More Happy, Less Stress – 7 Strategies
Most people would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy.
– Dr. Robert Anthony
SAsk just about anybody about what they want most out of life and probably they will give you some form of the phrase “I just want to be happy”. People want to be happy and they try just about everything to find this elixir. We do a lot of things that we hope will bring us happiness. Some of us try to escape from our lives in the form of traveling, Some of us get wrapped up in our work hoping to find fulfillment in what do we do professionally and some of us shop to find happiness. We are all seeking that “feeling” of being happy. Unfortunately, as quickly as that “happy feeling” comes, it also disappears just as quickly before we can even latch on to it.
In some circles we hear that happiness is a choice; we just need to choose to be happy and then we will be happy. I don’t know about you, but I find this concept a little discouraging, kind of like a similar one: think positive. I am simply not able to “‘think positive” all the time and I don’t want to carry the guilt of failing to do so. In the same way, I don’t want to feel guilty all the time that I didn’t “choose” to be happy. Sometimes I am not happy and that is normal. Sometimes things happen in life and we can’t be happy at that moment.
So, it can be extremely frustrating to hear that we just need to choose to be happy in order to be happy. Reality simply does not work this way.
The author of the book: The 7 Core Skills of Everyday Happiness, Scott Whillite, says the following about how we see happiness:
It is our own mind and our thinking that clouds the way we see things. We can be our own biggest problem.
In reality, Happiness is a learned skill and more precisely, a skill set. Scott Whillite outlines 7 skills for happiness.
When referring to gratitude, we are not talking about saying thank you for everything people do for us or even being thankful in general. Rather, gratitude is the recognition that we have been on the receiving end of kindness. Gratitude is a lifestyle of living purposely because we have been given so much that, many times, we do not even deserve or appreciate. Gratitude is the recognition and state of mind that we are appreciative of what we have.
This way of thinking and living takes us out of the mindset of wanting to have more, of wanting to be in a better position. It eliminates the grumbling, complaining, jealousy, squabbling and all other behaviors that result from ingratitude. Just by living gratefully we can eliminate a lot of angst.
2. Savor the now
Now is all we have and living fully in the now helps us to regain control over our lives to not be chained to the past nor enslaved to worry about the future. The only point in time that we can impact is right now where we are. And “now” will quickly become yesterday, so why not enjoy it?. Being present and savoring now is a beautiful gift we can give to ourselves all the time. It allows us to slow down and notice the good things that are going on around us. It allows us to linger and enjoy each minute. This may seem like a foreign concept to many of us when we consider how busy our lives are. But it is a very important skill to develop if we want more happiness in our lives.
Learning to savor the present moment will help us to be more optimistic in general and lessen the stress brought on by all the activity around us. We can still look to the past to reminisce and learn and we can still look to the future and dream. But the only point in time that we can impact is right now.
3. Lift someone else up
It has been said that when we lift someone else up we lift ourselves up as well. Lifting others up and serving them can help us to keep from spiraling down a vortex of self-absorption. When we are others-focused, it is hard to be self-focused. It is all about connecting – human beings are wired to connect and to connect in meaningful ways. It is hard not to be happy when we are busy helping other people to smile. And the more we help others to smile, the more we will want to continue. Helping others is gratifying and can even become addictive in a good way as we see the benefits it can bring us as well.
4. Don’t worry
Easier said than done, right? Yes, that is why it is a skill. We need to develop this ability. It is in our nature to overanalyze and fret about the future, about what might or might not happen. It has been said that worry is just a misuse of a good imagination. Worry is like trying to pack our current baggage for a trip that may never happen. Erma Bombeck illustrated worry in her typical tongue-in-cheek humorous style:
Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.
In fact, worry is a sign that we need to do some mental detox. We need to get our minds clear and straight again and we need to start dealing with reality rather than imagined scenarios. Our life is not a theatre; we don’t need to invent outcomes. Another reason that we worry is that we spend far too much time listening to ourselves and the wrong people with bad advice or negative outlooks. Maybe we also spend too much time watching the news as well. Learning not to worry us a skill that we have to deliberately work at.
5. Foster positive relationships
It has been said that we are the average outcome of the five people we associate with the most often. Other people impact how we think and how we live as well as the choices we make. We need to be discerning in who we choose as friends and with whom we share our confidence. Positive and encouraging relationships will uplift us and help us to have a positive outlook on life. We can not hope to be happy if we are surrounded by negative people who complain and criticize all the time. We need to be proactive about seeking the people we want to surround ourselves with and we should also, to the extent that it is possible, tune out or dissociate from negative people.
Most problems can be resolved or processed constructively in a conversation. I stress the word conversation and not lecture, argument or debate. It is through conversation that we can resolve differences and help one another to grow.
6. Improve daily
We are wired to learn and grow. Challenges give us purpose and a reason to continue. We hope for new opportunities, new experiences, and new relationships. If we are not learning and growing (improving) in some way then we are not only stagnating, we are actually regressing and the world will pass us by. Learning to improve is hard work. It requires humility and a large dose of curiosity and teachability. But, for our own mental and physical health, we need to develop the skill of self-improvement. It is gratifying and will contribute to our overall happiness.
How can we improve? There are so many ways. We can learn new practical skills such as a new language or writing skills. We can invest time in reading. Or we can start getting up earlier each day to exercise. Whatever we can do on a daily basis to improve will not be lost.
7. Begin again
Tomorrow and each day is a new beginning. We have a new opportunity to make changes, start something new or do whatever we choose to do. It is really up to us The future is in the hands of what we do today. Of course, we are all confronted with obstacles that we put in our paths – we all do this. We make excuses, get distracted, slip into victim mode and host pity parties. But each day is a new day.
So start today. Get off to a running start. Make a new plan. Do something today that will impact tomorrow.
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca