Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.” -W.P. Kinsella
Our environment and circumstances typically tend to drive how we think and feel, especially during stressful and unexpected situations. Recently, my kids participated in a public speaking workshop to discuss how COVID has impacted them. In preparation, they made a list of all the positive ways it has affected them. When they shared the list with us, I was pleasantly surprised at how many positive things they’ve identified that didn’t even cross my mind. Even though they missed seeing their friends at school, they noted their appreciation for how they got to spend more time as a family. My son’s robotics team qualified for the world’s competition for the first time this year and due to the current situation, the competition was cancelled. While this was highly disappointing for the team, they quickly pivoted and participated in a virtual competition and were appreciative of the opportunity to work together as a team virtually and participate in a unique, one-of-a-kind competition. Seeing the bright side of things, pivoting when necessary and choosing happiness are absolutely vital to leading a life with joy and purpose.
Check out these 8 tips to choosing joy and happiness in everyday life.
Be in the present moment
Sometimes, we get so busy in pursuit of higher aspirations that we overlook what’s right in front of us. The delightful fragrance of fresh flowers; uninhibited laughter of a playful child; touch of a cool breeze on a hot summer day...there’s so much joy in the present moment, all you have to do is to look for it.
Reflect on your feelings
Choosing joy and happiness doesn't mean that we completely bulldoze our way through feelings and ignore them. It's important to acknowledge your feelings and really work through them. Feelings of fear, anger, disappointment, despair, anxiety or any other type of emotion, doesn't happen in vacuum; it’s driven by what’s happening to and around us. Reflecting on these feelings and doing the work by accepting them and focusing on the things that you can control and letting go of the things that are outside of your sphere of influence is a powerful way to work through your emotions.
Choose your thoughts
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale
This is one of my favorite quotes! Once you work through your feelings and process them, it’s also important to focus on what type of thoughts you hold on to tightly. Our thoughts drive our feelings and by controlling our thoughts, we certainly can choose to lead a content and happy life. Using positive affirmations to change your thoughts and thus change your mindset is a powerful strategy! It begins with changing the narrative you tell yourself- Instead of seeing cleaning as a mundane chore, think of it as time you can focus on yourself by listening to music or an audio book. A clean house, a fueled mind and an active body sounds like a win-win to me :-)
Having a gratitude practice is life changing! Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself! Next time you are feeling negative or unmotivated, pause for a moment and think of 3 things you are grateful for..then notice the change in how you feel! Of course, don’t stop there though. Science has proven that grateful people are happy people. So make gratitude as a daily practice.
Invest in self care
Spending time for yourself and investing in things or actions that bring you joy has a profound impact on overall happiness. It’s not about doing something occasionally, but making it a daily practice. So, take time for yourself often and fill your cup with all things that matter most to you and bring you immense satisfaction. I love reading books and I make the time everyday to read and fuel my mind. Investing in self care might mean going for a walk, spending time with a friend or listening to music...whatever that is, do it regularly.
Focus on action vs. results
Being results-driven is important but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our happiness. The Bhagavad Gita has had a profound impact on me since my childhood and I firmly believe in the verse from this holy Hindu scripture.
“Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhur Ma Te Sango Stv Akarmani”
Focusing on our duty and action without strong attachment to the results is the gist of this verse. We should avoid attachment to the end result or to inaction. This gives so much power to find joy in our actions instead of worrying about outcomes.
Leverage daily routine
Investing in a routine that builds you up is so life transforming! Daily routine might look different for everyone but doing activities that bring you joy, fuel your body and mind is key to protect your well-being.
Disappointment stems from judging ourselves and others. This is something I've personally had to work on. Whenever I find myself in this state, I tell myself that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have and where they’re at. Freeing your mind from judging yourself and others opens up space for acceptance and joy.
Happiness is a choice and we have to deliberately take actions and steps to fill our lives with it. What actions are you taking to get closer to a wholesome you?