Smiles, laughter, and positive feelings are components of happiness, but happiness isn’t easy to define. For some people, a wedding ring gives them a blissful feeling. For others, wealth determines their happiness. I’ve decided to step outside of my comfort zone and embark on a new journey of achieving what happiness means me, which is personal development. My aim is to become a better mom, attain spiritual growth and accomplish other life goals. However, while waiting for the next level, it’s easy to forget that appreciating the beauty of life comes from having peace, joy, love and happiness before any goal is obtainable. Here are some simple yet meaningful ways I’ve found to be happier.
1. Internal Spring Cleaning. – I got the idea for this first step from Author and Inspirational Speaker Iyanla Vanzant’s classic book, In the Meantime. Every now and then, I have an aha moment when my life reflects a chapter in her book about house cleaning. She brilliantly expresses an underlying message of spiritual cleansing in order to find love and happiness: “There’s a foul odor, the origins of which you do not know. You have become aware that there are little holes in the walls of your life. Termites, perhaps? Something eating away at the very core of the structure, your structure, which is your life” – Iyanla Vanzant. A healthy attitude develops when you clear your house of past hurts, grudges and etc. Cleansing through prayer and meditation on God’s word will explore matters that manifest in our attitudes and drain us of our happiness.
2. Expect Positive Things. – A winner finds peace in constructing optimism; Expecting the negative won’t get positive results. A true diva knows that failure is inevitable and losing is part of the art of winning. If I don’t get anything else from waking up early on Sunday mornings to Preacher and Author Joel Olsteen’s sermons on television, I understand his message of keeping a faith-filled heart in the midst of hard times. You have no choice but to feel happy when you shift your focus to something positive.
3. Laugh More. – Get one good laugh from your gut, smile…doesn’t that feel better? Find humor in every situation. Laugh at yourself. It allows you to see things in a less threatening light so you can enjoy the moment. It’s an old cliche, but laughter is in fact the best medicine. Laughing helps heal the body, relieve anxiety, improve our attitudes and cause positive changes in our brain chemistry. It triggers an increase in what is known as the feel-good chemical, endorphin.
4. Be Generous to Others. – Acts of altruism produce more happiness than going to our favorite store and buying loads of our favorite things. Yes, doing for others rather than ourselves makes us happier. Researchers suggest that giving to others produce greater happiness than those who spend money on themselves. It’s natural to question dishing out extra money and etc., but when the act is done, there’s no doubt you will get a gratifying feeling.
5. Brush it off. – Some of the unhappiest people are easily offended. Developing a thick skin comes with practice but is rewarding. The next time you feel the need to take offense to a mouthy co-worker or a raging driver, interpret their behavior as they’re “just having a bad day.” Don’t personalize it! Instantly forgive them for the sake of your own peace and happiness.
6. Make Friends and Cultivate Relationships. – “Independent Woman” has become the anthem for some women, in addition to a bit of an “I’m-my-own-best-friend” attitude. Still, we weren’t designed to be lonely. Having friends to share funny stories with and to stand by when life gets tough sounds “Kum-ba-yahish” but actually increases happiness and can add years to your life. Studies show that people’s mortality rate doubles when they’re lonely and people with meaningful relationships live longer.
7. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. – “Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt. It’s impossible to keep up with the Joneses, so be mindful that everyone is engaged in his or her own race to fulfill a purpose. Comparison will never get you ahead in your own race, and you will never succeed at running anyone else’s.
8. Set Goals and Complete Them. – Feeling accomplished increases self-esteem. When we set goals and accomplish them, it creates positive feelings and a new confidence in our abilities. Goal progress produces positive emotions and enhances our psychological well-being, studies show.
9. Meditate on the Word. – Being a God-chick and proud of it comes from knowing who you are in Christ Jesus. This is part of my journey to spiritual growth, and I’m aware that such lifestyle doesn’t guarantee “a bed of roses.” But one of God’s promises is that He will equip us with everything we need to succeed in our purpose, as long as it’s pleasing to him. – Hebrew 13: 21. Given that those who believe in Him are more than capable because of what He’s promised us, gives us a peace and happiness that no other advice can give us.
10. Be Grateful. – Happiness is ultimately a choice. Appreciating life and understanding that things could be worse helps put things in perspective. Some well-known figures produced inspirational quotes about happiness in trying times. “Think of the beauty still left around you and be happy“- Anne Frank