Initially, I was uneasy about this post just because I feel weird giving advice on a topic that I am nowhere near perfect at and am not a doctor or mental health coach by any means, and I felt a little hypocritical giving advice on how to be happy, when I am not happy all days of the week. But then I decided that, I've learned a lot over the past few years about how to be happy, even when what is going on around you would lead you to believe that you should feel otherwise. And it's really helped me a lot on my quest (like the rest of us!) for a happier life, and so I wanted to share some of my tips with you. I love hearing about what makes people happy, and learning from their experiences. The Top 5 things that have helped me to create a happier life are:
(not in order of importance)
1. Finding What You Love
I think that we all have special talents and gifts, and for me, finding those talents and gifts is one of the most important things to finding my own happiness. We all have things that we are good at, that make us feel more connected and lively. I have always had a creative mind, and I find that I am happiest when I am working with my hands, creating things from clothes, to hairstyles, to home decore and crafting. It's what I am good at, and I find a lot of joy in doing what I love. For some people, it's swimming, or dancing, maybe even playing the piano. Whatever it might be, I have found that when I focus on the things that I love to do, and make appropriate time for them, I am happier.
2. Building Strong Relationships with Others, Particularly Family
My family are my favorite people in this entire world, and never do I feel more joy, love, and happiness than when I am with them. One of the most important things to me is making sure that I build strong relationships with the people that I care the most about. It's not uncommon for me to send random cards in the mail, or call them because that's what makes me the most happy, when I feel connected to my family (and friends) and I am able to do things that let them know how much I love them! For me, that brings me so so much happiness.
I also think that even finding ways to show respect and appreciation for strangers. The other day, I was checking out at a store and I realized that while the cashier was trying to make conversation with me, I was doing something on my phone and paying zero attention to what he said. I've thought about that experience A LOT, and still feel terribly about it, because I knew I was probably not the only one that has done that. Since that experience, I have made a point to look people in the eye, or look at their name tag, and thank them by name when I leave. It's the smallest change, but I have felt such a difference. It's important to me that we show people respect and appreciation, even if they are total strangers to us. Even if we never see them again. I have felt so much love for others as I have done this, and it's such a tiny change that has brought more Joy into my life.
3. Center Your Life On Christ
You may or may not be religious, but from my own personal experience, more happiness than I can ever express into words has come from trying to center my life on Christ, and the enabling power of the Atonement. (To read about my views on this, click here.)
Focusing my life on Christ, and his teachings has made all the difference in my life, and I couldn't write a post about happiness without making mention of what makes me MOST happy of all.
4. Serve Others
This is a really important thing to me, because when I am serving people, I am always happy afterwards. Finding the smallest ways to serve and help people is a mindset that I adapted years ago, and I have noticed a huge change in my life because of it. Sometimes it's small, like helping and elderly person reach something at the grocery store, or something bigger, like helping a friend move, or staying up late on the phone with a friend that is upset or discouraged. I have been both the giving and receiving end of acts of service, and both have helped me so much! I always feel so much love in my heart for people when I serve them, and the people that I think are best to serve and help, are the people that maybe we don't get along with very well ;) There have been people in my life that I haven't gotten along with, but once I decided to start doing nice things for them, and helping them, I gained a friend, and a friendship I wouldn't have had, if I had just kept my opinions of them, and never made the chose to serve and love them.
Not everybody loves to travel, which I understand, but for me, I LOVE nature, and being out in nature, camping, or hiking, or going on long walks is one of my favorite things in the world. Back home, my parents live in the country and we have woods in the back of my house (Michigan, where there are trees everywhere!) and my favorite thing to do back home is to walk in the woods with my family. I always feel more connected and grounded when I am in nature, and it helps me stay more positive, and be grateful for the beautiful world that we live in.
That being said, Traveling is also something that has helped me make a happier life! I love to experience new places and cultures, because it helps me understand others better, and I love the excitement of a new place, and new experiences.
There you have it! Just a few happy thoughts for your Monday morning :) Like I said before, I am no Happy Guru, but I DO know the things in my life that make me happier. I think it's so important to live a life that you love, and to do that you first have to FIND what you love, and find what makes you happy. Life really is a wonderful, wonderful thing.