Everybody wants to be happy. That is why you spend so much time at work trying to get ahead and make more money. You are told if you do more, you will get more. In reality, that is not always the case.

I have found many people that work a lot and that are trying to get ahead, aren’t happy. What happens is that they feel, it’s never enough. This makes them unhappy and angry. It can also lead to burnout.

I’ve also noticed that when people are having fun, they seem to find happiness. I’ve even heard them say, they just stumbled upon it. We live in a society that leads us to believe, that with more material things we will be happier. But, yet the highest levels of stress are being reported.

You probably know where I am going with this, be happy with what you have. Enjoy the process and trust in it. When you don’t feel forced to get ahead, that takes off the pressure. Then, you can be happy and enjoy life through the highs and lows.

Here are 10 ways to find happiness:

  1. Form deeper relationships. Make an investment in all of the relationships in your life. I know, you don’t have time for everyone. But, when you are with the people you love and know love you back, make sure to let them know they are an important part of your life. You can ask them questions and listen with interest when they are talking. Don’t brush them off and tell them you are too busy. Nobody feels loved, when you tell them you are too busy. This is actually very damaging to any relationship. Really try to avoid saying this.
  2. Spend time outdoors. Nature is good for your mental health. You spend a lot of time at the office, in fluorescent light and surrounded by concrete. You need to take time to enjoy nature. Go to the beach, play at the park or go on a hike. Make sure you stop and look at the Redwoods. Every tree has a story to tell. Many of them have been there for centuries. Invite your friends and family. When you are walking in nature, you are bound to open up and have a great conversation.
  3. Eat healthy foods and exercise. I’m not saying you need to go Paleo right now and spend hundreds of dollars on a trainer. But, if you do that’s alright. You are making an investment in your health. What’s important is that you take care of your health. It really surprises me living in The United States, how bad our diet and fitness regime has gotten. We are more educated and financially stable, but still make poor food and fitness choices. You would rather be at a desk in front of a computer all day. And, when I say all day I mean all day. Take breaks, get up and walk around, go outside and most importantly make healthy food choices. Stay away for the sugary and caffeinated drinks. You may think they keep you going, but in the long run you will crash.
  4. Practice service and be kind to others. Unless they have caused some type of trauma in your life or those close to you. Studies have shown that when you help others, you feel better about yourself. Speak positively of others. When you talk negatively about others, it will eventually bring you down. You will also attract people in your life that like to gossip. When you are around people that gossip all the time, you start to wonder what they say about you when you aren’t there. This can also make you second guess yourself. Practice giving without expecting anything in return. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or give to the poor. They are very appreciative.
  5. Live in the present. You spend so much time thinking about the past. Playing it over and over in your mind, thinking of all your regrets. You also worry about the future. Will you have enough money for your vacation, your child’s college tuition or retirement. The list is endless. I’m here to tell you, you can’t go back and you can’t predict the future. This only leaves the present. This is the only thing you can really control, so use it wisely.
  6. Let go of negative thought patterns. This means take a look at your mindset. What do you tell yourself. For example, a friend tells you about an opening at the company she works at. She tells you, it’s the perfect job for you. She knows you would like to leave the company you are at. But, your first thought is, I know they won’t like me, they will either think I’m over qualified or don’t have enough experience. The more you tell yourself this the more you will believe it. If this continues, it can lead to depression. This is the perfect time to change your thought pattern. Have an open mind, give it a shot, go in without expectations, you can always learn something. The more you interview, the more likely you will get a job offer. By doing this you are starting to change patterns in the brain.
  7. Allow spirituality into your life. You may be thinking she wants me to go to church more often. Well, that’s one way to bring more spirituality into your life. But, if there is no meaning behind it then it is probably pointless. You may want to read the Bible or you may not want to read it. What is most important is what the meaning of spirituality is in your life. Start to bring in prayers to your life. You can make up one or use a standard one. I always pray after I meditate. This is another part of spirituality that the western culture has gotten away from. The more you meditate and pray, the easier it is to live in the present.
  8. Live minimally and simply. You may remember what I was saying earlier about it, never being enough. It’s true the more you have the more you want. You also forget about what you do have. A lot of the time, when you are at the top you are really stressed out. You don’t have the time to enjoy what you have. Declutter, this may mean cleaning out your closet, garage or your whole house. When you have clutter in your home it clutters your mind. This has been proven in studies. Start to cut out things you don’t need. Make time to get to know your neighbors or spend more time with your family.
  9. Remind yourself to smile. Start your day with a smile. Does this mean you have to smile at someone? No, when you put a smile on your face it changes your perspective. You would be amazed at how many people start the day angry. Thinking about what their boss did or didn’t do. The list is endless. It just takes one angry thought, and the next thing you know you are thinking about everyone and everything you are angry about. Put a smile on your radar. Remind yourself every hour to smile. This may sound silly to you, but you are more likely to listen to body language rather than what is said. Have you ever been around someone that doesn’t smile? Uh, awkward.
  10. Finally, it’s important to know you deserve happiness. This does not mean you need to be happy all the time. But, it’s surprising to me how many people really don’t think they deserve happiness. You may feel you need to earn it. And, that means you must work really hard for it. Happiness is your natural born right. If this is you, then tell yourself everyday you deserve to be happy. Say it until you believe it.

Start today by taking at least one of these steps to be happy. Next, ask yourself why you haven’t taken these steps? Is busy the answer? If the answer is yes, what does that tell you? You need to set aside time for yourself. This is not selfish. If you don’t you will eventually burn out.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. She can help reduce stress in your life and bring more happiness into it. For a free phone consultation or more information, please call or email me at (650) 892-0357 or lianne@lessonsforlove.com

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