Have you ever seen people who face some of the most unbearable tragedies in life yet they always manage to keep a positive outlook, an ear-to-ear smile, and a seemingly endless supply of sunshine no matter how bad things appear to be? If you haven’t seen such folk, well I’ve seen enough for both you and me. Sometimes I am one of those people, and I’m usually filled with cheer and bliss.
Lately, it has been very hard for me, as I have faced some tragedy in my life, and holding on to that source of happiness has been a challenge. So, to help me get to that better place, I decided to reach into my bag of happiness tricks and list out those things that have usually helped me come out of my misery. Here are my 5 tips:
First, when things go horribly wrong, realize its okay to be sad and mournful. Embrace that feeling, hold it, and even wallow in it if you must. But recognize this is only a temporary place and you’ll one day have to let it go. But there’s nothing wrong with holding onto it for a time.
Second, rather than pursue happiness itself, pursue those things that you enjoy and usually bring about happiness. This reminds me of the Henry David Thoreau quote: “Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you; but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” So, rather than trying to force yourself to be happy, do the things that you enjoy, whether it’s painting, reading, walking through the park, or strolling through a museum.
Third, take time to do something for those who are less fortunate. This is the perfect time of year for that, as many civic groups are in need of volunteers. If you think you aren’t in the right mood or frame of mind to be of much help, you can always do things that bring you in limited contact with others, like packing food/meal boxes for homeless shelters or food banks or perhaps assembling safe sex kits for reproductive health or HIV prevention organizations. Often, making a difference in the lives of others can help us come out of our own abyss.
Fourth, connect with others who can give you a sense of belongingness. Whether you connect with close friends, family members, coworkers, or member of your church or even casual acquaintances, spending time with other people can greatly help improve your mood.
Last, but not least, get a handle on your physical health. That means exercise, eat a well-balanced diet, and get ample amounts of sleep. Even if you don’t feel sleepy, lie in bed and rest. If you’re like me, you may have a tendency to get up and do things around the house if you can’t sleep; however I advocate resting. Additionally, try not to overindulge in alcohol. When you’re feeling down, it’s so easy to chug down a lot of beers or glasses of wine or margaritas without even realizing just how much you have had. So be sure you set limits. Your physical health and mental health go hand in hand.
I’m no expert, but these are the things that work for me. You should also realize that the down feeling you’re experiencing may not immediately dissipate merely because you follow these or other tips. Sometimes, the biggest thing to help you get to happiness is time. Additionally, if you like to read – and are a spiritual person – then I recommend a great book titled, The Be Happy Attitudes, by Robert Schuller. Even if you’re not very spiritual, I think this book would be good for you. It’s a great inspirational book based on The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount in the Bible in the Book of Matthew. It’s available in hardcopy format and if you prefer e-books, you can also get it via Nook and Kindle.
Whatever you do, realize you don’t have to stay where you are. Inch by inch, bit by bit, you can pull yourself out of the dark place you’re in and rise up high. (Note: I wrote this specifically for me, but I hope someone else can get something from it too).