March 20th is International Happiness Day, and that’s cause for celebration! I wasn’t always happy. In fact, I spent most of my life vaguely depressed, crabby, and insecure. But for the past few years, I’ve really, really worked at being happy, and I’ve found there are a few secrets that make it so much easier:
1. Make someone else happy. It’s kind of like the law of karma, but in a good way. If you do something nice for someone else, it’s bound to bounce back right at you!
2. Don’t second-guess yourself—you are wonderful and right just as you are. Try this for a week and see how it feels. Don’t hold back. Say what you want to say. Do what you want to do. Express your inner self. Suddenly, you might find all your pain just falls away.
3. Smile at anyone who will look your way. Smile at strangers, smile at babies, smile at pets. Smile at yourself. Just the act of smiling will make you happier and also see #1.
4. Be thankful (more on this in the coming month!). Gratitude is essential for making you feel better, and feeling better leads to more happiness. Before you go to bed at night and when you wake up, try to think of at least three things you are thankful for.
5. Don’t give away your power to others. If people trash-talk you, it’s their problem, not yours. If someone speaks negatively to you, you don’t have to take it on. Sure, feel it and hear it, but then move on. Let it go. You own your own power, and it’s no one else’s to have. Same with happiness: It’s no one else’s job to MAKE you happy. Only YOU can really make yourself happy.
6. Give yourself a break! Don’t try to do it all every moment of the day. Build rewards into your day and your life. And when it’s time for your reward, whatever it may be, enjoy every second of it.
7. Go outside into the sunshine. I just saw something on the Internet about vitamin D supplements causing heart problems…for lord’s sake just go outside and sit in the sun for a bit every day. And if there is no sun, go outside anyway. Fresh air, sunshine, the great outdoors will always, always, always make you happier! Even if it’s miserable out, it just makes getting inside even more wonderful, and that’s a bit of happiness, too.
8. Run. Swim. Walk. Guaranteed to bring happiness. Medically proven. Some doctors are even prescribing it! Doesn’t have to be long or hard, just active.
9. Have faith in something greater than yourself. This could mean God or Jesus, or it could mean Science and the Universe. It could mean All of the Above. Whatever it is, it’s the Great Mystery, and somehow believing that there is a Great Mystery and not just some random bull pooh really does make a difference.
10. Visualize happiness and step toward it. Do you have a clear picture in your head of what a truly happy and wonderful life would look like for you? Spend a few minutes every day picturing it, dreaming it, building on it, elaborating, and imagining. Then watch the miracles happen.
11. Love unconditionally. It’s kind of amazing how this one works. When you decide—even when someone infuriates you, insults you, and tries to make you miserable or rip you off—to love them anyway, everything feels happier and lighter. You don’t have to give your power away by doing that (see #5). In fact you GAIN power by loving unconditionally. It’s freedom at its finest. And freedom feels like happiness!
Bonus: LAUGH!!! And then laugh some more! And then make someone else laugh!