By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Ahhhh, the quest for happiness. This article has a simple checklist of suggestions. My personal favorite, Trust your gut! As author Barton Goldsmith says, “When we go against our instincts, and it backfires, we usually feel sad. Follow your intuition and let it guide you toward people and things that will make your life just a tiny bit better. Day by day, your happiness will grow” We here at WWR hope that by empowering women with news and information that makes a difference in their lives…we are doing our small part.
Sometimes the quest for happiness can be as confounding as Indiana Jones looking for lost treasure. Just when you think you have a clue, some giant boulder comes rolling toward you. Here are some tips to help you find some joy.
1. Reach out to others. You may have good people in your life but have been out of touch. Picking up the phone and giving old friends a call can brighten both of your days and perhaps your lives as well.
2. Remember that happiness is an inside job. That means that no one but you can really make you happy, even though it may not feel that way. When I see a smile on the face of someone I care about, it makes me happy, especially if I helped put it there. Maybe it is an inside job after all.
3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you are relying on one set of circumstances or person to make you happy, it probably won’t happen. You need to broaden your scope of friends and activities. Also, know that engaging in new adventures creates brain chemicals that add to your happiness.
4. Trust your gut. When we go against our instincts, and it backfires, we usually feel sad. Follow your intuition and let it guide you toward people and things that will make your life just a tiny bit better. Day by day, your happiness will grow.
5. Is meditation for you? Most books on happiness say that meditation is key, but most people don’t know how to get started. There are classes all over the place, CDs, downloads, and websites _ and you can also try just being in nature. The idea is to allow you to calm yourself, so you can feel the good things that your fear and sadness are pushing away.
6. Organize your thoughts. Many people push away happiness when they are overwhelmed. When you keep everything in your head, it can be difficult to get the perspective you need. Try making lists of the things that seem too big to manage on your own. You may find that you can do most of these things on your own and that the list isn’t as long as you thought, but if you need help, ask for it.
7. Stay away from people who bring you down. This may sound simple, but if you are living with those people, it can be very complicated. In that case, a family therapy session could be very helpful. Many people don’t recognize that they are making life difficult for others, and in a group setting with a trained professional, they can learn to behave differently without feeling attacked.
8. Look at the big picture. Most of the things that prevent us from feeling happy are day-to-day life issues. Once in a while, you go through something that makes the little things seem inconsequential, and this is when you need to remember that life is still going on, and whatever the issue is, it will end. Look at your life as a whole _ not just the bad parts.
9. Value your values. We all have a value system, a way we have decided to go through life, which makes us feel like a good person. When you know what works and what doesn’t, it can make your life a whole lot easier. The important thing to remember is to not lose sight of your values when life becomes a roller coaster. Keeping your values strong will help create happiness.
10. Play more. Sometimes we get so involved in doing our lives and problem solving that we forget to take time to have some fun. You may have to block out a day for fun in your calendar. But the important thing is to have a little joy every day to keep you going and growing.
Happiness can be hard to feel at times, so don’t think there is something wrong with you if you don’t feel it. We all go through phases, and some people are just naturally happier than others, so try to avoid comparing yourself with others. The truth is that happiness is here for you, and using the techniques above will allow you to feel more of it.
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(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)