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5 Questions That Will Make You a Happier Person

5 Questions That Will Make You a Happier Person

I’ve been feeling down lately. Things just haven’t been going as planned. I’ve been stressed, I’m having some medical issues, and I’m still not making as much money as I’d like. Sure there are good things in my life too, but I’ve been focused on the negatives.

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be

    No wonder I’ve been feeling bad! Our thoughts really do create our reality, so by choosing different thoughts, we can actually shift from bummed to happy pretty quickly. Here are my favorite five questions that consistently boost my happiness and they’ll increase yours too.

    1. What do I enjoy about this moment?

    Finding Joy:

    Asking this question requires us to notice what’s happening in the moment, and discover what we most enjoy about it. If I’m having trouble figuring out what I enjoy, I often turn to my five senses, asking myself, “Is there anything that I can see that I enjoy right now? Is there anything I can hear that I enjoy in this moment? Can I smell or taste anything wonderful right now? Or is there a texture or sensation I can enjoy now?

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    Practicing appreciation and gratitude has been one of the most life-altering experiences of my life. It has helped me let go of worry, anxiety, and fear and celebrate the beauty in life. Through these practices, I’ve found true and lasting joy, and you can too!

    In fact, just last week when I was feeling down, I decided to practice gratitude every day, and I already felt happier by day two. I mean really, every breath is a gift, so let’s celebrate.

    2. How can I help?

    Being of Service :

    When we help others, we take our attention off of ourselves and put it on others in need. Instead of ruminating about what went wrong in a recent meeting or fretting about a conversation we’re dreading with a loved one, we can let go of our own troubles and focus on the challenges someone else is facing. This can happen in big and little ways throughout the day.

    We can help our family members with daily and weekly tasks, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or adopt an animal from the shelter. Being of service to others brings a deep and lasting sense of accomplishment. It feels so good to make a positive difference in some else’s life! And often, after connecting with someone in need, our own troubles come into perspective as the petty annoyances they often are, rather than the life destroying tragedies we make them out to be.

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    3. What can I learn from this?

    A Love of Learning :

    Striving has a direct connection with happiness. When we strive to learn and grow, we enjoy life more, naturally. That’s because we humans like to feel a sense of accomplishment and meaning in our lives. If we’re not learning and growing, then what’s the point of all this anyway?

    When we begin to focus on opportunities for growth, instead of disappointments and failures, we start to see that everything that happens is just another chance to learn and grow. And that causes us to set goals, strive for those goals, achieve them and feel successful.

    Since learning and growing is a lifelong process, we’re never really finished—instead, we’ll just find new things to learn. For instance, my mom learned to draw and became a portrait artist in her fifties. My mother-in -law learned to make jewelry in her sixties, and I had my very first voice lesson last month!

    So, what’s on your list? Do you want to learn to ski? Or beat your best running time? Are you striving for a business goal? Or are you trying to improve your marriage? Just in case you’re wondering, going after these goals is already making you a happier person.

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    4. How would I like it to happen next time?

    Envisioning What’s Next:

    Recognizing our true power to create our reality can be an overwhelming responsibility. We can no longer blame others for our experience, and instead we have to stand up and say, “I created this.” The benefit of this view of reality is that when things are not as we’d like, we have the power to change them. By asking ourselves how we’d like things to go next time, we’re offering ourselves the opportunity to create more of what we want and less of what we don’t want.

    Envisioning the future is an art, and there are subtleties about the process that can make a huge difference in how successful you are at it. Here are my four rules for writing an effective vision:

    1. Everything is stated in the positive (no exceptions)
    2. It is written in present tense, as if all of this is already true.
    3. It is a narrative and when you read it you truly FEEL how you will feel when you accomplish the goals within.
    4. You MUST share your vision with at least three people.

    5. What’s funny about this?

    Playful Presence:

    Maintaining a sense of humor in the midst of your stressful life is a huge key to happiness. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, a virtual feel-good cocktail for your brain. When we can laugh about something, it just doesn’t seem so awful anymore.

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    Plus, the ability to be lighthearted about a difficult situation is a skill that comes in really handy, especially at the most challenging moments of life.

    A few years ago I cut my finger badly and my husband took me to urgent care to get it stitched up. I was a mess, and I was embarrassed, upset, and scared since I’d never had stitches before. My husband was lighthearted and cracking jokes while we waited for the doctor, so that by the time he came in, I was relaxed and at ease. The whole process was quick and much easier than I had anticipated. Thank goodness my husband was there to lighten the mood and get me laughing. Now I just have to figure out how to do that for myself!

    If there is a question here that seems strange, confusing, or difficult for you, don’t worry about it. Just practice the ones you feel drawn to and revisit the others at a later time. After all, this is not about achieving perfection it’s about achieving happiness! Go forth and enjoy your life even MORE.

    Warm hugs, Shelly

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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