We've all had the feeling before. You know that you have everything to be thankful for: a great significant other, a loving family, a pretty good job, and a healthy working body. Still, you keep having this nagging feeling that what you have just isn't enough. Sure, you can be happier by making some life changes, but the easiest way to be content with your life is to adjust your perspective and daily actions, which will make you more likely to appreciate what you have. So how do you start enjoying that sunshine instead of complaining about sunburn?
Follow these steps.
Live in the present. The people who are the happiest with their lives are able to enjoy and embrace the present moment instead of being stuck on the past or obsessing over the future will look like.
Though thinking of the past can help us learn from our mistakes and thinking of the future can help you set goals and be a good long-term planner, if you want to be happy with what you do have, then take some time to enjoy exactly what you're doing right now. Focus on what the day will bring you instead of what happened yesterday or what you'll be able to change about tomorrow.
Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Focus on being in the moment and you'll feel all of your worries melt away.
Be patient: this takes practice.
You can also meditate or do yoga to help yourself focus on the present moment instead of worrying about what the future may bring.
Be grateful for what you have.
Instead of focusing on all the things you don't have or all of the things you want, take a minute to think about how lucky you are compared to most people out there.
Though your life may not be perfect in the moment, there are surely some things that you can be very grateful for, whether it's your loving family, your amazing friends, your great relationship, your health, your cool new job, the awesome city where you live, or your amazing home. You probably don't have all of these things (most people don't!) but surely there are a few things you can remind yourself to be grateful for every single day.
Write a gratitude list every Sunday to remind yourself of all the great things in your life.
Take the time to thank people for helping you, whether you do it in person or you write a "thank you" card.
Spend more time in nature. This will make you feel more grateful for the beauty all around you.
Appreciate the little things.
Be thankful for the air you breathe, the food that nourishes you, the quiet home you live in, the sunshine that brightens up your day.
Every little detail in your life counts. Focus on those little things and be thankful that you are still alive. You could focus on the love of your pet, the amazing bakery down the street that spruces up your breakfasts, the perfect climate in your region, or your awesome library with an endless supply of books. It doesn't have to be anything earth shattering, but it does have to make you realize how much happiness is all around you.
Even if you've had a horrible day, try to think of three little things that made it worthwhile. Maybe it was the unexpected kind email from an old friend, a great conversation with your neighbour, or the amazing new coffee you had with your breakfast.
Take time to reflect.
A lot of people aren't content with their lives because they don't take the time to sit back and consider everything that's going on.
You can do this by writing in a journal at the end of each day or week, going on long walks to decompress, or just by sitting still, staring out at nature, and considering everything that happened to you that day. This doesn't mean you should mope, over-think things, or consider all of the things that went wrong. Instead, you should take the time to rationally assess everything that's going on with your life.
Making a habit of reflecting will help you think rationally when a problem arises and will keep you from being blind-sided by problems that are lurking in your life.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
This is another way that people can easy keep themselves from feeling truly happy with their lives. Stop thinking about how big your neighbour's house is, how great your friend Jack's job is, or how perfect your best friend's relationship is when yours is riddled with problems.
You can't change what other people are doing, and you'll never get anywhere if you compare yourself to others instead of thinking about your life on its own terms.
You will always be able to find someone who is happier, healthier, richer, prettier, and just more together than you are. But why look?
Remember that, even if you're really jealous of your friend's relationship, he/ she might be really jealous of your awesome career. There are always reasons to be jealous of others, and reasons for others to be jealous of you. But if you drop comparing completely, you'll only be doing yourself a favour.
If you only go on Facebook to see who is getting engaged, who just got an awesome new job, or who just went on a vacation of a lifetime, then it's time to disconnect. Social media can make you feel like whatever you have just isn't enough.
Fake it until you make it...
Even if you're feeling down in the dumps, you shouldn't go around moping, complaining, telling your ten best friends how awful you feel, and looking like you're about to cry. Instead, you should try to be extra cheerful, extra friendly, and make an effort to talk to other people and make them laugh. This doesn't mean that you should hide any serious reasons of deep sadness, but it does mean that if you're just generally in a bad mood, that you should make an extra effort to seem happier. You'll be surprised by how quickly this will actually trick your mind into feeling happier!
Sure, sharing your problems with a good friend can help you work them out. But being upset and complaining to everyone in earshot about it is guaranteed to make you feel worse.
But also take the time to feel your sadness.
David Spiegel, MD, the medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, reminds us that Happiness is not the absence of sadness. This means that you can still confront your sad feelings and allow yourself to cry and consider your unhappy feelings while still being a happy person. Pretending to be cheerful when you're really upset over something serious will not make you more content with your life or a happier person.
Some suffering will make you appreciate the good parts of your life and will make you even more grateful for what you have.
Talking to friends about your sadness can also make you feel like you have more control over your life, which will make you a happier person.
Know that money won't change as much as you think.
Sure, some more money will change the wrapping paper over your life -- but not the gift that's inside. You can be driving a nicer car, own nicer clothes, or have a nicer home with three extra bedrooms, but in the long run, it won't do much for making you more content with your life. Once you have enough money to pay for the basic necessities and some fun on the side, having a salary increase will not have a dramatic effect on your happiness.
Sure, a new wardrobe will make you feel better in the short run. But in the long run, you'll still be the same person, just with nicer clothes.
Feel true compassion for others.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, once said, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy, practice compassion." Part of being happy means building connections with other people and recognizing that other people are also suffering. Building compassion for others will help you forge strong relationships, stop obsessing over yourself, and to feel less alone in the world. The next time you're with another person, consider things from his point of view instead of worrying over how you come off and see how much happier you feel.
It takes practice to develop compassion for others.
The more time you spend with other people, the quicker you can do this.
Remember that happiness is a choice.
Some people gauge happiness by having a successful career, luxurious car, or a huge savings account. Happiness cannot be determined by the money you earn or even with material things. It is a choice that we are happy, despite what life may bring. Start it with yourself and say, "I'm happy to be me".
Being happier now, according to one study, is also a stronger indicator of how happy you'll be in the future.
So, making the choice to be happy affects you beyond the present moment.
Studies also show that happier people have less health problems. This decision can affect your physical well-being, too.
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