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How to Always Choose Happiness Even During Tough Times

How to Always Choose Happiness Even During Tough Times

We all have the desire to live happy lives. However, the effort and personal work we have to do to attain this desire can be challenging for us.

Is happiness a choice? Yes. But being happy requires more than just making the choice that “I choose to be happy”. Sustaining happiness in your life takes commitment, courage, a deep understanding of who you are and knowing your purpose in life; and this does not happen overnight. It is a life long journey.

By choosing to embrace happiness into your life, you are taking responsibility for your own contentment.

“Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” — Joseph Campbell

When you live a happy life, you have more resilience; your confidence and self-belief flourishes. And this enables you to successfully navigate your way through the curve balls (the tough times) that life throws at you.

Some of us are born smiling and some of us are not. We all have a Happiness Set Point that determines our overall well-being. Our happiness in life oscillates depending on what life events we are facing at the time. Our happiness can be significantly be diminished when we face traumatic events in life.

The good news is that although our general mood levels and well-being are partially determined by factors like genetics and upbringing, we can control our happiness. Yes, a good portion of our happiness is within our control.

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The 5 strategies below are actions you can adopt so you can live a flourishing and resilient life where you are able to face those “tough times” in life from a position of strength and of course happiness.

1. Determine What Happiness Means to You

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.” — William James- psychologist.

The first step in the journey to having a happy life is to determine what is important to you and what you value in life that brings you joy and happiness.

You don’t have to have all the answers, however you do need a sense of who you are and how you want to live your life.

Happiness can only come into your life when you like who you are, and you are choosing to be the best YOU can be. Until you have attained that state of belief in you, living a happy life will be at times in your life completely out of reach.

Yehuda Berg describes how the words that we use can either empower us or destroy us. Be aware of what words you are choosing to use to describe who you are:

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble”. — Yehuda Berg

2. Understand How Happiness Works for You

“Happiness is not a feeling it’s an action. In order to feel happy you have to do happy.” — Ben C. Fletcher D.Phil., Oxon

We all have very different personalities and this means that for some of us, we find it easier to be happy. A lot of research has been conducted on the relationship between happiness and different personalities and it is very complex.

There is, however, one aspect of happiness that most researchers agree with and that is, the level of happiness in a persons life depends on their vision of what a “good life is”. Once a person works this out, then it is easier for them to identify what they can do to bring happiness to their life.

Happiness is a consequence of what we do and how we behave. Trying to make yourself think happier is not going to work; taking action and doing something different in a more a positive way is more likely to bring happiness into your life.

3. Choose to Be Around the Right People

“The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits.” — Dan Buettner

Surround yourself with the people who reflect the person you want to be. Having positive and healthy relationships in life is the key to living a happy life. You do not want to spend any time with people who suck the happiness out of you.

Positive and healthy relationships are where you find the support and strength to face those tough times in life. If you don’t have positive relationships in your life, the chances of having happiness in your life are not that great.

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4. Commit to Helping Others

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Having a sense of purpose is important to having happiness in your life. In essence, the greater sense of purpose we feel, the happier we become.

Helping others, acts of kindness, compassion and service to others increase our wellbeing and sustains happiness in our life.

5. Choose to Take Care of Your Mind, Body, and Spirit

“Self-care is a deliberate choice to gift yourself with people, places, things, events, and opportunities that recharge our personal battery and promote whole health—body, mind, and spirit.” – Laurie Buchanan, PhD

A commitment to being the best person you can be is important to sustaining happiness in your life. Taking care of your body, mind and over wellbeing is crucial to you being the happiest person you can be.

If you don’t have a consistent type of physical activity in your life, then your mental energy, your emotional energy and your spiritual energy are depleted — in fact they are in the negative.

Your ability to deal with the tough times in your life is seriously compromised when you do not have the physical and emotion stamina to manage these setbacks.

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Practice these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

Final Thoughts

Living a happy resilient life is within your reach.

Having a solid foundation built on the premise of living a happy life is the key ingredient to successfully navigating your way through the tough times in life.

The above 5 strategies will help you on your journey to maintaining happiness in your life.

More About Staying Happy

Featured photo credit: Vince Fleming via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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