’t tell you how many self-help books I’ve got accumulating dust on my bookshelf. All of them seemed to have the holy grail when it comes to being happy and ‘living your best life’.
Of course, this is easier said than done. It’s so easy to sit down with a book like this and come out of it all shiny and new as you march into the lounge to tell your significant other that you’re now ‘emotionally charged’ or a ‘contented being’.
You could look for happiness almost anywhere – and people do. For me, I find it hard to separate my happiness from my children’s happiness. They’re going to leave me high and dry one day, and I’ll be stuck with a man whose hair has suffered profusely from the years of screaming tantrums and door slamming.
I think breaking it down is a good place to start. Instead of getting overwhelmed with all the things you could do to improve your happiness and slap a smile on your face, let’s move through small baby steps one by one. Even if you just do one of them, you’ll come out better off.
So, how on earth do you make yourself happy?
Because I’m a list person, I’ve categorised the baby steps so that you can slip them effortlessly into the different hats that you wear.
1. Watching the Clock
If you clock-watch, like me, you won’t be as happy. How much time have I got left looking after the kids, seven hours? That piece of information certainly isn’t going to improve my happiness by any means. Try to mix things up by being flexible, like scheduling an impromptu coffee date or visiting your grandpa.
2. Catch your Emotions
Believe it or not, you can catch emotions. There is definitely a link to your mood and the moods of those around you. I often find myself running around like a stressed-out chicken without its head while my kids jump around in joy. If only I stopped and tried to chill out a little bit, we’d all end up having a good time.
3. Check your Relationships
Your friends definitely have an influence on your happiness, whether you like it or not. Are your closest friends uplifting and encouraging of you, or do you hear more about everything that’s going wrong in their lives? If hanging out with them drains you, then you need to consider saying adios to that relationship.
4. Limit the Phone
I know you have a phone. Because I have a phone, also. Everyone has a phone. A lost art in socialising due to these small stimulating devices is being fully engaged in what we’re doing. Try to put the phone away for a bit and be in the moment of what you’re doing. This extra attention will not only benefit others around you, but you’ll be more fulfilled, too.
1. Get Creative with your Breaks
That toilet block closest to you is hella convenient, right? It’s easy and takes no time getting to. But it doesn’t afford the exciting, surprising opportunity of bumping into people you don’t usually talk to. Try visiting a different toilet block a bit further away from your desk and interacting with someone new.
2. The Multi-Tasking Mother
I’m sure you’re used to using your brain to almost always be multi-tasking at home – that’s what parenting calls for. However, this requires additional energy that is limited and precious when you’ve got little ones. It will also diminish your ability to feel like you’ve got a purpose at work, therefore making you less happy. Try using work to switch off the multi-tasking part of your brain.
3. Laughter, Laughter, Laughter
Kind of like location, location, location – laughter is the location of the happiness mood. If you’ve got something particularly stressful coming up at work like a big board meeting, try relaxing your mind by watching your favourite comedy or stand-up comedian beforehand.
4. When Nature Calls
Being outside is good for us. Prisoners who get more outside time need fewer visits to prison healthcare facilities, and patients who have a view recover quicker. The benefits of nature and being outside are clear. It doesn’t hurt to have a desk plant and a fish or two, either.
1. The Smile Factor
Studies have shown that smiling can cause happiness as well as being a side effect of it. The saying ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ is true, after all. Even if you’re not feeling a smile, it’s always worth giving it a go.
2. Try the Phone Stacker
Technology seems to be trying it’s hardest to take us away from real and meaningful relationships. Whenever I get to go out of the house and have dinner with my friends, I like to get everyone to surrender their phones and stack them in the middle of the table. If anyone’s weak enough to take their phone back before they’ve finished their meal, they have to foot the bill for the whole table.
3. Go Out on a Limb
Stick your neck out there and try something new. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? If you don’t like it, you can leave it where it is and go in pursuit of something else. You never know, you might stumble across something you’re naturally talented at.
4. Change it Up
Is there anything in your life that’s getting in the way of your happiness? People don’t like changing things like plans or jobs, especially if they’ve already invested money and time. However, something like a job you don’t enjoy can only serve to suffocate your opportunity to be happy. Try risking it all and purging your life of the kill-joys.
When Spending Money
1. Save Now, Spend Later
The benefits of saving for things in the future like retirement far outweigh anything you could want to spend that money on now. It might be tempting to go for the latest flat screen TV, but you have to think about how you’re going to afford the house you’ll want to watch it in in forty years’ time.
2. Pay Now, Enjoy Later
Indulging in decadence and recreational experiences are more enjoyable when we’ve already paid for them in advance. Try putting some money aside every month for a bit of ‘you’ time – this way, you won’t feel guilty about spending it when you need a good break.
You might think it’s harder than ever to make yourself happy. And you’d be right – to a degree. Don’t get buried in a ball pit of self-help books. Making yourself happy in 2018 doesn’t have to be complicated.
Following a few simple steps can result in some major positive changes over time. But don’t get ahead of yourself. Try to take it one moment at a time.
Another key to happiness is a good night’s sleep. Read all about how to do this in my blog post here.
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What things do you like to do to make yourself happy? Let me know!