We all want to live a happier, healthier, less stressful life.
I know I do. Growing up, I tried hard to build a life that was free of agony, so I did everything that could possibly make me happy.
What I did, though, wasn’t a long-term solution. I was happy for days, maybe weeks, even sometimes months, but eventually dissatisfaction would creep up on me and sabotage my aspirations.
I was looking for happiness in all the wrong places. The happiness I had felt was temporary and superficial. Looking back at it now, I longed for something deeper, more meaningful…abiding.
But there was nothing abiding about people, emotions, situations, or places. I found that I could never find eternal bliss in the outer world; I had to work on the one within me.
It hasn’t been easy, and to be honest, it hasn’t been about “the little things.” Of course, walking in nature, cuddling with my dogs, cooking, spending quality time with friends, or reading bring me infinite joy, but again, this kind of happiness isn’t long-lasting.
Instead of looking at what could make me happy, I looked at what could make me desperate, and…the list was long.
There were many things that were making me unhappy, and while I couldn’t control or put an end to them, I realized that my reaction and perspective were totally up to me.
This is how I’ve been working on making myself happier. When I’m provoked, I pause and think about how to receive the trigger. I think about all the ways that could make me miserable, or, ultimately, better. I think about how my actions and my thoughts could affect my day-to-day life.
Your list might be different than mine, but here are 10 things that have genuinely made me feel more at peace:
1. Not be discouraged by endings, failures, or rejection. I can’t expect life to be perfect at all times. Some people might leave, some things might end, and I might mess up. It’s more than okay. Whenever I feel discouraged or worried, I repeat this Japanese proverb:
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
2. Have time to myself. Solo time allows me to make better choices, recharge, and learn more about myself. I understand that when I learn more about my emotions and thoughts, I also learn how to be around others.
3. Not take life too seriously. I have realized that most of the things I worry about won’t matter in five or 10 years. So, I have stopped taking life too seriously. There’s no point in being consumed by life’s responsibilities or unfortunate events.
4. Embrace my negative emotions. I love and embrace all of my emotions—even my anger, stubbornness, or anxiety. I welcome and accept them without rushing to alter them. When I do this, they eventually fade with time.
5. Believe in myself. Having a low self-esteem has stopped me from living my life to the fullest. However, believing in myself has made me happier and more successful. Never underestimate your powers.
6. Not jump to conclusions. Making false assumptions about everyone and everything is tiring. I’m practicing honest and clear communication before jumping to conclusions.
7. Have meaningful relationships. I want caring and genuine people in my life. It’s not about how many friends I have; it’s about who my friends are. If we want to be happier, we need to make sure we are surrounded by people who care about us.
8. Be kinder to myself. When I’m kinder to myself, I naturally feel at ease. We’re all human and we all mess up. Life is already hard enough; why make it harder?
9. Express gratitude. Being thankful is essential if we want to lead a humble, joyous life. Be grateful for everything you receive—good or bad. Everything is a blessing, even if we don’t see it immediately.
10. Forgive myself and others. Forgiveness leads to feelings of empathy and kindness. Let go of guilt and remember that mistakes are inevitable.