March 20 marks International Happiness Day! Now, I’m generally a very happy person, but seeing me in movies, interviews and magazines would have you believe that I’m upbeat, smiling and full of energy 24/7! Of course I’m not; I’m human! I have bad days—mornings when I can’t believe it’s already time to wake up, times when the last thing I want to do is work out and evenings when I feel like I could devour a whole bread basket!
With all the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life, one thing I’ve found is that happiness doesn’t just happen, you have to make it happen! I dedicate a lot of time and energy to cultivating happiness, not just in myself but in those around me. Of course, happiness is an intensely personal journey but I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way that helped happiness find it’s way into my world (and will hopefully do the same for you):
1. Put Yourself First
It might sound selfish but in order to let happiness into your life and the lives of others, you have to put yourself first. Focus on finding and following your dreams and desires, and you’ll become happer in the process. Remember, you can only share your happiness with others if you find it first!
2. Be Grateful
It’s human nature to focus on the negative—I wish I had more free time, a better career, more toned arms, etc! Remember, nobody has it all. Focus on all the amazing things you have to be grateful for instead. This shift will allow you to start enjoying right now, instead of being on a constant quest for something “better.”
3. Reframe Your Thinking
Following on from being grateful, when negative thoughts come to mind, tune in and really listen to them. Are you catastrophizing? Are you filtering out the positive to make way for the negative? Simply paying attention to the way you’re thinking will offer you some healthy perspective and allow you to look at things more rationally.
4. Be Gentle with Yourself
We are our own worst critics when we should be our own cheerleaders. Instead of comparing yourself to others or criticizing yourself, try celebrating your victories not dwelling on your perceived failures! Take life at your own pace and trust that you’re doing the best you can.
5. Find Time for Fun
Go back to your childhood and think about when you were happiest—probably when you were doing something spontaneous, being silly and feeling free. As adults, we still need moments like this as a mental break, so loosen up and dance like nobody’s watching, take an impromptu road trip or watch your favorite cartoon. You’re never too old to have fun!
Happiness is such a personal experience that this list is by no means comprehensive. Find your own forms of happiness and embrace them to the fullest! 🙂