Be Happy Now!
3 Tips to be Happy with What You’ve Got
Does this sound familiar? I’ll be happy when: I lose 10 pounds; get a promotion; find my dream partner. You’re not alone. It’s called conditional happiness.
The problem with conditional happiness is that it keeps us on hold while we wait for the perfect life/ career/ relationship to show up. Sometimes we’ll take action to get us there, like joining a gym, taking on extra projects at work or giving online dating a go, but still the “happiness” is over there somewhere, just out of reach.
Even when we do achieve our goal, we’re quickly rushing on to the next one or something “better,” without pause to reflect and enjoy the milestone we’ve just reached.
What if you could be happy now? With your life/ career/ relationship exactly as they are. You see, life doesn’t happen in the future, it happens right now. In this precise moment. And then it moves on to this precise moment. And this one. When you spend your time and energy on what may happen in the future you miss out on what’s great about now.
This isn’t to suggest that we should drop all goals and aspirations and simply accept whatever’s happening currently. Creating an inspiring vision of what we are moving towards in life is important to our overall sense of purpose.
But this is different to being trapped on “Someday Isle” – someday I’ll fit into those skinny jeans; someday I’ll ask my boss for a raise; someday I’ll post my dating profile online. In this way we connect happiness to an event or change of circumstances in the future that may or may not happen.
So how can you create fulfilling happiness whatever your life circumstances? Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” A good starting point is a grandmother favourite – count your blessings.
Tip 1: Count your blessings
Make a list of what’s good about your life at the moment. Focus only on the positive aspects. You might even ask a friend to tell you what they think is good about you and your life. Chances are you’ve overlooked a few things; aspects of your life that you take for granted because they come easily or naturally to you.
Take a moment to notice what’s good, perhaps noting down three new things each day – your Positivity Journal. Practicing gratitude for what you have is a proven strategy for increasing life satisfaction.
“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.” – James Oppenheim
Tip 2: Look within
Looking outside of yourself for happiness – a new pair of shoes, a spa day with your best friend, an afternoon at the beach – seems the most obvious way to bring a few extra doses of the good stuff into your life. But all too often, relying on external stimuli to provide happiness turns out to bring little more than a short-lived buzz. One that feels great at the time, and perhaps for a little while after, but the effect soon fades.
In fact, as Martha Washington said, “The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.” What if you could generate happiness regardless of your situation? This is a skill that means you can experience contentment whatever your circumstances. And it all starts with awareness.
The more attention you bring to the current moment, the more aware you become of what’s there – positive and negative. This awareness of what’s going on in the present is known in personal development circles as Mindfulness and is a great way to tap into the here and now.
From awareness follows acceptance and/or action. Perhaps you choose to simply acknowledge that this is a tough moment, that there is fear or uncertainty in you. That’s OK, too. Sometimes it can be more helpful to sit with a negative emotion for a minute or two to see what’s causing it, to air it. Then you can choose your response – to let it be; to ask yourself what you can do about it; or to remind yourself of what’s positive instead.
Tip 3: You’re enough
Another trap we can fall into is of not being enough. Not smart enough, slim enough, interesting enough, successful enough, etc. In this age of celebrity culture where every seemingly perfect move is broadcast over social media for all to see, it’s easy to find yourself lacking. Even some of our friends and acquaintances seem to be living these amazingly exciting, totally loved up, superbly successful lives.
But the danger of social media in this context is that it’s portraying the best possible angle and omitting anything that shows a less than fabulous picture. Do these people also have off days? Sure they do, they’re just not advertising them.
“A happy life consists in tranquility of mind.” – Cicero
We need to get to a place where we can acknowledge and embrace all facets of our human existence and recognise that they all contribute to who we are as a person. Perhaps it’s time for you to accept that you’re enough just the way you are. To celebrate your uniqueness that’s made up of the many different attributes of your mind, body and soul – “good” and “bad.”
Keeping a Positivity Journal, using tools like Mindfulness and practicing acceptance of who you are all help you to change the way you think and feel, so that over time it becomes easier to bring positive thoughts to mind and so increase your overall sense of well-being.
If you catch yourself falling into the conditional happiness trap, saying you’ll be happy after this happens or when that’s achieved, pause for a moment and consider that maybe, just maybe, you can also be happy now. Then by all means keep working towards your goals but recognize, embrace and enjoy who you are today.Tags: gratitude, happiness, happiness skills, happiness tips, living happy, self-esteem