How to be Happy in Hard Times
It may seem simplistic to suggest that taking certain actions can get you out of a slump when real concerns and practical strains are getting you down. However, there are proven ways a person can improve their mood even (or especially) in difficult times. Here are a few tips that can truly lift your spirits and give you a new perspective on life.
1. Be aware of your “critical inner voice”
Your critical inner voice is made up of a series of self-attacking thoughts that mentally kick you when your down. These thoughts represent an attitude you’ve internalized that acts as an internal enemy, keeping you from going after goals or feeling confident in your decisions. When something goes wrong in life, it’s easy for your inner voice to take advantage of this misfortune and turn it against you as a reflection of who you are. For example, people who are laid off often hear voices like: You’re worthless, You’ll never find another job, What a failure! People who’ve experienced a break-up may hear voices like: No one will ever love you, You were fooling yourself to think you could be happy, You’re better off on your own. By being aware of these voices, you give yourself the chance to fight back, to take on a more realistic view of yourself and to not allow them to infiltrate your actions with self-destructive tendencies.
2. Identify your anger
In an age of budget cuts, lay offs and a struggling economy, anger and frustration are inevitable. When you cut off from your anger, you may begin to feel numb or depressed. Many people who suffer from depression are actually masking a feeling of anger. While acting in an abusive manner or feeling victimized by others are unhealthy reactions to anger that often lead to feeling worse, acknowledging your angry feelings is important to feeling better. When you recognize or talk about your anger, you are less likely to turn these feelings against yourself or allow them to spiral you into a low or depressed state.
3. Say “no” to alone time
When feeling down, some people tend to want to curl up on their couch, shut off their phones and lock the door behind them. Yet, this is just the opposite of what they should do to truly feel better. Negative events induce s form of negative thinking that is less likely to get interrupted when you’re all alone and in your head. If something hurts or humiliates you, you may have thoughts telling you to isolate yourself, not to complain about your problems or to feel publicly ashamed. These thoughts are just your critical inner voice at work, trying to keep you from overcoming your pain. Talking to a friend or being around people you like will help you be more objective toward yourself. Even just being among people in a public park or a mall has been proven to put people in a better state of mind. When your world gets rougher, don’t shut it out. Never allow thoughts that you are different or less than keep you from seeking company and happiness. Instead, find people and places that allow you to feel social, uplifted or generous.
To learn more key tools for feeling good, read “How to Be Happy: 5 Happiness Secrets for Tough Times”