9 Ways To Be Happier
Warning: Adult language
Please do not read any further if you are offended by adult language.
Do you suffer from destination addiction? What the hell is destination addiction, you ask? Well contrary to what the name might suggest, it has nothing to do with an actual physical destination or place. Destination addiction takes place as close to home as it can possibly get. Yup, right inside our heads. The destination is happiness. What’s the addiction part of it, you ask? We become addicted to reaching the next big thing.
We’re obsessed with the fact that if we just reach that next goal or if we just get what we most desire, it’ll bring us happiness. We crave what the future might bring. All of our thoughts live in the future. We will finally be happy when that next something happens. We all have those ‘next somethings’ that we want so desperately to happen now don’t we? Because if those ‘somethings’ happen, THEN we can finally find happiness.
“When I lose this extra weight, THEN I’ll be happy.”
“When I find a better job, THEN I’ll be happy.”
“When I find a good man (or woman), THEN I’ll be happy.”
“When I pay off my debt, THEN I’ll be happy.”
Oh the list goes on and on and on. We all have wants and desires. Even if you don’t suffer from destination addiction on a regular basis, it’s probably a safe bet that at one point in your life, you were addicted to your next destination. Unfortunately, so many people live by this theory day in and day out for years on end. “If I can just have this one thing happen, then I will be happy.”
There’s a huge flaw with this theory.
If you won’t find happiness until said thing(s) happen, then you will remain unhappy the entire time leading up to it. By believing a future happening will finally bring you happiness, you are guaranteeing your unhappiness until then. Let me repeat that…
By believing a future happening will finally bring you happiness, you are guaranteeing your unhappiness until then.
It is impossible to be happy in the present if you have convinced yourself that happiness won’t find you until a certain something happens in the future.
And guess what? That one thing you’ve been banking on making you so happy? Well that shit might never even happen. Then what? Oh, I’ll tell you what… you will crash and burn and land yourself into some dark ass days. And when you eventually crawl out of that deep pity pit you’ve been wallowing in for God knows how long, you wanna take a guess what you’re probably gonna do? Yup, you’re gonna dream up another happiness destination.
This cycle can go on and on and on for years, for some it lasts a lifetime. A lifetime of being unsatisfied and being convinced that the grass is greener on the other side of your right now. A lifetime of waiting for happiness to find you. But here’s the deal… happiness doesn’t find us. It doesn’t finally spot us like a well hidden Waldo because we’ve reached a goal or received something we’ve been wanting. We trick ourselves into thinking this because it’s easier. It’s a helluva lot easier to sit back and wait for something to happen than it is to work for it.
Being happy takes work. It means you have to train your mind to think differently, to think more positively, to think in the here and now, and to focus on what’s going on with you internally rather than focusing on what’s going on externally all around you. We tend to let our mood and mental state be a direct reflection of the external world. We let what others think of us or say to us affect us deeply. We let ridiculous societal expectations deem us unsuccessful because we don’t live in a big enough house or drive a fancy enough car. Or maybe you feel like shit every time you’re around the other PTA moms because your ass is bigger than theirs. External factors so easily creep into our psyches. They convince us we’re not good enough and trick us into believing our lives would be so much better if we had all of these material things or more money or a tight little ass.
For over 10 years, I was convinced if I could just lose all of my weight, I’d be happy. I thought being morbidly obese was the sole reason I was depressed and unfulfilled. When I finally got my shit together and lost the weight (120 pounds), I did in fact feel elated and happy… for a little while. But then I realized that even though my body had less weight on it, my mind had the same shit weighing it down.
I was still weighed down with an excruciating amount of fear and worry that my little girl would get sick again (she suffered from a rare disease the first two years of her life and by the grace of God got better.) I was still weighed down by the grief of losing my dad, who I never properly mourned for. I was still weighed down by the grief of losing my grandmother, who was like a mom to me. I was still weighed down by my food addiction, which I kept at bay but it hovered over me like a fire breathing dragon. I was still weighed down with a metric ton of guilt for things I had done in the past.
I realized that even after reaching a monumental goal, which I was truly proud of myself for, I was still a complete and utter fucking train wreck. It was a huge let down when I realized that losing all of that weight wasn’t going to fix all of my problems. I actually believed that if I had a flat stomach and a poppin’ booty that the long-standing shit storm that whirled around in my brain would just disappear. This is the crazy shit we convince ourselves of.
Trust me. Even when you do reach your happiness destination… it wears off. Because happiness isn’t something we can track down or magically unlock from a new job or a bigger house or a smaller ass. Just like anything in life, if you want something of value, you have to work for it. Happiness is no different. Working for something else hoping it will bring happiness along with it does not work. You have to actually work for your happiness. It’s not a side effect of something else. It’s its own entity and you need to address it directly.
It takes work to exorcise all of these toxic beliefs we’ve developed over the years. It takes work to change how we think. But until we do we won’t feel any different, we’ll still feel unsatisfied with our lives.
It’s great to have goals and to work towards them. And yes, we have goals because we want our lives to be better. BUT… working on goals to improve your life doesn’t mean you can’t be happy right now. You can be happy right now. It just takes a little recalculating in that noggin of yours. Happiness doesn't just happen. It is sought after and then manifested through actions.
What Can We Do To Be Happier Right Now?
I talk of this often on my Facebook and Instagram accounts as well as here on my blog. I truly believe if we could only pick one thing to change in order to be happy, being grateful is the most powerful change we can make.
When we focus on what we have instead of what we don't have, magical shit happens. When we start to truly feel blessed for what and who we have in our lives, it begins to change how we look at our lives and more importantly how we feel about our lives. Being grateful is something we have to PRACTICE every single day.
At the beginning of your day, mentally state (or say out loud if you'd like) three things that you are grateful for. Do this before you even get out of bed! This will start your day off with a grateful heart. Throughout the day, find things to be grateful for even if it's small and seemingly insignificant. At the end of your day, as you lie in bed and before you fall asleep, state three specific things that happened that day that you are grateful for. If you think hard enough, you can find positive things in even the shittiest of days.
You must practice so that you can condition your brain to think positively. If you make a conscious effort to be grateful everyday, your life will change. For when we change our mindset and truly believe we have good things in our life, we attract more good things.
Start training your brain to see the good, so that you no longer focus on the bad. Happy people are not people who are lacking problems. Happy people are people who CHOOSE to focus on the positive things in their lives rather than the negative things. This is the difference! We all have problems and stressors and things that make our lives difficult. How we choose to react to those problems and how much power we give them by dwelling on them is what determines the amount of happiness or unhappiness we feel.
Address Your Time Poverty
One of the biggest reasons we feel unhappy is because of time poverty. Time poverty refers to the ever-increasing phenomenon that we have more things to do than we have time to do them in. We as a society have become so busy. We run around around like chickens without heads to get everything done and we end up feeling so tired and burned out. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “There just isn’t enough time in the day.”? I bet you have. That, my friends, is time poverty. We are left feeling unproductive and stressed, because at the end of the day we didn’t get to check off all 486 to-dos off our list.
Every time we turn around, there’s an appointment to go to, a birthday party, a baseball game, little Susie’s dance recital, a school function, the neighborhood yard sale, the church’s bake sale you said you’d make cookies for, the craft run for your son’s science project due tomorrow, the car needs inspected, the dog needs his shots, the elderly neighbor needs his grass cut, you need to get that mole checked, the kids’ dental cleanings are due along with this month’s bills which reminds you that you need to put in some overtime at work. This, and more, is all on top of your ‘regular’ everyday shit, you know like keeping your kids alive. Lord knows I’ve wondered how I’ve kept us all breathing this long, especially since I can kill a house plant within 72 hours of it entering the threshold of my home.
In order to address our time poverty, we must manage our time differently. Not only must we work to more productively use our time, but we also must work on task elimination. In other words, you have to decide what things are the most important to you and then start weeding out the rest. You can’t do everything. You just can’t. And continuing to try to do so will kill your soul, not to mention turn you into a miserable resentful bitch. Something have to give.
You’re not a horrible person if you don’t bake 15 dozen snickerdoodles for your church’s bake sale. Say no next time. Instead, donate 20 bucks and move on with your life. Or maybe you bail out of little cousin’s SeaBase birthday party this Sunday because your household hasn’t had any family time and you all need a lazy Sunday chill pill to get right with the world. And besides, you’ll also save your entire family from contracting the Devil Gut Virus that lives all over those sticky snot-covered bouncy house balls.
Your time is priceless. Sometimes (a lot of times) you have to say no to shit. Do what’s most important to you, both practically and emotionally, and start ditching the rest. Your mental health and the health of your family relationships and connections are more important than everything else.
Do Things For the Sheer Pleasure Of Them
I know, I know, in number 2 I’m telling you to do less shit and now I’m telling you to do more shit. Let me clarify. In number 2 I’m saying to do less of the things that stress you out and zap you of your soul energy. When we say yes to everybody else, we leave no time for ourselves. It’s important to understand that spending time to do things that rejuvenate you and make you happy are just as vital to your overall health as nutrition and fitness are. Time tending to your soul and well-being is never wasted.
What is it that makes you feel good? Is it reading, spending time in nature, maybe a massage or soaking in a hot tub? Maybe it’s spending time gardening or crocheting or creating art. Whatever it is that you love to do for fun or to relax… do more of that. These things are always the first to be chopped off of our schedule block, yet they are just as important as anything else. Remember that all work and no play makes Jack and Jane dull and miserable people.
Forgive others. Holding grudges with people who have done you wrong in the past breeds hate and anger, which can grow to unmanageable levels. It is impossible to attract positivity and happiness into a heart that festers with such negative and destructive emotions. Let go. You must understand that letting go of that anger and resentment doesn’t mean that you’re ‘letting them get away with what they’ve done’. It means you are not allowing them to hold this power over you anymore.
And as for what they’ve done, well they have to live with that and whether they see their actions as wrong or not… karma is real and in fact a nasty bitch. So let it all go and trust that the universe will work it all out in the end. In the meantime, live your life free from chains of hate and focus on the good in your life.
Forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself is far more challenging than forgiving others. It requires more than just letting go. It requires some deep digging and reflection and usually a long and lengthy inner dialog. But nonetheless it needs done. This was my biggest hurdle. I struggled for years at forgiving myself for the mistakes I had made in the past. When I finally did, I was flooded with so much relief and contentment. You will be astonished by how much healing comes with forgiveness. It will change your life and set you free.
Now I know we all have heard how important sleep is, for many different reasons. We all know that good sleep has an endless amount of health benefits. But did you know how much of an impact our sleep has on our happiness? This will give you an idea. A study by the University of Warwick found that improving your sleep quality is as beneficial to health and happiness as winning the lottery. I mean, what? That is one hell of an impact! So seriously… get on that.
Laughter really is medicine for a better life. Make an effort to bring more laughter into your life: read funny books, watch funny shows, hang with funny people. It is proven that laughing releases endorphins (endogenous opioids). Endorphins are chemicals that make us feel euphoric and reduce our pain levels. Our brain also releases endorphins when we have sex, exercise, or even when we’re eating a delicious meal. Endorphins minimize pain and maximize pleasure. I think we can all agree this is a good thing. So start giggling like fools!
Making Healthy Choices
This is pretty much a no-brainer, but still needs to be said. When we eat healthy food and give our bodies the movement it needs, we feel better. Exercise brings with it those heavenly endorphins we talked about above in number 5. So yippee for more feel-good chemicals. Eating nourishing food keeps our bodies running like well-oiled machines and prevents us from feeling sluggish and lazy like we do when we eat shit food. Each and every healthy decision makes the next one easier to make. It should also be mentioned that making healthy choices is a form of self-care. And self-care is a vital factor in our overall sense of well-being.
If you’ve never tried meditating, you might want to start. Meditation has been the topic of many studies and they all end up with the same result… meditation increases our sense of well-being and happiness. In fact, the evidence is so overwhelming that more and more psychotherapeutic programs are starting to incorporate meditation practices into treatment. Meditation was once only recognized as an eastern treatment and was not embraced into the western medical world. That is rapidly changing. Meditation heals us, mind, body, and soul. Period.
Studies have shown time and time again that being kind increases our psychological well-being. When we practice kindness, we increase our interconnectedness with others. Our kindness releases an amazing energy out into the world, one filled with compassion and empathy. We feel proud of ourselves after doing good deeds and we reap just as many benefits as our recipients. Some refer to this as the Helper’s High, which again refers to the release of endorphins. Dang, we love dem endorphins, don’t we? But hey, if doing all of these healthy things can make us happier and make the world a better place aaaaand give us some all-natural feel-good chemicals… well, I say why the hell are we not doing more of these things?
Happiness isn’t a place. It’s not a thing we can buy in a store. Happiness is a state of mind that we CHOOSE. We choose happiness by carrying out ACTIONS (like the ones named above). Both mental actions and physical actions can get us there. But it takes some work. If you know a happy person, I mean a truly happy person, not just someone who plays one on the internet, that person has worked at being happy. Are you willing to stop waiting for happiness to magically show up around the next corner? Are you willing to put in some work to make happiness a reality in the here and now for you? I sure hope so.
Books On Happiness and Living Your Best Life
Over the past two months, I’ve read some great books on happiness and living your best life. There are basically a bazillion books out there on happiness, but I can only vouch for the ones I’ve read, so these are the books I want to share with you. I’m going to list them in order of how much I loved them and how much they impacted me and my perception of happiness, listing the first as my favorite and so on.
I devoured this book. I could not put it down. It’s filled with endless amounts of humor and wit, but at the same time delivers such poignant points that make you really think. If you have an issue with adult language, maybe it’s not the book for you. But then again if you’re reading my blog articles, I’m guessing expletives aren’t an issue for you ;)
This book, for me, was the perfect mix of humor and usefulness. It kicks you in the ass (or rather your brain) and really allows you to see a different perspective, one that can help improve your quality of life. This is definitely a book I will re-read.
The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky
This book is the most science-y on my list. Scientifically proven strategies on how to be happy are talked about, but not in a boring textbook kind of way. Sonja includes a lot of real life examples and the book takes the science behind being happy and then provides solutions and practices that you can actually do. I found this book to be very insightful, educational, and helpful. Wonderful read.
This book is a very easy read. Jen’s writing style may not appeal to the masses, for she does use adult language but she offers some good practical advice on how to live a better life. The book is meant to be light and humorous. If you’re looking for concrete scientific ways to become happier, stick with “The How of Happiness.”
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
I absolutely loved this book! I laughed the whole way through it. But the reason I’m listing it last is because it doesn’t actually provide actual ways to become happier. However, with that being said, it sends a message that no matter what we are dealing with, we can choose to focus on the good things. Jenny Lawson suffers from clinical depression and anxiety as well as other mental illnesses. She talks about how her life became better once she accepted that even though she may be broken, she can still have a happy life. She uses humor all through the book to prove her point and some of her stories will have you laughing out loud. I read several of them out loud to my husband because he wanted to know what I was laughing at. If you are looking for a humorous read with a positive message, this book will fit the bill.
If you have read any great books on happiness, I would love to hear about them in the comments!
*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.
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