In my past, I suffered from major depressive disorder. There was a period when getting out of my bed and going to school was a difficult task. I know, I know, I’ve talked about my depression and suicide attempt many times on this blog to the point it’s hackneyed, but I always like to see how different I am now compared to how I was once. Happiness can be tough to maintain, but investing in the right habits pays off. Self reflection is a powerful exercise I usually save around the end of each year, but I have a feeling the rest of the year is going to go by fast. Below are some habits I’ve noticed I implemented in my life when I started to become a more cheerful person. The best time for me to be happy is NOW!
Abide by the Golden Rule
You know that saying you heard when you were a kid, “Treat others how you want to be treated.” Well, happy people truly embody this concept. The only times you will see me not is when people try me. Sorry, but I don’t have time for disrespect or people who think it’s a good idea to make others feel bad unwarranted. I like to treat others with respect. I want to be sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people. My brother has helped make me become a more compassionate human being. So I’ll continue to treat others as human beings until they give me a reason not to.
Partake in acts of kindness
When I was playing Sm4sh at my university’s breezeway with some people, I was wearing this shirt and a number of people passing through let me know they liked it. Naturally I smiled and said “thank you” every time. They didn’t have to take the time out of their day to say it, but they did, and I felt good about it. If something like that makes me feel good, I think I can have an idea how people feel when I say or do something nice for them. What’s even better about partaking in kindness is that not only do I feel better, but so will people receiving the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? To me, the way you treat others is a strong indicator of how you feel about yourself. So if you’re someone who has an incessant need to put others down in an attempt to gain attention, validation, or happiness, you’re grosser than a raccoon and it shows how jealous and unhappy you are. Happy people have a lot to share, and one of those things is happiness. There is no such thing as “too much good”.
Spend money on others
The above gif was me for a good chunk of my life. There was a time I was quite selfish and parsimonious with my money. I can’t exactly pinpoint why I had a change of heart, but I’m guessing it’s because when I started to appreciate those around me more, I know they deserve the best too! Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This July, I was able to have just about all of my family member’s birthday and Christmas presents already ordered and paid for. I’m not saying this as a way to brag about how much money I have, or my altruistic activities, I’m saying it as a reminder to myself I’ve come a long way. Who says money can’t buy happiness?
Surround myself with other happy people
“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher”. — Oprah Winfrey
I found out it’s true, misery does love company. Unhappy people gravitate toward others who share their negative sentiments. No offense to all the purposefully negative people out there, but I’m not going to join your pity party so that you can feel better about yourself. You all are boring and draining as hell, and nowhere near as complex or interesting as you think you are. On the flip side, happiness shares its light and spreads through people. Now that I have friendships that are uplifting, supportive, deep, and loving, with people interested in my betterment, I’m on track to my own enlightenment. When it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced whether we like it or not, by those closest to us. Since I know which people increase my happiness I continue to nurture those relationships.
Take responsibility for what I do
I’m not perfect, and you know what, fella? I’m perfectly aware of that. When I mess up, I admit it. I’m not the first and I won’t be the last who has fallen short when it comes to personal behavior. I can’t learn from my mistakes if I can’t acknowledge I’ve made them! And if I don’t learn from my mistakes, I’m doomed to repeat them. I’m done generating excuses and blaming others why things aren’t going my way. Focusing on learning from what went wrong will help me turn a mistake into something productive. When something goes wrong, I consider it an opportunity to grow and become an even better version of myself.
Don’t take myself so seriously
Why so serious? Besides mistakes, I’ve done some stuff people would consider embarrassing (I don’t want to call them “embarrassing” myself ’cause to me, the word implies I care what others think), stupid and ridiculous. I don’t plan on discussing any of them on my blog because I’d rather save my anecdotes for my vlog, but anyway, I’m able to take what happens to me in stride and move on. No need to dwell on the minor inconveniences and issues.
Okay, I’ll give a recent incident: I was at my university’s gym and I was running on one of the treadmills. While I was trying to hit my 2.5 mile run for the day, I had a sudden urge to fart. I didn’t want to let it rip though because all of the treadmills were also occupied. I tried my best to silently emit the gas and when I did I was relieved. Unfortunately, this was one of those “silent but violent” type of farts and this one did not smell like my protein shakes. I was hoping for the rest of my run everyone’s nostrils were not tortured by the malodorous stench in the air.
The point I’m trying to make is if I can’t find the humor in the less than positive situations in my life, I can only imagine I would be spending a large portion of it in misery.
Being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in my life will bring a deeper sense of happiness. During the day, I always take a second to stop and be grateful for the small stuff. And in the long run, it really helped increase my happiness. Whether it’s a friendly cashier asking how my day is or another collegian holding the door so I don’t have to get my student ID out, there are plenty of opportunities to stop and appreciate the little things.
I get enough sleep
I can’t stress enough about the importance of sleep to maintain my mood, focus, and self-control. My energy, attention, and memory are all affected when I don’t get my handsome sleep. When I feel groggy, tired, or sick it’s hard for me to put forth my best effort. Sleep deprivation is known to raise stress levels and I feel like being less productive at work and school if I don’t catch enough Zs. I make sleep a priority, because it makes me feel invigorated and I know how yucky I feel when I’m sleep deprived.
I’m happy for other people’s success
I don’t just celebrate my own accomplishments, I also make sure to revel in the success of others. Some people have the wrong idea that in order for there to be a winner, there has to be a loser. When in actuality, everyone can win! It’s way better to celebrate the success of others instead of being jealous that their success is not my own. Envy, bitterness, and being a hater never got anyone anywhere. Everything is not always about me and there are opportunities for others to shine in the spotlight.
Show signs of being happy
Think about it. Unhappy people don’t tend to look happy. I think every thing I listed show I am indeed a high-spirited person. People who know me personally have a mental image of me smiling, laughing, having a good time and enjoying life. If someone were to ask me the question “Are you happy?” I can respond with a resounding “Yes” and I wouldn’t have any doubt in my mind.