Happiness depends upon ourselves. Aristotle
Knowing how to make yourself happy is one of the most empowering things we can do. Life is constantly changing and everything is unpredictable, which means the only person we can fully depend on is ourselves. If we’re going to spend a lot of time by ourselves, it’s a good idea to know how to make ourselves happy!
I caught up with a colleague the other day and we spoke about the little things people had been doing lately that made us feel special. We could literally narrow it down to: receiving an email first thing in the morning, tapping on the glass to say hello as someone walked by, a guy calling me “mate” when he said hello and getting a thumbs-up signal.
We stopped and looked at each other in horrified realisation:
“How in the hell did such small things come to make us feel so special?”
There are various reasons for this and I’ll touch on it more in my blog next week about acceptance but this week, the goal is to get ourselves to the point where we truly know ourselves, trust ourselves and are full of so much self-respect that no one can shake us from our path. Get set to get completely independent – and in the process learn two things: what makes us feel special and what makes us happy. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can make yourself happy.
So let’s get this mission started!
Everyone is going to be different in finding their path to a happier and more fulfilling life because everyone’s journey is different. We all have different values and beliefs. Thought Catalog has some great ideas about little things you can do to make yourself happier instantly – but here are some ideas for how to make yourself happier longer-term and live your best life in a more fulfilling way:
1. Date yourself
Yes – that is exactly as it sounds. Take yourself to the movies. Go to that new coffee shop you want to check out. Walk along the beach alone. Go to a concert. Visit the zoo. Head to a festival. Literally learn how to be on your own and comfortable with yourself in public situations. Once you’ve learned how to date yourself, set up a date with yourself one weekend each month to catch up with yourself regularly and help stay on top of everything. This will ensure you remember what you like and don’t like and that you are leading a fulfilling life.
2. Appreciate nature
Be conscious of the natural things surrounding you that make you happy. Things that have nothing to do with any other being. Some hints: watching the waves at the beach, the sunrise each morning, the sunset each evening, the rolling hills in the distance, admiring the flowers in a garden on the way to work, the smell after rain falls, the way the shadows fall as the sun passes by each day etc.
3. Choose friends wisely
Select your friends wisely. Surround yourself with positive, successful people and leave the losers for someone else. It sounds harsh, but that’s how it needs to be. Only spend your time with people who are on your level or who can lift you up – if they can’t, really question why you want that person in your life and if you need them there. Make sure your expectations of yourself are realistic – you don’t want to think you’re so good, no one is good enough and at the same time you don’t want to think so little of yourself that the losers get to stay. Your friends should share your belief system.
4. Trust yourself
Learning to trust yourself is essential in finding your happiness long-term. If you can’t trust yourself, you’re never going to stay on the path you want to be on and others will more easily be able to knock you off balance. Once you trust yourself you can start trusting each and every decision you make to lead you to where you want to go. Part of learning to trust yourself could stem from being fair to yourself and to demonstrate what I mean here, I want to refer you to Paul Hudson from Elite Daily’s article: 20 Things you need to stop doing to yourself.
5. Ditch anything toxic
Anything that makes you doubt or question yourself, anything that makes you feel less than what you are, anything that hurts you is toxic – let it go. Be as cold as you need to be when breaking away from everything toxic in your life. Nothing toxic will ever serve you – unless it hurts you enough to teach you a massive lesson.
6. Believe you’re good enough
Self-belief is essential in making yourself happy long term. If you don’t believe in yourself, how is anyone else meant to? Concentrate on tapping into what you think of yourself and if it’s not a positive image, challenge it – why aren’t you as good if not better than anyone else? You may need to work with a psychologist if you find you’re having difficulty with your self-perception.
7. Learn your values
Stop looking externally for approval, look to yourself – ask yourself what you think, ask yourself for advice, find out what your values are. Write down what your values are and the things that you value above everything else. Then say why you value it. If you’re not on the list, ask yourself why not – add yourself to the list and consider why it’s important you should be there.
8. Make plans for the future
Stop waiting for other people to make plans, make your own plans for the future and get started – but make sure you select things you can do all on your own. If you want to go overseas, book that holiday. If you want to start a course, there’s no better time. If you want to learn a musical instrument or take up a sport – go for it! Challenge yourself and start today – nothing is too big or too small when it comes to planning your future.
9. Try to accomplish something you think is impossible
We may feel like a tiny spec in the grand scheme of things but you never know when your idea or your action can make a difference not just to one or two lives but a greater impact on many lives. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Attempt to achieve the impossible – you might surprise yourself and if you don’t make it, you may start a whole new revolution or learn a whole lot of new and exciting things along the way!
If you still feel alone in this quest for making yourself happy, I recommend two books that helped me in changing and shaping my journey: God on a Harley by Joan Brady and Marry Yourself First by Ken Donaldson and The End – a blog post written by Coco J Ginger.
Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. Rick Warren
As I tell my friends – your time is the most valuable gift you can give someone. It’s something you can never get back. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can best use your time.
There are three very basic yet important things you should do to maintain good time management:
- Use a calendar so you always know what’s on and schedule appointment reminders to give yourself enough time to get wherever you’re going – and try to always be ten minutes early
- Prioritise and delegate activities to assist in getting tasks done on time
- Learn to say “no” – if you can’t make an appointment, don’t waste people’s time trying. Moral: Don’t try to do too much because when you fail, you’ll let other people down.
OK, now that’s out of the way, you should have more time. The question is – what are you going to do with it?
Finding what to do with free time can be challenging and frustrating until you find exactly what it is that you enjoy doing. Many people forget that while time is the most important gift you can give away – it’s also the most important gift you can give to yourself. When we don’t give ourselves time out from our usual daily grind we risk getting burn out.
Here are a few ideas for how you can give yourself time as a gift:
- Review your goals, see how you’re tracking – it’s motivating!
- Get reading, learn something new by reading an online article or just snuggle in and read something fiction – whatever takes your fancy
- Exercise! Keeping fit and healthy is great for managing your stress levels
- Check in with yourself. Keep a diary, meditate, talk to your inner child about their day
- Make yourself a playlist. Select songs that YOU like and that make YOU feel good (no judgement!)
- Speak to your inner child about the day’s events. Like your parents or guardian would talk to you as a child, talk to yourself – explain things as though you’re talking to a child when you start to feel yourself grumble about something
- Make yourself a scrapbook of your favourite things
- Practise some mindfulness techniques. Sit by water (beach, lake, bay) and list all the things you can see in your mind. Then list all the things you can hear in your mind.
Need more ideas? Fifty ways to have fun by yourself on the cheap by the frugal introvert.
I also wanted to share a few ideas for how you can give someone else time as a gift
- Write a handwritten letter to someone telling them how important they are to you
- Help someone to do something they can’t do on their own
- Do something nice for someone who least expects it
- Write a blog or create a YouTube clip about something you’ve learned to teach others your lessons
- Listen to someone when they need you
- Buy someone a gift you know they’ll like, just because
Today – Saturday, 8 March 2014 – we celebrate International’s Women’s Day!
This year’s theme – Inspiring Change – is directly aligned with the work we do at Happiness Weekly and so we are writing a special blog to celebrate. The theme “calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change,” the website says.
Our next challenge was figuring out what to blog to link Inspiring Change to International Women’s Day. We could talk about celebrity women – such as Oprah – who inspire change, or discuss how women in politics and positions of power have inspired changed, point out some great female ambassadors who are doing great things…
After long thought we decided instead to create a song list to help empower women to make the changes they seek. Groupies and love song dedications aside, below is Happiness Weekly’s empowering song-list to celebrate women:
Independent Woman – Destiny’s Child
So Beautiful – Superchick
Sisters are doing it for themselves – Eurythmics
I refuse to be lonely – Phyllis Hyman
Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
Woman’s World – Cher
Girl On Fire – Alicia Keys
I am woman – Helen Reddy
Man I feel like a woman – Shania Twain
I’m every woman – Whitney Houston
Run the world (Girls) – Beyonce
I Am Woman – Jordin Sparks
This One’s For The Girls – Martina McBride
Born This Way- Lady Gaga
Just a girl – No Doubt
You Gotta Be – Des’ree
Women of Intention – Deap Vally
A Woman’s Worth – Alicia Keys
I am beautiful – Candice Glover
Some girls – Madonna
Mrs Robinson – Simon and Garfunkel
Go Girl – Ciara
Lady Marmalade – Christina Aguilera
I’m a woman – Peggy Lee
Who says – Selena Gomez
Womanizer – Britney Spears
If I were your woman – Gladys Knight & the Pips
Only girl in the world – Rihanna
Your woman – White Town
My girl – Temptations
Brave – Sara Bareillies
The greatest love of all – Whitney Houston
Girls just want to have fun – Cindy Lauper
Foxy Lady – Jimi Hendrix
Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Video – Indie Arie
Big girls don’t cry – Fergie
Feeling Good – Jennifer Hudson
Survivor – Destiny’s Child
Proud – Heather Small
I intend to live forever. So far, so good. Steven Wright
In April last year we wrote Practical ways to live longer (Part I) which gave a series of suggestions for how we can proactively work now towards a longer, healthier life. Today Happiness Weekly is releasing the second part of this blog – for no other reason other than life is beautiful and we want to be here to enjoy it for as long as we possibly can!
Don’t define yourself by numbers
Ditch the scales, stop looking at your bank account, realise that only you care about your dress size. Fortunately for us, these numbers do not create our worth – so don’t use them as a guide because it will create unnecessary stress.
Studies have shown that strength training twice a week for 30 minutes can actually make your body 15 to 20 years younger in terms of restoring the muscle mass and regaining bone density. Remember there’s no need to turn yourself into the incredible hulk with all the protein shakes though – these may not be so good for prolonging life!
Keep an even mood
Research by US psychologist Dr Howard Friedman and Dr Leslie Martin found children that are cheerful are less likely to live to an old age. It is thought that relentlessly happy people may be prone to underestimate risks to their health and thereby fail to take precautions or follow medical advice.
Don’t fake it – smile authentically
The more authentic your smile and the broader you smile, the longer you will live. Smiling triggers the release of chemicals that can make you feel happier, even if you’re faking it. Better still, laughing boosts levels of infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells. A good laugh can improve blood flow by more than 20% and possibly reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Instead of avoiding stress, find a job that challenges you – hard work and accomplishment is a strong predictor of long life. Studies have shown that those with the most career success are the least likely to die young. Also wait five more years to retire – Greek researchers have discovered it decreases mortality rate during that period by 10%!
People who stop lying after instructed have been found to have significant health improvements in just ten weeks, with fewer mental health complaints – such as tension and fewer physical complaints – such as migraines and headaches. Lying triggers stress hormones that increase heart rate and breathing, slow digestion and cause tension and hypersensitivity in muscles and nerve fibres.
Enjoy a glass of red wine each night
A glass of red wine could reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and the slow progression of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease due to the flavonoids and resveratrol compounds it contains. Be cautious though, just two glasses more could put you at increased risk of developing mouth, throat, oesophagus, breast and bowel cancer.
Don’t eat peanuts
If you’re looking to keep your weight down: avoid eating peanuts! Just 100g of peanuts is 622 calories which will take an hour of swimming to burn off! If you’re looking for a healthy snack, you’re safer eating a few almonds or better still celery, carrots and capsicum.
Work on your relationship with your parents
Studies have shown those who aren’t particularly close to their parents end up developing high blood pressure, alcoholism or heart disease by mid-life. A closer relationship will promote survival by putting you at less risk of developing these conditions.
Fight it out
Arguing may not be much fun, but suppressed anger can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, heart problems and increased risk of cancer. Studies show that people who suppress their anger are 25% more likely to die early.
People who play golf live an average of five years longer than non-golfers which may be because they’re outside for four to five hours at a time and they walk six to seven kilometres. Yoga is also recommended as when it’s combined with moderate aerobic exercise and diet control it can reduce cholesterol and reverse hardening of the arteries by up to 20%!
Chew your food
Chewing your food carefully will assist with weight loss but it may also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by half – which could be because chewing your food helps to break it down, making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients.
Have a family
Men who are unable to conceive are twice as likely to die early from circulatory disease, cancers and accidents, while women without children are four times more at risk. Adoption may also reduce the risk – so the family doesn’t necessarily need to be by blood.
Don’t watch television
Every hour of television you watch after you turn 25 could shave 22 minutes off your lifespan according to scientists at the US National Cancer Institute. Instead of watching television, get out and go for a walk or take up a sport or other activity – muscles that aren’t used properly will raise the risk of illness and premature death.
Learn a language
The ability to speak two or more languages significantly slows the onset of Dementia and Alzheimer’s by creating a greater brain reserve.
Whether you are religious or spiritual, the gods you believe in want to keep you here longer than your atheist friends. Studies have shown a positive correlation between religious belief and good health. Whether this is due to the better levels of social support provided within religious communities or divine intervention is still not known.
Do you have any strategies that could help you live longer that weren’t mentioned in part I or part II of this blog? Please leave your comment below.