With the 2019 New Year right around the corner we're in that season of looking back and taking stock as we concurrently look ahead to what is to come: with a good number of us looking forward to time-honored and common themes of hope, health, happiness...
Yet -- We live in a society that delays happiness. “I’ll be happy once I get that promotion.” “I’ll be happier when I have more money.” “Once I get that new car, I’ll be happy.” Sound familiar?
Happiness is something that we all strive for, yet many of us find it challenging to grasp and even harder to maintain. It’s time to start living in the “now” and finding a happier life. Physicians First Messages wants to give you some tips on how to make it happen:
1) EMBRACE YOUR MISTAKES
It is only natural that we make mistakes; it’s proof that you’re trying something new. Living in denial about your mistakes or getting wrapped up in your ego will only you make you miserable and block you from learning valuable lessons that will help you grow and improve. By embracing your mistakes, you will be able to forgive yourself. Happy people seem to intuitively know this, embracing mistakes as learning experiences and not judging themselves too harshly.
2) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE
Even though this life can sometimes feel like an individual journey, we need other people around us in order to feel happy. In fact, research has indicated that social relationships are the strongest predictors of happiness, more than income or wealth. Social support is a huge indicator of happiness and well-being. People with perceived positive social relationships even live longer! So be social, surround yourself with people who make you feel good, and release those who make you feel bad.
3) PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Happy people can easily find gratitude in the world around them. They recognize that they always have something to be grateful for; it doesn't matter where they are, or what they’re doing! Each of us has a choice on how we focus our attention. Choosing to focus on being grateful for the beauty and uniqueness of life instead of the stresses and problems will make you feel happier, less stressed and less depressed.
4) MAINTAIN AN OPTIMISTIC ATTITUDE
Happy people tend to respond to negative events in a more optimistic manner than unhappy people. They recognize that negative events are temporary and limited in scope. Research has linked optimism with a plethora of positive outcomes including longevity, recovery from illness, overall physical health, enhanced coping skills and problem solving in difficult situations. So, when in doubt, look on the bright side!
5) SMILE MORE
It seems like a silly concept, but if you are feeling down or having a rough day, it is possible to cheer yourself up by simply thinking of a person, place or situation that makes you smile! Just the physical act of smiling alone will make you feel happier!
6) LEARN WHEN TO SAY “NO”
Happy people know that they must say NO to people, ideas, and behaviors that do not serve their highest good. Saying yes to everyone and everything can lead you to feel overwhelmed, increase your stress, and leave you less time and resources to take care of yourself! This is especially true when you agree to do things that do not resonate with you, or allow yourself to be pressured into situations you are uncomfortable with. Before you commit to anything or anyone, ask yourself, does this serve my highest good? If the answers is no, then learn to say NO.
7) TRY NEW THINGS
Happy people are not afraid to push their boundaries and try new things. People who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions than people who have fewer experiences. Sure it might seem scary at first, but what’s the worst that could happen? And hey if it doesn't go as planned, at least you still tried, didn't you?
8) PRACTICE FORGIVENESS
This one can be challenging, but when we hold on to anger, resentment and fear towards people, they are actually occupying a space inside of us, blocking us from feeling truly happy and fulfilled. “If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.” – Mother Theresa
9) UNPLUG & SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE
Human beings were not designed to spend our day hunched over a desk with electronics plugged into our ears and eyes. We are meant to be spending time outside, away from the buzz of technology, the radiation from cell-phones and the blaring of screens. Time outdoors in nature has been linked to happiness because light elevates people’s moods, as does vitamin D, a byproduct of spending time outside. That explains why so many people get cranky in the winter…less vitamin D!
10) TELL YOURSELF, “I LOVE YOU!”
Years of being told by family, educators and especially the media that we are not good enough, not successful enough, not attractive enough, not capable enough and so on has left many of us feeling beaten down and unworthy. The truth is that no matter who you are and what has happened in your life, you are worth something! Psychologists have long known that self-esteem is intrinsically connected to happiness. One of the simplest things you can do is to look in the mirror every morning and say, “I love you!”
With these tips for a happier life, I hope that you find joy and peace. Live each day to the fullest and know that there are always better things ahead.
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