Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. —Abraham Lincoln
One of the most fundamental ways you can make over your life isn’t to lose 10 pounds or conquer your closet clutter, it’s to change your perspective into something more positive. While unhappy people, to paraphrase Tolstoy, might be dysfunctional in 10,000 different ways, upbeat folks have some habits in common. Crib from their notes to bring more joy into any day (yes, even a Monday).
Reach out .
Studies show that relationships are vital to a positive outlook in life. And it makes sense — engaging with others reminds you that no matter how crappy your day or foul your mood, you’re not alone. A superficial interaction like chatting with the mail carrier can make you feel like you belong to a community, but intimate relationships are what keeps us going even when times get tough. Send a text to a college friend telling her you’re thinking about her, or call your spouse just to say “I love you.”
This is worth repeating again and again. Each of us, if you can believe it, has so much to be thankful for. There are the big things, like a loving family and your health, but then there are a million little things, too. When you adjust your perspective to be grateful for all that you have rather than bemoan all you don’t, you start living life in the positives, and the results are immediate. Learn how to create a gratitude practice.
Live your passions.
Even if you spend 8 hours a day at a job that doesn’t exactly have you leaping out of bed in the morning, you can still find ways to do the things that make you feel most alive. In fact, you owe it to yourself for your own happiness and well-being. Whether it’s making doll house furniture or roller skating, taking part in activities you love gives your life a sense of meaning and pleasure. Be creative about how you’re going to work your passions into your day — maybe you can form a book club at work or start writing that novel on your lunch hour. Read more about how to make the most of your daily life.
We live in a culture obsessed with buying stuff, and when we’re sad, many of us turn to retail therapy for a quick boost. But that high is short-lived and leads us to spending money we don’t have which, doh, only makes us feel worse when the credit card bill arrives. Instead of turning to shopping malls to buy the thing we hope will suddenly make our life happier and complete (never works, does it?), make the most of what you already have. Try “shopping your own closet” (or your man’s) and wearing that other 80% of your wardrobe you seldom get to. Or give what you already own some TLC to breathe some new life into it. Maybe your kitchen just needs a good scrub down — not a new refrigerator — to feel shiny and new again. Every time you have that impulse to spend, make an effort to make do with what you already have.
Enjoy the simple pleasures.
The best things in life, just like the bumper sticker says, often aren’t things and they’re usually free. Think babies laughing instead of Porsches. Get lost in the way the sun comes through your windows, the vibrant yellow of spring’s first daffodils, or a perfect piece of golden toast. Make it a point to bring pleasure into your life and to really savor the delights that are abundant around you already.