Sep 30, 2009

Look on the Bright Side: How to Find Happiness When Life is Making you Miserable

 (image: HaoJan)

Sometimes, life throws a lot of crap at you. Maybe you're in a job you hate, you're fighting with your spouse/mother/best friend/kid, and you're not getting enough sleep. Perhaps you're having major money troubles or you're sick. Maybe it's all of that as well as any other number of terrible things that can and do happen.
When things are going wrong and falling to pieces all around you, it's hard to keep a positive attitude. But there are things you can do that can help you on your way to a happier life.

Gratitude Lists

I know. Every person out there that is touting the power of positive thinking tells you to write gratitude lists. And all the skeptics out there roll their eyes. I know I did (and sometimes still do when I'm feeling cynical). But the reason that they push it so hard is that it works. On days when I'm feeling particularly miserable, I take some times to write down all of the things I'm grateful for, looking forward to and that just make me smile in some way. I always end up feeling at least a little bit better. Every little bit helps! Don't worry if some of the things on your list are silly or superficial. You don't have to share it with anybody if you don't want to (although, if you do feel like sharing, I recommend participating in Gala Darling's Things I Love Thursday - You could start tomorrow!). You'll quickly realize that even when your life sucks, there are still good things about it.

Learn Something New

Or take up a new hobby. Sometimes, you're miserable because you're stuck in a rut. Same thing, day in, day out. Why not sign up for a wood working class, join a unusual sports team or buy a book about bird watching? Anything to shake up your routine a bit. Maybe you'll find that thing that's missing from your life. Even if you don't, it's something to distract you for a little while. Which brings me to...

Distract Yourself

Read a book, watch a movie, hit the gym, blast some music, go for a walk, have coffee with a friend...just do something to get your mind off whatever it is that's making you miserable. You make think this is a temporary fix - and it is - but string enough of these small distracting moments together and you'll be living a richer, more interesting life, which is key to finding happiness.

Treat Yourself

If money is not the cause of your discontent, then a little retail therapy may be just what you need. Buy yourself that new espresso maker you've been eying, or perhaps you need a new jacket for the coming cool weather. You're worth it - just don't go overboard or spend outside your means. Even if you're low on funds, there are still plenty of ways to treat yourself. If you've got a sweet tooth, you're in luck, because there are tons of inexpensive things to treat yourself with. Think ice cream, your favorite chocolate bar or a single cupcake from a local bakery. If you're looking for something a less...caloric, check out second hand stores or clearance racks (ps: I LOVE clearance racks!) to find something awesome that's more in your price range (at the very least, some of the truly horrific things that get pushed to the clearance racks are good for a laugh!). If free is closer to your price range, don't fret! You can still treat yourself. Maybe you like bubble baths or bike rides. Also, check out free local events for a little pick me up. For example, a vineyard/winery near me has free wine tasting events. I've never been, but it sounds like fun!

Help Someone Else

Give and you shall receive. Or something. Whatever, one thing is for sure, helping other people makes us feel good about ourselves. I'll bet there is some sort of scientific, psychological reason for this, but I'm sure I don't know what it is. It doesn't really matter though, what matters is this is a win-win situation - someone gets the help they need, and you feel better. You don't have to go out and build houses for the homeless or feed the hungry- but those are certainly good ideas! Something as simple as watching a friend's kid so they can get some errands done, or helping your dad rake the lawn will work, and I know they'd appreciate it.


Does smiling really make us feel happier? Who knows. But it can't hurt, right?

This is just the beginning. There are a million and one ways out there that you can choose to start feeling happier today. What are some of your tricks and suggestions for finding a little joy in life?


Anonymous said...

Good one on positivethinking and it helps a lot.

Karim - Positive thinking

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