When Happiness Feels Elusive

When Happiness Feels Elusive

I’ve struggled with clinical depression throughout my life.  Because of this, one of my main focuses is my personal day-to-day happiness.  I’ve learned it’s always possible to find your way back to a good place, no matter how bad things get.  No matter who you are or what you’ve done, you deserve to be happy and you should allow yourself to feel good.

Always Evaluate the Current Situation

Sometimes, you may lift your head out of the water and wonder how you got there.  However, it’s important to take responsibility and understand what actions brought you where you are.  There is almost always some action or decision that took you to that point.  Did you overspend your way into debt? Did you procrastinate too often or take on too many commitments?  If you understand how you got to where you are, you can avoid the same mistakes in the future.  However, you can’t be stuck in the past.  When you understand your situation, you can make a plan for how to move forward.  Don’t play the victim.  Even if the situation isn’t your fault, it’s still your responsibility to get out of it.

Make Sure You Appreciate Who and Where You Are

There is only one you, so make sure that you are giving yourself the love you deserve.  No one else can do it for you.  Focus on internal validation instead of external validation.  “I will be happy when…” is a recipe for disaster.  Countless individuals have put all their focus on achieving one event only to find the event come and go, leaving them feeling lost and without purpose or slipping back to old habits.  You should be setting new goals, and you should celebrate when you achieve them, but you should also appreciate the journey to achieve them.  Don’t end up living in the future and missing out on living today.

Make Sure You Know Your Purpose

Without a purpose, life is empty.

Avoid Things That Make You Unhappy

I generally avoid things that will make me unhappy, because it’s far easier to “not be unhappy” than it is to be happy.  Figure out what specifically makes you unhappy.  I am unhappy (and tired and cranky) when I stay out late, so I say no to activities that go past midnight or cut them short.  Don’t make time for the activities that don’t add value to your life.

Take Care of Yourself

Exercise, sunshine, sleep and a balanced diet all contribute to your happiness.  Make sure you take time to relax and unwind.  Take time to learn something new.  By prioritizing myself, I’m avoiding unhappiness, which makes me happier overall.

Surround Yourself with Friends and Family

Humans crave companionship.  Don’t neglect your relationships.  If you don’t know many people, make sure you are getting out and joining new groups. It is important to develop a support network of people that can help you.  It’s just as important for you to help support them in their times of need.  If your friends are a source of negativity in your life, it may be time to find more positive people to call friends.  If your family is a source of negativity in your life, it’s okay to avoid certain situations depending on the relationship you want to have.  Remember that as an adult, it’s your choice.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Often, I find that I become unhappy when I’m comparing myself to another person.  I step back and take a real look at what aspect I feel unhappy about.  Does looking at their slender figure make me wish I was slimmer, too?  I better stop focusing on them and start focusing more on my gym routine.  Am I jealous of their latest vacation?  It might be time to take one of my own.  Comparing yourself to others can be a useful measuring tool if it helps you push yourself to be better, but it stops being helpful if it doesn’t spur you to action.  Instead, focus on ways you can work to make yourself better.  You’ll leave them all in the dust.

Try Not to Worry or Overanalyze

If you are too busy worrying or over-analyzing the problem, you are not spending enough time working on the solution.  It can cause you to freeze up rather than take action.  Focus that energy or thought on a positive result instead, and do your best to let the rest go.  I always tell myself, “If it’s a problem that can be fixed with money, then it’s not really a problem.”  Don’t be afraid to fail.  It is almost always better to fail and learn, than to sit by and do nothing.  Most importantly, don’t worry about what others think.  You will never be able to please everyone, so you may as well try to please yourself.

Remember the World Doesn’t Play By Your Rules

Things aren’t always fair.  Do your best to remember that not everyone has the same standards or ideals as you.  I had a coworker who stole my ideas (after calling them trash) and presented them to my boss as his own.  My mentor told me to always take the high road, because people will always be found out.  I followed my mentor’s advice and let it go.  What is really gained by calling people out?  There is no winning, and you will only make yourself look bad.  (A month after I transferred departments, he was caught red handed when he couldn’t fix a problem.  Oh, sweet justice!)

Don’t Hold Grudges

I admit that I struggle with this one.  It can be very difficult to just let go.  I try to share my feelings, put myself in their shoes and see where they are coming from, work to accept the situation for what it is, and generally not dwell on it.  Sometimes I try to put a positive spin on the situation.  However, I definitely admit it takes me time to work through the feelings.  Forgiveness can be difficult, but I try to remember that I’m only hurting myself by not moving on.

Abandon Perfectionism

No matter how hard you try, it’s almost never going to be perfect.  Don’t expect perfection from yourself or others, and realize that they don’t expect it from you.  It’s incredibly hard to be happy unless you can let the idea of perfection go.

When You Lose Someone or Something Special…

The only thing you can do is cope with the grief.  Allow yourself to experience the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Everyone goes through it in their own way.  You can’t rush it, though.  Don’t be afraid to get help if needed.

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