I read a quote by Joel Osteen that has become engrained in my mind. It said, “Happiness is always a choice. You can’t wait for circumstances to get better. You have to create your own good fortune. So look for ways to be happy every day.”
Over the past several months, I’ve diligently worked on my mental, emotional, and physical habits, with the intent of living my best life. Despite all the challenges I (and the world) have been faced with, especially recently, I’ve come to realize that I’m happier today than I’ve ever been in my entire life. While it might seem perplexing to say that (given the fact that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, a racial revolution, and more uncertainty than ever), the bottom line is this – happiness comes from within; it’s not based on external circumstances.
During the course of this quarantine period, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting and have realized that our happiness is a mindset, more than a fleeting emotion. For that reason alone, if we want to live our best life now, we must consciously choose to create healthy habits that foster our happiness.
To help you become happier every day (no matter what is going on), here are 5 things you can do now.
5 Ways To Become Happier Everyday
Set The Intention To Be Happy Each Day
I have a piece of artwork in my home that says, “Today is a good day for a good day”. I love looking at it each morning because it reminds me that we can choose happiness.
When we focus our mind on happiness, we start to experience less turbulence, more peacefulness, and more positive experiences. It’s like the Law of Attraction – that which we focus on the most, we magnetize to us. It truly works!
Similar to how you would focus your attention on a goal or a task that is important to you, setting the intention to be happy each day is the first step toward becoming happier. It doesn’t mean that you’ll be smiling at every moment (as feelings naturally fluctuate); it just means that you are re-calibrating your brain to attune to a happy state as its baseline emotion. It makes happiness a top priority, rather than something you experience occasionally.
Focus on Gratitude
As reported by Harvard Health, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Throughout your day, take time to focus on what you are grateful for. Whether it’s the simple pleasures in life, like having coffee on a sunny patio, or it’s something deeper – like your appreciation for your family and friends. The more you focus on gratitude, the happier you will feel.
So often in life, we are consumed by our thoughts of lack – what we don’t have, what we didn’t get, what someone else has that we haven’t achieved or experienced yet. This leads us to feel sad, angry, envious, or jealous. Instead of comparing ourselves and our lives to other people, we’ll feel happier when we shift our attention toward what we do have, the people who are in our lives, and what we have accomplished to date.
The more we are grateful for, the more joy we will experience now.
Create Healthy Boundaries in Relationships
One of the biggest hurdles we often face is in relationships. People trigger our emotions and reactions. They challenge our thoughts and opinions. They can bring out either the best or the worst in us. This roller-coaster of emotional reactions to other people is what strips us of our core happiness.
That’s why we need to create and establish healthy boundaries in relationships if we want to be happy.
This could include carving out time to just be by yourself (so you can meditate, focus on self-care, or just do an activity that brings you joy). It also includes letting people know when and how you want to discuss certain subjects, learning when to say “No” to other people’s requests or expectations, and gently asserting yourself by speaking up.
Another aspect of creating healthy boundaries pertains to toxic people. If you have people in your life who are negative, angry, or emotionally abusive, your best bet is to separate from them (or at least minimize how much time you spend with them). While toxic people might not change their behaviors (as they become a conditioned part of their thoughts and actions), we always have the choice as to how we respond to them. If you have to interact with a toxic person (whether it’s a personal or a professional relationship), remember that even though you can’t change them, you do have the power to change how you react to them.
Re-Program Your Daily Habits
Happiness is linked to our health and wellness more than we might realize.
By re-programming your daily habits to include exercise (which boosts endorphin levels, leading you to feel more joyful), eating healthy foods (which fuels your brain and body in a positive way), and engaging in activities that increase your sense of well-being (like reading, creative projects, or meditating), you’ll boost your overall happiness.
At the same time, we have to be mindful of eliminating habits that are unhealthy. Obsessive patterns, addictive behaviors, and conditioned responses – these are all counter-productive habits that we need to become aware of within ourselves so that we can empower ourselves to replace them with positive habits.
Be Mindful of The Content You Consume
From television shows to reading material, the content we consume has an influence on our thoughts and feelings more than we might realize. That is why we need to be mindful of the type of content we consume and the types of social media accounts we follow.
Have you ever noticed how you feel after watching a highly-charged negative news report? Now compare this to the feeling you get when watching a funny movie. Notice the difference? When you stop to evaluate your feelings, you start to pick-up on the changes in your emotions.
If you find that you are particularly sensitive (like I am), but you still want to be informed about world events, you might be better suited to reading newspapers rather than watching the news on TV (which tends to be highly dramatic, to capture viewers’ attention).
I also find that we need to regularly evaluate the types of accounts that we follow on social media. If following a particular person is making you feel anxious, frustrated, envious, or unhappy – either mute or unfollow them. I think a good way to look at it is – what value do they bring to my life? If an account inspires, informs, empowers, or educates you – then it is worth following. If it doesn’t, then, you might reconsider following them.
Ultimately, the content we consume is up to us. If happiness is our top priority, then we need to selectively choose what and how we consume information, as that will play a major role in how we think and feel.
For more tips on how to become happier, check out this article on I&C.