Happiness is something we are all in searching of. It is the feeling of content and gratitude for everything you have and the feeling of waking up in the morning excited about your day, every single day. I’ve definitely gone through difficult times in my life: failure, death of loved ones, grief, heartache, and walking with close friends as they struggle through anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Through these experiences and struggles I’ve learned how to be happy even during hard times. Here are 12 tried and true tips that have helped me stay happy and positive even when life isn’t perfect (aka 99% of the time!). Hopefully these tips are able to help one of you!
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything”. I cannot tell you how true this is. Even if you were the richest person in the world with every object your heart could desire, you would not be fulfilled. You know the Christmas present that was “all you ever wanted”? Well even after you get it, you will always want more — it’s human nature. To combat this, we have to be grateful towards all the blessings we DO have. Even in the worst situations, you can be thankful for small things: a meal, a stranger’s smile, the ability to walk, the ability to see and hear, a good book, a friend, your personal gifts and strengths, etc. Do you see where I’m going? I’m not saying this will happen overnight. It’s hard, but start your day with thinking about 3 blessings and over time you will see that you’re able to increase it to 10 or 20 each day. Starting your day with gratitude is an amazing feeling. If you want to take it up a notch, write these down. A study found that people who wrote down things they were thankful 3 times a week for a few weeks were happier than those who didn’t even MONTHS LATER! If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will!
MEDITATE & PRAYER
Spending 5-10 minutes to either meditate or prayer first thing in the morning or before bed has been a complete game-changer. The Headspace app is AMAZING and a great place to start if you’re new to meditation.
PLAN SOMETHING YOU LOVE, DAILY
Having something to look forward to is huge. Plan something for yourself every day. Studies have found that when people plan a vacation, the anticipation of the trip is more rewarding for the brain than the actual vacation. In the same regard, doing something fun for yourself will not only make you happy while you’re doing it but thinking about it throughout the day will also make you happy! It can be as small as buying yourself a coffee, doing a face mask, reading a book before bed, going on a walk at the park, calling your mom or BFF, going to the gym, or watching your favorite show. Give yourself something to look forward to everyday!
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
“And it’s all small stuff” as my dad would always say. Getting upset about small things is super easy but it can really add up and cause you immense unhappiness. This can range anywhere from spilling coffee on your shirt to getting cut off to not getting the grade or work review you wanted to forgetting your lunch. I’m sure you can think of a few things that have made you mad recently that fell into this category. The only thing you can control in life is YOUR ATTITUDE. You can’t control other people, what happens to you, the weather, death, or anything else. Training your mind to have a good attitude and forget the bad or frustrating things that happen (more on that here) makes you a happier person. This can be really hard so I wanted to give an example — I’ve been hit multiple times while driving (actually twice while I wasn’t even moving…haha). Getting in an accident is extremely scary and not at all fun but getting out of my car and yelling at the other person or being really upset isn’t going to change what already happened. Being kind and polite to the other person and letting go of the small stuff (and anger or frustration) during the process will help things go smoother. Statistically speaking, accidents are bound to happen so another way to look at it is that (hopefully) it happened at a “good” time (there wasn’t much traffic or you weren’t on your way to something extremely important) or being thankful that no one was badly injured. After the accident you can go about the insurance and car repairs angrily or you can spin it in a positive light and think about how you needed to get that part of your car fixed anyway or that the mechanic is near your favorite restaurant or that carpooling with your friend will help you guys bond. Letting go of negative thoughts is huge and will help you stay happy even when unfortunate things happen.
EAT WELL, LIVE WELL
Plan your meals in advance so you can eat healthy and filling meals and snacks every day. Eating lots of fruits and veggies will make your body feel better and definitely makes me happier. While fast food is good for the 5 minutes I’m eating it, I immediately feel horrible afterward and for the next few days! Make sure to stay hydrated with lots of water too because it will keep you energized.
HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM
No matter how positive and happy you are, everyone needs people to love and support them through the bad times. Whether its friends or family, find people you can vent to and who will be there with you through the dark times. We are not meant to go through life alone, so share your burdens with others and allow yourself to be loved and supported!
MAKE A TOP 3
When everything has hit the fan and you are barely staying afloat, make a list of 3 things you will get done that day. It can be as small as “take out the trash” or “respond to 1 email”. Having a sense of accomplishment helps you feel happier and usually lead to getting more than your top 3 done. It also helps break down unmanageable lists of things to do into bite-size chunks. As my dad always says “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.
If you’re on a career path that has a long road ahead, it can be really hard and discouraging to envision how many more years you have until you will finally accomplish your dreams. My friend always says “think about who you want to be and then do what it takes”. This may sounds over-simplified but if you want to be a doctor, think about the steps and imagine yourself succeeding. Think about graduating high school and college and how happy and accomplished you will feel. Imagine your excitement when you do amazingly on the MCAT. Think about how you will feel with your white coat walking around the hospital and saving patient’s lives! This always helps me focus and work hard. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey!
This is one of my TOP secrets to happiness. It may sound extremely silly but I try to dress nicely every single day. Wearing a cute outfit that makes me feel good and doing my makeup gives me an extra boost of confidence and makes me feel better, even if I’m having a rough day. For me, looking my best helps me feel my best, which makes it easier for me to have a positive attitude.
SELF LOVE AND AFFIRMATIONS
Loving yourself is a huge step in feeling happy. If you have self-doubt, a great way to combat that is by standing in the mirror and saying affirmations like: “I love me, I am amazing, I’m going to do great on this test, I am important, I am worthy, etc”. Doing this everyday is so helpful in improving your self esteem which improves your self love and overall happiness.
PLAY YOUR FAVORITE SONGS
This may sound really simple, but singing and dancing to upbeat songs while I’m getting ready for the day always puts me in a great mood. I also have a “Happy Playlist” with all my favorite songs that will put me in a better mood if I’m upset or frustrated.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET HELP!
Lastly, if you are in a part of your life where you are really unhappy and aren’t finding pleasure in things you normally love, I encourage you to go see a therapist, counselor, or a psychiatrist. There is NO shame in getting help from a professional, in fact it shows a huge amount of bravery and self-love. This and this are great ways of finding resources in your area.
Do you have any tips for achieving happiness? Comment below!
Thanks for reading!