Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. — Abraham Lincoln
Happiness is often VERY misunderstood.
While we often set out on what becomes a pursuit of happiness, we typically do so without considering what happiness is or why we really want it.
I teach happiness in a very different way than most.
It’s not complex. It’s very simple.
Here’s my definition of happiness:
Happiness is a pleasant, energized feeling created by your thoughts.
You think a thought and then feel the feeling of happiness.
The problem is that life wasn’t designed for us to be happy all the time, so happiness as the ultimate goal of our lives is actually going to create a lot more sadness and frustration with reality.
For example, do you want to feel happy when your dog dies, when your friend moves out of state, or when your husband tells a lie? Probably not.
So, the goal is not to be happy all the time. That’s the first order of business to understand.
Second, we feel negative emotions so much more intensely than positive emotions. The human brain is wired for survival, so it’s alerted to high danger and any perception of pain (in order to avoid it). This means you interpret and feel negative emotion so much more intensely than positive emotion.
This is why the news has negative news on all day—we watch it because our brains can’t help but want to know what we need to avoid to stay safe. If the news had happy news on all day, no one would tune in.
So, what’s left is this paradox of wanting to feel happier more often, but not really having the natural tendency to feel happy and indulge in happiness when it’s there.
That’s what I’m going to help you do with this post!
You can set up your environment for a little more happiness just by doing a few small things to minimize your brain finding reasons to stress out.
This will help you direct your brain toward feeling happier, which in turn will help you show up in the world more empowered and ready to handle whatever comes your way. You become a better woman, wife, mom, and person when you show up with a little more control over your emotions.
Here’s how you can direct your mind to feel more happiness every day (instead of waiting for it to happen)…
- Related: Increasing Your Happiness With Brain Chemicals (podcast)
Simple Rules For Happiness
I have five simple rules for happiness that I know can help you feel just a little bit happier every day.
Rule 1: Accept what is (the good and the bad)
The first rule is to accept what is—both the good and the bad.
Much of the resistance we experience on a day to day basis comes from thinking things should be different than they are.
This can lead to worry and anxiety and a whole lot of frustration.
You can actually stop worrying, bring your attention back to today, and simply accept what is.
For example, if someone does something you don’t like, you can accept it. You can feel disappointed. But you don’t have to resist it. This is an example where you don’t want to be happy. But ironically by accepting someone else’s actions and not resisting or fighting it, you’ll feel so much happier.
When you accept the good and the bad of life (and trust me, there’s always going to be both), you end up so much happier about all of it.
In a really funny and amazing way, the bad becomes not so bad. It just is.
- How To Create More Success And Happiness In Your Life (blog post)
- Feeling Empowered (podcast)
- How To Live An Intentional Life (free course)
Rule 2: Sit in 10 minutes of silence every day
Rule two for happiness is to sit in 10 minutes of silence every day.
This will help you stop the overwhelm, busyness, and rush that’s going on in your brain.
You’ll get more in touch with yourself, getting to know yourself, allowing yourself to be who you are meant to be, and simply enjoying your life.
Happy people love to be with themselves alone. They don’t need all the input from outside of them to be happy. They find themselves in a state of happiness by directing their own thoughts and deciding to be happy.
You can do this, too.
Start by having a meditation or prayer practice, or simply by sitting in a quiet space for 10 minutes every day. Do nothing. Just breathe and allow yourself to be.
This is simple and oh so very life changing.
- How To Stop Negative Self Talk (blog post)
- Deliberate Thinking Vs. Positive Thinking (podcast)
- 7 Ways To Manage Anxiety (free course)
Rule 3: Lower your expectations of other people
The third rule is to lower your expectations of other people.
So much of the disappointment and frustration we feel is because we think people should act differently.
If they did, then we’d be happy.
The truth is that people have agency—they can think, feel, and do whatever they want.
Our rulebook for how they should act only ends up creating tension in our relationships.
Drop your rulebook. Let people be themselves.
When you do this, you’ll end up so much happier!
- Related: The Next Believable Thought (podcast)
Rule 4: Stop beating yourself up
Rule four is to stop beating yourself up.
If you’re a perfectionist, high achieving woman, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
You love to do well and you base your own happiness on your performance in the world.
There’s just one problem: this is exhausting. The chase to do well and be better never ends.
Instead, drop the need to be better or perfect. You already are good enough. You’re whole and complete and you don’t need to perform to approve of yourself.
Give yourself the validation you’re looking for (I call this Self Validation with my clients).
Instead of letting your Inner Critic dominate the mental chatter in your mind, talk back with your Inner Coach.
There’s no upside to beating yourself up. Instead, you can encourage yourself, love yourself, and enjoy yourself—no shaming required.
- How To Create A Personal Growth Plan (blog post)
- Mental Chatter (podcast)
- Thursday Inspo Email (free weekly email)
Rule 5: Practice feeling the emotion of happy
The last rule for creating more happiness in your life is to practice feeling the emotion of happiness.
This means that the next time you feel happy, pause and notice it. Memorize that feeling in the moment. Make it bigger. Really go overboard and indulge in it.
Most of us are on autopilot with our emotions. We feel the same way every day and find evidence in our circumstances to support how we feel. Instead, you can do the opposite. You can decide how you want to feel ahead of time (happy) and practice that emotion.
The more you practice feeling happy, the happier you’ll feel. You need to get in the habit of feeling happy, and you can do this on purpose, with a little practice.
- How To Form A New Habit (blog post)
- Breaking Bad Habits (podcast)
- 75 Journal Prompts For Self Discovery (freebie)
A Final Note!
Often we blame our circumstances for how we feel, but that’s never the case.
It’s not social media that makes you unhappy—it’s your thoughts when you’re scrolling (like, “she’s better than me”). This doesn’t mean you should scroll all day. In fact, I recommend setting up your circumstances to optimize your brain power (and limiting social media is an excellent way to do this). But it does mean that you see your thoughts create your feeling 100% of the time.
Like Abraham Lincoln said—people with the most long term happiness are those who decide to be.
The decision is yours.