When it comes right down to it, most of us want the same thing in life: to feel happy.
We want that new job or promotion because we believe that the extra responsibilities or money will make us happy. We want to be in a relationship because we believe the companionship will enrich our lives and make us happy. We want to go to that festival or explore the world because we believe the experience will make us happy.
In fact, a study conducted in the UK in 2017 reported that 33.5% of adults claim to feel "unsatisfied" by everyday factors like job role, location, money, relationship and diet (1). We have come to believe that happiness is the result of something we achieve, have or experience. We tell ourselves, “When I achieve X, I’ll be happy”, “When I have Y, I’ll be happy”, and “When I experience Z, I’ll be happy.”
Ironically, what this kind of thinking ultimately does is make us unhappy rather than increase happiness long-term. Sure, we may feel all warm and fuzzy temporarily – but these kinds of 'feel good' vibes don't last very long. We’ll find ourselves soon wanting to achieve, have and experience the next best thing.
But what happens when we don’t get what we want or are dealt a bad hand in life? That's when our emotions and reliance on temporary perks land us in the mud and we get stuck in real trouble. You see, true and lasting happiness is not the result of something we achieve, have or experience. Happiness is something we do.
When we make happiness an action or a habit even, we can feel good about life and ourselves regardless of what happens around us or to us. We don’t need that promotion, relationship or holiday to make us happy or make us feel validated. In fact, we could get fired, experience heartbreak and grey, rainy days and still feel good and happy. In order to boost happiness naturally so that you can keep yourself feeling motivated and satisfied, here are 3 top themes to remember to feel happy with yourself and life in general.
How to keep yourself happy and motivated
1. Ask yourself the right questions
It’s very normal and common to ask yourself, “Why me?” when life gives you lemons. Questions like, "Why me?", "what have I done to deserve this?" and "why would they do that to me?" keep you stuck.
Instead, learn to ask yourself the right questions – questions that help you to grow, learn and move forward. Ask yourself questions like, "What can I learn from this?’, "how can I use this to my advantage?" and "what if… was actually happening for me, instead of against me, what if… was a blessing in disguise?"
The thing is, you can’t always control what happens in your life, but you can control how you respond to it. So choose to respond by asking questions that cultivate a mindset of growth and happiness. Once you learn the lesson, you will feel the satisfaction of growth from which happiness stems.
2. Acknowledge your emotions, but don’t get attached to them
Happiness is not about thinking or being positive all of the time. You’re human and that means you will experience sadness, loss and disappointment at some point in your life. It’s inevitable – a fact of life.
It might sound contradictory, but by allowing feelings of sadness, loss, disappointment, anger, hurt and frustration to be felt, you’re more likely to feel happier in the long run. When you acknowledge your emotions – whatever they are – their intensity will be released and you can move on from them. If that sounds scary, know and trust that whatever you’re feeling is temporary, it will pass and you will feel better and happier again.
When you suppress or ignore negative emotions, they become rooted within you and you can bet that they’ll come back to bite you in the back at some point in the future. Not a great idea to ignore them!
3. Look after yourself properly
It can be a lot harder to feel good about yourself and life if you’re exhausted, irritable, bloated or in any other way feeling physically or mentally unwell. While it’s always advisable to see a GP or medical expert if you’re suffering from something, be it physically or mentally, there are certain things you can do to help yourself feel good at home and boost your own happiness naturally.
It’s worth saying that things like getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating healthy and getting enough exercise all make a world of difference. For example, if you’ve only had 8 hours of sleep over the past two days, just be aware that this will likely have an impact on how you respond to something, your ability to concentrate and your energy levels. You might not be able to deal as well with that setback at work as you would’ve been able to if you were well rested.
So, if you know you’re not feeling 100%, cut yourself a bit of slack and prioritze looking after yourself. This will put you in a better position to deal with life’s setbacks and feel happier.
As they say, happiness is not a destination, happiness is the way. There are many more things you can do to cultivate a mindset of happiness, but these 3 tips are a good place to start. You got this.
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