There is nothing in this world more important than self-care. If you are not loving and forgiving with yourself, then you cannot be loving and forgiving with others.
These tips are just that: tips. Every individual must find his or her own way to stay happy and positive. This list is unique, because it is based solely on me: my attitude and my anxieties, and I am sharing it in hopes that you will incorporate one or two of these tips into your own life. I also hope these tips inspire you to make your very own Happiness List.
1. Take Care of Yourself First
If you have ever been on an airplane, you have most likely heard the safety announcement about the oxygen mask. You know, the one where the flight attendant tells you to first make sure that your own mask is securely on and fastened before you assist others with theirs. Well, live your whole life like that.
In order to survive, you must take care of yourself first. You cannot give what you do not have. You cannot love and care for others if you do not first love and take care of yourself. I am not telling you to be selfish and only focus on your own wants, I am telling you that it is okay to look after yourself first. If you haven’t slept well all week, then it is okay to skip the party. If you are mentally exhausted, it is okay to call in sick to work/school to recharge. If you are in a toxic relationship with a friend or a lover, it is okay to distance yourself. Your first and foremost responsibility is to make sure that YOU are okay: mentally, physically, and emotionally.
2. Get Active
Before you curse me out and slam your laptop shut, hear me out. I am not telling you that in order to be happy you have to run a 5k or lift weights, however if you enjoy that type of exercise, by all means pursue it. What I am saying is that, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy”(Elle Woods). It also promotes mental clarity and releases stress.
Personally, I despise running. It’s boring and long and I get cramps. Instead I found that high intensity workouts, such as HIIT and Kickboxing, are a lot more my speed. Find a workout that works for you and do it 3-4 times a week.
For me, one of the best feelings in the world is taking a cold shower after a good morning workout. I love to start my day that way, because by 10 am I have done three things. I have completed a task on my to-do list, I have done something beneficial for body (and my mind), and I have released endorphins, and as we know, endorphins make us happy.
Bottom line, be active everyday. Take a walk, take a spin class, look up a 5-minute abs workout on YouTube, just do something. Your body will thank you, and you will feel accomplished and happy.
If I wake up in a grumpy mood, the last thing I want to do is workout, but I know that I always feel better afterwards, so I do it. Find what makes your body feel good and do it.
Yes, obviously you have to breathe to be happy, if you didn’t you would be dead, but that is not the type of breathing I am referring to. I am referring to controlled and conscious breathing, the type of breathing that comes from meditation and yoga. When I was in a bad mental headspace, I tried yoga as a form of therapy. I needed to stress less and focus on eliminating my anxieties, and yoga did just that.
Yoga is a spiritual and physical form of discipline that focuses heavily on breathing and contouring the body into certain positions. You can read about the infinite benefits of yoga on any number of cites, but I am going to tell you about the personal benefits that I have experienced.
I have noticed that since practicing, my body has been getting toned, especially my arms, I have become more flexible, I have been less stressed, I have been extremely in tune with my body, and I have gained more mental clarity. After a yoga practice, I gain a better perspective on my life and my worries. In all, I have only felt better after practicing yoga, so I highly recommend it.
Meditation is also extremely similar to yoga in the way that breath is controlled. Meditation is a way to focus only on the present. The past cannot be changed, the future cannot be controlled, and the most present experience of all is breathing. Meditation is a practice in which you focus on only your breath, let thoughts flow in and out of your head, and get into a state of total peace and understanding within yourself.
I have struggled with mediation. It takes practice, and I am still working on getting to a completely relaxed state. However, yoga is something that I picked up almost immediately, and personally, I find it to be more helpful.
I have the links to my favorite yoga and mediation YouTuber, Boho Beautiful, and the mediation app headspace located in the LINKS folder if you need some inspiration.
I make lists. I love them. I write down what needs to be done during the month, then each week, then each day, and I prioritize each task. If I cannot get done every task on my list, then I highlight which ones have to be done today and the rest gets pushed to a later date. This form of organization helps me manage my stress, and by stressing less, I have more energy to focus on doing things that make me happy.
Along with prioritizing tasks, I also prioritize my life. My mental and physical health comes first, then my friends and family, then my school work, then my job, and then everything else falls after that. I always make sure I spend enough time on myself and with my family before I focus on school and work. I need to sleep, enjoy my hobbies, and spend time with the people I love, so if I don’t get enough studying done, I accept my grade for what it is, and if I need to get a shift covered, I get it covered. Life is too short to spend it stressing. If things don’t get done, they don’t get done. Prioritize what is important in your life.
5. Regroup and Move Forward
Bad stuff happens in life. There is a constant balance between and good and evil, so if you learn how to deal and cope with the bad, then being happy will come more naturally. My motto when things get tough is, “regroup and move forward.” I believe that everything happens for a reason, even the bad, but I also know that it takes time in order to see the positives that inevitably come from our bad experiences. So in the mean time, I regroup. I collect myself, clean up the damage, put on a bandied, and move forward, because that is the only thing I can do. I cannot change what happens to me, I can only choose how I react to it. Which leads me into number six.
6. If you Do Your Best, then Don’t Stress
This is one I had to learn after having mental break down, after mental break down, in my AP Physics class. I just didn’t know how to cope with not doing well in that class. I would study for hours everyday for a week before the exam, and I still did poorly. Eventually, I just had to stop caring. I still gave the class my all, but once I did that, I relaxed. If I did my best, then there was no reason to beat my self up for not doing well, because there was nothing else I could have possibly done. Despite learning about terminal velocity and kinematics in two dimensions, that is the most important lesson I learned in Physics class, and I carry it with me everywhere I go.
Why be mad at yourself for giving something your all? If you do your absolute best, then do not stress about the outcome. Whatever will be, will be; just be content knowing that you did everything you could.
7. Do Not Play Victim
I did that for a while. I played victim. I blamed other people for my unhappiness. I was waiting for the world to change, when really it was me who had to change. Crying didn’t make the pain go away. Complaining didn’t make my problems disappear. I had to make a conscious decision to choose to be happy.
Nothing in life will ever be perfect; if you play victim, complain, and wait for the world to change for you, then you are never going to be content. You need to work for what you want in life. If you want to be happy, you have to choose happy, or at least try.
Once I realized this, I wiped my tears and made a conscious effort to be happy. I read self help books. I started to practice yoga and mediation. I unfollwed the people on social media that brought be down with negative energy. I spent time with my mom and my dog. I practiced self-care and wrote in my journal. I did what it took for me to be happy. It didn’t happen over night. The situation that caused my unhappiness never went away completely, but I learned how to deal with it. I learned to be happy despite it.
8. Find the Good Wherever You Are
This goes hand in hand with choosing to be happy. Choose to find the good in every situation you are in. Obviously, there are exceptions to this motto, for example, when a loved one passes away or you get into an accident, it is impossible to find the good in that. However, there are plenty of every day experiences that stink that can be made better by simply changing your attitude. I don’t always remember to do it, but when I do, I see a clear difference in my overall happiness.
I try to look into the future to see why a bad thing happened to me. I try to figure out what good can come from it. I also don’t let negative people bring me down. If people are rude to me, I realize that it is more about their unhappiness then it is about me. If I am late in traffic, I use that time to catch up on an audiobook. I try to find the positives inside the negative experiences that happen in everyday life. I don’t do it all the time. Sometimes I am in an awful mood and just can’t, but when I put in the effort, I am definitely a happier version of myself.
9. Give to Others
I believe in Karma, and I also believe in doing things from the goodness of your heart. If you, with good intentions, do good for others, then good will in turn be done for you.
Putting a smile on someone’s face has never failed to also put a smile on mine.
Now, you do not need to go save a stranger’s life by giving them your kidney, all you need to do is be generous to the world and the people around you. Put your change in the tip jar. Say "Hi" when you make awkward eye contact with someone. Join a charity organization. Donate your time if you don’t have money. Donate a little money, if you don’t have time. Just give back to the community in one way or another. It feels good to help. You feel productive, and It raises your frequency. By giving joy, you end up receiving joy. It is the most instant form of karma I can think of.
10. Be Grateful
This is so important. Nothing brings me out of a bad mood faster than listing all the things I have to be grateful for. My health, my family, food in my fridge, a roof over my head, the ability to write on my laptop, my dog, coffee, spotify. Anything. You can list anything that you are grateful for, and instantly you are transported into a world of love and light where the bad vibes from before immediately disappear.
It also has a snowball effect. Once you write down one good thing, a constant flow of all the good things you have in your life flow instantly from your hand. We all have things to be grateful for. By choosing to be happy and making a conscious effort to list all the good you have, you immediately attract happiness in your life. It is that simple.
With love and light,