In a stressful world, the ability to choose happiness may feel out of reach. There is always something that gets in the way of being happy. Whether it’s a difficult project at work, an annoying delay in traffic or another inconvenient disappointment, the world often seems unkind.
Though life is almost never as perfect as we might hope, our happiness doesn’t have to suffer because of that fact. In actuality, happiness isn’t something that happens to you — it’s something you have to choose every day.
If you don’t take action to choose happiness, it’s possible you may go a long time without finding it. Life is short, so anything you can do to increase your overall satisfaction is worth it.
Though negative emotions are not easily avoidable, you don’t have to ignore them completely. Conscious steps exist to increase your overall happiness, even when the world tries to get in your way. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Make Healthy Choices
After a particularly bad day at work, it can be tempting to throw yourself down on the couch and indulge in junk food. Though vegging out may feel good every once in a while, it won’t increase your happiness long-term.
Making healthy choices is one way you can choose to invest in your overall happiness and well-being. In addition to eating healthy and taking care of yourself through proper hygiene and regular checkups with a doctor, exercise is a proven way to boost happiness. Exercise can boost your mood and relieve stress and anxiety. The next time you feel tense, choosing to get those endorphins pumping could help you blow off steam and feel better. To begin, try exercises you already find enjoyable such as hiking, swimming or dancing.
Focus on Things You’re Grateful For
When things aren’t going the way you’d like, it’s easy to get sucked into negative thoughts. However, making an effort to think positive thoughts and notice things you’re grateful for can make you happier.
Research has found that practicing gratitude is associated with greater happiness, so incorporating thankfulness into your day-to-day routine may help you cultivate positivity in your life. To notice more of the positives, you might consider meditating, keeping a gratitude journal or expressing your appreciation to the people you care about.
Do Your Own Thing
One common source of dissatisfaction in life is comparing yourself to others. When you are continually trying to live up to what the world thinks you should be, you’re unlikely to be happy with yourself. It’s important to set aside the expectations of others to follow your interests and desires. Realize that real happiness cannot come solely from others — you must find happiness within yourself first.
Instead of focusing on what other people may or may not think of you, try to focus on bettering yourself in ways that make you feel happy. Follow hobbies that interest you and dedicate time to improve at them. Allow your interests to lead you and express yourself without shame. Practicing these actions may free up space in your mind for happiness to take up long-term residence.
Change Your Perspective
Sometimes choosing happiness is merely a matter of shifting your perspective. When you make the conscious decision to view negative occurrences through a positive light, you make peace with life’s difficulties and allow your happiness to exist disconnected from your current circumstances.
One way to change your perspective is to re-envision stressful situations as challenges. By thinking of a difficult task as something to overcome or something to feel proud of for accomplishing, you make it easier to tackle the job at hand while increasing the happiness you feel when you successfully conquer a problem.
Another way you can change your perspective is by attempting to trick your brain into feeling happy. Even in the most trying times, it is possible to smile. When you need to shift your perspective, take a few deep breaths and put on a happy face. A small smile can go a long way by boosting your mood and possibly brightening someone else’s day.
Though life can be full of stress and misfortune, external circumstances do not have to rule your emotional landscape. By choosing to practice happiness every day, you can relieve the pressure you feel and lay the foundation for a better and happier life.
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