It's true. I am happier than most people I meet. Most people seem a bit dazed by life. Going through the motions. Worse they are caught up in some pattern or cycle that they can't get out of. Even worse they are stuck in the groove of complaining and whining. I realized a few years ago that I have done some things and continue to craft happiness in my everyday life and figured I should share that with you. Because, heck, you want to be happy too, right?
I Don't Look Back
Stuff happens. Good stuff and bad stuff. To everyone. You aren't special (a phrase my husband hates hearing me say). It's true though. We all have had crappy parents, bad jobs, terrible partners, no good rotten days, liars, cheats, health hurdles, etc. You don't escape these things in life. They are just part of the art of living. The thing that I do differently, that makes me happier than you, is that I just accept the things that have happened, try to make changes and amends when applicable and then I move on.
No grudges, no plots of revenge, or scheming to make it better. No pity parties or violins. Life can suck. I admit that. It is also awesome and beautiful in ways that astound me every single day when I am fully focused on the present. Get there and you will be happier too.
Get Goals, Girl
I recently taught a workshop to a packed room and asked who had goals. You know 5 year, 3 year, 1 year, tomorrow? One person. In the whole room. I was shocked. Here's the thing. If you don't map out where you want to go how on earth are you going to get there? Make even a small goal and reach it. You will be happier because you do.
The studies show that you are happiest in the planning. It is true for people planning a party, vacation or any other aspect of their lives. The more plans that you make the more you have to get excited about. My mind lives in planning mode. I plan things I may never do, but I plot them out and see if it is possible. I get excited about the details and the possibilities. It makes me immensely happy to know that good things are going to happen because I've been working on them for weeks, months or even a year.
Hang Out With Your Peeps
First you have to find them. You can look at things that you might be interested in, online, in groups you already belong to, but find them and make commitments to hang out with them. One of the number one sources for depression is isolation and we live in a weirdly interconnected social world where people don't actually have to interact with real people in real life. When you do, though, you have deep memorable experiences that enrich your life more than a status update ever will.
Dive Deep Into Your Own Interests
It's easy to be distracted by work, drama, Facebook statuses, cat videos, binge TV, or the latest scandal, but if you start to spend quality time doing things that you like to do you'll find a sense of satisfaction that those things can't bring. You get to get better at something. You develop a sense of joy from your outcomes. It doesn't matter if the thing you like isn't cool. Who cares. Do your own thing often enough and you will find other people who are into it -- the peeps you need from above.
Don't Be Conventional
It doesn't mean that you have to have your lip pierced, live in a yurt, or celebrate the moon cycles (it's cool if that's your thing, though). What it means is that you don't have to follow the lead of what everyone else is doing. You are unique by definition. There is only one you. Don't follow the crowd all of the time. Be a little daring or different. Sure, it might be easier to just go along with what everyone else is doing, but does that make you happy 100% of the time? I don't think so.
Go Your Own Way
Most of the people I grew up with still live within a 30 mile radius of where we grew up. Granted, Southern California, is awesome, but there is a big wide world out there and they didn't go explore. There is a real pull to go to the same school everyone else is going to, stay in the same social scene, not pull away from your family (this is a big one for most people), but if you have a burning desire to do something go explore it. Leave the nest or at least explore further than the 30 miles you grew up from. You will be surprised that people are irritated that you are not staying, at least I was, but it doesn't matter because they were doing their thing and I was able to go do my thing.
Let Go of Shoulds
I gave up Christmas with my parents, Thanksgiving with my whole family, staying in a "good job" and conventional marriage to live a happier life. I love my family and friends who wanted me to do what they thought I should, but if I had done it their way I would never have been happy. It wasn't that any of those things were bad, but I knew that they weren't right for me. Every single day there are things you think you should do. Obligations that have no real meaning and might actually be causing you pain. What would happen if you stopped doing them? Would the sun fall from the sky? Probably not. Sure. It might piss someone off because you are defying their need for you to be a certain way, but you are stronger than that. You can follow your own path to happiness.
Isn't Time You Tried Happiness?
I want everyone I know to find their true path to happiness. I want them to get out of the grind of life and into the bliss. Everyday isn't perfect, but knowing that I've made my own choices and that I get to choose happiness every single day makes my world a pretty happy place.