#5: The Very Serious Discipline of Becoming Super-Effing Happy
I’m happy. I can say that without ambiguity, no hedge. I am. My life is far from perfect. I forgot to take out the trash. I recently lost my biggest client, about whose project I was really looking forward to writing a phenomenal case study. I literally cried when I saw he was going to pull out of the project (got way too emotionally invested in that one, I know).
But still, I’m super happy.
Not to be that person, but the talking heads are right — happiness is a mental game. By altering my thoughts and physiology, I can immediately change my state for short periods of time. But that’s not what this piece is about. This piece is about the six habits I adopted and that you, or anyone can develop to permanently change your baseline level of contentment.
There are people within my immediate sphere of influence who suffer from depression. I’m not talking to those folks. While I believe depression is a mind game for many, it’s also a chemical game for many. So, I’m going to leave the big problems to people with letters behind their names.
As for you, here are the six habits you can cultivate that will forever cement your happiness.
It’s hard to be fearful and unhappy when you make gratitude a habit. So many people live their lives only thinking about what they don’t have, or what they’re hustling to get (that’s the buzzword these days, “hustle”). The habit of constantly striving is downright exhausting.
If you want rest and relaxation for your soul, take time every day — heck, a few times a day — to just be grateful for what you have. The experiences you’ve had, the challenges you faced, the accomplishments you’ve already earned. It makes no sense to spend so much of your energy wishing for something better when most of us already have more in life than 90% of the people in the world.
#2 A Positive Attitude
Positivity is so cliché these days, right? But having a positive mental attitude is not about denying the reality of what’s happening around you.
Being positive is about valuing solutions over problems.
Negative people are always trying to identify and amplify the problem, which makes them, and everyone around them, miserable. It’s far more productive to identify the problem then focus on the solution. That’s positivity in action.
#3 Being Supportive
This one is probably more for women than men, but never let it be said of you that you are catty (doesn’t really look like the right spelling to me either), or that you envy other people. One of the most destructive habits any woman can have is the habit of comparing herself to other women.
One of two things will happen if you are a comparer: You will either find differences between you that make you feel inferior to the other woman, or you will find the differences that make you feel superior to the other woman.
Neither outcome is helpful, productive, or right.
Instead, stop measuring yourself against other women and just start being supportive of everybody. Be supportive of yourself and your efforts, and be supportive of the positive, productive efforts of other women. That’s how you cement your own happiness.
You know, part of the true value of being a woman is that we understand how to build sisterhood where none previously existed. So, be a sister. Acknowledge your sisters’ efforts and being their champion.
#4 Speaking Your Mind
Make it a habit to say what you mean and mean what you say. Words are containers for power, so also be careful of the words that come out of your mouth. But let the meaningful, productive ones come out.
Now, I’m not saying you should open your mouth to reveal every uncensored, unfiltered thought you have. What I am saying is your thoughts, feelings, and ideas have intrinsic value. There will be times when it is in your best interest — and in the best interest of those around you — for you to say what’s on your mind. And there will be times when you need to hush.
No matter. Whenever you speak, be clear, be concise, be absolute. Don’t waffle or waver. Say what’s on your mind and stick by what you say.
#5 Have No Expectations
This is a tough one for most of us, but one of the reasons things tend to fall apart in relationships is because most of us do things for others expecting something in return. It’s usually not a conscious desire and we don’t intend to be malicious. But fair is fair — you do for me and I will do for you. It’s the law of reciprocity. But there’s no room for the law of reciprocity in most relationships.
What happens when the other person doesn’t come through on the unspoken promise to pay back what you feel you’ve invested in him or her? How do you feel about yourself when you are the one who didn’t come through?
If you cultivate the habit of doing things for others from a place of gratitude, wholeness, and love, you never feel slighted when the other person doesn’t return the favor.
#6 Set Boundaries
Have the courage and the discipline to create boundaries in your relationships. All of them. How do you do that? First, identify the things that are important to you.
When you know what you value and choose to live a life that allows you to uphold those values, it gets easier for you to set boundaries for yourself and your relationships.
A relationship is little more than a set of rules for how you conduct yourself with the individuals in your life. Boundaries are a necessary to setting those rules; they are essential to healthy relationship-building.
If you are struggling to maintain a baseline of happiness, I challenge you to look at this list and see which of these core values is missing from your everyday life. Put them into action and I guarantee your overall sense of well-being and satisfaction will significantly increase.
** Please share this with some of the miserable haters you know. **
Originally published to my blog at MommyIsWorking.com.