It seems as though we can find more things to worry about every day and more things to create stress in our lives too. You may find that stress and anxiety gradually take over until it becomes more and more difficult to experience happiness and joy in life.
For some people, the concept of joy seems so foreign that they find it difficult to embrace the word, let alone allow themselves to experience it.
If this sounds familiar and you have found yourself losing touch with feelings of happiness, here are a few tips that I have found helpful for myself and my clients on how to increase happiness and to even allow a sense of joy to return to their lives.
1. Say goodbye to toxic relationships
Some people seem to embrace negativity. They create drama in their lives, and they like to tell everyone how terrible everything is and why things won’t work. These people can make you doubt yourself, and even make you feel guilty for feeling positive and hopeful at all.
When someone affects your mood in a negative way, it makes you doubt yourself or tries to hold you back or keep you feeling small, this is not a healthy person to be around.
Surround yourself with positive people who support, encourage and motivate you. Stay away from people who are constantly negative and who leave you feeling depressed and/or stressed. Stay away from people who live in a constant state of chaos.
2. Release perfectionism
As a recovering perfectionist, I know what it is to have unrealistically high expectations.
The trouble is that, when your expectations are so high, it’s impossible to consistently meet them and so you set yourself up for unhappiness and failure.
It’s okay to have high standards and to believe in excellence but, if you try to be perfect at everything all of the time, you can never be truly happy. You put so much pressure on yourself that you will never be able to live up to it, which creates stress and limits your ability to really feel joy in your life.
3. Let go of expectations
If you have unreasonably high expectations for yourself, you’ll also have those same expectations for other people, which means you will spend a lot of time feeling disappointed.
Other people are not like you, so don’t expect them to be. Releasing your expectations of others and unreasonably high expectations for yourself will allow you to relax and tap into a state of happiness.
4. Stop comparing yourself
Do you find you are constantly comparing yourself to others?
There will always be someone taller, thinner, smarter, more accomplished, etc., than you. So the more you compare yourself to others, the more miserable you become.Each person is unique and what you see on the outside is only part of the story anyway. You may think that someone else has the perfect body or the perfect life, but everyone has challenges and uncertainties.
Your job is to be the best you that you can be. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what other people have or what other people do; you are not them and they are not you. You will never be truly happy if you are constantly comparing yourself to others because, in many ways, you will often feel that you don’t measure up.
5. Do more of what you love
Just because you can do something it doesn’t always mean that you enjoy it or even that you should do it. Take an inventory of the things that you do on a daily basis and ask yourself how many of those things you truly enjoy.
Identify what brings you joy. What do you love to do so much that time flies by when you’re doing it? Bring more of this into your life. Spend more time doing what you love and you’ll naturally feel more joyful.
6. Put yourself first
Contrary to popular belief, putting yourself first is not selfish.
It is if you do so at the expense of others, but making sure that your needs are met means that you have more positive energy to share with others because you feel good.
Women often have a difficult time with this because they are so used to taking care of everyone else. When you put everyone else first and yourself last, you will find yourself feeling resentful because you think others don’t care about you and that nobody ever considers your needs.
If that’s true, it’s because you’ve taught them to treat you in that way. If you teach people that your needs are not important, or even that you don’t have any and that you don’t need help or support in any way, then they will accept that and treat you accordingly.
When you take care of yourself first you’ll feel better, including about everything you then do for others. You’ll bring the best out of yourself, to your family and friends and to everything else you do.
Stop putting yourself last on the list. Put yourself first and then you’ll have more to give others and so everybody benefits.
7. Know yourself
The Greek philosopher Aristotle, said “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”.
This is so true, but people are often afraid to look at themselves too deeply because they’re afraid that they might find they are deficient or flawed in some way. But the opposite is true.Who are you really (outside of the roles you play of spouse, parent, sibling, friend, etc.)? What energizes you? What drains you? What makes you feel good? What doesn’t? What brings you joy? What is most important to you?
The more you know yourself, the more confident and empowered you become and the more you can share this healthy version of yourself with others.
8. Learn to embrace change
Life is constantly changing. Nothing stays the same forever. When you resist change or are afraid of it, you will feel stress and anxiety. When you learn to embrace change and go with the flow of life then you open yourself up to more possibilities and more happiness.
You cannot stop change, but you can learn to embrace it. And the more you get to know yourself the more you can allow change to flow in the direction you want it to go, rather than waiting until it changes direction for you.
9. Allow others to help you
When you try to do everything by yourself and you shut others out, you put too much pressure on yourself which makes it difficult to relax. Other people want to help you, and they feel good when they do.
When you take the pressure off yourself by allowing others to help, you can relax and enjoy life so much more. If you’re used to going it alone and you resist allowing others to help you or think that somehow asking for help is a sign of weakness, then try it and see.
Learn to ask for help and to allow others to help you. I think you’ll find that you’ll feel good, and so will they.
You can’t force yourself to be happy and certainly not to feel joy. It’s not something that you can make happen. It’s more a case of clearing out whatever is getting in the way of allowing you to experience more happiness and joy. These tips may seem simple, and they are, but don’t underestimate the difference they can make. Start with just one and see if you can start to allow more happiness into your life today.