The best of times and the worst of times…

It’s been a rough week for most of us. Whether you’re pleased about the outcome of our presidential election in the US this week or saddened, frightened and completely disappointed by it, the internet and news has well-documented the hatred and tension of our divided nation. The enormous outpouring of emotions takes a toll on even the most positive, spirited among us. I thought maybe some science-based “heighten your happy” tips might help.

When you wake up feeling less than spectacular, turn it around. Maybe you’re feeling afraid for the future, overwhelmed by the problems you’re currently facing or unhappy because things are not how you want them to be in your life. You control your thoughts, emotions and actions. If you don’t like where you are right now, change it. It isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers, but it’s pretty easy. What do you do?

  1. Express gratitude. Find at least 3 things you’re grateful for in your life right this minute. Better yet, list ten.
  2. Think of a time when you were doing something you really loved. Maybe you’ll remember a trip to Disney World or the birth of your child. Whatever it is, go back there in your mind and embrace the details of what was happening, who was with you, and the feelings you were having then.
  3. Do one thing different today. Change your plans, schedule or normal routine by doing one thing differently. Do one spontaneous action that is fun, playful or gets you closer toward a goal. Even if you didn’t do anything toward the goal yesterday, do one thing today. Or, just stop, drop and play.
  4. Don’t solve problems you don’t have. The future is uncertain. Unrelated to any events, the future is always uncertain. You don’t know what’s going to happen today, tomorrow or a year from now. So, embrace the day you’re in and don’t think about what could happen in the future. If a problem arises, solve it when it gets here not before. Most things we fear do not arise.
  5. Practice optimism. Turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. You can decide your glass is half full. I want you to pay attention today and listen to yourself talk-out loud and in your head. I want you to catch yourself using negative words. When you hear a negative word, immediately say something nice. Picture yourself crossing out the negative thought and say something positive. Give yourself a hug.
  6. Do something nice for someone else. Smile at people, ask your cashier how her day is going, hug someone who needs a hug, reach out to a friend or neighbor who could use some encouragement or a helping hand. Find a place to volunteer and lend a hand to those less fortunate than you.
  7. Get connected with positive people. Volunteer, take a class, find a book club, go to church or something else but get interactive with other people doing something you enjoy. Connecting in the online world isn’t enough. Connect in person. Painting in the comfort of your home isn’t going to get it unless your hosting a group. Connection with others is an important factor in happiness. But do choose positive people who make you feel lighter rather than drag you down.
  8. Limit time with the complainers, negative nellies and doom and gloomers. Emotions are contagious and even if you don’t subscribe to their views, they will drain your precious energy and leave you feeling flat, overwhelmed and empty.
  9. If possible, get a cat or a dog. Cats and dogs lift your energy. Cesar Milan says that dogs feel like their entire job is to make you feel better. And as a dog owner, I agree. I could have had a completely rough day but when I open the door and see those faces and wagging tails, I forget about it for a while. If you already have a pet, spend time connecting with your furry family.
  • Remember that you are in control. You can’t control what shows up, but you can control how long it stays. If you try one or two of the things on this list and don’t feel a lasting lift, keep going. Do more. Keep going until you feel better.

These are the things scientific research says create lasting happiness. I’m not guessing about it or putting fluff out there. Positive psychologists have tested what creates enduring happiness. Exercise, mindfulness/meditation and spirituality also contribute positively to lasting happiness. I can tell you from experience, these things work. I use all the things listed here to control my anxiety and to shake off malaise from negative situations and people. No one is happy all the time, but you can do the work to heighten your happy. If you aren’t as happy as you want to be, change it. If you aren’t smiling so often people wonder what you’re up to, change one thing or everything. You never know how many days you get so don’t start tomorrow, start today. You’re worth it.

If you want more ways to work on your happiness, be sure to hop on over to my website, and download my FREE guide, Hardwire Yourself to Be Happy, 26 Ways to Hoist Your Happy to New Heights.

Hugs and happiness,

Lisa Z.

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