How to find happiness, even when life sucks

Life. It’s a bitch sometimes. It can suck your soul right down the proverbial toilet.

I get it. Maybe you’re drowning in debt for a degree that you don’t care about, for a job that you hate, for an income that, well, sucks.

Maybe you’re lost. You can’t find love. You’ve had your eyes on someone special for months. They’re always happy to see you, they seem flirtatious, then just when you get the courage to ask them out, they shut you down. Rejected.

You have regrets. You wish you’d chased your dreams, but you feel the societal pressure to do what “they” said you were supposed to.

I’ve been there. It will pass. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay my friend. In the meantime, here’s what you can do to feel happier whenever you’re going through a rough patch.

Imagine your worst nightmare

An attitude of gratitude is cliche and often easier said than done. You know people have it worse, but you don’t FEEL it.

Remember those mental muscles you used to day dream about the cute guy at work that shot you down? Yeah, use that turbo charged imagination, but this time, meditate on all the worst possible scenarios that could happen in your life.

Dad has cancer and has 3 months to live. Your sister was in a car accident. Your home was seized by the government (what the hell have you been up to?) and now you’re homeless and hungry. Whatever your darkest, saddest nightmare is, play it out in your mind. All the way. Think of how it would feel. How would your life change?

It might take some practice. When you really “go there”, you come out of it and realize, life is good. You FEEL the gratitude. Whatever the scenario, it could always, always be so much worse.

Turn a defense into an offense

When a small unit of Navy Seals are caught in an ambush by a larger force, they don’t hunker down and hope for the best. Their only chance of survival is to attack the enemy head on with as much aggression, firepower and speed they can muster.

There’s a good chance that it will confuse the enemy and put them on their heals long enough for the Seals to break free and head for the water to escape.

When life has you backpedaling, or worse yet, hunkering down and hoping for the best, try to change your attitude from defense to offense.

Struggling with finances? Good! Take it as a challenge. Make a game of being ruthlessly frugal. Get excited about building a hustle or two on the side, after work, on the weekends. Embrace the grind.

Tired of chasing love? Good! Change directions. Work on yourself. Get obsessed with learning, training, making yourself into the best human that you can be. Let love chase you for a change.

Win small

Have you ever been setting and achieving goals left and right and thought, “wow, my life sucks!” Probably not, at least in the moment.

Humans have an innate need to accomplish goals. We need things to strive for, a task at hand.

When life sucks, it could be because the big goals just seem so daunting. It’s all so overwhelming. You don’t know how you could ever change or succeed.

You’re just trapped in a bad rhythm, and the momentum has swung against you. It’s time to bump it back the other way. Set a small goal for the day. How small? Well, depends on where you’re at.

Something as small as taking a shower and having some tea could turn your attitude around if you’re depressed enough.

Do that laundry you’ve been putting off. Exercise for 10 minutes. Write 300 words. Whatever your small victory may be today, it will tip the momentum ever so slightly in the right direction.

These little bumps add up to some forward motion. A ray of light. Maybe you’re ready for a bigger task. Either way, you kind of forgot you where all bummed out for a minute there, didn’t you?

C’mon, help a brother out!

There’s no more surefire way to feel like shit than to sit around in deep thought about yourself and your problems.

On the flip side, getting out and helping someone else that’s struggling is almost always a great choice towards your own happiness and fulfillment.

You see, other people struggle. They’re sad too sometimes, maybe even right now. You could help them out.

Give someone a call and ask how they’re doing.

Feed someone that’s hungry.

Comfort someone that’s sick.

Give something to someone that needs it.

Whatever random act of kindness you’ve got in you right now, why not do it? You know why you should? Because helping someone else directly helps you indirectly. Call it karma, or mojo or whatever you want, but it works.

It’s not impossible to be sad when you’re helping someone else, but it’s a hell of a lot harder than if you’re sitting at home feeling bad for yourself.

Now take the wheel and steer your mind to happiness

Life is a long and winding road. Sometimes we really feel the mileage. It can be cruel and unfair at times, and sometimes we just can’t help but kick our own asses.

The sadness and disappointment you feel serves a purpose though.It’s often your subconscious telling you to change directions. I don’t know of a better motivator than pain.

I know that all these ideas won’t solve all your actual problems.

Instead they give you actionable items for developing a series of healthy coping mechanisms. Instead of flowing with the current of sadness, you’ve taken the wheel and guided yourself back on track.

As you get better at these mental habits, you’ll find that the problems you had to begin with don’t seem to exist anymore. They do, out there in the world. But in your mind, they aren’t problems anymore.

You’re happy, and happy people don’t have problems. They have the challenges life affords them to grow and change.

I’m happy for you.