If you are struggling with unhappiness, one thing is for sure; you are not alone. A quick internet search will yield 8 billion results.
With all this information available at our fingertips, why are so many of us still searching for happiness?
I've spent a significant amount of time pursuing happiness. One thing I have discovered is that some of us are simply comfortable with our unhappiness. Over the years it has become our security blanket.
We may even self-sabotage, recreate scenarios, or replay old scripts that keep us in that familiar unhappy pattern. We identify with it.
The act of choosing to be happy may itself be a source of anxiety because anything unfamiliar is also uncomfortable. Allowing oneself to experience happiness may also stir up feelings of guilt; perhaps feeling that we don't deserve to be happy. Trusting that happiness will stick around may feel like risky business.
The bright side
You can train yourself to be happy. Here's one example: you wake up ready to enjoy the weekend but when you pull back the curtains all you see is a gloomy, rainy day. For many people, the first instinct would be to feel as if the weekend were ruined. What if, instead, you decided to grab a blanket, a cup of hot tea, and a book and curl up on the sofa listening to the rain?
It's all about perspective.
So, for today's “Healthy Bite”, I've asked top experts to share their best happiness hack with you. You can listen to this podcast episode in the player at the top of this page, or you can listen on Spotify, iTunes, or Stitcher.
Two Steps to Being Happy
The very first person I asked was David Essel, and of course, he hit a home run with this response:
Stop complaining. Seriously that's it. Unless you're complaining to a professional or one very close friend, check out how many times that you complain, gossip, bitch about the pandemic, the administration, the scientist. One of the greatest ways to become happy is to do what's called “emotional regulation. ”
A fancy term for, you have control over what you say, what you think, what you do. Emotional regulation says that we acknowledge a block to our happiness is our engagement with people who are conspiracy theorists, gossipers, negative in nature…and if we want to be happy, there are two steps to follow.
Number 1. Stop complaining. Entirely. Now that might mean you have to cut out social media, the media, news, etc. Do whatever you have to do to quit complaining.
Number two. Surround yourself with people that are better than you. This is a stretch for many of us. Make sure in your circle you have someone who is more successful financially, has a better body, a better relationship, a deeper connection to God… And by involving yourself with these types of people you will find happiness.
Hear the episode with David Essel: You Need to Know: Social Inclusion Starts from the Top Down
For more information visit talkDavid.com. Sign up for “David Essel's motivational minute,” free; every Tuesday and Thursday, you'll get an inspirational video to bring your life to the next level. Everything is at www.talkdavid.com
David Essel, Counselor, Life and Business Coach, Success, Relationships, Marriage, Addiction Recovery, Speaker, Author, TV/Radio Host
Trust your Intuition
A favorite author in the field of psychiatry is Jill Sylvester. Not only did she write “Trust Your Intuition: 100 Ways to Transform Anxiety and Depression for Stronger Mental Health; she also wrote a novel, Land of Blue, a coming-of-age fantasy novel that takes readers young and old on a fascinating journey of the power of friendship, the love of family and ultimately, the choice to overcome darkness.
As soon as the wave hits, the one that threatens to consume with all of negativity and uncertainty, I sit in it for a second, in order to feel it, and not deny it, and then I take a big, deep breath, and release the lower vibration feelings. Then, immediately, I turn and view something good, birds at my window while I'm writing, my kids thriving in their schedules, my bulldog at my feet. I focus on what I want versus what I don't. I move forward.
If you experience anxiety or depression, you'll want to listen to this podcast episode with Jill: 100 Ways for Parents and Children to Transform Anxiety and Depression for Stronger Mental Health. Everyone will benefit from listening to Jill's podcast episode about the four areas of wellness: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, in order to feel whole.
Forgive yourself and others
Dr. Susana Stoica is truly someone I admire for her positive spirit and contagious happy outlook on life. Her happiness hack is a very important one that I think many of us forget. While we know we need to forgive others, we often neglect to forgive ourselves.
FORGIVE yourself and others. It does not mean you accept the abuse, or what was done to you; it only means you understand that the person acted that way he/she because of their own history/illness/heritage, and that does not have to drag you down.
Forgiving also does not mean staying in an abusive relationship; in fact, you need to distance yourself from it (move out, stop talking with the abuser, etc.) so you can feel safe and be able to forgive fully. Keep in mind that the abuser is happily going on with his/her life while you are miserable. As far as forgiving yourself, keep in mind that you are human. You can also ask for forgiveness from people you think you hurt. In my experience, every time I asked for forgiveness, people did not even know what I was talking about!
Do something that makes your heart sing. For example, while being an engineer working in high tech definition, I was also working in a medical practice (after long engineering hours) helping doctors diagnose complicated illnesses and doing healing.
Have a balanced home life; without it, you will always be miserable.
Do conscious walking in the fresh air. This helps you oxygenate your body, hence feel better. Also, by looking at the flowers/trees/animals, you make it a walking meditation; thus you become more relaxed and can see things in a more balanced way.
Dr. Susana Stoica is an engineer who worked in advanced technology development, as well as a distance energy healer, certified hypnotherapist, who worked in medical practice, was invited to present her work on brain injury recovery at a Harvard Medical School conference and was published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Currently, she is working on her ninth book – get the details at HealingBrainInjury.com.
Embrace Your Life Purpose
One of the best examples of rising above circumstances is Keisha Blair. Her viral article, “My Husband Died at 34: Here are 40 Life Lessons I Learned From It”, was featured in/or linked to by over 160 websites and viewed by more than 50 million people worldwide. Keisha Blair is passionate about gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
I [think of] embracing your life purpose as the ultimate happiness hack. So many of us get bogged down with the day to day and never get to fully embrace our purpose in life through exploring our passions and embracing a personal mission. That's the ultimate happiness hack, because when we walk in our purpose – we have this kind of permanent happiness – not the short lived, temporary happiness that comes with things that are controlled by someone else and then when it gets taken away – our happiness and self worth is affected.
This true permanent happiness can only result when we walk in our purpose. This is why I have a whole section of the book on designing an intentional life purpose – because when I embraced mine – I truly felt this happiness that I had found my calling and that all my life experiences had been preparing me for this moment!
Not only is Keisha a good example of having a positive attitude, but she is also known for defining success on her own terms and teaching others how to do the same.
- Grab Keisha's book: Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help Find Purpose, Prosperity, and Happiness
- Listen to our podcast: Turning Ashes to Beauty
- Join Keisha's Holistic Wealth 8 Day Challenge!
Spend Time in Nature
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Robin Moriarty offers a reminder on her Instagram (above) that really resonates with me. Her book gave me a happiness hack which is, make sure you are measuring your success by your own ruler, not someone else's.
Happiness Hacks definitely has to do with being outdoors. Going for a walk, seeing trees and gardens (especially now that it's spring), and just breathing fresh air. Those things change my mood immediately, so I find time for that almost every day.
But perhaps more in line with [A Healthy Bite] I think my Happiness Hack is to remind myself that I am playing my own game, not anyone else's, which means I stop comparing myself to other people.
Sometimes my competitive side takes over, and I want to be “better than” someone else at something. I want to beat someone out for a promotion or have someone say my home is prettier than someone else's or run a mile faster than someone much younger than me.
At some point, I realized that my competitive side is actually my insecure side and that I do those things to try to feel better about myself by being better than someone else. And I end up feeling horrible about myself if I don't “win.”
So my Happiness Hack is reminding myself what I want for my life, which has nothing to do with running a fast mile or getting a promotion or having a home that others think is beautiful. And whenever I feel that competitive side popping up, remind myself to let go of that need to be “better than” someone else. Because they're apples. And I'm oranges. And we can't be compared.
Whenever I can let go of that need to compare myself to determine whether or not I'm good enough, I can literally feel the weight of the world fall off of my shoulders and find my happy place again.
Discover what game you are playing with Robin's book and quizzes.
- Book: What Game Are You Playing
- Website: Gutsy World
- Inspiration from Robin
- A Healthy Bite episode: Robin Moriarty asks Are You Gutsy?
Self-Reliance and Happiness
Gary D. Rogers is the author of Unlocking the Power of Fatherhood. As a young man, he lived in the inner city of Brooklyn, New York, where he came face to face with the ravages of poverty, and the crime, drugs, and violence that poverty begets. It was here he began to understand that the problems this country faces will not be fixed by the government, that the answers to our most devastating problems must come from the people.
Here's Gary's Happiness Hack
In times of high stress and unbridled change, anxiety can set in and overtake us. Feelings of helplessness and thoughts that other people are in control of our lives can become overwhelming. Circumstances pile up, confirm these thoughts, and rob us of our peace of mind.
Self-reliance is the key to overcoming fear and anxiety. Understanding that you are the one upon whom you can ultimately depend upon is critical in these seasons. Establishing a clear vision of your core values and utilizing them to navigate through troubled waters form the firm foundation you need to persevere. It is just such a place that you stand immovable, unaffected by wind and wave. It is from this stable platform that you are enabled to think for yourself, gather true information, make reasoned decisions, and set a course to the resolution of that which besets you.
The pursuit of happiness is forged on the battlefield of the mind. How else can one explain the vastly different responses we make to the same set of events. Be assured that the degree to which we look inward to guide our thoughts will be the degree to which we find fulfillment and contentment. It is squarely in the purview of our choice.
Gary Rogers is a wealth of information about fatherhood and parenting in general from his life experiences.
- Listen to this Healthy Bite episode with Gary: Raising Kids to Respect Life and Others: Unlocking the Power of Fatherhood
- Dad's will especially appreciate a connection with Gary on his website and through his book, as he shares aa unique mission: to inspire authenticity in men, to furnish them with useful life skills and perspectives, and to empower a healthy culture of fatherhood.
List Making as a Happiness Hack
Paula Rizzo was on my show a while back discussing How Lists Can Make You a Healthier, Happier Person. We talked about her book about list-making, which you can actually write in – yes, please. In fact, there are exercises in there to get you to pinpoint your priority, and happiness should be one of them! Including identifying what really makes you happy.
Paula's happiness hack…
I love traveling and I’ve always (way before Covid-19) been a big fan of virtual vacations! I wrote about it in Listful Living (the book) as well as here: Take a 15 minute vacation.
Plus I talk about Hygge and how to use it to be happier!
My own personal Oprah shares Happiness Hack she uses
So, if you've been a reader for a while, you're already familiar with Dr. J – my psychologist. Dr. Janetta Jamerson has written several articles for us. She gives us some strategies to help us get “unstuck” and also How To Be A Supportive Friend, Or Rather, How To NOT Be Hurtful When Someone You Love Is Hurting. When I reached out to her for her favorite happiness hack, here's what she said:
I actually do have a little mental trick I use that's kind of fun. It's really an exercise in gratitude. Essentially, you use cognition to incite an emotional experience. I like to wish (with all my heart like when I was a kid) for something I already have. I really play it up in my imagination and let myself enjoy the “surprise” when my wish is granted.
Another one I use to calm distress or anxiety is to “pray for time.” For instance, when I had to defend a paper, I would pray for the hour on the clock by when it would surely be over. It's a prayer that is certainly granted, and it always feels good to have prayers answered. If for some reason, let's say 3:00 doesn't happen, well we probably won't know it 😵
You can find out more about getting help from a mental health professional in this episode where Dr. Janetta Jamerson answers commonly asked questions in therapy.
Are you committed to practicing these happiness hacks?
I hope this gets you started thinking about how to practice being a happier person. If you are struggling with unhappiness during this season, please reach out to a professional. At the very least, reach out to someone you love and let them know that you are having a hard time.
Those of us who experience clinical depression may often feel like happiness is not within our control, so it is crucial to work with a professional who can help you live a more balanced life. It is possible.
Don't forget to download the printer-friendly cheat sheet!