Do you want to know what I get asked about the most? How I stay so happy. Truly, not my untouchable meal planning skills, not my perfectly behaved angelic children, not how I manage to always look so fashionable and pulled together (please tell me you are sensing my sarcasm here…), but really, if I put a request out for post ideas, the majority of requests are always for me to talk about how I became a positive person. So, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about what happy people do differently. It feels like a good topic for a Monday, doesn’t it?
Let me first say that I would consider myself a naturally positive person. I am happy and I look for joy, but I also have down days for no seemingly good reason. I love people, but sometimes want nothing more than to be away from everyone. I am happy but sometimes still need a good cry to release pent-up emotions. So while I am certainly happy, it’s not a “life is always grand” facade; it’s a choice, and sometimes it’s a struggle. During those times when it feels like a struggle, here’s what I’ve learned about how to steer myself back on track.
Happy people slow down.
I am usually a go-go-go kind of gal. I love feeling productive and making our days efficient. I’ve noticed though that at times I cover my inner emotional unrest with to do lists. And sometimes I don’t know when to pump the breaks and that energy quickly turns to burn out. Burn out for me looks like tears, snapping at the people I love, and throwing self-pity parties. I can’t always see it coming, but I am at least grateful that I can at least recognize when it hits now.
When I notice it, the first thing I do is step away and slow down. I step away from my phone and the computer, I pare down my to-do list to the bare minimum, and I give myself grace to slow down. This may mean mac ‘n cheese for dinner, speaking up and asking for help or time to myself, or an early bath and jammies and a movie for the kids. I’ve found it is impossible to get back on track without first slowing down, so when life starts to feel heavy, this is the first thing I try to acknowledge and change.
Happy people are happy because they choose to be.
If I have learned one thing through reading self-development books, listening to TED talks, and discussing the idea of happiness with anyone that is open to it, it is this: Happy people are happy because they make up their minds to be. It’s a conscience effort to look for the good and choose to see it. E=I’ve learned that every single person has a story that will make you cry- every single person. Happy people are not just people whose lives have turned out better than others, they are people that are continuously deciding to choose happiness.
Side note: if you are going through a crisis in your life, that is different than searching for general happiness. Trauma can not be dealt with by simply making up your mind to be happy. It takes time, working through things, and often times help doing so. These tips are for the general feeling of “I’m not happy,” not for those going through a crisis.
Happy people feel worthy of happiness.
One of my favorite self development speakers is Brene Brown and in her audio series, The Power of Vulnerability (which I highly recommend), she speaks about happiness. She brings up a great point that happy people that are choosing to be happy, but also people that feel worthy of happiness. She says that the difference between happy people and unhappy people is that when happy people go through the ups and downs life brings, their self-worth is not on the table. Throughout all the struggles they remain feeling worthy of love and belonging, which are two essential components to happiness.
Happy people smile (sometimes even when they don’t feel like it).
Did you know you can actually influence your brain to feel happiness by choosing to smile? It’s true! Studies indicate that your facial expressions can actually change your brain chemistry and influence you to feel the way you are acting. I’ve actually put this one to the test and let me tell you, at first I felt like a fool trying to smile when I was feeling downright grumpy, but then that made me laugh at myself, and before long, I actually did feel a little lighter. Try it next time you’re in a mood. Smile, then look in the mirror and yourself smiling and tell me if it doesn’t help even just a little!
Happy people find the good and put their focus there.
A phrase that David and I have started incorporating into our daily conversations is “the good news is ___.” It’s a way to train our minds to find the positive of the situation and put our focus there. Sometimes it’s just kind of funny and other times it is actually helpful in redirecting our thoughts. For example “Uh-oh, Hailey has a fever, but the good news is that it happened on the last day of vacation and we’re heading home so she can rest.”
Happy people find purpose in their pain.
Please don’t confuse this for a simple “everything happens for a reason!” I honestly don’t think I believe that. However, I have trained myself to find the silver linings in situations. It does not take away the pain but it rechannels my energy. Terrible things happen. I wish they didn’t, but hard times have taught me how to be more compassionate, to value today, to slow down, and many other beautiful lessons that have deepened my character and my resolve.
Happy people treat others well.
Will I lose your respect if I quote Elle Woods from Legally Blonde? “Happy people don’t shoot their husbands; they just don’t!” It’s true. You know what else happy people don’t do? They don’t spend their time bashing others. The people that are talking smack, being rude, and hating on others? They’re sad, or hurt, or bored, but they are definitely not happy. I focus on not taking part in that behavior myself, and I try not to put myself around others that engage in that kind of negative nonsense.
Happy people protect their energy.
I am an empath which means that I am highly sensitive but that I also feel, and absorb, the energy from others. That being said, in the online world, as in real life, I believe you are a product of who you choose to surround yourself with. Because of that I do prefer to follow people that are rooted in gratitude and bring positive energy into the world. I enjoy some snark and sarcasm, and have been known to dish it out myself from time to time, but generally speaking I think life is too short to focus on the negative.
Instead I choose to love the season I’m in, seek out the good in it, and not only embrace it, but be grateful for it. I surround myself with good people, both in real life and online. I’ve also learned that I’m able to be two things at once. I can be heartbroken about a situation and still see the beauty in my girls making up silly songs and falling into an uncontrollable laughter.
Happiness versus Gratitude
While I think they go hand in hand, happy is different that grateful. I am constantly grateful, and while I’m often happy, it’s not a constant. This has been the hardest year of my life. There have been moments I’ve been curled up sobbing and times I’ve been driving and had to pull over to collect myself. I have felt the weight of situations that have felt like too much to carry at times. Even in those moments, my mind searches for gratitude and I’ve found that there is always (always) something to be grateful for.
The secret formula to my personal happiness is pretty simple- slow down, love your people, be grateful. It’s not revolutionary, but it works for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.
Do you consider yourself a happy person?
What helps you to be or hinders you from being happy?