How to get happy and keep it
Have you ever been told "you're so negative!" or "you only focus on the negative things in your life!" when you are expressing feelings of sadness to a friend or loved one? They stop talking to you and stop coming around you. You begin to feel as if you are bothering them by revealing your authentic self- who you are in that moment. This can cause you to not want to ever express yourself again to this person because you were scolded for doing so. Here is a pointer: LET THAT PERSON GO! and here is why.... because they are not contributing to your feelings of happiness by telling you how negative of a person you are.
Confiding in someone means you trust them to listen to you non-judgmentally. You trust this person to let you be your authentic self- whoever that may be- in the moment. Someone that is telling you that you are too negative is judging you. A friend is someone who supports you in your darkest times, not someone who criticizes you for being a human being.
The truth is we all have sad days. We all have days when we are angry, upset, or just feel like laying in bed with a bowl of Hagen Daas and a hanky, watching Titanic while tears roll down our cheeks (or is that just me?) Happiness is NOT the absence of these feelings that we call "bad" feelings. It is the feeling that we get from being exactly who we are.
Our society seeks happiness is material things like apparel, jewelry, money, social status, etc. etc.Studies have actually shown that income, intelligence, and physical appearance contribute nothing to being happy, that health, culture, religion, and social activity contribute somewhat. The most important contributors to happiness are work, love, and satisfaction within relationships (Weiten, Dunn, Hammer- Psychology Applied to Modern Life).
So here is how to get happy and keep it:
1. Surround yourself with people who will love and support you even if you are having a rough time, but also make sure you do the same for the people you truly care about. Being satisfied with your relationships has everything to do with the level of TLC you give and receive. If you are single, make sure your friends accept you for who you are. Never try to be someone you are not just to gain friends. If you are in a relationship or marriage be open and vulnerable with your significant other.
2. Do a job, have a career, start a business doing something that you love and feel good about doing. Doing something just for money is a key ingredient to unhappiness and can lead to abusive tendencies because the anger will be misdirected. You want to be in congruence with who you really are, even if that means going through a rough patch to get there.
3. Realize that happiness is an emotion just like the others. It is a state of being and is malleable. Nothing stays the same. Yes we can control ourselves. No we can not control other people, however, people have buttons that can be pushed due to experiences.
4. "To thine own self be true." This is similar to #3. Stand up for yourself, follow your principles, even if it means losing friends. Never do something or be something just to gain acceptance from others. If they can't accept your individuality, then they don't deserve a spot in your life. The most liberating thing you can do for yourself is to be who you truly are. Now this is not an excuse to be rude, inconsiderate, or mean to others. It means to allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. When you are authentic, you are free from the stress of having to keep up appearances. You are free from fear of others finding out who you are because you have nothing to hide.
Each one of us contributes to the well-being of another. Whether it is giving a listening ear when a friend or stranger needs to vent, spending time with a person who is otherwise neglected, even inviting a new acquaintance to hang out with you. These things that we take for granted and think nothing of are the things that matter the most. Our relationships with others are essential. Most of us don't even have a relationship with ourselves. Let's build that one first!
Love, care, be loved, and work. That's happiness!
** To disclose, for people that suffer with depression, it is a bit more complex. In my next article I will address this topic and how to care for a person with depression.