Most people are aware of the many different psychological ailments and clinical illnesses that can many times cause a lack of happiness. But we should also remember and not exclude the power we ourselves have that can alter our very own mood. As I audited my mental health and quality of life, I asked myself these questions. Is my passionate murkiness my very own decision? Or are my current conditions of life out of my control? We neglect to acknowledge what sort of control we have over ourselves. Here are 5 ways to being happy on purpose.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
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We go through life day by day hoping to receive something to bring us joy. We watch funny videos on YouTube. We share the cute baby videos on Facebook. Maybe we have the winning lottery ticket this time. Or maybe we get to spend more time with our kids and family. At times, I’ve had everything I’ve needed and wanted but still found it difficult to feel a sense of bliss.
So, what is the cause of my unhappiness? Yes, I am a single mother but is that causing me to be sad? I could use a few million dollars to deposit in my bank account, but I can afford most if not all my current wants and needs. So, I analyzed my life and found the things that caused my sadness was self-inflicted. My masochistic habit was to clutch onto the thought of control.
If I am in control I will have no one else to blame when things go wrong. If I am in control of my vision, my plan will ultimately turn out perfect. Because, of course, I am a single mom and a superhero. I trust that I can control everything exceptionally well and things will turn out precisely what I arranged. What a joke! When I realized this, I discovered the weight is finally off. I could begin to appreciate the view of the voyage, rather than plotting the difficulty.
2. Boost your confidence and show some teeth
Some of us have mastered the famous resting bitch face. It’s usually not intentional, but we tend to get so tied up in our thoughts we forget to simply smile. How many times have you started your day with what seems to be complete chaos? I wake up. I’m screaming “PUT YOUR SHOES ON” what seems like a trillion times before I even leave my house. I drive my hour-long commute to work asking myself redundant questions. I’m walking into the halls of my office and I am thinking. What will I make for dinner? Did I sign my son’s permission slip for that field trip next week? O crap, am I the chaperone? I’ve been at work for less than 3 minutes. I have already found myself unhappy thinking about all the things I have failed to plan.
And then BOOM, I am in the elevator full of colleagues that I didn’t realize was even standing in my face. How will I have a positive day with constant negative thoughts all before logging onto my laptop? Let alone happily greeting the people that are in my current space. I’m interrogating myself over things that aren’t relevant to the elevator ride. I ventured out of the elevator flush and clearly preoccupied. My coworker didn’t let out the slightest peep, yet, once I looked up, she simply smiled. Then, I finally took a deep breath and smiled.
Sometimes, it truly is as simple as smiling that can give us the much-needed boost of confidence we’ve longed for. Each time we smile, our brain feels extremely upbeat. So, smile and laugh as much as you can; the brain doesn’t know the distinction between phony and genuine smile. The more you fake a smile, the more probable smiling will turn into a normal propensity.
So, what’s boosting our confidence and putting a smile on our faces? Do you have a morning playlist that keeps you calm while getting the kids ready for school? Are you smiling and greeting everyone you pass by? Are you talking to the one friend you can always depend on to make you laugh while on your commute into the office? Wherever you get your source of joy, be sure to make use of it throughout your day.
3. Feel ALL your feelings
Most have encountered the infamous break-up process. The do you like me check yes or no love note in elementary school. The first high school relationship that left you crying on your mom’s shoulder. Your first “real” relationship in college that drove you to party a little hard the following weekend. You fall in love with “the one” and it simply doesn’t work out. I remember my first heartbreak like it happened yesterday.
I was 15 and I thought I was in love. He was tall, handsome, and charming. He walked me to each class and held all my books. He kissed me on my cheek before we left on different buses. I begged my mother to let me date and of course, she said no. No phone calls from boys or dating because you are too young. He’s not a nice boy, you deserve better. Until one day, my folks sat me down and said to invite him over to dinner. They asked a million and one questions and gave extremely strict guidelines. Nothing could wipe the smile off my face. I at long last had my parent’s approval to date my crush.
Fourteen days had passed, and I was on cloud nine. I had my own phone line that was connected to the internet, so we would talk on the phone throughout the night. If it was too late, I would call the weather line. Then click over when the line beeped, so my parents couldn’t hear the phone ring. A teenager in love, go figure. One morning I raced to greet my beau in the cafeteria for breakfast to discover another girl holding his hand. He tried to hide it, but I saw. I felt my heart break into pieces. I cried throughout the day, and throughout the night until the point, I fell asleep. I asked myself so many questions pondering what I did wrong. I got so angry that I wanted to slap him across the face. My mom was right. How did she know this would happen? But inevitably, I started to feel so much better.
Commonly, in life, we experience many different types of heartbreaks. We go through good and bad times, make many mistakes, and difficult transgressions. Throughout all these things, it’s important to let the healing process flow and feel every emotion. Allowing myself to feel each emotion has led me to true happiness. Understanding my feelings and encountering trouble and hurt is a piece of what makes it so extraordinary to feel happiness and bliss. So, cry a little, and laugh a lot. Whatever you are feeling, let nature have its way.
4. Negativity… Ruuuuuuuuuun!!!
One Sunday morning the pastor at my church said something that I will remember forever. He said, “you are responsible for bringing out the God in other people.” I made it my mission to be conscious of what I say to people and how I make them feel. Even though it could be extremely difficult, it helped me focus on my own happiness. We all know what stress can do to us. We start to think negative thoughts. We start saying negative things, and then we even start being negative towards others. It all starts within our mind and what we hear and see.
I must admit that I too watch a little bit of reality television from time to time. I love the drama and the fashion of course. Women bickering back and forth about meaningless topics. Then I would chat with coworkers about that meeting that could have been an email. Those are the worst. I chaperoned a field trip for my son’s school and caught myself listening to non-stop complaints from the other parents. My energy shifted and now I’m not as happy as I was last week.
What are we feeding our minds? What are we thinking about? What are we watching? What are we doing? Whatever your “negativity” of choice may be, remember to use each moment you have to bring peace to your heart. Place smiles on the faces around you. Is the gossip at work worth your inner joy? Are those morning conversations with the family setting you up to succeed for daily happiness? Don’t be afraid to say no. Say no to those conversations that leave you feeling down. Run from the people who aren’t speaking positivity in your life. Be a blessing to others and start their day with good vibes.
5. Forgive Yourself
I became a single mother during my second trimester of pregnancy. I asked myself many times what I could have done differently to avoid this. Was there anything I could have said to make him change his mind and come back? I was making myself completely crazy. Some of the best pregnancy advice I’d ever received from my mom was that my unborn child can feel everything I feel. That meant I had a great deal of work to convey happiness to my life. Obviously, I was happy to welcome my precious son into this world. Yet I never thought I’d have to go through this journey alone.
When my son arrived, I was overjoyed and loaded up with warm feelings. But I just couldn’t escape the feeling of disappointment. Disappointed in myself for choosing someone that would walk away from such a precious child. I felt guilty for robbing my son the chance of having a father. It was all my fault because I didn’t make different choices. As my son grew older the questions became consistent. What should I tell him? I don’t want to put my feelings for his father on him. I wanted him to form his own feelings and opinions about him.
One night my 5-year-old son asked me if he had a father. I knew I needed to tell him. I answered yes. He asked, “well, where is he? Why isn’t he with us?” I said sweetie, your father isn’t ready to be a part of our family right now. He said, “Can I see a picture of him?’ So, I showed him. He was shocked to find how much they resemble. And then he said “Mommy, can I still love him?” I gently said yes.
It was at that moment I forgave myself. I understood it wasn’t me that made the mistake. I chose to stay and love my child and give him the best quality of life I could. I chose to teach him how to be a person of integrity. My only goal in life is to raise a beautiful human inside and out. That in itself presents to me the most unfathomable joy a mother could feel.
“Happiness is the highest form of health.” – Dalai Lama