People make a lot of choices throughout the day. Think about it. What to wear, what to eat for breakfast, how to get to work, whether or not to say hi to co-workers, who to send emails to, where to go for lunch, what bills to pay, what errands to run, whether or not to see friends, what to watch on TV, what time to go to bed, etc. The list goes on and on and on.
One of the most paramount and compelling choices people face is whether or not to let bad or unexpected things get them down and make them feel unhappy. Guess what happy people choose. They choose to be happy regardless of what is happening around them.
If you want to start feeling happier, then do what happy people do, and make these 14 choices:
“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”
Forgiveness is a powerful tool that people have at their disposal. Happy people forgive because that’s what best for them. They know holding on to anger, sadness, or frustration will only hurt themselves. You can forgive because that is what will help you feel better. It can be difficult, sure, but you can choose to do it.
2. Take things one day at a time.
Take a deep breath. Slow down for a minute. Your experience in this very moment is your life. Worrying about the past can get in the way of your here and now. You can think about your future, but do so mindfully, so you always remain truly present. Choose to take things one day at a time.
3. Have a bad day.
Happy people know they will experience hurt sometimes. It’s an unchangeable fact of life. If you can accept this inevitability, then you can be prepared for it when it comes. Explore your bad days and try to find out what is really going on beneath the surface. Ask your inner child what he or she needs and then try to fulfill that need. Please don’t expect that you’re never going to feel bad because that will just make you unhappy. Choose to have a bad day once in a while.
4. Never take things personally.
“When someone is nasty or treats you poorly, don’t take it personally. It says nothing about you, but a lot about them.” – Michael Josephson
This couldn’t be truer. All people have bad days, right? (Refer to #3!) If someone is rude to you, ignores you, or looks sad, it likely has nothing to do with you. Don’t make assumptions about what is going on in other people’s heads, and don’t worry about rescuing them from their moods or problems. It is not your job, nor your responsibility. Happy people will listen to a friend in need, but know better than to make it about themselves. Choose not to take things personally.
5. Try. (Even when it seems way too hard.)
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
How can you make a shot if you don’t take it? How can you succeed if you don’t try? Always give yourself a chance. Happy people attempt things even when success is not guaranteed and even when it’s scary for them. What an amazing feeling it will be to succeed through uncertainty! By the way, failing is also healthy. You can learn and grow from failure. Don’t be afraid of change, but instead take risks. You can handle it! Choose to try.
“Failing is not falling down but refusing to get up.” – Chinese proverb
6. Love yourself.
You’ve got to love yourself. You really do. Respect and wholly accept who you are, down to your core. Remember that you are not your behaviors or your emotions. We all make bad decisions and act poorly sometimes. Who doesn’t? At the time you made a questionable decision, did you believe you were making one? Probably not. We all screw up sometimes! Live and learn, and then love yourself with all your flaws and imperfections. Consider this: there are no “mistakes,” but rather opportunities to learn and grow. You are wonderful just the way you are. Choose to love yourself!
7. Take responsibility.
Take full responsibility for yourself. You don’t have to love your actions or feelings, but you do have to own them. Try not to blame yourself or other people for your problems. If you are acting negatively right now, that’s your choice. And it’s okay! If that is what you need to do, then do it. But own up to it, and turn it around it when you are ready. Even if something or someone bothered you, you do not have to let it control you. Remember not to give that power away. You can choose to take responsibility.
Laugh! Laugh your little heart out. Laugh until you turn red. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your friends. Laugh at all the silly gaffes, snafus, and flubs you’ve made. Laugh at all the annoying behaviors that used to drive you crazy. Laugh as much as you can. Laughter is the cheapest and easiest medicine you can get, and there are no side-effects! Happy people choose to laugh and so can you.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin
9. Let go.
Let go of expectations. Let go of anxiety. Let go of fear. Let go of hate. Let go of hurt. Let go of the past. Let go of trying to fix things. Let things work themselves out, and while that’s happening, the only things you have to do are live, learn, and smile. Choose to let go today.
10. Be grateful.
Think about everything and everyone in your life. Name three things or people you are thankful for. Name five more things or people you are thankful for. How about 10? Can you name 15? Now, thank the people and things you listed. While you’re at it, thank the clothes you’re wearing and the computer you’re using. Don’t forget to thank the car you drove, the bus you took, or the bike you rode today. You can choose to recognize all you have, and once you do, you will be choosing happiness.
First, trust yourself. Trust that you are strong. Trust that you can survive. Trust that you make good decisions and have well-developed opinions. Trust that you are in control.
Second, trust that you have great family and friends. Trust that they have your best interests in mind. Trust that they do not ever intend to hurt you. Choose to see the good in people. Choose trust.
12. Help others.
Do you know someone who could use a hand? Why don’t you offer to help them out this weekend? Have you ever volunteered? Why not visit a shelter, read to children at a hospital, donate to a food pantry, or hang out with some grandmas at an old-age home? How about holding the door or giving someone a free smile? Doing these kinds of things will make you feel good. Choose to be kind and help others out.
13. Think things through.
Think everything through. You don’t need to rush to make decisions. You don’t need to react, but instead, you can give yourself time to process. While your mind synthesizes, you can paint a picture, read a book, or talk to a friend. Relax and let your brain do the work. A lot goes on in your head in one day; it needs time to go through it all. Choose to let time be on your side and think things through.
14. Be happy.
It can be that simple if you let it. Sure, everyone has different DNA and various levels of endorphins in their brains, but all of us can make choices. You can let things get you down or you can be happy. Starting today, choose happiness.
Featured photo credit: Nosha via flickr.com