It's a good day to be happy

In last week’s blog, I shared with you three barriers that can get in the way of achieving happiness (if you missed it, click HERE to get caught up). Now that we know what to avoid doing, let’s focus on what we can do to create a happier lifestyle.

Tip #1: Replace expectations with an attitude of acceptance
We all have expectations that are centered on how we are treated, the general behavior of those around us, or external circumstances.  Although it’s natural to have these expectations, the dilemma is that each of our expectations is based off of our individual beliefs as to what is acceptable or appropriate, and all of our beliefs differ. The other dilemma is that, really, we have very little control outside of ourselves. As of late, I have started practicing an attitude of acceptance in order to avoid disappointment or frustration when things don’t go as expected.  Please note, I am not suggesting we “accept” or allow poor treatment or misconduct of others. It is quite acceptable to have boundaries and to walk away from a situation or individual when the conduct is not in alignment with the boundaries you have set. With that being said, let me provide an example to demonstrate what I mean by an “attitude of acceptance.”

I currently live in sunny SoCal and although it’s filled with sunshine and beauty, the morning commute is another story. When I have an expectation that I get to work within a certain time frame and it does not happen due to situations out of my control, it is easy to get frustrated and impatient (enter road rage). Regardless of how mad I get, it won’t change the fact that I am going to arrive late to work. However, if I can be accepting of the situation as is and look for things to be grateful for in that moment (such as the sky or good music or the fact that I have a car and not using my own two feet to get to the office), my level of frustration decreases tremendously and helps create a happier day.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to hope for the best but be at peace with what is actually happening (unless again, it involves poor treatment of another and then I suggest you invoke your right to walk away).  And better yet, look for (at least) three things to be grateful for in that difficult moment.  I promise you this practice WILL make a difference. 

Tip #2: Practice a  complaint-free lifestyle
I have recently read the book “A Complaint Free World” by Will Bowen and in it, a challenge is given to go without complaining for 21 consecutive days. Surprisingly, this task has been harder to achieve than expected, and continues to be a work in progress. Although I have only gone six consecutive days without complaining (mind you, I’ve been working on it for at least a month), I have already noticed an increase in my own happiness. Of course, if you think about it, this makes perfect sense.

When we are focused on the positive and choose not to dwell or comment on what’s not going right, the day to day “complaints” can quickly be forgotten and therefore no longer have a negative impact on our day or our mood. Naturally, the less energy we exert on the negative, the more time we have to experience joy and happiness. You’ve heard me say it before, but what we focus on grows. As we seek out the good we will find it resulting in a brighter and happier perspective on life.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to go at least one full day this week without a complaint. Think you can do it? I bet you can!

Tip #3: Show those pearly whites
Believe it or not, we can change our mood simply with the act of smiling. I recognize that when feeling sad or upset it’s the last thing we want to be doing but research studies have shown that smiling tricks the brain into believing that you are happy, even if you’re not. Ultimately, the brain doesn’t know if there is someone or something that is genuinely making you happy but when you grin, it releases hormones of dopamine and serotonin. These hormones help with feelings of happiness and reduce stress. Don’t necessarily feel like smiling? Try changing the energy in your body some other way-whether it be dancing to your favorite music, jumping up and down, stretching your arms to the sky (really, anything will do).

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to smile 30-60 seconds when you feel negative emotions coming on OR, start your morning off right with a 60 second smiling session! You can take my word for it or try it for yourself and see a shift in energy and a sense of relief within you.

Of course, this list is not extensive and only touches on a few ways we can improve our happiness, but because of the positive impact these practices have had in my life, I wanted to share them with you.  I also want to make mention that creating change does not have to be complex or difficult and although these practices are simple to apply, they are effective.

Which “challenge” will you accept? Comment below on which practice you’ll implement this week and when/how you’ll make it happen. I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time,