“To refuse what life offers is to chance not recognizing happiness if it comes your way.” – Maurice Goudeket
What do you say if someone asks you “Do you want to be happy?” Chances are you’d say yes, of course. You might even add that no one in their right mind would reject happiness. Yet, so many people behave in such a way as to limit their ability to enjoy the fundamental and life-affirming feeling of happiness.
Too many reject happiness out of hand, mistakenly believing that they don’t deserve it or that happiness only occurs to others more worthy of it.
How does this all come about? Upbringing has a lot to do with it, the lack of loving parenting, disadvantaged circumstances, personal or family misfortune and more. But this doesn’t always result in an inability to be happy or to find happiness. Some people who’ve experienced extraordinary tragedy or setbacks live incredibly rich lives that are filled with happiness.
So, despite sometimes feeling that you don’t deserve happiness, you can get past that and learn how to be happy. Here are some suggestions that may prove helpful.
Learn to go with the flow.
Not everything that happens today will be calamitous, life-changing or a total failure. There will be ups and downs, to be sure, but by adopting the attitude that you can and will get through this you’ll learn to let mistakes and disappointments flow around you and away from you. It’s important to remember that things can’t rob you of joy of life unless you let them. Recognize and acknowledge what’s going on, but don’t allow circumstances or problems to diminish your love of life — and your chance at happiness.
Take pleasure in small things.
To fully appreciate life, you need to take the time to pay attention to the little things: how delicious your first sip of morning latte tastes, the sweet smell of flowers in bloom, the delightful sound of your baby’s laughter, the reassuring touch of your loved one. It doesn’t have to be the most or the best or the completion of anything to qualify as a simple pleasure. Just be in the present and fully cognizant of the precious gift of life in all its aspects. This will help add to your happiness quotient.
Doing the same things day after day can lead to boredom, stagnation and disenchantment. Switch gears and do something different. Find something that you haven’t done before and give it a try. Take a different route to work. Order a dish at a restaurant that’s something other than your usual fare. Change your wardrobe. Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know that well but want to know better. Look for ways to stimulate your curiosity and follow through with an activity that helps you embrace discovery.
Recognize that today is a new day.
Whatever happened yesterday shouldn’t detract from what you do today. If you failed at a project or didn’t deliver on a task, you can get back at it today, or take a new direction and give it your best effort. The point is that the past is over and done and there’s no sense revisiting it or beating yourself up over it. The key to happiness is forward looking, not backward thinking.
Find what you do well and do more of it.
What are your strengths? What gives you joy? Whatever it is, identify it and give yourself the freedom to do more of it. When you are actively engaged in doing things you enjoy, you’ll find that your feelings of happiness increase. This will also add more balance to your life, a key contributor to happiness.
Dare to put yourself out there.
Perhaps a more challenging aspect of taking a chance at happiness involves the act of putting yourself out there. Instead of clinging to the safety of well-known places, people and habits, overcome your trepidation and fear of failure, disappointment or rejection and embrace the opportunity to discover what’s new, different and exciting. Will this automatically increase your happiness? While not every instance of putting yourself out there is likely to have dramatic effects, the boost in self-confidence and self-esteem you gain from being proactive and positive will amp your happiness quotient. This self-discovery is living vibrantly and with purposefulness. There’s nothing better than that.