I strongly believe that becoming happy isn’t down to luck. It’s a choice. Our own happiness is one of the few things in life we can control and aspire to achieve. It takes some work and it requires focus and self-awareness, but it is possible – even in your darkest hours.
So… how do you find your happy?
Here’s NOT how, according to a wise friend of mine’s invaluable advice:
“If you have an open wound and you continually poke it, you’re going to say ‘Ouch, that hurts!’”
Simple, but effective. The first stage of getting to your own special happy place is to stop indulging the things that you know make you unhappy. Whether that’s drinking too much, hanging out with the wrong kinds of people, binge eating or stalking your ex on social media – we all have our weak spots and those actions we know will make us feel bad… but we do them anyway. Identify the things that are potentially keeping you in an unhappy place, and cut it out. Right now. Confide in a friend and call them whenever the urge to poke that wound comes up. Ride it out, distract your mind, and most of all don’t let yourself fall down the rabbit hole of a negative thought pattern. Trust me, it can be hard to climb out again – no amount of Alice in Wonderland tears will help. Dwelling on and obsessing over things that are emotionally challenging or make you feel sad is not healthy behaviour. Seriously, don’t hurt yourself. You don’t deserve it.
Obviously, sadness and grief are part of life. They are emotions that exist and every single one of us feels them at one time or another. They need to be felt (to some extent) and worked through so you can move past them into a lighter place. This takes time, though, and constantly beating yourself up or talking down to yourself becomes emotionally overwhelming. Replace those negative temptations with positive actions. For example, iInstead of drinking alcohol have a cup of tea and a bath and an early night. Instead of binge eating go for a run and clear your head. Instead of hanging out with the wrong crowd make an effort to deepen connections with your kindred spirits – these are the best kind of people to surround yourself with at a challenging time, as they can see things the way you do. Stop thinking about the ex, delete them from your friend list and focus on the only person that really matters here – YOU.
Once you’ve stopped intentionally or accidentally hurting yourself, to find your happy you need to identify the things that nurture you and the people who truly love you for who you are. If, like me, you are an empath through and through, you may find this difficult. Putting yourself first and concentrating on number one when you are used to always caring for and worrying about others feels wrong – but you have to do it. When I’m finding this hard I remind myself that most people around me are doing OK at putting themselves first, so why do I insist on concerning myself with their lives so much? Hmm….
There are four pillars which create the foundation of your happiness; all equally important and each useful in different ways:
As mentioned above, identifying the thoughts or actions you are hurting yourself with is the first step to recovery! For me one of my major sore spots this year is feeling trapped in the tiny country town I currently live in and which, for family reasons, I won’t be moving away from any time in the near future. So to shake off that feeling I am getting involved volunteering with a local support group in my community and making the most of countryside jogs, visits to the pub and enjoying a quiet life.
These are the things that make you the person you are and should absolutely be focused on in a time of need. It may be that you’ve neglected your hobbies through stress or being busy, but we can all find the time for the things we love – we need to. Putting yourself first is about giving yourself that important time to do things just for you.
This concerns the soul. Unhappiness often feels like it’s coming from deep within us, as if our aura is shot and our soul is actually sad. Your gut feels empty and your energy levels are down. Simple things like getting enough sleep and eating healthily show you are taking care of yourself and taking control of your mood. Warm baths, lie ins, cups of tea – find those moments of stillness and find gratitude in the little things. I always write a lot when I feel unhappy as I find the process of putting things down on paper hugely cathartic – plus it helps my mind sort out what it really thinks, because life is confusing sometimes.
Possibly the most crucial of the pillars, getting back to happiness is all about surrounding yourself with positive vibes and good souls. Those people that have got your back no matter what and will come out and get horrendously drunk if you need to, listen to you endlessly talk about what’s on your mind and give many hugs. If all three of the other pillars seem to be failing, your supporters are there to pick you back up and set you on the right path.
Lastly, the number one thing to remember about being happy is that this is a process; a journey. It is never finished, it’s a work in progress, and some days it will come much easier than others. Some hours it’ll be easier than others. Don’t expect miracles overnight. Keep at it, keep putting number one at the top of the list and the rest shall surely follow.