The holidays are just around the corner. You are running around for everyone else, having trouble saying no to your commitments, and your energy has already depleted. Before you realize it, you have put the relationship you have with yourself, your most important relationship on the back burner.
The holidays are a time to decompress, reevaluate where you are in life, and cultivate your inner happiness. Read on and discover some ways you could be sabotaging your own happiness without even realizing it, and take the necessary steps to put your own sanity and mental well being first before taking care of others.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
Your life is unique, so don’t measure your own worth by comparing yourself to those around you. Even regarding yourself as better than your peers is detrimental to your happiness, as you’re fostering judgmental feelings towards others and an unhealthy sense of superiority. Measure your own success based on your progress alone, not that of others. Engaging in upward and downward social comparison on either end of the spectrum is not an option to enhance your self esteem, because it will backfire on you.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
The saying “misery loves company” is entirely trite, but nonetheless true. That’s why you need to choose friends who are optimistic and happy themselves, as you will be surrounded with positive energy. It is this type of energy that will bounce directly off of you. Toxic negative people will leave you feeling drained and hollow, and physically/emotionally/mentally unable to move. These people are called emotional vampires, so try to steer clear of them, or if that’s not a realistic option at least limit your interactions with them if you can.
- Realize that you don’t need others’ approval.
It’s important to follow your own dreams and desires without letting naysayers stand in your way. It’s fine to seek others’ opinions and advice but happy people stay true to their own hearts and don’t get bogged down with the need for outside approval. People pleasing can take a toll on one’s health and sanity, so refrain from engaging in that empty pursuit.
- Take time to truly listen.
Active listening helps you soak in the wisdom of others and allows you to quiet your own mind at the same time. Intense listening can help you feel content while helping you gain different perspectives. Practice the art of listening well, and resist the urge to chime in while they talk in order to say what you want to say.
- Nurture social relationships.
Positive personal social relationships are a key to happiness, so be sure you make time to visit with friends, family and your significant other. This means connecting in person, face to face, not via Facebook or other social media platforms, which has become quite the norm these days.
Research shows that meditation helps you keep your mind focused, calms your nerves and supports inner peace. FMRI studies show it can even lead to epigenetic/physical changes in your brain that actually makes you happier.
- Eat well.
What you eat directly impacts your mood and energy levels in both the short and long term. Whereas eating right can prime your body and brain to be in a focused, happy state, eating processed junk foods will leave you sluggish and prone to chronic disease. Learn to eat the right foods both for physical and emotional wellness. You cannot be truly healthy until you have the right balanced components in play.
Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress and also relieve some symptoms of depression. Rather than viewing exercise as a medical tool to lose weight, prevent disease, and ultimately live longer – granted all amazing benefits that will occur in the future – try viewing exercise as a daily tool to immediately enhance your frame of mind, reduce stress and feel overall happier.
- Live minimally.
Clutter has a way of sucking the energy right out of you and replacing it with feelings of chaos. Clutter is an often-unrecognized and unconscious source of stress that prompts feelings of anxiety, frustration, distraction and even guilt, so give your home and office a clutter makeover, purging it of the excess papers, files, knick knacks and other “stuff” that not only takes up space in your physical environment, but also in your mind. The messy outside often times reflects what is going on on the inside.
- Be honest.
Every time you refrain from telling the truth, your stress levels are likely to increase and your self-esteem will crumble/plummet just a little bit more. Plus, if others find out you’re a liar it will damage your personal and professional relationships. Telling the truth, on the other hand, boosts your mental health and allows others to build trust in you.
- Establish personal control.
Avoid letting other people dictate the way you live. Instead, establish personal control in your life that allows you to fulfill your own goals and dreams, as well as a great sense of personal self-worth. Your self control is your dignity. Refrain from giving others power in a variety of ways.
- Accept what cannot be changed.
Everything in your life is not going to be perfect, and that’s perfectly all right. Happy people learn to accept injustices and setbacks in their life that they cannot change, and do not become embittered by their experiences. Instead, they put their energy on changing what they can control for the better to live a happier and more meaningful life.
So although our life circumstances can certainly after our happiness in the short run, much of our happiness in the long run is surprisingly independent of what happens to us. More than we wish to admit, happiness is at least as much a function of what we make of our lives as our lives themselves. As psychologist and happiness expert Ed Diener noted, “a person enjoys pleasures because he/she is happy, not vice versa”.
I hope I can enlighten you to the little things you could do daily to up your level of internal happiness, in case your level of happiness was/is currently dictated by your state of mind and personal circumstance. The above ideas are clearly not set in stone, so consider adding some of your own mental tools you could use at any given moment to combat sadness/stress, and increase the joy in your life. These tools do not cost a dime, but the wisdom contained within each one of them is priceless. These philosophies might seem intuitive and deceptively simple at first glance so be sure not to overlook them, but dig deep within each one of them to help you navigate the secrets of life.