How to Let Yourself Be Happy
An exercise in mindful happiness, gratitude and self-love
As I sit here typing away, there’s La Vie on Rose playing in the background. The sun is shining through my window. My face feels all tingly and alive from just taking off my face mask. I’m wearing my pajamas on a Sunday afternoon. I’m living in my favorite city. And I feel happy.
I feel happy because I feel in control of my thoughts. I feel happy because I feel like I don’t have to prove a point anymore. I feel happy because I’m doing small things that I enjoy. I feel happy because after a long time, I’m finally living a life on my own terms.
However, when I look back, I find it oddly tragic that coming to a point of happiness was so hard.
Everyone gave me a reason why I shouldn’t be happy
“You should be unhappy because…”
I wasn’t skinny enough.
My cheeks were too puffy.
My thighs too thunder.
Too much body hair (that’s what happens when you’re South Asian!).
Not enough leadership positions.
An A- instead of an A.
Rejection from my first choice college.
Taking the “easy” major because I couldn’t hang with the big boys.
“Not moving forward with your candidacy” emails.
The fuck boys. Oh the fuck boys.
Not having the answers.
Not getting it right.
Not being perfect.
The reasons could go on and on for why I should be unhappy. But what I soon came to realize is that my own unhappiness wasn’t always because I was actually unhappy. Sometimes I could care less.
My unhappiness was a result of someone else dictating my feelings.
Is happiness a choice?
I’m on the camp that one can choose to be happy. But it took me a while to see that this choice was mine. I couldn’t control what someone else thought about my decisions. I couldn’t control their disappointment or negative emotions directed towards me. I couldn’t control what they did as a result.
But I could control me.
I learned that someone else does not have to affect how I view myself. It does not have to affect how I feel about myself. And it certainly doesn’t mean I have to do anything differently unless that’s what I want to do.
So while most people were complaining about how I was doing things and being unhappy about my life, I was having the time of my life.
After a really long time of living in the future and living in the past, and living for the life of others, I’m letting myself enjoy me in the present. Through becoming more aware of how I face the world and the emotions that come with it, I’ve learned how to choose happiness.
I call it mindful happiness: the act of intentionally choosing happiness
In day to day life, there are things that can make me upset, mad, or unhappy. This can range from me thinking I’m not networking enough, being too lazy, not starting a project, or just really not wanting to get out of bed because Netflix seems way too good an option.
In the moments where I feel the unhappiness or negativity swelling up, I find the things that are making me happy. This could be having the ability to take a day off, great food in my belly, a message from an old friend, or just simply enjoying the moment at hand without thinking what else it could be.
I acknowledge all the negative emotions that are racing through my head but I treat them as fleeting thoughts. Through a combination of rationalizing and pinpointing why I was feeling the negative emotions (and usually seeing that the unhappiness was unfounded), and focusing on things that brought me joy, I could mindfully put myself in a happy state.
Through this course of action, it’s possible to actively put yourself in a state of happiness.
You can choose it. You can live it. And you can be happy because you deserve it.
My fountain of happiness
These are the things that make me happy, the things that I love, and the things that I’m grateful for. When I bathe myself in these thoughts, it’s pretty hard for me not to find at least a little ounce of happiness :) And when you get the chance, I encourage you to start filling your own fountain for the rainy days that will come.
The messages I get from strangers and friends about my writing ALWAYS puts a smile on my face
The support I get from my friends and family when I’m being nuts is hard not to be happy about
I’m happy that I’ve come to state of peace with myself
I’m happy that I was able to take a risk, take a year off and explore
Sometimes, I’m happy that lots of things didn’t go according to plan because it brought me to where I am today (At the moment though. TOTALLY different story)
I’m happy about all the people I’ve met along the way
I’m happy (and so lucky) to have so much direction and purpose at the age of 21
I’m happy that I knew that it wouldn’t have mattered if I never found a purpose or passion because it’s not a requirement for life
I’m happy that I was able to discover my passion (even when it was so obvious looking back. I just didn’t think it could actually be considered a passion)
I’m happy to (finally) be able to articulate my passion for wanting to help people be the best versions of themselves
I’m happy that I know my passion can change and that’s okay
I’m happy I know how to politely ignore anyone who tries to stop me from doing me
I’m happy I know how to not let someone else dictate my life and my choices
I’m happy that I’m a stubborn ass
I’m happy that I’m able to trust my judgment even when it seems crazy most of the time
I’m happy that I have more time than I know what to do with
I’m happy that I know how to be happy
I love the long, wavy south Asian hair my mother gave me
Sometimes I even like all the body hair that being South Asian gave me (keeps me warm in winter haha)
I love love love my smile
I love my love for food
I love my need to help people
I love my spirit
I love my butt
I also love the stretch marks on it (couldn’t be as big without them haha)
I love my curves
I love my short, stubby thighs
(I do not love the idiot that said I got fat. Bastard.)
I love my mother
I love my father
My brother sucks but sometimes I love him too
I love all my friends
I love my need to write
I love my vulnerability
I love my stupid sense of humor
I love the strong, powerful women I grew up around (from my mother, grandmother, my cousins, my aunts, my teachers, my coaches and my friends)
I love the men who supported me in my journey to become the badass woman I am today and never made gender an issue
I love the privilege I’ve had to be able to travel 24 countries and meet people from all walks of life
I love the perspective, open-mindedness and tolerance that was instilled in me
I love that I never stop learning
I’m thankful for the teachers that showed me education is more than just getting an A in class
Thankful to my parents for putting a TV in my room since I was 5 years old!!! It was my lifeline
I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had in my gap year (except my bank being hacked. Thrice. Really could’ve avoided that)
I’m thankful for having experienced love twice at 21
I’m thankful for being loved by so many
I’m thankful for the 50 cent ramen that kept me alive in Germany
I’m thankful for having more best friends than I can count on my fingers
I’m thankful for being able to accept my mistakes because I’m never going to be perfect
I’m thankful for failure
I’m thankful for the existence of dogs
I’m thankful that for being able to discover careers that are not consulting and finance or tech
I’m thankful for not having to put myself in a mould
I’m thankful for having found people that do not lead a life of quiet desperation
I’m thankful for recruiters who told me that I didn’t have to study Econ to get a job
I’m thankful for the internet
I’m thankful for someone else’s Netflix account that’s on my laptop but I don’t know who that person is. Real life saver
I’m thankful that I was finally able to admit that I have mental issues and get the help I needed for it
I’m thankful that I can experience life for all it has to offer
I’m thankful that I can choose myself over and over again
I’m thankful for happiness
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