This post originally appeared on Rebelle Society.
Who doesn’t want to be happy?
Happiness can seem like something we chase after day after day, but with a few simple tools, you can start living in happiness right where you are, right now. From a therapist’s point of view, here are five changes you may need to make to achieve the happiness you seek:
1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
This is a hard one. It’s in our nature to compare ourselves to others to see how we match up, if we’re “normal”, if we fit in. However, once we get a grip on this basic need of seeing that yes, we are a person trying to make it in this world just like everyone else, the comparison should stop.
Your story will not be someone else’s story, nor will their journey be yours. Separate yourself from this habit and build acceptance of your own path.
2. Develop a belief that everything in your life is happening in perfect timing.
You are right on time, everything you are doing is right on time, all the opportunities that are being presented to you are right on time. Now, for anyone out there that struggles with anxiety and a future-focus (like me), this may be fairly difficult for you.
But, the other side of the anxiety coin is learning to let go. When we can lean into the belief that we are right on time, it opens a door for peace to come in. You can’t feel peaceful and anxious at the same time. They are opposing forces.
3. Stop shoulding on yourself.
You know those little tiny comments you make to yourself when you see someone running, “Oh, I should be running” or someone who is in impeccable shape, “I should be eating healthier” or someone just your age who is doing really well for themselves, “I should be further along by now” or those people who seem to be in a good mood all the time, “I should be happy like them.”
Yeah, those little comments. They add up. When we tell ourselves we “should” be something or “should” be doing something, we negate the progress (and process) that is our own. Here’s the solution: Let your “shoulds” be a compass pointing you in the direction of how you want to live or who you want to be and write them down.
Yes, write down those shoulds. If they are really important, then make a plan to make them happen. If they’re unrealistic, then accept that is not who you are right now or you’re not ready to make them a priority. Either / or, give yourself some compassion and try to decrease those “shoulds.”
4. Make time for yourself.
So we must hear this all the time, or at least I know my clients do. They probably get tired of hearing me say this, but there is something majorly effective about giving yourself a little piece of the pie too. Now, there will be excuse after excuse as to why you’re too busy, but here’s the thing: you will probably always be busy.
You will always have something important to do, somewhere important to be, something else you could be doing than spending time on yourself. The secret is to make yourself a priority without exception. There will be a week or two here or there where you will seriously not have the time.I get it. But what you see as important, you will make time for.
What better message to send yourself than that you see yourself as important enough to spend time on. You are your best investment.
5. Stop quantifying happiness.
If there was ever a person who was guilty of this one, I promise you it was me! The beliefs back then sounded something like this: “When I have ____, I’ll be happy”, “When I get _____, I’ll be happy”, “When I find_____, I’ll be happy”, “When I feel _____, I’ll be happy.”
These kind of beliefs totally sucked the joy out of the present moment and prolonged happiness until I got to some distant part of my life. And here’s the worst part: when I finally achieved ____ or felt ____ or got ____, I was already on to thinking of the next thing I needed in order to be happy. I had to stop the madness and realize that if I kept thinking like that, I would never be happy.
So let those quantifiers go. Relax into the present moment and allow yourself to feel joy and gratitude now.
If not now, then when?
Happiness is something we create and we must learn the skills in order to create it.
Practice makes progress. Let’s get started!