We all have something we wish we could have changed. You take chances and risks in life. You let go and you learn. Open your heart and turn risks into knowledge. Life is filled with quick lessons. Here are some key lessons to finding happiness.
- Be willing to change and be open to growth.
- Use sincerity in everything you do.
- Decisions will have to be made, whether they are good or bad. My best advice is that you stick to the decisions once you make them.
- Date clumsily, but with conviction. Learn what you want in a partner and don’t be willing to compromise your needs.
- Accept apologies and apologize.
- Never let money become more important than green and cream paper. Manage it and don’t let it manage you.
- Let your pride go immediately after it comes.
- Go to the movies by yourself at least once. Learn how to be alone. With a movie, with a book, with yourself. It’s amazing what you learn when all the other chatter is gone.
- Learn something from a stranger.
- Don’t be afraid to wait. Don’t be in a hurry to marry, have kids, go to college or do what everyone else is doing. Do it your way and make it right.
- If you have a strong passion for something try making it your career.
- Be with your loved ones as much as you can. And when they are gone, remember them as much as you can in the little things you do.
- Observe people rather than judge them. Leave categories for arbitrary things like plants and food, don’t reduce people to categories.
- Find something or someone that inspires you.
- Try to find the silver lining. Venting and complaining are not known to help the psyche feel better. Positive vocabulary leads to a positive attitude.
- Be open-minded.
- You will not always win, you will rarely be the best. Learn how to take this with grace.
- Don’t let other people’s bad moods or attitudes become yours.
- Be careful what you do in public social media forms. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t be comfortable showing your parents, your boss, or your future children.
- Live life with poise and passion and never give up on any of your dreams.
- Don’t place too much weight on epiphanies.
- Laugh as much as your can for as long as you can.
We are nearly two weeks into the New Year. We have been faithful to our New Year’s resolutions for less than 4 percent of the whole year. How are you feeling about your resolution? Are you hyped up about the recent change? Or are you bummed out? I watch as dieters mope across the work hallways and hang their heads as they crash from lack of sugar and crave salty chips. We torture ourselves with high end goals but have a low end understanding of what it takes to keep them.
You probably have great intentions when it comes to persevering through this first month. The truth is only 8 percent of us keep our resolutions. What can you do to be a part of the winning few? I am eager to help you understand how to stay on track.
Lose the Victim: If you feel like a victim in the race to your resolution, failing is right around the corner. By victim, I mean the ideas and judgment that you have given your resolution; if the goal is good but your reactions to it are negative, it will be hard to keep. I’ve overheard people dieting this week say that they are upset, hangry, and unhappy. The self-talk, emotional responses, or judgments that we give to our goals can be defeating or encouraging, whatever we allow them to be. If we can interpret and evaluate the situation with positive regard, we make it better. Our mindset about our goal is important. Instead of negative statements and defeated talk, try positive reflection about the goal.
Check in with Yourself: Know what goals you can reach and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “What do I need to achieve this goal?” Set realistic goals and challenge yourself to keep those goals by “awarding” yourself something at the end of that goal (such as a massage or an overnight trip you’ve been putting off). An example: You resolve to work out more this New Year. Your goal is 20 workouts a month. Each month you reach that goal you get a massage. We go to work to get money. Money is the “prize”. Work is the “goal”.
Balance: Life is about balance. Too much or too little of anything is bad. Make sure your resolution is a balance of ways you want to better yourself this year.
Temptation: Most New Year’s resolutions include something that is going to link to temptation. So you have a list of foods that you can eat on that diet, but what is your plan for when tempting treats make their way into the office? If you resolve to save money, what is your plan to resist your favorite purchases or to not spend as much time at the restaurant you love? You need to have a plan in place to resist the temptations that are going to come along with that goal.
Remember, an important part of improving any part of our lives is an understanding of ourselves. Don’t be discouraged if your resolution isn’t working the way you planned, just reevaluate it. We get stoked on the social stimulation of the New Year’s resolution, but we can make improvements on ourselves at any time in our lives.
1. Exercise. I learned from an intelligent man named Bill Ohanlon that exercise is the best way to increase brain power. That’s right! Physical exercise produces more brain cells and allows the brain to work better. (I secretly want to punch people who are like “I love exercising”, so I totally understand if this seems daunting. I promise it’s a routine that when kept up makes you feel better consistently).
2. Leave Regrets Behind. “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you have trouble leaving things behind get a “regret bank”. Similar to a piggy bank (I use a jar). Write items you have trouble forgetting at the end of the day on a sheet of paper and place in the jar. Sometimes actions help us manipulate the brain to assist in letting something go.
3. Leave Your Smart Phone Behind. I see more of my peers looking down and typing rather than engaging in a public place with another human being. Look at yourself right now, where are you reading this? Put down the cell, walk over to another human being, say hello, share a smile, or simply engage in a few sentences that help pass the time with less isolation. (Being from the Midwest I sometimes say Hi to fellow humans here in Southern Cal and might get shot down. Take the risk. Every dog has his day.. or was that a cat…either way….step out on a limb like the monkey you are.)
4. Stop typing LMAO and do it already. How many times when you type LMAO are you actually doing it? Probably very few. I recall some of the hardest laughs I have had are in the company of other people. They never happen behind a screen. It is possible to make someone yawn if you do it. it is the same with smiling and laughter.
5. Eat Well. First came Atkins, then came paleo. All the while we still had so many other diet fads to keep up with. Overall they mostly say the same thing. Whole wheats, veggies, fruits, and lean protein. Don’t eat sugar, avoid too much dairy, and limit caffeine and alcohol. (consult your physician, I am a mere layman). Moderation and Diversity is my motto. If you don’t vary up what you eat, you are bound to get bored. Plan ahead to make staying on track super easy and to curb the cravings.
6. Love Politely. ” Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with other people who are reckless with yours.” Mary Schmich. The world of psychology has been shifting into the realm of solutions not excuses and positive not negative. The world of life is far better undergone and honored through kindness and love.
7. Contribute Something, Even if it Only Touches One Heart. “Everyone wants to be somebody fancy,” Donald Miller wrote that in Blue Like Jazz. Stop playing candy crush and spinning in that staples office chair. Contribute something, even if that something only touches one person. If you are not sure what it is, write down five things you have always wanted to do in your life. It is through our dreams that contribution comes naturally.
If you recall Einstein was responsible for the theory of relativity. He said, “Time is relative.” It also turns out that some other findings by Isaac Newton lead to that discovery. Now, I know little about theses theories, little about astronomy, and much less about physics. I do know one thing, however. The more I searched for and longed for happiness myself, the more I learned about where to find it. You see, happiness is also relative. It is relative to the observer who is measuring it. It is relative to what sort of ruler you are using to gauge where it is you want to go.
For me, the happiness ruler was finding an equilibrium. It was finding a balance between work and play. It was figuring out how to be content as a constant searcher. It was learning how to know and trust myself, and make up my own definition for happy.
Now I recently, after ten years of searching, found a profession that I love and I am good at. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist who still gets to incorporate an enjoyment for writing and research into the profession. I continue to gain insight and education by some of the best in the field. Once that part of the ruler was settled, much more seemed to be measurable.
What I’ve learned in the Search for Happiness:
1. Self- Help books or articles that proclaim to know “How to Find Happiness” are shining moments like the motivational video that I posted last night. They give you a boost to start your engine. Once the engine starts, it is up to you to find that path. No book, article, or moment can get you there.
2. Learning how to live in the now has increased my happiness significantly. This is not because I am not a planner. I plan. In fact I have my planner scheduled out to May of 2014. Learning how to live in the now required that I do one thing at a time. If I am eating, I eat. If I am writing, I write. If I am watching a movie, I watch that movie. I noticed that decreasing the busy-ness that I had created in my life, decreased anxiety and increased enjoying life’s moments.
3. Bad Habits replaced with good ones. I was in my old hometown this October when a girlfriend of mine mentioned that she had stopped giving her kids milk because of all the hormones. This got me thinking a lot. Although it is difficult to ever be perfect, I made some very important changes in regards to eating more organic, taking more vitamins, and exercising. Exercising releases dopamine and (at least for me) eating organic and getting the proper vitamins has helped significantly.
4. Taking up a hobby that resembles nothing close to work. For me, I began DIY. I had a passion for crafts and art growing up, so I wanted to bring that back into my adult life. Now I enjoy my job and writing, but it was important for me to pick a hobby that allowed my mind to get as far away from thinking as possible.
5. I always used to say never instead of never saying always. It has been important in my search for happiness to learn about balance in all areas. I stopped (most of the time) using words that imply all or nothing such as never and always. Sometimes I slip up and sometimes I don’t. I allow myself grace to not eat organic sometimes or to miss days at the gym. Staying consistent leads to happiness more than extreme life changes of short duration.
Finding happiness now is relative, because you will journey through figuring out how to be happy over and over again. And now will be relative to where you are in your life and what you are doing. Cheers to finding your happiness now and constantly enjoying the ride.
There are a lot of people in my profession and laymen alike that believe looking into the past will not help one to make changes in their future. I should know, I used to be one of them. I was jaded by Freud’s Oedipus complex and a didn’t see that looking into the past didn’t have to be so controversial. It’s about looking into our past to gain insight, not to point blame. It took me years to finally understand that.
When it came to looking at my past I had three reactions; defensive, blaming, then understanding. As a teen when I began therapy my defenses and my ideas about life were often (in my own mind) very precedent and very correct. My world was all or nothing as a teen. My poor mother must have heard, “you have no idea what it’s like” millions of times raising three teen girls all at once. We can now begin to rationalize that she walked in those shoes too. For most of us, no “life lesson” from an adult sits well until we reach the age of 30 and begin to see the world a little more grey. I spent the middle part of my 20’s blaming everyone around me for the outcomes in my life. Then the last couple of years happen and as a therapist in training I began to see that understanding our past is worth the observation; to make connections, then to learn how to change into better selves for our future.
I simply ask you to take a peak at your past and get a baseline of understanding for how it feeds the present. What we learn as children is ingrained in us and we must not blame our parents or caretakers for that. Nelson Mandela said this in his book “Long Walk to Freedom:”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
We can be taught things, but if we need to be “untaught” them later, it is possible. This rings very similar to a book worth mentioning that helped me anticipate options for this article called, “Addicted to Unhappiness.” It discusses the importance of knowing the experiences of your past to see how they influence you today. Without having knowledge of your past, you may not be digging deep enough to the root of your self. Your patterns and behaviors are a result of what you learned as a young child. When you know more about your past through understanding and leave blame behind, you can maintain higher results for resolution in the future.
We are quick to blame one party when our partners stray and meet someone outside of the relationship. But what about, “It takes two to tango?” I am not suggesting that you blame one party or the other, but I am suggesting that you give them equal responsibility or equal forgiveness. Example- You are back with the guy who cheated on you, but you refuse to talk to the girl that he cheated on you with. Maybe it is time to refuse to talk to both of them. Or maybe it is time to forgive both of them.
My suggestion is that if you are continuing the relationship with your partner and trying to resolve a time of infidelity, that you forgive both parties. Letting go of that past can be the best thing to get you and your partner to move on to a successful future. Moving on with your partner through a time of infidelity can be a very difficult task. However if you are refusing to forgive your partner or the situation, the best thing you can do is get out of the situation. If you are ruminating about the infidelity, the act of the cheating, or the parties involved, and are unable to stop your bad thoughts it is time to move on. You can not continue to analyze why this went on. Some situations in life just don’t make any sense and you will never be able to make sense of them.
Here are some quick suggestions to move on from this difficult situation:
- Take care of yourself. Get back into a happy hobby. Hang out with friends.
- Don’t disclose your personal life. In the times of Facebook Status, it may be easy to bash your unfaithful partner via web, but I suggest against that.
- Don’t listen to unsolicited advice. Everyone is going to have an opinion about what you should and should not do in a situation of infidelity. You need friends who give you support rather than judgement.
- Forgive everyone involved. Forgive your partner, the other party, and yourself. You might even have to take some responsibility in order to forgive yourself.
- Couples therapy. It might be good to have a neutral third-party to help you get through set-backs of the relationship and move forward. You will be able to talk honestly about your feelings in a safe environment.
All types of relationships exist in our culture. One of the most interesting are romantic relationships. All romantic relationships go through times of trial. It is in these times of trial that we are able to gauge whether or not our heart is invested in the relationship. It is after these times of trial that two people may have decided to keep going. When you keep going, there are still going to be struggles.
Although there is not one common thought for how to deal with struggles, I am a big fan of positive psychology. Now this field is a relatively new field, coming into use in 1998. It is meant to compliment tradition psychology in understanding how positive relationships, situations, and life can benefit the individual and the relationships around the individual.
I used to think that venting was a great way to dispose of the negative happenings of the day. However, studies show that venting does not increase our tolerance and acceptance of a situation, it increases our irritation.
I bring this thought into motion, on the discussion of relationships, because I want to give you tools and ideas to increase the happiness in your relationship. How to make your relationship better is easy. Try some positive thought activities to improve your mood and the relationships well-being:
- Surround Yourself with Positive People. We feed off the of the company we keep. Maybe it is time to evaluate whose moods might just feel draining.
- Exercise and Eat well. Exercise releases endorphins within the Brain. The Brain is where all our thought is sifted through and processed. Eating well causes the right chemicals to be produced and the correct vitamins to get absorbed.
- Speak Right. Use positive talk when you are talking with people. Be encouraging and offer support and happy thoughts.
- Try to Find the Good. Try to find the good in things. At work, school, and with people. Look at every situation for the good it offers and the opportunities it brings.
Once positive thinking begins to take place, it will be routine for your thought patterns to fall from negative to positive. Lucky for us, like communication, positive thinking is also something that can be learned.