6 Ways to Find Happiness in 2014

I'm not saying forget about whatever it is that is bothering you. Those chapters in our lives shape us. What you can do though, is come at peace with these times. Accept them. Honor them. And move forward.
01/16/2014 08:54am ET | Updated March 18, 2014
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Hey, you. Yeah, you reading this! Let me first off say that you are a fantastic human being.

Now, let's have a chat.

As humans, we are all entitled to our bad days. We all go through long periods of sadness, we all have hurdles that we may fall over, we all have our struggles. But why is it that we constantly try to compete with other people that our lives are busier, harder, etc., than theirs? It's like we thrive on the satisfaction of knowing that we are one-upping another person based off of something terrible. Why do we do this? Why do we try to run away? Well, the reality is that you cannot escape these trials, you cannot escape a rough patch, but you can change your perspective.

With a new year upon us, here are six realizations that will help you find happiness in 2014.

1. Changing location will not change your personal happiness.
So often I see statuses saying "I cannot wait to move out of this state," or "I cannot wait to transfer schools." Now, its one thing if you live in Northeast Ohio and hate the snow and want to move to South Florida, and another to transfer schools due to financial reasons, change of major, what have you. The thing here though, is that if you yourself are unhappy with where you live, go to school, work, etc., changing location isn't necessarily going to make you any happier. You first need to be happy with yourself, or at least begin to be happy with yourself, otherwise those demons you are fighting are just going to follow you from state to state, city to city, school to school, and job to job.

2. It will always be "high school."
I constantly hear people saying things like "This (insert group, school or job) is just like high school." High-school drama, at least from what I've gathered, is a bunch of people trying to be better, smarter, funnier, more successful or more popular than you. Well, I hate to break it to you, but this never ends. There will always be someone better than you. It sounds morbid, but it's true. Now, you can go on acting like you're defeated or you can go ahead and better yourself. You're going to have petty people. You're going to have jealous people. We're human. But once you accept the fact that's how society is, just brush it off! Who cares!? As long as you are making an effort and putting forth all you've got to be the best you can be, there is absolutely no use in feeling bad. It is just a waste of your precious energy.

3. Accept differences.
People are silly. People are weird and quirky and do goofy things. You know what? That's okay. There's too much black and white in this world, so go ahead and be a little gray. Go ahead and be a free spirit that suits up and works for a Fortune 500 company. Embrace your individuality. Embrace your silliness, then, embrace other's. I promise some of the most interesting people come across a little "different."

4. Any situation can be controlled based solely on the way you react to it.
My mom always tells me that I am the reason for my attitude. If someone is bothering me, it's so much easier to blame them for my actions if I claim I'm having a "bad day." Really, you have the power to control how each day pans out. There is an awesome flow chart I found one day. It says "Is there a problem?" and your options are "yes" or "no". It then goes onto ask after each option "is there something you can do about it? Yes or no?" If there is something you can do about it, the arrow points to "Then don't worry about it." If there is nothing you can do about it, the arrow still points to "Then don't worry about it." No matter what you choose, each situation results in "Don't worry about it."

Take this and embrace it. I promise that sometimes stress is brought on by the overreaction to a problem that we have control over.

5. Take time for yourself.
We all get stressed. We all spread ourselves too thin. Late nights, extra credit hours, one more project. Sometimes we just get too caught up in these tasks that we forget to take some personal time. Read a book, paint a picture, go window shopping, meditate, whatever! Just take some time to come back into yourself. Remind yourself how awesome you are and how you can totally accomplish everything you have going on.

6. Make peace with your past.
We all make mistakes and we all do things we are not very proud of. Some situations are easier to move on from than others. Some things haunt us and consume us and flood our thoughts when we least expect it. Let me tell you, this is so incredibly draining. I used to find myself dwelling on things in the past, and honestly, one day I had the realization that what happened in the past is just that, the past. You can't change it. It's done. Over. Well if you can't change it, why waste energy on it? Why live life with this constant burden hanging over you? Now, I'm not saying forget about whatever it is that is bothering you. Those chapters in our lives shape us -- shape us, not define us. What you can do though, is come at peace with these times. Accept them. Honor them. And move forward.

Although simple, these six small lifestyle changes will push you towards happiness in 2014. Having some thoughts? Sound off in the comments below.

Now go out and be happy, you fantastic person!