This is a topic I’ll probably write a ton on, but today’s post will be short… ish.
If you look around at the world today, it is so easy to find so many reasons to be unhappy, and to find unhappy people. How many people do you see on social media, and in your personal lives that are dealing with depression, or find no joy in their lives? Right now, it’s September 2020, and we have riots, and people locked in their homes. Suicides are up as much as 70% in some areas. How are people expected to find personal happiness in these time?
Honestly? It’s pretty easy.
A lot of it has to do with something I already posted about. Personal responsibility. One of the biggest reasons for being unhappy is a sense of having no control over your current situation, regardless of what it is, and feeling powerless over it. Obviously, there are medical reasons for some people’s depression, but even in those situations, these feelings can be greatly reduced by having more control over yourself, your choices, and the consequences of those choices. If you control your own destiny, you lose that sense of hopelessness, you lose fear, and you lose sadness. You gain hope, you gain confidence, and you become happy.
Growing up, my dad’s solution to being sad and depressed was always hard work for his kids – “you cannot be sad if you’re too busy sweating.” If you are actively engaged in things that will improve your life, that will provide you an income, will give you a sense of accomplishment and achievement, a lot your emotional needs will be met. There is a lot to be said for having not just work, but physical work to focus on. Much to my wife’s annoyance I always have a project car in the garage. I don’t know if it will ever actually get done, if “done” is a thing for project cars, but so often, both my body and my brain need me to physically do SOMETHING. Not work out, but to do a task, a job, something with a start and end, and requires physical effort. So often, after I finish the task, not only satisfied with the work done, but also with solutions for other problems bothering me in my brain.
Service to others. What ever you need, give to others first. Bring others joy and you will find joy, Be generous with others, and others will be generous to you. Put yourself into a situation where you can give service to others. Donate your time, efforts, and talents. This will bring you joy.
Set and achieve goals. Whether it be to wake up on time today and change into day clothes, complete a project for work, write/draw/paint, for at least 10 minutes a day, or become a millionaire, goal setting is the thing that moves us forward. It keeps us out of the day to day rut we’re so likely to get into. It’s how we measure our progress in life. Yesterday we were there, today we are here, and tomorrow, we can be anywhere.
While it is critical to set goals, we also need to be satisfied with what we have achieved already. Trying to keep up with the Joneses, or show off wealth you do not have, or comparing yourself to others in any way is a recipe for a disaster. You have to be satisfied that you are where you are, how uncomfortable that might be. It is the consequence of your choices that got you there. Now you can set goals to change it, but trying to change it today, change it fast, usually leads to poor decisions, and gets us into financial or emotional debt.
Be creative or have a hobby. Not all of us can draw, paint, play an instrument, but all of us have something we can enjoy doing. Camping, sports, cars, collecting, what ever it be. Something that is not work, something that is not an obligation, something that allows us to be us, and gives us something we can share with others we love.
Turn off the TV, log out of facebook, put the cell phone and video games away. None of these things are inherently bad. But they are a time suck. We seldom put any kind of restriction on them. How often did you mean to check your facebook/insta/tiktok notifications and suddenly 3 hours has passed? or just turn on the TV for the weather, and it’s an hour past the time you should have gone to bed? Make a conscious decision to not let these things consume your time and your life. They keep you from the important goals you have set for yourself.
Choose to be happy. Last year my preteen (at the time) niece came to stay with us for a few months. As preteens are wont to do, she often had a bad attitude, especially when she was first woken up. Admittedly, she comes from a bad situation, and was temporarily sent to us because of some difficulty in the home she is in, I do not blame her for her attitude, but I also knew that being miserable is not fun, and she could be happy if she wanted to be. So every morning, we had to practice making that choice. Together we would stand in front of the mirror, and say “Today, I am going to be happy!”, And then say one thing we liked about ourselves, one thing we liked about somebody else, and something we were grateful for. This might seem like a silly practice, and in a way it was, I often made an effort to be silly in my responses. But The goal was not to be or seem silly, that was done to engage a child, the goal was to wake up and and make that choice – regardless of what today brings, my first action was to choose to be happy. I still make that choice today. I may not stand in front of a mirror and say it in Scooby-Do’s voice, but I do make the choice to be happy as the very first action, thought, movement of each and every single day.