Negative thoughts got you down? Does an unkind word ruin your day? Your life need a boost? If your answers are yes, you’re in good company. Less than 14% of Americans say they’re deeply happy, and 38% claim feeling depressed. Did you also know you have a “happiness set-point”? No matter how much you binge-watch your favorite programs, go on shopping sprees, or spend countless hours on the phone, you will eventually return to that point.
And where did this set point originate? The way you were brought up sets the groundwork for this; the mottos you live by, for better or worse, begin in early childhood. That’s right. The ‘I can’t do it,” the “Nobody likes me,” or worse yet, “If they knew me, they wouldn’t like me” began way back when. But there’s good news! You can change this mindset.
Tips for inner happiness
The old adage goes that practice makes perfect. It took a while to get to where you are right now, but practice these tips and move toward your goal of lifelong happiness.
- Enjoy the present moment. You are in the driver’s seat, reveling in all you see, feel and sense. The windshield of the car is vast when compared with the rear-view mirror. Do you anticipate the future, with all its possibilities? Or often ruminate about the past? And if you are looking in that smaller mirror, what do you focus on? The sad times? The grey moments?
Change it up. Choose the best times. You know the ones… A birthday. Your grandchild. Your first car. Make them in vivid color. See everything going on. Hear those happy sounds. Any scents or fragrances? You can smell them. Tastes? You can savor them. How are you feeling now?
- Cultivate friends and family. People who have one or more close friendships say they’re happier than others. It’s not the quantity but the quality of the relationship that makes the difference.
- Develop caring and kindness. How to do that? Caring can include volunteering as part of a group (church, ReCenter, Humane Society.) I have a friend who goes fishing with children at a summer camp. He has a great time, and so do they. Everyone gets wet, and they even catch some fish. Of course, kindness can be as simple as calling a lonely friend or connecting with a family member struggling with a problem.
- Keep moving. Regular exercise equals higher levels of happiness (and lowered depression.) It’s even better when combined with a friendship, working in a community garden, or moving toward a personal goal of physical fitness. Having a walking buddy increases accountability too!
- Let the good times roll. Get on Facebook and see all the fun times your friends are having? If you compare those activities with your own life, you may come up short. Comparison is poison and can quickly spread to envy and jealousy. Make your own memories, your own adventures. Then share them with others. Better yet, invite your pals along. You’ll never regret it.
Get out and enjoy the beautiful weather here on the Mountain. End those old negative thought patterns and move into a bright tomorrow. You’re burning daylight if you don’t. Have fun and be happy. Live unstuck.