What makes you happy? Truly happy? Is it being financially successful? Spending quality time with friends or family? Maybe just sitting on your front porch drinking a cold iced tea on a hot summer day?
With all the fast-paced going-ons in our day to day lives, it can be easy to forget to stop and smell the roses…to take the time to really experience and enjoy what’s going on around us.
Here’s a scenario…In the morning your alarm goes off. You pull yourself out of bed, jump in the shower, get dressed and rush off to work. (Maybe you remembered to scarf down some breakfast?) At work you plow through one task after the next, just trying to keep your place in the rat race to 5 pm, counting the minutes to when you can finally head home, plop down in front of the TV, eat some dinner and go to bed before waking up to do it all over again. Each day a repeat of the last. (What day is it again?!)
Sound familiar? You’re on auto-pilot. You’re no longer present in your life…and the longer you stay that way, the quicker your life is passing you by.
For a long time I’d been muddling through life extremely unhappy. I’d been terminally anxious and depressed. Each morning I’d wake up and think “Ok, just have to get through the next 24 hours”. Each weekday it’d be “just ‘’ days til the weekend!”. Once the weekend rolled around, I’d sit in the cave of my living room zoned out in front of the tv and before I knew it, Monday was there once again. I was uninterested and unexcited about anything…and felt dead inside.
I got to a point where I was so down in the dumps that I’d started considering “checking out”. I felt so little connection to anything happening in my life that I didn’t see any point in being there at all. But as I traveled further down that path I came to a realization…I had seriously lost my way and needed to start changing the way I was going about my life.
A Plan for Prioritizing Happiness:
So how to you go about changing your mindset? How to you find a light in all that darkness surrounding you?
1. Identify your Pitfalls:
One of the first steps to climbing that ladder is figuring out what’s creating this negativity in your life? What actions and/or events are occurring day to day to bring you down? Be honest…be detailed. Maybe you find that you hate your job, you’re not treating your health the way you’d like, your home is cluttered and messy. Whatever those things may be, write them down.
2. Lighten the Load:
Once you’ve identified the things that are instigating this unhappiness in your life, the next step is figuring out how to eliminate or reduce their effect.
Let’s take your job, for instance. If you’re feeling trapped in your career, you may not be able to just walk away. You have bills to pay, a family to provide for…but there are things you can do. Think hard. Exactly why do you hate your job? Is it really the job itself or could it be how you’re going about it? Could a change in your mindset possibly renew your interest?
Maybe you’re always having to clean up your co-workers messes, or you’re a manager who thinks your staff are unmotivated and inefficient. Have you taken any steps to address these issues? If not, start now! If you have, what steps have you taken? If they aren’t working, are there other possible options to try? Do it!
If a change of mindset won’t resolve the issues you’re dealing with, maybe it’s time to look for other opportunities. You may not be able to immediately pick up and leave your current job, but you can certainly get things started by polishing up your resume and getting yourself out there.
3. Identify your Joys:
Now that you’ve addressed some of the things that are bringing all this negativity into your life and how you can start to eliminate or minimize them, it’s time to identify what can bring more joy into your life. What activities or experiences make you happy, get you excited?
Maybe you have a favorite hobby or pastime…writing, art…maybe playing an instrument…and you find that you no longer spend any time doing this activity. Make the time! Instead of coming home and zoning out in front of the tv, leave it off and spend that time painting a landscape, learning a song or starting that blog you were once thinking about pursuing. Whatever it may be, make it a priority to find ways to start incorporating these activities into your days.
4. Be Grateful:
Learning to be grateful for what you have can really put things into perspective. The more time you spend focusing on the things you feel are going wrong in your life, the more you’re training yourself to ignore all the positive things that exist in your life.
When I thought about it, I realized I may not be rich, but I had always been in the position to take care of many of the basics in my life…a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes to wear, family and friends who cared about me…things that a lot of people on this earth didn’t have the luxury of…and I had been taking these things for granted.
Thinking about your current situation, what necessities and/or luxuries exist in your life right now? Take some time to acknowledge them and be grateful for the opportunities and benefits they offer you.
Complacency is a killer. It takes effort and will to bring happiness and fulfillment to your life…but if you remain engaged in each and every moment, it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you look clearly, you’ll find there is something to smile about!