Happiness is something we all want. I mean, we can have all these lofty goals and aspirations. But in the end, doesn’t it all come down to being happy? The simple things are the ones that matter. So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness.
I used to think that being happy happened when life went well. And if life wasn’t going well, I had good reasons to be unhappy. But the older I get, the more I realize that happiness is something I create. Not something I wait to happen.
How I crashed into a lesson in happiness
In the last six weeks I’ve been in two car crashes. I was rear-ended both times. And while I was so thankful I wasn’t seriously hurt, I was really down after my second crash. I had just gotten my car out of the shop from the first time.
So, in the middle of being down, I asked myself what life lesson did this provide. What could I gain from this experience? The universe was crashing into me, surely trying to tell me something. So what was I not able to hear?
And I realized that the universe was teaching me about control. I don’t have control over someone hitting me from behind. I don’t get a say in whether or not they have adequate insurance. And there are many other areas in my life where I don’t have complete control. And am I really going to let myself get down over everything that’s out of my power?
I do my best in life
I imagine most of us do. And many times it feel like doing your best isn’t enough. Because life doesn’t always go the way you want. But the true test of happiness isn’t about being happy when things are perfect. Because life is fluid and moments of perfection are usually temporary.
The test is to create happiness when handed lemons. Because lemons can be the reality in life. But what’s the point of life if it isn’t happiness? So here’s my list of ways to get happy right now, no matter your life circumstances.
15 ways to keep your happiness when life hands you lemons
- Journal the positives. Even when there’s bad, there’s also good.
- Remember the things you love. The things we most cherish can be taken for granted
- Write down your wins. Sometimes in life we lose and sometimes we win. It’s up to you to decide where you place your focus.
- Create a vision board and place it somewhere you’ll see it often. Just another way to focus on happiness.
- Smile. The musculo-skeletal act of smiling really does alter connections in your brain and can lead to happiness. Studies prove it!
- Hug someone. Don’t have a person to hug? Hug an animal or even a stuffed animal. Studies show that just the act of hugging reduces cortisol levels, even if it isn’t another human.
- Schedule time for sleep like it’s your job. Being well rested is essential for feeling good.
- Find a new hobby. Do something not for any type of accomplishment, but just because it feels good.
- Build happiness into your environment. Fill your personal space with things that make you happy, and this will help your emotions follow.
- Eat well. (You knew I’d say that one.) Junk food can cause temporary happiness. But nourishing yourself helps you feel better in your body and in your life.
- Watch the sunrise or the sunset. Just watching something beautiful can improve your mood and remind you of everyday miracles.
- Take a walk. Moving at a brisk pace can help release endorphins and lift your mood.
- Volunteer. Helping others can increase life satisfaction. And in turn, can make your happier.
- Remind yourself that you can handle shit. You’ve surely survived obstacles in your past. You’ll do it in the future. And this makes you a winner.
- Focus on your breath. You’re alive and that’s pretty awesome
Happiness is a choice, not a destination
Getting hit twice in a short period was a reminder for me that I’m not in control. And that made me feel like I didn’t have power my own happiness. But sometimes we need less than perfect situations to remind us that we have to create happiness. We can’t just wait for it to happen.
There are times in life when everything magically falls into place. And happiness comes easy. But during those other times, it’s up to us to make choices that lead to happiness.
So I challenge you to do at least one thing a day that helps you choose happiness. Because, if you have the choice, why aren’t you choosing to be happy?
robin rue says
I have been thinking about starting a journal. I remember keeping a diary as a teenager and I loved going back and reading things that made me happy.
Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh says
Aww man, two car crashed in six months? I can totally see how that would get someone down. That’s terrible luck. I love all of your ideas, and agree that happiness is a choice!
Lori Geurin says
I’m so sorry about the car crashes…that’s a total bummer. :'( But I love how you were able to reflect on what happened, that it was out of your control and work to move on from it in a positive way. I think this is so important and easy to miss sometimes when we’re in the midst of life events.
These are such great tips for creating happiness! Personally, I’ve found that keeping a gratitude journal, going on walks, smiling and living a healthy life are all great ways to increase the happiness in life.
Beth Davidson says
I needed this today. I’m from Nevada, and I’m sure by now you’ve seen the news, so we’ll just leave it at that. But it is a really important reminder for me to think about these things every day, because it’s so easy to get down in the dumps for even the little things. Time to go get a hug!
Jessica Joachim says
Journaling has been really helpful to me. It is a great way to get rid of pent up stress or frustration and allow yourself to really let go of all of it.
Love the list! I think I will have to take up journaling to write down my daily thoughts. Maybe even do a weekly journal to discuss what the week was like. I do enjoy going for a walk and naps with my youngest!
Karen Morse says
I love the idea of bringing in the positivity! It’s really nice to keep a journal and write all the good things down. You have something to look back on when you’re feeling even a tiny bit down.
I love journaling. It I journal every night and every morning. I also do a gratitude list every evening to keep me on a positive note before bed. I also really like to sage to bring in good energy.
Terri Steffes says
Volunteering is so good for you. Even if you don’t want to do it, make yourself do it once. You will get such a great feeling it won’t be hard to go back!
Love these ideas! Sleep is just so important and we really don’t give it the attention it deserves! I haven’t journaled but have considered it
I love #14. I have told myself that many times before. It is amazing how many times people don’t just acknowledge their innate badassness.
Christie | Simply My Bella Vida says
Yes! these are all great tips! Smiling is a lot easier to do than frowning or being sad!
Kansas Bonanno says
This is a beautiful post, sometimes we forget to take the time to do things for ourselves and work on making ourselves happy. Thank you for sharing.
I love the reminders to be more mindful. These are really useful for the busy fall months.
Melissa Vera says
I love love this post. It is so easy to get bogged down in the negative. It is awesome that you are able to see the positive in the midst of everything. Thank you for the suggestions.
I love these tips. I really want to start a happiness journal, I think it would be a great way to write things I’m grateful for everyday.
I love your suggestions to volunteer. Often taking your eyes off your situation and focusing on others can be a powerful mood changer!
Lately, I think the world needs this more than ever! I know I am going to work on keeping my happiness!
I love a vision board – I try to make one each season. It helps me to visualize my goals, and for some reason goal setting makes me happy 🙂 Getting out for a walk is also a great one. Fresh air helps everyone.
Hannah Rooks says
I think your point about eating healthy is so true. Healthy food and a healthy lifestyle is so important and crucial to your happiness. Not only does it make you FEEL better about yourself but it actually changed the chemical composition in your body and produced “happy-hormones”!
Ana De- Jesus says
Oh my goodness I am so sorry to hear about your crashes! Are you ok hun? I agree that it is important to build happiness into your environment !
Ayana Pitterson says
Yes, glad that your list includes sleep. People don’t realize, that just like toddlers, when they don’t have enough sleep, they are terribly cranky. I see it at work all the time, and wonder if they know just how much more happier they would be if they added one more hour of sleep to their routine.
Doreen Pendgracs says
Very sorry to hear of your accidents, Erica. I love your list for keeping happiness front and centre in our lives, no matter the circumstances.
Cindy Ingalls says
Happiness is absolutely a choice. You have to acknowledge the good in your life not just complain and mope about the bad.
We moved this weekend so physically I am completely drained. But I’m so happy in our new home! For me, with so many awful horrific events recently happening, giving back with charity work and volunteering has made me feel happy.
RoseMary Griffith says
Wonderful post, Erica. I hope you are accident free the rest of your life!
Have you ever been having a bad day and then suddenly stopped the bad and said to yourself, hey, I’m actually pretty happy today. Poof, it all changes. You are right, it is a choice to be happy.
I love this list! My favorite thing to do is to dance around the kitchen because I can’t always go for a walk because of my toddler!!
Regarding the “Find a new hobby” way:
Sometimes rekindling an old hobby can also lead to happiness. I’ve recently begun playing the piano again after having not done so for many years – it’s been a bit awkward but very satisfying.