Do you consider yourself a happy person? How happy do you have to be to consider yourself happy? Maybe contentment is good enough. Happiness is just a state of mind. We should not base our happiness on external circumstances. Everyone has been happy and sad for one reason or another. External circumstances can sometimes affect our short-term happiness, but not our long-term happiness.
Choosing to be happy doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes effort, commitment and practice. It is a conscious effort to be happy. Some people do have to work harder than others in order to be happy.
Being grateful can help us be happier. Focusing on the good things in our lives can change the way we feel about our lives. Gratefulness has an impact on our long-term happiness. Keeping a daily journal is a great way to remind you that your life is filled with goodness, and you will be happier.
I recommend to my clients that they write in their journals every evening before going to bed. Writing at bedtime will help them remember all of the good things that happened to them that day. They are also reminded of all the goodness in their lives right before they fall asleep. I think it is important to have happy, good thoughts before falling asleep.
If you have never kept a gratitude journal, here are some steps to get you started.
- Write down three successes you had that day. If you can’t think of three, lower your expectations. Maybe just being on time for work that day is a success for you. You don’t have to have a great big achievement every day.
- Write down three things that you are grateful to have in your life. If you can’t think of three, then again, start small. Maybe you are grateful to have a roof over your head, or to have your dog run to the door when you get home.
- Write down anything you learned today. It doesn’t have to be significant. Did something inspire you? Did you learn something about yourself?
- Write down a score for your day from -5 to 5. Watch how these scores improve as you adjust your own mindset.
Many research studies have been conducted to determine what makes people happy. Gallup Inc., conducted one of these studies. The study found, that in order for us to achieve a certain level of happiness, we need to strive for contentment in these areas: Career, Social, Financial, Physical and Community. Sadly, the research indicated that only 7% of people do well in a five areas.
How to Get Happier
There are some steps you can take to be happier.
- Seek to have a balanced well-rounded life. If you ignore any areas of your life, they will spiral downward, and you will lose your contentment in those areas. Pay attention to all areas of your life. For example, don’t think that having more money, and ignoring everything else in your life, will make you happier. Striving on improving one area of your life instead of overall well-being is an example of a “quick-fix” mentality.
- Quit comparing yourself to others. Do what brings you joy and happiness regardless of what anyone else wants or accomplishes. Be happy with your own accomplishments.
- Do things for others without a selfish motive. Doing things selflessly for others can give you the confidence in your ability to make positive changes in your own life. Try it.
- Don’t overthink situations. Unfortunately, it seems like women have a harder time with this than men. Research has shown that women tend to have more on their minds, and are stressed out from thinking too much about too many things. Make a decision or put the situation out of your mind for the time being. Then, switch your thinking to more pleasant thoughts.
- Become goal-oriented. People who are focused on goals tend to be happier than those who aren’t focused on goals. Goal-oriented people feel a sense of achievement more than those who are committed to goals.
- Develop an amazing support system. Have a circle of family members, friends, community associates who support you and connect with you.