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How To Be Happy When Things Change

How To Be Happy When Things Change

Several years ago, I attended a college workshop for psychology majors (psychology was my minor) and heard a fascinating story about how change caused depression for someone who, according to everyone else, was a happy person. No one would have suspected it, and I’ve since learned more about how change can actually be a major cause of depression, among other factors.

The speaker at the workshop acknowledged that these types of change, for her, were as simple as moving to a new location. When I first heard this, my initial thought was, “How could something as serious as depression be brought on by something as trivial as moving?” OK, in the moment, that particular thought wasn’t quite so articulate, but I really was curious about how little changes can disturb our happiness.

As the speaker put it, change begets change. Moving to a new location meant she had to get a new job. She had to get along with her new co-workers and make new friends in a city that was unfamiliar to her. I started to see the story unravel.

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That brings us to the task at hand, which is: how to be happy when things change. To do this, I’m outlining several steps to go through if you’re searching for a silver lining to your less-than-ideal situation.

Step 1: Evaluate your definition of happiness.

Before you start dwelling on what your current change means to you at this moment, define your terms. What is your definition of happiness? Put another way, what would it take for you to be happy? What things need to happen, or what things would you need to do in order to find happiness?

This exercise will be the first and last step for some people reading this article. This is because your definition of happiness may not be related to the change you are experiencing at all. For example, your definition of happiness may be as simple as spending time with people you love.

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Well, if the change you are experiencing is that you’ve lost your job and are unemployed, this may actually be an opportunity to spend more time with your children while you’re in between jobs. In this case, defining your standard for happiness resolves any negative feelings you initially have about your change in employment.

Unfortunately, there isn’t always a happy ending, and even scenarios like the one above can lead to severe depression when you can’t seem to achieve the happiness you strive for. Which brings us to …

Step 2: Change or adjust your standard for happiness.

For some people, life may only be worthwhile if they’re making six figures and living in a mansion. Others may believe that their happiness will be achieved if they manage to travel to a certain number of countries and check off a bunch of things on their life’s to-do list.

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The problem is that these goals aren’t always realistic, especially if you fail. Regarding the earlier scenario of losing your job, this situation means that a lot of things are about to change, including your income.

You may worry that your definition of happiness, which is making a lot of money, doesn’t match up nicely with this recent change in your life. To solve this problem, it may be necessary to adjust or modify what happiness means to you.

This means that instead of focusing on making a lot of money, your definition of real happiness may actually come down to being able to provide for your loved ones. From there, you may find this change in your life more manageable and practical.

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Step 3: Let go of attachments and choose happiness.

This is especially valuable advice for individuals who move to a new location. You’re essentially losing something that is very important to you, which could be your hometown or close group of friends. Though it may not be easy, letting go of these attachments and focusing on the new things that are enriching your life is the key to making it through these awkward transitions.

Now, it may be easier said than done to accept these changes, mostly because the attachment can be so strong. But if you’ve been following along with the steps, you may start to realize that your happiness shouldn’t really be a goal or expectation. Happiness should, in fact, be an attitude. It’s a choice.

Once you start to accept that happiness should come from life, no matter what it hands you, then you’ll be able to set a standard for happiness that is sustainable, no matter what external circumstances or changes come your way.

Essentially, you’re choosing happiness and letting it influence every reaction you have when something changes or doesn’t go your way. As a result, you’re ready for anything.

You may also want to read: The 7 Deadly Sins of Happiness.

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Jon Negroni

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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