Brighter Press is about making your life happier, better and much, much-much brighter.
Do you ever say:
- I am happy.
- I am sad.
These are two contrasting statements usually said at a superficial level yet they mean a great deal of both emotional and psychological things.
Feeling happy can make a lot of things awesome in your life. Happiness is the positive side of life everyone wants to find themselves. Sadness, on the other hand, is totally undesirable (unless you are weird).
The two emotional states can have equal forces in your life. One can really motivate you yet the other can demotivate you and make you feel downtrodden, exhausted, miserable and without emotional energy to go on with your daily activities.
Even so, you can get out of sadness and failure and eventually make your life more interesting. It is a path that will lead you to more success than you ever imagined.
Before you embark on this journey, I want you to know that there is no general formula on how to be happy that applies to everyone alike.
#1 Fact – Situations are unique to every single person. Even counseling may not achieve much with the same methods for different individuals.
#2 Fact – While our goal is to help you achieve a more fulfilling life, the ultimate effort lies with you. We can only do so much to inspire you and make you feel better, point you in the right direction and jumpstart your road to bliss.
In short, accept that you are the only person that can AND WILL motivate YOU to take steps that will lead to happiness.
In every single person, there’s the ability to self-motivate. Do you remember the one thing you ever struggled to do but pulled through and became successful at it? It doesn’t matter what it was – small or big – the result was the same: SUCCESS!
That is the innate ability or body-and-mind manual that everyone comes with. But what is self-motivation?
It is the force that drives you to do things without influence or encouragement from other people or situations.
According to Daniel Goleman, the renowned motivational author of “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”, there are four elements that make us feel mentally energetic to do what we truly want to do. They include:
- Commitment (How much can you focus on your goals?)
- Personal drive (Do you have the desire to improve and become a better person?)
- Optimism (can you keep going on with your pursuits regardless of setbacks you face?)
- Initiative (are you ready to act on the opportunities that you desire)
We need each of these to achieve a high level of motivation and eventually feel happy. In each of the different ways to become happy and fulfilled in your life below, these four basic principles are covered.
So, just before we get down to the steps to become happy, here are a few definitions you need to keep at the back of your mind.
What is happiness?
When do you say you are happy in your life? Experts in positive psychology describe an individual who is happy as one with positive emotions. These emotions include joy, pride, contentment, better interest in different things and aspects of life.
These are people with less frequent negative emotions such as anger, sadness and anxiety. This is not to mean that a happy person does not have negative emotions. The difference between happiness and sadness in people is how often these emotions occur (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005).
Synonyms for happiness: pleasure, cheerfulness, well-being, good spirits, glee, satisfaction, pleasure, joy etc.
What is sadness?
Being said is an emotional state associated with feelings of disappointment, sorrow etc. Being said is a natural reaction to different situations that cause pain or emotional upset.
According to the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, “The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”
Synonyms for sadness: unhappiness, sorrow, misery, dejection, despondency, despair, gloom, melancholy, etc.
For you to become joyful in your life, you must, first of all, appreciate the negative emotions that come with sadness. It is a typical case of light vs. darkness.
Every person experiences six basic emotions portrayed by Paul Ekman. These include anger, surprise, fear, disgust, happiness and sadness. The degree and frequency of the last two may be the difference and identifying can be an important step towards bliss.
So, what can you do to be happy with your life and yourself?
10 Ways to be happy (and positive)
Psychologists such as David T. Lykken, the author of Happiness: Its Nature and Nurture remark that emotional satisfaction is inborn. However, practical experience shows that you can actually learn to make your life more positive and full of joy.
So here’s what you need to know to make your life brighter and more interesting. I would largely advise that your life is in your own control in many ways.
1. Accept yourself
Self-acceptance is the satisfaction you have with yourself as you are. It is very important for your mental health (Shepard, 1979).
To truly uncover your awesomeness and potential, you must first learn self-acceptance. This will boost your self-esteem and give you a lasting dose of confidence.
To self-accept is to embrace all facets of your life regardless of the quality. Therefore, before you do this, you will need to really know who you are; your strengths and your weaknesses. The process is unconditional and can create a lasting impact on your emotional state.
Here are a few techniques to help you with this:
- Practice relaxed self-awareness and self-rating or comparing yourself to others. This will get rid of the bad feelings that can cause depression and self-spite.
- Be compassionate and forgive yourself for not being good enough.
- Understand why you fail at some things and excel at others.
- Consider other people around you.
- Celebrate your own strengths.
Even with all this, it is important to realize that acceptance is not the same as resignation. You will become happier with the former and discontent with the latter.
2. Think positively
Eliminating negativity is a big step towards a more fulfilling life. You have a natural tendency to remember less pleasant experiences and quickly forget positive ones. But for you to achieve your goals, train your mind to be happier and rely on such memories as opposed to bad ones.
Happiness often comes from within. Therefore, learn to get rid of negative thoughts and approach every day and circumstance with optimism. Here are some tips to help you think positively.
- Be mindful of your own thoughts. Own them, control them and remember them actively. Strive to occupy yourself with positive thoughts about your work, your relationships, and achievements. This way, you will become more compassionate with yourself.
- Meditate on a regular basis. Meditating has been proven to remedy problems such as depression, stress and anxiety. These three are major causes of negative emotions.
- Acknowledge good things however small. This will train your brain to pay more attention to pleasant observations than negative experiences.
Remember, thinking positively is a product of mindfulness – the ability to know what’s happening in your head at any given moment without getting carried away by it.
3. Learn to deal with failure
Most people get depressed when they are faced with failures of some kind. For example, those who are used to enjoying achievements every now and then may end up feeling sad, inadequate and generally disappointed in themselves.
Success plays a major psychological role in making us feel superior and as a result, happier in life or all the time.
Failure and success are not just about your job or workplace achievements, school performance, personal financial goals or even losing weight. It could be related to your personal relationships with people you care about, results of your own goals etc.
Here’s how to overcome failure and become happier with your progress:
- Understand and accept that failing at something is part of the path to success. This will give you a chance to find out what you did wrong and meditate on how you will overcome your shortcomings. When you will try again, you will most likely be successful and become proud of yourself again.
- Know that anyone who wants to do things of value in life will fail at some point. That does not stop them from pursuing their goal.
- Remind yourself that failure is something that happened; not something that you are.
- Talk about it.
On the last point, it is important to talk about your struggles. Expressing yourself to somebody you trust will make you feel better and happy again.
Most people feel overwhelmed at the thought of sharing their deepest pain with other people. However, research has shown that it is positive therapy when you talk about your difficult moments with someone else.
It will relieve the pressure and make your emotions even much better than before. You can talk about your failures to a close friend, a spouse, a parent, sibling, religious figure or even a therapist.
4. Set meaningful goals
Your goals are closely related to your successes and your failures. In fact, targets, goals, and objectives, at the very beginning can quickly define your emotional state at the end of them depending on their magnitude and possibilities.
For instance, you cannot set goals that may require 2 years to accomplish and attempt to do so in just 6 months. In the process, you may overstrain yourself, plunge into stress and fail in the end.
Always be realistic in your goal setting. Consider your life values and the kind of person you are aspiring to become.
- Ensure that your goals are meaningful to you.
- When you achieve goals motivated by your own needs, you will feel happier in life, whether at work or in a different environment.
- Realistic goal setting doesn’t mean you don’t challenge yourself.
- Challenge yourself but remain aware of your own abilities as you make the plans.
It is important to frame your plans in a positive way. For example, instead of writing ‘Stop lazying around’, go for a more positive statement such as ‘Work out for 1 hour every 4 times a week.’
5. Learn to take criticism positively
Criticism is part of our daily lives. Some of the greatest people who changed the world were heavily criticized.
Mother Teresa, for example, is known worldwide for her acts of kindness and compassion. Do you think everybody liked her? Not quite. She was heavily criticized but dealt with it and continued on her mission. She lived a very meaningful, fulfilling life.
You too may get criticized every day. It should not mess the balance and interfere with your happiness. The most important part is to know how to deal with criticism and live a happy and beautiful life. Here are 9 tips to help you take criticism positively and deal with it for a better and more fulfilling experience.
- Try not to look for criticism. The most critical person in the world is yourself. Focus on your positives.
- Do not ask people who may not help you what they think about you.
- See the good in other people rather than judging them. You may not notice it, but more often than not you do this a lot to other people. The same habit will come back to you, and you will be so critical of yourself and live a sad life.
- Set boundaries with your friends. When they hurt you, talk to them about it. Spend time with people who are less critical of you but are more supportive and kind.
While you can also choose to ignore criticism, what you should do is realize the role it plays in your positive development. If you learn to take it as points of improvement, you will see a change in your own life and become even happier with your development.
6. Add value and positivity to someone else’s life
Have you ever noticed that you feel so much better and proud of yourself when you help another person? Acts of kindness have a way of giving us joy and fulfillment.
According to psychology, when people donate to charity or show acts of kindness, the part of your brain that is responsible for feelings of reward (mesolimbic system) is triggered. The brain then releases feel-good chemicals that trigger positivity.
Whether you are in school or at work and feel life sucks, take positive steps to help other people find good in life.
- Help someone solve a problem.
- Listening to others
- Boosting the mood of other people when they are in distress etc.
There’s so much you can do to make other people’s lives better and put a smile on your own face.
7. Build positive relationships
According to a study published in the Journal of Socio-Economics, your relationships are worth more than $100,000!
“Using the British Household Panel Survey, I find that an increase in the level of social involvements is worth up to an extra £85,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction. Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness.
This means that even if you work so hard to increase your annual income by hundreds of dollars, it may add you little happiness compared to building positive relationships.
According to Howard S. Friedman’s The Longevity Project, our relationships with others and the help we accord them are important determinants of living long, happy lives.
8. Practice gratitude
Make it a routine to appreciate things that make you feel grateful. This will help you focus more on the positive emotion rather than the things that make you disappointed in yourself.
Doing this regularly will help and condition you to shift your emotions to see the good rather than the bad in life.
According to a research done by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, people who expressed gratitude on a regular basis were noted to be pleased with themselves than those who did less of it.
Here’s how you can cultivate gratitude and make your life more interesting.
- Keep a gratitude journal. A physical pen and paper one is more preferred as it is more therapeutic. Just make it a habit to write.
- Say thank you more often.
- Thank people mentally if you cannot do it in person.
- Write thank you notes.
- Religious people use prayer as a way of expressing gratitude.
- Be gentle with your mistakes and other people’s errors as well.
Chances are, if you are not appreciating the good things in your life, you may not receive much. Fewer people will also appreciate you and this could be one of the factors contributing to your unhappiness.
Forgiving is making room for happiness. According to Buddha, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.”
People who truly forgive tend to be happier, more empathetic and healthier. This is in contrast with unforgiving people who are often described as angry, hateful and hostile. All these can only make you feel neurotic, depressed and anxious.
It is normal to experience loss, betrayal and hurt when going through life with other human beings. Even if you encounter mean people, it is important that you learn to forgive rather than hold grudges that will continue to injure your emotions and deny you the joy of life.
10. Exercise regularly and sleep enough
Exercise helps you to achieve personal fitness goals. But that is not all. Regular exercise has been proven to help individuals overcome depression.
According to a study cited by Shawn Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage, exercise helps people relax and increase their brain power.
In fact, it helps the body release endorphins that make us feel happier and better. The Journal of Health Psychology found in a study that people who exercised on a regular basis felt happier about their bodies even when they did not see any physical changes.
It also turns out that sleep is very important to your happiness. How? Lack of adequate sleep affects the part of your brain that processes positive memories. The result of this is that if you deprive yourself enough sleep, you will fail to recall pleasant memories.
Therefore, to be happier in life, try to sleep more each day in order to help your brain and body become healthier.
More tips for a happier life
All we have discussed above is just but a tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot you can do to live a more fulfilling life.
The one thing that cannot be overemphasized is finding your purpose in life. You will be a lot more positive if you knew your own mission in the world. People are different and so this is something you cannot copy or imitate.
Once you know your purpose, you will be more passionate, committed and enjoy your hard work towards achieving your call.
Smile. Yes, smiling releases a lot of chemicals that make you feel good. Learn to smile and ease your way through every day. Smiling will reduce your pain, improve your mood, make you think better and help cultivate good relationships with people.
Surround yourself with positivity. Have optimistic friends. Chances are your peers influence a lot about your life – whether you are actively aware of it or not. If you want to enjoy your work and life, ensure that you spend a lot of time with those friends who are always supportive and optimistic. This trait will grow in you automatically.
Lastly, consume positive content. Choose to watch happy movies and listen to positive music. Neurological studies have shown that we are hardwired to react emotionally to music and such content. Music can make you feel uplifted, contented and can improve your health, too.
Being a powerful element that can alter your brain’s interpretation of stimuli in general, make a habit of listening to music that makes your soul feel good, and you will lead a happier life.
There is also nothing like being in good health to improve your overall feeling of happiness. Get health and wellness tips and advice here.
Remember: “Do not be a captive of your own negativity.” T-Bag, Prison Break.