“love the life you live. live the life you love.” ― Bob Marley
What makes you happy?
You may be relatively happy in your life but you may still have small annoyances and issues that take away from experiencing enhanced and sustained happiness.
What are some of the small tweaks, the little changes in direction or aligning yourself to the favorable currents that allow you to experience the joy and radiance of life?
Here are a few ideas when implemented may increase the quality of happiness and induce spontaneous moments of happiness in your life. Be warned that you may break out in a dance when you or others least expect it! 🙂
1. Embrace Your Awesomeness
“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
Gratitude and appreciation are wonderful habits to have and greatly enhance the quality of your life. But the question that you may really need to ask yourself is whether your appreciation is always directed outwards at others or things?
Do you take a few minutes to appreciate your own radiance, magnificence and awesomeness?
The truth is that unless you embrace and feel your own light on a continual basis, it may become very difficult for you to find “happiness and light”over there.
When you shift the focus inwards and provide the validation that you may be seeking, you have an internal and unshakable core of self-respect and belief.
Take a few moments to appreciate and love yourself and list why you think that you are awesome.
Get the major players- beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions in consonance with the long-term plan of self-awesomeness.
2. Step Into The Main Role In Your Life And Not Just As A Spectator
“Unless someone like you comes around, things will never change.” ― Dr. Seuss
Do you feel like you are merely a spectator in your life while life happens to you? Do you feel like you would like to do something new in your life and get different results?
Here is a small shift to make you instantly happy. Shut down the input from others on how great their life is and begin living your life the way you meant or mean to live it.
If life can be compared to a stage or a movie and you are experiencing it from the sidelines and being sidetracked by other people’s agendas, it is time to reclaim the role of the protagonist.
By realizing very clearly what you would like to do and experience and making that happen puts you in the lead role in your own life.
An interesting question to ask is from Rumeet Billon’s TEDx talk where she asks the question:
“If you had the opportunity to write your own story, what will it be?”
How would you want your story to unfold?
Become the lead actress or actor of your own life.
Define how you would like your story to be told and experienced and then go live it instead of feeling bad that others are having all the fun.
3. Form Great Relationships, Seek Assistance And Delegate
“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” ― John Lennon
Happiness research indicates the health benefits of forming deep and meaningful social connections. When you do not feel alone, you are more likely to feel more happiness and follow through with ideas and projects that you have always wanted to do.
Another little shift that brings a lot of relief and happiness is the ability to seek and allow assistance into our lives. The truth is that one person cannot do it all and you will find much happiness in artful delegation.
Form and nourish deep and meaningful connections with others that matter in your life.
Be unafraid to seek assistance and do not hesitate to delegate the unimportant stuff so that you can focus on the important things.
4. Really Listen With Your Heart And Do Not Jump In To Speak
“We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.”― Diogenes Laërtius
You may think that as a friend, you should jump right in and speak to fix the problem. But often, people just want you to listen to them and make them feel approved and validated instead of listening to your opinion.
Another problem of not listening with all your attention is that it makes you miss important information and makes the other feel unsupported. You will see that good listening makes you feel much more relaxed and the rapport you develop with others is bound to make you feel great.
Instead of interrupting someone, allow yourself to take a break and really listen to what they are saying and wait for your turn to speak.
Practice deep and heartfelt listening. The greatest gift you can give someone is your undivided and enthusiastic attention.
5. Be Supportive Of The Dreams And Goals Of Others
“Encourage, lift and strengthen one another. For the positive energy spread to one will be felt by us all. For we are connected, one and all.”― Deborah Day
How much support and encouragement are you giving to others?
Are you actively taking enthusiastic interest in the dreams and goals of other people and finding little ways to support and uplift them?
The joy and happiness that you receive back by the genuine “thank you” from someone who you have made a difference to is priceless. I read somewhere on a poster long before:
“attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?”
Remove excessive focus on yourself and shift the spotlight on others.
Assist others to achieve their goals, even in small but meaningful ways.
6. Be Open To Receiving Happiness, Love And Admiration
“It’s really important to be able to receive love and receive compassion. It is as important as being able to give it.” – Pema Chodron
This is a very huge one. A lot of people make it a habit to deflect any praise or joy bestowed upon them.
In essence, these people are communicating that they do not feel worthy to receive and accept the praise and joy and find it a safer and more acceptable option to block and reflect it.
A sure way to feel more happiness is to graciously accept the praise, joy and love that you receive in your life instead of deflecting it.
Next time someone thanks or praises you, accept it unconditionally and with gratitude.
Become aware of the ways you deflect happiness in your life.
7. Love Others Unconditionally
“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” – Richard Bach
Do you tell others and make them feel like your love depends on their correct behavior and actions? Excessively conditional love will eventually make others resentful and guarded and make you feel unhappy.
Choose non-judgmental and unconditional love in your daily life.
Allow unconditional love to touch the hearts of others and set you and the recipients of your love truly free.
Choose to love others but attach few if any condition on that love.
When you make it an action of giving love, love will return back to you in great abundance.
8. There Will Always Be People, Thoughts And Feelings That Bring You Down: Learn How To Bring Yourself Back To Your Center
“My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.”― Anthony Hopkins
There will always be events, things and people that will attempt to decrease your happiness.
How you choose to respond to them will determine your levels of happiness. Are you holding on to their opinions of you like superglue or do you brush yourself off and move on?
When you choose to let things go and refocus on an activity that makes you happy, you are choosing happiness in the current moment. Remember that their reaction is about them and not about you. Your response is about you and the control you have over the situation.
Set up structures and activities that center you and reconnect you to your inner happiness.
If you allow yourself to be less concerned about what others say and think of you, you become truly free and happy.
Remember that you cannot control others, you can only manage only how you respond to them. Respond favorably, kindly and in consonance to your values to increase happiness levels.
9. Let Go Of Unnecessary Resistance And What You Cannot Always Control
“What you resist, persists”. ― C.G. Jung
A huge amount of hidden resistance is built by constantly thinking and worrying about things that are beyond your realm of control.
Understand the difference between where you can make a difference and where you cannot. Instead of always rowing your boat upstream, realign with your realm of influence and control.
Can you make an impact by taking meaningful action? If not, move on.
If yes, go ahead and make a huge impact and better the lives of others and yourself.
“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” -Eckhart Tolle
10. Beyond Black and White Thinking: Always Look At The Different Perspectives
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”― Aldous Huxley
One quick and sure way into unhappiness is black and white thinking and tunnel visioning your decisions and choices. If you allow different perspectives and attempt to look at things from different angles, personas and opinions, you can make happier choices.
When someone is having a bad day, instead of taking it personally, shifting to a different perspective that they might be going through some stuff unrelated to you gives you a blast of relief.
Allow for new and different perspectives to make your life richer and more colorful.
Letting go of one perceived way of doing things gives you the happiness of control and flexibility.
11. Choose To Be Optimistic And Remember That Hope Is A Powerful Force
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”― Arundhati Roy
According to Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology, optimists and pessimists differ in one major characteristic. Optimists face setbacks and believe that failure is only temporary and more importantly its causes are specific to that particular instance.
As a result, they are more likely than pessimists to try harder and also believe that setbacks are challenges to get beyond.
Optimists do not universalize their setbacks as a reflection of them while pessimists usually personalize failure as a character or life fault.
Choose to develop a solid core of optimism.
When you face setbacks and failure, choose optimism and refuse to personalize and blame yourself for them.
Engage with the problem with hope and optimism instead of pessimism and hopelessness.
12. Own And Take Charge Of Your Energy
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin
The best way to feel elevated levels of happiness is to take dominion over your energy and personal power instead of delegating it to others.
Become aware of energy sinks and refuse to overindulge in them. Instead of trying to shuffle time and manage other things that feel like they are in short supply, manage your own energy levels.
When you have elevated energy levels, you feel great and happy.
Become aware of energy sinks and energy enhancing events and people.
Why, what, when, where and how does your energy fluctuate? Increase the events that enhance your energy and make you feel great.
13. Practice Mindfulness And Awareness By Engaging All Your Senses
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”- Thích Nhất Hạnh, Being Peace
In its simplest form, mindfulness is bringing awareness to the current moment in all its glory and ups and downs but not getting overly attached to anything.
Getting caught up in the past or the future robs the joy of the present moment and the journey that happens right here and right now.
Instead of grasping every stray thought that comes up and running with it, center your attention to the present in an open and non-judgmental way. The real problem is not with a few stray negative thoughts but the meaning that you give them and do not allow them to let go of your mind and move on.
Gently remind yourself to come back into the present moment and become an active participant.
Observe your thoughts as they come and go without attaching too much weight to them.
Allow all your senses to participate in the joy of the present moment.
14. Break Assumptions And Test Everything For Yourself
“Differences challenge assumptions.”- Anne Wilson Schaef
Everyone makes assumptions but not everyone realizes at all times that they are making them. Become aware of the assumptions that are playing out in your life because of your unique belief system and experiences.
Then test out the assumption for yourself by becoming the scientist in your life.
Action, experience and testing things out should be the norm and not making assumptions.
Get more information and actively learn about things before assuming anything.
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”― Abraham Maslow
15. Complete Things And Make Follow Through A Habit
“Those who are blessed with the most talent don’t necessarily outperform everyone else. It’s the people with follow-through who excel.” – Mary Kay Ash
Incompletions hold back your life because whenever you see them or think about them, you feel a wave of remorse and negative feelings. They also clutter up your physical, mental and emotional spaces and do not allow new things to come in.
Understand the folly and energy sink of holding on to threads of incompletion that do not make you feel good.
The blast of good feelings and happiness that comes from completing things that you have been putting off for a long time is worth the effort of going through with them.
Make a list of incompletions that are holding you back and begin with the first one.
Either let something go completely or go ahead and complete it.
16. Make Peace And Love Your Mantra
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”- Buddha
You always have a basic choice. The choice is to be on the side of peace or be on the side of hatred and conflict.
Some amount of conflict is inevitable in your life but if your priority and intention is peace, you can always come to mutually agreeable solutions and consensus.
“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.”― Coretta Scott King
Choose peace and love over excessive anger, hatred and conflict.
17. Get Inspired By People, Places And Things Even If You Do Not Have Them In Your Life
“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” – Groucho Marx
Happy people get inspired by people and things that fascinate them everywhere.
The common belief is that you have to have or acquire or achieve something to be happy. This can be a very limiting belief since you cannot possess everything.
There is no reason not to feel great and happy when you see others becoming successful. There is no reason not to appreciate beauty, joy and abundance when you see others enjoying it.
Enjoy the joy and beauty that is all around you. Do not place limitations that you need to acquire something to feel happy.
Actively spread happiness through a smile and appreciating and indicating it when you get a chance. A heartfelt and genuine “thank you” is a great way to feel happiness.
18. Allow Your Creativity To Be Unleashed
“Dance first, think later” – Samuel Beckett
I believe that every single person is highly creative. It is undeniable that when we were children we thought we could become anything and endless curiosity and creativity were the normal way.
Reconnect with your unbridled “inner creative child.” This is a wonderful way to feel happiness because your creative energies are crying out for an outlet.
Launch your creativity into the world by using your skills and strengths and creating something of great value for others.
If you are not inspired to share your creativity, allow its expression as a personal happiness practice and run with it.
Make the creative process fun and exciting!
19. Intrinsic Happiness Is Found In Challenging Yourself
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ― Helen Keller
When you engage your best skills and strengths and set out to overcome a challenge, you feel energized and excited when you see small results.
When you do not allow yourself to step into this zone of challenge, life becomes a series of similar events that eventually get dull and uninspiring. The cure is to challenge yourself and approach life like a daring adventure.
Overcoming obstacles, getting beyond setbacks and failures and scoring mini victories are wonderful ways to feel excitement and happiness.
Find a challenge that allows you to grow and learn something new using your current skills and strengths.
Allow for growth, new experiences and setbacks. Growth can be difficult but the intrinsic happiness you gain is worth the effort.
20. Drop Away The Perfectionism And drop Your Impossible Standards
“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
A lot of unhappiness is centered around the belief that your work needs to be perfect.
The impossible and harsh standards that you may be setting for yourself might be robbing you of your happiness. Give yourself the permission to do “the best work” that you can and then release it for the world to enjoy. Only you are in the position to give that permission.
Become aware of the perfectionism and take small steps to do “excellent” but not perfect work.
DO not judge or criticize your own work. Praise and celebrate your work and your life as often as possible. Do it now and see your levels of happiness soar.
“Good enough is good enough. Perfect will make you a big fat mess every time.”― Rebecca Wells
21. Drop The Self-criticism And Deprecating Self-chatter
“If they do not answer to your call, Walk Alone.”- Rabindranath Tagore
That little voice in the back of your head that is telling you that you are not good enough or that you are not tall enough or not fast enough is draining you of your happiness.
Replace the little voice with a BIG…”I am good enough.” And repeat till you begin believing viscerally and emotionally that you are good enough.
Take criticism from others and your mind as positive feedback only and not to feed the little voice that says “you cannot.”
Feed the inner voice that empowers you and not the one that puts you down.
Always become your own greatest supporter and champion.
22. Do Not Hold On To Anger Like Super Glue…Feel It And Then Let It Go
“Anger is an essential part of being human. People are taught to deny themselves anger, and in this, they are actually opening themselves up to hate. The more you deny yourself the freedom to be angry, the more you will hate. Let yourself be angry, and hate will disintegrate, and when hate disintegrates, forgiveness prevails! The more you deny that you are angry, in attempts to be “holy” the more inhuman you will become, and the more inhuman you will become, the harder it will be to forgive.”― C. JoyBell C.
Anger can be a great emotion to propel you forward in your goals but do not allow it to consume your attention. Transform anger into meaningful and positive action.
Many people are afraid to feel their anger but hold on to it unwilling to let it go. When you understand the message that anger has to teach you, you can feel it completely and then allow it to let it go.
Transform anger into creative action and momentum to move forward in your goals.
Allow anger to be a teacher but do not proceed to dwell in the same residence as it does.
“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energies on answers — not excuses.” – William Arthur Ward
23. Instead Of Blaming Yourself Or Others, Learn And Move On
“Blame is the creed of the disempowered.” ― Steve Maraboli
Blaming and complaining accomplish nothing and squeeze out the happiness from the moment. When your mission is to find blame with yourself and others, happiness can be elusive because you are spending all of your energy and attention on finding fault.
Blame is never a win-win situation and ends up making someone feeling bad and negative.
Instead of complaining and distributing blame, find ways to solve the problem.
Find ways to understand the situation and use empathy, compassion and kindness.
If you find something disagreeable, approach it like you would like to be treated…with loving kindness and understanding.
24. Embrace And Welcome Change And Make a Commitment To Grow
“The only thing I fear more than change is no change. The business of being static makes me nuts.” -Twyla Tharp
Change can be a scary thing. Constant change also means that your happiness is on the line especially if it is triggering your “flight or fight” response.
One of the problems with change is that you may be actively resisting it and trying to hold on to what you know best and it is only human nature to do just that.
When I thought that change was a fearful thing, life was a series of hesitations and stops. But there is a better way.
If you approach change as part of an exciting adventure, you change your meaning and approach towards it. Now would you expect a daring adventure to be boring and unexciting?
No, I did not think so. Imagine the rush of happiness you would experience from welcoming change and living a courageous and exciting life!
Welcome change. Look forward to new ways and new routes of doing thing.
Make a commitment to growth and personal development.
Make the adventure exciting and inspiring.
“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” ― John C Maxwell
25. Declutter Your Mental, Physical And Emotional Life
This is a big block to your personal happiness. Sometimes, we clutter our minds with thoughts and emotions that do not serve us, body with foods that do not nourish and our spaces with stuff that we do not use.
Excess clutter confuses you and fills every conceivable nook and cranny of your life. Soon, you end up spending most of time organizing things or looking for things. You secretly begin to crave for a minimalistic lifestyle.
Research has shown that Hedonic adaptation or the Hedonic treadmill makes sure that you get adapted to the pleasure you receive from stuff and happiness becomes fleeting. There is always the next thing to acquire.
If it is not serving you or nourishing your body, mind and spirit, allow yourself to gently release it from your life.
If you are not using something or have a lot of non-functional stuff, consider donating it to someone who really needs it. The happiness that you receive from giving things away is priceless.
Make room for new experiences to come into your life by letting go of some of the clutter that you have.
26. Stay Detached From The Outcome
“Sometimes we find that we like our thoughts so much that we don’t want to let them go.” – Pema Chodron
Staying excessively attached to the outcome is a sure recipe for unhappiness. The more you are attached to a particular way, the more likely you will be highly disappointed.
When you are flexible and open with the results you receive, you will get pleasantly surprised how everything turns out the way it is meant to be in the end.
A wonderful way to embrace happiness is to enjoy every little milestone alone the way. If you are used to the joy of celebrating the little victories and events, you become less concerned with the final outcome.
Detach your attention from the way things need to exactly turn out by planning for alternate results.
Celebrate tiny victories and little steps along the way to infuse your now with happiness.
“The essence of the way is detachment. And the goal of those who practice is freedom from appearances.” – Bodhidharma
27. Focus On What You Want: Develop A Practice Of Appreciation And Gratitude For What You Have And Love
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” ―Voltaire
Even if you do not find something to be appreciative about, you can appreciate the little things in life like a nice meal, a warm bed and people who treat you nicely.
Instead of focusing on all the things that are going wrong in your life and feeling unhappy, do the opposite and see how you feel. Happiness comes from enjoying the little things that make you extremely happy.
Be insanely happy and ignore anyone who tells you otherwise.
Make a list of things you have everyday that you are deeply appreciative towards.
Make a list of things that you do not have but you would like and appreciate them.
Feel deep and heartful gratitude for the things that are going right in your life.
Focus your attention on what you want and feel appreciation for it.
28. Create Work Of Great Value To Others And Infuse Meaning And Purpose In Your Life
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”― Howard Thurman
Do work that makes you come alive and makes you excited. Even in work that you do not like, there might be aspects that you enjoy doing.
When you use your unique skills, your strengths and use them to create meaningful work of value to you and to others, happiness is a natural consequence.
If you find your one purpose or passion, that is wonderful. But do not be overly concerned with finding “the one.”
Just begin where you are and find things that excite you and make you happy.
If it makes you excited and makes you come alive, you should pursue it.
Build your skills and understand your strengths and apply them.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”― Anne Frank
Now over to you! Please let me know in the comments below if this post resonated with you. What are some of the ways that you choose happiness in your life?
Photo Credit: Dmitry Kichenko via Flickr CC
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