Guest blog post by Stephanie Gutzmer, AuD, C-IAYT
Cultivating more happiness in your life is possible with a little effort. Keep reading to shake off those blues and learn how to feel happy again.
Related Reading: 20 Life Transition Quotes to Help You Survive Change
How Can You Become Happy?
When you’re wondering how to feel happy again, it’s easy to get bogged down by how unhappy you’re currently feeling. Instead of going through the usual cycle, begin to break your unhappiness with these mood-boosting moves:
1. Work on a project that demands your skills, abilities, and talents
When you can use your abilities, you become proud of your knowledge and in yourself. Allow your gifts to shine and take pride in what you can accomplish. Does the thought of starting a project overwhelm you? Commit to the smallest amount possible – maybe just one minute. If after one minute, if you want to stop you can. The chances are once you’ve started you’ll keep going.
2. Minimalize your life by de-cluttering
Too many choices overwhelm everyone, leading to unhappiness and distraction. Potentially you will abstain from decision-making altogether, something known as decision fatigue. The more options you have to decide on in a day, the lower the quality of your decisions as the day goes on. How to feel happy again? Take a look around and determine what is unnecessary and begin shedding the weight.
Decluttering doesn’t just mean cutting back on the choices each day. It means recognizing material possessions don’t create a happier life. Buying a new shiny toy only gives you a temporary boost of happiness. Instead, invest that money in yourself by taking a trip, learning something new, or enjoying experiences with others. Those experiences have lasting value.
A popular de-cluttering approach is tidying expert Marie Kondo’s method of choosing what to keep rather than focusing on getting rid of things. She advises using the joy as a determining factor: hold the item in your hand and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” If not, let it go to a new home, for example through donation to a thrift store.
3. Break the cycle of shame and be vulnerable
Shame is a tricky, uncomfortable feeling that hides at the edges of your conscious awareness, making it easy to ignore its effect on you. Yet, unchecked shame can significantly minimize your life, making you and all your successes in life feel worthless. Breaking down the cycle of shame can be an article all on its own!
If you don’t feel loved and understood, it is essential to explore shame. While it usually has its roots in an unconscious survival strategy in childhood, shame can linger into the present in feelings of low self-esteem. If shame is present for you, there is no room for the freedom necessary to allow yourself to be happy. Happiness comes from living your authentic self.
Unchecked, shame overprotects and constricts, keeping you from living fully and wholly. How do you start to break the cycle of shame? By becoming comfortable with vulnerability. According to Brené Brown, shame and vulnerability expert, “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” If you want happiness and more meaning in your life, vulnerability is the path, and shame only gets in the way.
Related Reading: Healing the Dark Side of Perfectionism
4. Help others
When wondering how to feel happy again, it’s easy to focus on yourself. However, helping others and allowing yourself to absorb the positive impact you have on others can increase happiness! By creating value for others through altruistic acts, you’re increasing the value of others, which boosts the worth you give yourself. Helping others increases your self-esteem, compassion, and in the end, happiness.
5. Take chances, change the routine, and get out of your comfort zone!
Changing your daily routine, or branching out and trying a new experience rewires the brain and boosts your mood! It’s the uniqueness of your experiences that make it rewarding. And it doesn’t need to be a significant change. It can be as simple as trying a new food, changing your route home, or reaching out to someone you haven’t talked with in a while.
6. Be grateful
Acknowledging the good in your life can help you feel more positive emotions, appreciate the good experiences, handle challenges that come your way, and improve your relationships with others. Fostering gratitude shifts the focus from what you don’t have to what you feel blessed about, carrying with it a wave of happiness and contentment. Many people find that writing these things down in a gratitude journal helps foster an “attitude of gratitude.”
7. Have compassion for yourself
We all mess up and make mistakes. Being hard on yourself when you do only brings you down further and can interfere with you realizing what choices you made that led to the error in the first place. When that negative self-talk creeps in, have more compassion for yourself by talking to yourself as you would to someone you love. Allow that warm feeling to soften the sting.
Related Reading: Today I Choose Self-Compassion
8. Allow the feelings of self-love in
This one is similar to self-compassion; however, it extends further than the choices we make. According to professor Kristin Neff of the University of Texas, “self-kindness entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.” Self-love should be your go-to weapon when battling shame, self-criticism, and feelings of inadequacy. And as the love for yourself grows, so will your happiness.
Meditation helps you become happier because it reduces stress, increases compassion, improves creativity, makes you open to new experiences, and slows you down, so you notice and appreciate what you have more. And the more routinely you meditate, the more you will see these benefits.
10. Work towards discovering the meaning and purpose in your life
Why is it so important to find meaning in your life? Because then you will act from a place that is aligned with your true goals and self. Having meaning and purpose in your life is like an anchor. Without it, you’ll drift from distraction to distraction, trying to fill the void. Discovering your purpose helps you make better decisions.
Why Does Happiness Not Last?
When wondering how to feel happy agin, it’s important to note, happiness is not a constant in life. Just because you achieved a desired level of happiness one day only to lose it the next doesn’t mean your daily efforts have been for nothing. The natural rhythm of life is up and down. So know that happiness cycles. It comes from an appreciation for all aspects of life, and is most often experienced in a contentment with our current state.
Happiness is influenced by an infinite number of factors, many beyond your control. But what you can control is how you manage what you can’t. Taking the steps listed above and shining the light inward will help you foster happiness and create a lasting, life-long change.
If you need help creating the change you wish to see in life, and live in the Chicago area, reach out to one of our qualified therapists at (630) 423-5935 to begin working towards the change you need. We have offices in Glen Ellyn, Chicago’s Jefferson Park, and Sycamore. Life is uncertain and not always easy; yet, you can make your life a happier one.