How to stay happy no matter what happens

How to stay happy no matter what happens

“Look at what you’ve got and make the best of it. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

The year 2013 was the happiest of my life.

Not because it was the most perfect or problem free year. In reality it was as messy, sad, and as difficult as any previous year.

In October I looked at the last correspondence between my biological father and me for the first time since his suicide years before. I felt as devastated as the day he died. Healing is a much longer journey than I’d imagined.

Around March my psychologist noted that I was codependent on my blissfully independent husband and in serious need of my own identity.

In August I traveled to the U.S. for the first time in three years, and people I love rejected me.

From April to November I hated the stress, demands, and despair of my job and wanted to quit. Every single day.

Extended family ignored requests to help me write a memoir about my biological father and grandmother. I gained weight, broke my toe, and couldn’t get rid of an itchy rash. Not a single piece of my writing got published and my blog went days without a visitor.

The miracle of 2013 is that I broke free of the notion that happiness is an if/then proposition.

If…I get the job, if he loves me, if I stop feeling anxious, if my health gets better (insert your own if here)…

…then I will be happy.

Happiness is not when everything turns out exactly how we want or plan.

Happiness is a full-hearted, unreserved embrace of life—exactly as it is.

I identified three keys to making happiness a more enduring state—not just a flickering emotion dependent on other people and results.

Here is how I do it.

1. Gratitude

In 2013 I started keeping track of my gratitude. Each day I write between five to eight unique events I am grateful for. I don’t repeat anything from the previous day.

If you grew up in an abundant environment and learned to be grateful because of it, awesome. I did not.

Learning was a slow process for me. After twenty-one days I was not a more positive or grateful person. A hundred days in, it had completely changed my life.

Gratitude does not come naturally to me, but it’s the surest path to happiness, I promise.

Even when work sucks and people disappoint me or I let myself down, I make an effort to see all the spaces, places, and people for which or whom I am grateful.

With time, I have begun to recognize my gratitude not just at the end of the day, but when things actually occur.

2. Self-Compassion

I accompany homeless adults on the arduous journey of trying to reenter the work market. Recently, one participant (in a drunken rage) broke the leg of the chair and threatened to attack another person.

My team took care of the immediate danger, and the next day it was left to me to conduct the reflection.

The conversation lasted less than five minutes. He justified his actions and I couldn’t muster up the courage to challenge him.

“Is this your first time?” our new social worker asked with concern.

“No, more like my hundredth,” I replied.

Not my best work. I felt like a failure.

One year ago I would have replayed the scene in my head over and over and called myself every name in the book. I’m the manager, what example am I setting, my team thinks I am a loser, the participant thinks I am a joke, etc.

It’s hard to be happy, in any circumstance, when you are your own worst critic.

Being kind to myself is a huge challenge—and a fundamental element in my pursuit of living an authentic and happy life.

Recognizing that self-compassion is not weakness or going to make me a lazy, unmotivated slob has greatly increased my willingness to be nicer to myself.

The truth is, the kinder I am to myself, the more willing I am to get up from each failure and try again.

Writing not published? Try somewhere else.

Friend not responding? Give it some time.

Husband really mad at me? That is okay, it happens to everyone and we will work it out.

How do you treat yourself when you fail? Make sure it’s with a hug.

3. Passion

After I recovered from the shock of the therapist’s statement that I had no clearly formed sense of self, I knew she was right.

What now? How do I discover who I am?

I asked myself, what do I love to do?

I didn’t ask myself how I will make the most money or become famous or what I am the best at. I asked myself what I love and then acted upon the response without reservation.

The answer was writing.

I can’t identify independent clauses, I have never read Dostoevsky, I will probably never be able to make a living from writing, and it is what I love to do.

This was the motivation to start taking online writing classes, reading books, and starting a daily writing practice.

Better yet, by investing in one interest, several others had room to grow.

In 2013 I took a photography class, began sketching, created desserts with no refined sugar, and started a blog—all of which I do while maintaining my full-time job.

If no one reads what I write or looks at what I create, that’s okay.

What matters is that I showed up for me.

If someone asks you who are you, what are your hobbies, what you would do if money weren’t an issue and you don’t have an answer, don’t worry—I didn’t either.

Simply start with what you love.

Don’t judge, don’t censure, don’t over think. What do you love?

You will experience sadness and loss and suffering in life. There is no guarantee or protection against pain. But if you practice gratitude and self-compassion and invest in your identity, you will create a default state of happiness that will support all the difficulties and failures along the way.

Take a deep breath, get in touch with who you are, and find something you appreciate about your life, exactly as it is. There you have it.

Happiness is within your reach right now, no matter what is happening in your life.

How to stay happy no matter what happens

While most people would argue having a life you love will make you happy, I would argue that happiness will help you to create a life you love.

Emotions create reality.

Be happy = manifest more in your world to be happy about. Be unhappy = manifest more in your world to be unhappy about. Easy peasy.

What? Not so easy?

No, I guess it isn’t. If it were, then more people would actually be happy, wouldn’t they?

Yes, staying happy is a constant effort. Notice I didn’t say it’s a struggle… it’s not. But we do have to stay conscious about it and continue to do what it takes to “keep the happy”. And what does it take?

Well, I suppose this might be a little different for everyone, but I have 10 suggestions, most of which on their own do shift people into happy—but combined together they are kick-ass vibe lifters!

I challenge anyone to stay unhappy if they earnestly apply these suggestions:

1. Set an intention

Intentions are the cornerstones to creating your reality folks. And every part of your life deserves at least one! Here is mine for my well-being emotionally:

I intend to live in the now and feel greater and greater depths of love, fun, joy, happiness, ecstasy, compassion and caring for myself and others; to have fun continuously, and to open (more every day) to my creativity, psychic abilities and passion.

2. Hold it in your image

When you think of yourself, do you think of an ecstatically happy person? No? Well lets change that shall we?

Your self concept keeps you locked into a reality that will support your self concept. Change your vision of yourself, and you will change your reality.

Affirmation: I am happy and becoming happier each and every day!

3. Look for reasons to be happy

It doesn’t take much of this to shift from self-pity (or any other constrictive state) to happy. Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the most amazing ways to stay happy and exuding a flow of good things coming to you.

The caveat: you must do this in earnest. Writing a laundry list that you don’t feel real love and appreciation towards is an exercise in futility. It only counts if you’re actually feeling the gratitude.

4. Empower yourself

It’s hard to feel happy if you feel powerless and hopeless. And some people have good reason to feel this way, and perhaps happiness eludes them. You’re not one of them.

If you are reading this blog you are ready to accept your divinity, your power and your ability to create your own reality. But it doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen just by saying it.

If you have beliefs that deny who you are, that downplay your power, that imply you don’t deserve a phenomenal and exciting life you absolutely adore, then change them.

If you are serious about being ecstatically happy and creating a life you love, your growth should be a priority. It is possible. Commit.

5. Slow, slow, slow down

One of the biggest happiness stealers is multi-tasking.

What? You couldn’t live without multi-tasking? Ok, fine. But you will have to give up ‘multi-thinking’ if you are serious about happiness.

Most of us are so focused on what is left to do, we stop paying attention to what it is we are doing. And it stops being enjoyable. And there goes our happy.

Give yourself 5 minutes a day, or 5 minutes 3 times a day, to make a list of what needs to be accomplished that day. That’s it. The rest of the time, slow down and be present.

Really feel the sun on your face as you walk to the car. Really pay attention to that store clerk who bags your groceries. Send ‘em a little love. Really focus on that email and only that email, not the 72 unread in your inbox.

This is a magical fix folks. Try it. You’ll like it.

6. Honor your needs and what feeds your soul

We all have things that nurture us, that feed our soul and rejuvenate us. Some of these things are actual needs.

I have a need for solitude. If I don’t get solitude at least once a week if not each day, I am not a happy camper. Life gets hard and I get cranky. For me, solitude is a need.

For my husband, physical exercise is a need. When he is able to swim, bike, play tennis or ski, everything else he does gets easier. For him, exercise is a need.

What are your needs? Are you giving yourself permission to fill them?

And what feeds your Soul? Things that feed your Soul aren’t needs, they are preferences that offer great benefit. They are the things that you love that make you more.

Being in nature may feed your Soul. Beauty may feed your Soul. Music may do this for some. Hobbies do this for others.

Giving yourself the permission and time to do the things that nurture you is a key to staying happy.

7. Take good care of you

Your body has needs, which if not heeded, can have debilitating effects on your physical and emotional bodies. Good clean diet, exercise to fit your temperament, and relaxation activities to reduce stress should all be part of your normal way of life.

If they aren’t, please add them. A body undernourished, filled with toxins, and stressed out is not going to add to your happiness or your ability to consciously create your world.

If you don’t believe you can add these things to your life, for either financial reasons or time constraints, change those beliefs! Your life is your creation.

8. Use mood altering substances

Ah, now don’t get excited, that’s not what I’m talking about.

I am talking about amazing mood altering, nature given flower essences and aromatherapy.

I have worked with Bach Flower Remedies for years. And they are phenomenally effective (actually miraculous) in lifting your emotional well-being to higher states.

Aromatherapy is another great way to change your mood. Simple and effective, aromatherapy is in widespread use by medical professionals in Europe and although it hasn’t caught on as well in the USit is readily available.

There are lots of good aromatherapy books out there, but make sure you only buy 100% pure essential oils.

9. Get professional help (if you need it)

We all need a little help sometimes. And that goes for mentally and emotionally too.

If you are dealing with intense grief, depression, anxiety or other debilitating emotional states, find someone to help you through this until you can manage getting to the happy place by yourself.

10. Ask for help (need it or not)

Finally, don’t forget to call on your unseen friends. Although this is listed last, it is actually the first thing I do when I find myself in a state less than total joy!

How do you ask for help? Just say something like (in your head), “Hey Higher Self, Soul, counselors, and the rest of my team, I intend to feel happy, and I’m not there right now… please help me to get there?”

That’s it. They are always there… always listening, and if you allow them, will always help.

Good luck staying happy folks… I know it’s possible, and I know you deserve it.