Tuesday, 21 February 2017

55 Simple Ways to Choose Happy Every Day, Forever

A lot of people say you can't choose happiness, after all we don't choose our emotions, we just feel them.  But I truly believe we can choose to be more positive, more optimistic and more resilient, whatever life throws at us.  Seven years ago, Steve and I turned away from conventional life and all its entrapments and chose a new path.  We have less money, a child with special needs and other problems, yet we are happier than we have ever been, because of the choices we have made.  Maybe it's time for you to choose happy?


Easier said than done? Perhaps.  But for me, this old parable sums up the idea of choosing happiness:

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life...

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.  "It is a terrible fight between two wolves.  One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego."

"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.  This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old chief replied simply, "The one you feed."

Here's how to feed your happiness wolf:


GOOD morning!

So, where do you start?  I say, start tomorrow morning and go from there...

1. If good, restful and restorative sleep is an issue for you, see our Top Tips for a Good Night's Sleep.  Get your sleep sorted and then tackle your morning patterns.

2. Stretch - ease out any knots and twists, stretch every part of your body from neck and shoulders to toes, being conscious of where you are holding tension.

3. Breathe - pay attention to your breathing by placing your hands on your abdomen, do you breathe deeply and make your hands move apart or is your breathing short, shallow and at the top of your chest?

4. Open the curtains, observe the weather, the sky, whatever nature you can see, smell the air and note your reactions to all of it.  Positive or negative?  Interested or disinterested?

5. Enjoy getting ready, use your favourite shower gel, wear your favourite clothes, don't keep stuff for best.  Set the table, even if it's just you, and use your best crockery all the time - honour yourself not your guests, enjoy every aspect of your life.  (And if your crockery sucks, choose gorgeous new pieces at the thrift store or car boot sale!)

6. Choose a healthy breakfast.  Fruit, granola, yogurt, eggs, veggies, juice, smoothie, make it a nutritional tour de force to start your day the best way possible.  Aim to blast 2 or more of your 5-a-day (aim for 8-10 really) before the rest of the day kicks in.


Other people

7. Choose to be around the right people.  Spend your time with people who are kind, interesting, positive and intelligent.

8. Remember that relationships should help you, not hurt you.  If someone drags you down, makes you in happy or you dread seeing them, maybe they shouldn't be in your life any more.

9. If you want to change and grow, surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be, not those who remind you of past mistakes or problems.

10. Choose friends and a partner who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you.  Everyone in your life should make your day a little brighter simply by being there.

11. Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  Free yourself from negativity, gossip and unkindness.  Stand strong like a sunflower with your face to the sun of positivity.

12. Remember that your mind is your own fortress, do not let other people's negativity in.  It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you, that's their business, not yours.

13. Avoid comparison with others.  Remember especially that social media is a VERY skewed window.  Step away from Facebook and engage with people in real life instead.




Look outside your life

14. When you are able to, spend time helping others.  You get back what you put in, so raise funds or make/collect essential items for charity.

15. Spend time caring for others, making a positive impact on other lives and you will get back what you give out, ten fold.  Look after family, friends, the elderly or homeless.

16. When you make a positive impact on someone else's life, you also make a positive impact on your own life.  Who could you help, and how?  Engage with local charities and ask how you can help.

17. Contribute to something greater than you, something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.  Find a charity to help with your time and efforts, or a project to contribute to.

18. Practice selfless acts of kindness to make others feel better and boost your own serotonin levels (double whammy!).  Buy coffee or the bus ticket for the person behind you, step up with change when someone else is short, compliment people, help an elderly person with shopping or chores, order groceries for someone, send a book or some flowers just because, the sky's the limit.

19. Practice spirituality.  Adopt some form of spirituality or religion, whether Native American or Buddhist or Christian, recognise that there is much beyond ourselves.  Whether it is a higher power or purpose, a connection to the Earth, a connectedness amongst humanity, or simply a commitment to help animals, recognising that there is something beyond us will enhance your life in myriad ways.


Live now

20. Don't spend your life thinking about what might be or could be.  Use your best plates now, wear your best clothes, don't wait for some future point.

21. Be grateful for what you have.  Start a daily gratitude journal and think about all the things that are good in your life, not the opposite.  When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.

22. Don't hold grudges.  Let go of the past and move on, even if that takes therapy or confronting the past.  I wrote a long letter to my abusive father just before Lara was born then burnt it.  I've had no nightmares or periods of being upset since.

23. Resolve to make the present better, as well as the future.  Re-arrange the home you have to make more space.  If debt is an issue, stop spending money right now.  You can make those big changes today, just one tiny step at a time.

24. Practice mindfulness as much as possible.  Find activities that help you stay in a state of flow, baking, gardening, embroidery, anything that absorbs you completely.


Think happy

25. Choose to be happy and affirm your intent in your beliefs and actions every day.

26. As Bertrand Russell wrote, happiness isn't a mystery or determined by the gods.  Make a conscious choice in all of your attitudes and behaviours to choose happiness and positivity over unhappiness and negativity.

27. Of course, you may say no-one chooses to be happy.  No, they don't.  But we can choose optimism over pessimism, positive thought and conversation over negative.  We can choose to not get dragged down in complaining and gossip, to only watch or listen to positive programmes, to read positive, happy novels and books.

28. See the silver lining in the cloud, see opportunity not adversity.  Even bad situations have positive possibilities.  Made redundant?  What a brilliant opportunity!  Relationship ending?  Someone amazing now has the opportunity to come into your life.  Of course it's not easy, and you won't feel positive every day, but some days you will.

29. Tell yourself that you can handle it.  Begin to truly believe that whatever happens in life, good or bad, you can get through it, find solutions, and improve life.  Develop resilience and strength; know that adversity won't break you, tough as it may be.

30. Make this your mantra: "Today, whatever happens, I choose to be happy."

31. Choosing positive thinking over old patterns isn't easy, but the more you practice it, the more natural it will become, and it will quickly become a habit.  That glass really is half full!




Accept but don't regret

32. Accept that something like grief won't go away.  You may still regret a bad decision, miss a lost love, or grieve for a friend, lover or relative who has died long after the event.  That doesn't just disappear, but gradually you will remember the happy moments, cherish mementoes and realise that everything helps you grow and be the best you you can be.

33. Try to avoid regrets.  Make the best decision you can at the time by gathering all the information available and thinking things through carefully.  As time passes, accept that that is the decision you made and it was the best one for you then.

34. Say yes more.  Not to the mediocre, or to commitments you don't need, dinner parties you don't enjoy, work events you dread, but to adventure and excitement.  Regret should be about the things you didn't do, not what you did.  Have no regrets.


Keep talking happy talk

35. Whenever you hear yourself complaining, judging, criticising or moaning about something, out loud or in your head, stop.

36. Whenever you feel jealous, think about what you do have.  Focus on gratitude and what you have, not what you don't.  Count your blessings until the jealousy or envy has gone.

37. Appreciate beauty, every day.  Look for an exquisite flower, take time to look at the sunset or sunrise.  Spend time in nature every day and appreciate the sights, sounds and smells.

38. Whenever you feel sad or down, recognise that continuing to invest your time and energy in your melancholy is a choice.  Do you want to keep dwelling on it, or do you want to do something better?

39. If you feel angry at bureaucracy, politics, your boss, your kids, your partner, think about what you can do to make a positive change instead.  Take a parenting course, have a conversation, get counselling, take political action, look for a better job, expend your energy on that instead of wallowing in your anger and frustration.

40. If you can do nothing to change a situation, acknowledge that it is what it is and move on.


Arguing

41. In an argument with someone you love, ask yourself if it is more important to be right, or to have the final word, than to love.  Do you want to feel justified or exonerated, or to be happy?

42. Never sulk.  Withholding your love just makes two people unhappy, choose love, choose peace, choose happiness.

43. In an argument avoid getting personal or being rude, however much provocation there may be, and offer the olive branch afterwards.  If you are rejected, walk away.  You have done all you can.




Look inside yourself

44. Focus on the internal, not the external.  Happiness isn't in a restaurant, a refrigerator, a syringe, a bottle, a chocolate bar or a shopping mall.  Concentrate on your internal life, your internal monologue, and your thoughts and actions.  Choose the best for your external self in self care, but remember that clothes/shoes/make-up/cars/phones etc etc don't matter a jot.

45. Hone your inner monologue to make the voice a positive, inspiring, affirmative one.  You ARE good enough, you DO deserve to be happy, and you can strive for happiness every single day.

46. Take courage, and choose to be happy.  You CAN choose happiness and positivity in every thought and action.


Take care of your self

47. Take care of your body.  After your healthy start to the day, practice good self-care all day: eat well, exercise, bathe, rest.

48. Identify what gives you pleasure and schedule more of it into your day, week, month, year.

49. Commit to your goals.  Figure out what you want to improve in your life, what your personal and work goals are and commit to them wholeheartedly.  Do one small thing every day to move closer to your goals.

50. Extend your vocabulary.  Use better adjectives than nice, tell yourself and everyone else that you feel fantastic, fabulous, amazing, brilliant, superb, excellent, and you will.

51. Smile and laugh.  A lot.  Every day.

52. Avoid overscheduling.  Leave plenty of space in your diary to just be.  Remember to read, to sit and do nothing, to walk, to watch the birds.

53. Turn off your phone, laptop, TV and do something else.

54. Savour every day experiences, from your hot shower to your delicious dinner.  Enjoy every moment/mouthful and think about the sensory experience.  Don't let the everyday pass you by because it is every day.

55. Remember above all else that happiness comes from within, not from outside and what you have or don't have.


In Man's Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote:

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."

Choose your attitude, one of positivity and optimism.  Choose happiness.


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