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The Secret to Being Happy (Seriously)


Increase Your Overall HappinessLet’s be honest, shall we? We ALL have days/weeks in our lives where the last thing we are is happy. It can be stresses from finances, kids, family, friends, work or any number of things.

There’s no ‘quick, easy fix’ to ‘be happy’ – I wish there were, I’d be shouting it from the rooftops (and using it!).

Some people look on happiness as subjective. In a way, it is. We each have an idea of what brings a smile to our faces. Striving for that “smile” every day is what can increase your sense of well-being and give you the ability to handle the rough times that will surely come in your life.

The thing is, because happiness is subjective, that means that one thing won’t work for everyone. And if you’re looking for someone or something that will magically bring you happiness, well sister (or brother), you’re wasting valuable time!

Now, that said, the single, hard truth I’ve found when trying to get myself out of the ‘dumps’ is that it won’t just happen. I actually have to DO something. (Notice I said ‘I’ – not ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘they’) And, doing something is exactly what I DON’T feel like doing! But, it is what it is. So, face the fact now that pulling yourself out of an emotional slump is going to take effort. If some site out there tells you ‘just do this and you’ll be happy’ or ‘just take this herb and you’ll be happy’ – well, they’re full of ca-ca.

Let me be clear on one thing – if you are suffering from true depression – please seek professional help. It is nothing to be ashamed of and it is nothing to fool around with! Medicines and herbs and other holistic therapies CAN help! But, it’s kind of like that ‘great new diet’ – all of them have fine print that says something like “when used with a healthy exercise program.” The same holds true here. Medication and holistic therapies can be an enormous help – but, you still have to try, to DO, in order to truly lift yourself back up.

So, what are some things you can do?

* Sing a song – Music has the ability to evoke memories. What were you doing the first time you heard that song? Is it a happy song or a song that makes you think deeply about things? Singing a song that conjures pleasant memories has the power to increase your good mood. It is an instant mood enhancer. For me, I make up songs when puttering around the house. REALLY stupid little ditties (and I mean really dumb!). I would be mortified if someone overheard me! BUT, what they do, for me, is make me giggle – BECAUSE they are so ridiculous.

* Exercise –  You are probably turning the other way right now. But, exercise is not the enemy. It is just physical activity. It can be as vigorous as a run or as fulfilling as planting bulbs in the garden. What it does is increase the secretion of endorphins into your system. Endorphins make you feel good. Your mood lightens and you also can see problems from new angles that give a clue to how they can be resolved. Oh, and you lose weight which makes everybody happy. And remember my ditty-singing? You should see me be-bopping around the house to my own silly little tune (when no one else is home, of course!) It NEVER fails to put a smile on my face!

* Have fun –  Are you someone who is always very serious? Take the time to let loose. Watch a funny movie and laugh until your sides hurt. If you like to go to amusement parks, ride all the rides you want as many times as you want. It’s okay to live in a happy moment. The way to do that is to totally immerse yourself in it. Don’t think about tomorrow, just right now. It’s funny, because when I’m in a funk, the LAST thing I want to do is laugh. Isn’t that strange? But, it’s true. So sometimes I *make* myself watch an old I Love Lucy rerun on TV Land. And then, I laugh. Good, hard, belly laughs. And I feel better.

* Try new things – Many people get upset because they don’t think that they are good at anything. If you are always doing what you have always done, then you won’t get a chance to discover what else you like and are good at. Take a step out of your comfort zone. Try cooking classes, swim lessons, painting or anything else you have longed to do. You may not be perfect (perfection is overrated) but you will be glad you put in the effort. For me, this means trying out a new recipe and changing it so much it’s unrecognizable. Sometimes, I feel like Betty Picasso Crocker, it’s that good. And sometimes, well, the whole family gets a good laugh as they spit out my creative experiment into the garbage! Either way, it’s challenging and it’s fun. And a challenge that you take on is a fool-proof way to banish a slump!

* Smile – When you turn that frown upside down, your happiness meter starts to rise. Just making a goofy grin in the mirror or at a friend will get you a grin back. It may make you laugh or not, but it will definitely get you thinking positive thoughts. I do this – and boy, at first it looks more like a pitbull who just saw a juicy rabbit. When the kids were all home, I’d do this and they’d look and say something snarky like “good grief mom, did you just stub your toe or something?” And, we’d laugh. Now, with the kids all grown and not home most of the time, I look in a mirror. And my first try at a smile when all I feel like doing is snapping someone’s head off or crawling under the covers, is usually enough to make me laugh.

* Think About It – This is a trick I learned years ago and I’m sorry that I can’t remember where I heard or read it. Basically, I imagine myself losing everything I have. EVERYTHING. My family, friends, kids, pets, home, job, cars. And that’s pretty tough to imagine, isn’t it? No matter how hard you try, can you truly fathom what that would be like? I can’t. So, I take it a step further. I imagine losing a toilet, toilet paper, my toothbrush and toothpaste, pens, paper, my computer, my internet access, cups, coffee, silverware, stove, pots and pans, a fridge, chairs, my bed, blankets… and on and on. Don’t just dismiss this! Really do it. By the time I’m done, I’m truly grateful for everything I have (and especially for the coffee and toilet paper!). Gratitude… one important step on the road to contentment and happiness!

Remember – pulling yourself out of melancholy moods takes some effort. And there are times, as I said earlier, where natural therapies or even prescription medications and professional counseling are definitely warranted. But many times, just reflecting on what you have, who you have, the beauty of a flower or a sunset or just a really long, deep breath, can help you attain a moment of gratitude and contentment. And that moment is the beginning of REAL and lasting happiness.

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