Life is tough. Life isn’t fair. There, I said it. At some point, we all experience hard things. There are going to be sick days, bad weather and injustice. However, there are also rainbows, jobs well done and celebrations.
Life is full of ups and downs, and while you may not be able to control the storms, you do have control over your happiness. To be or not to be happy, the choice is yours.
It is natural to think you will only be happy AFTER your challenge is over, but the reality is that the presence or absence of challenge doesn’t determine happiness. Likely you know people who seem to have it all yet are unhappy, as well as people going through very trying circumstances who are happy and upbeat. How can you take control of your happiness now?
- Eliminate an all-or-nothing mind-set. When we focus on problems they can feel all-encompassing leading to feelings of despair.
- When something goes wrong, acknowledge the problem for what it is, no more, no less. Learn from it and then move on.
- Eliminate powerless thoughts like: “My life is terrible,” “I’m a failure” or “I’m having the worst day ever.”
- Replace with empowering thoughts like: “I can handle this,” “I am learning valuable lessons and becoming stronger” or “It will all work out.”
- Stop rehearsing your list of problems. It is normal to have an occasional bad day. At times, we all have reasons to feel stressed, overwhelmed and unhappy. While these reasons may be valid, don’t get stuck there. Continually running through your list of problems and injustices puts you into a victim mode.
- Recognize when you have negative, victim thoughts and conversations.
- Determine if there is anything you can do about the problem.
- If there is nothing you can do, choose to focus on something else. For example, if someone is late, instead of pacing around getting more and more upset, distract yourself with a desired activity, like reading a book or finishing another task.
- If there is something you can and should do, do it. Taking even one small action goes a long way in reducing stress and helping you regain a sense of control.
- Set yourself up for success.
- Consciously think about how you want to feel. Decide on two or three words to describe these feelings, for example: capable, powerful and joyful. Write them in your planner or on a post-it note where you will see them throughout the day.
- Choose to look for the good. Take time to reflect on the things you are grateful for, the comforts you enjoy, the supportive people in your life, and the things that are going well.
- Maintain an optimistic view of the future.
- Surround yourself with supportive, positive people.
Life is full of good times and hard times, and while you may face storms in life, you are not powerless. You can choose to not let your negative thoughts control you, and instead intentionally set yourself up for success. Life is tough, but you are tough. Choose to be happy today.