I will go straight to the point. I am a person that has consistently been looking at “achieving” happiness because, well, let’s face it – I didn’t know how to be happy for a long time.
(I must in brackets mention immediately my deepest thanks to my ex-boyfriend or whatever he was for teaching me without realizing little strategies I was previously neglecting… by example)
#1. Put yourself first! Call it whatever, “selfishness”, “self-love”, “me time”…. The question you should be asking yourself almost constantly is “what would make me feel better right now?”.
There is a definitive difference between how men and women approach the whole “put yourself first” requirement and I think it is worth noting that it is more difficult (on average) for the female part of the population to apply it (due to multiple reasons I am not going to discuss here). However, if you find it hard at first, remind yourself that women actually rule the world. In other words, if you are unhappy, you will make sure everyone around you, one way or another feel it. You’ll have less energy, less to give, less attention, less love…
So, think of the concept of "putting yourself first" as a necessity. Children, husbands, parents, colleagues, work, etc. they should all come right after but it’s you that matters most.
For the male part of the planet - you are doing it mostly well. Watching that Formula 1 all weekend, prioritizing time with friends, etc. is all important and it just needs to be communicated well to others so no one feels neglected. The communication point is valid for women too.
#2. Ask for what you want…
Well, if you don’t ask you won’t get I am afraid. I find this extremely difficult myself but I am working on it. With all honesty the reason why it’s difficult is not the asking itself, but the type of things I allow myself to ask for. Anything that’s not a matter of “life and death” that I really really can’t do myself, I don’t dare to ask. In theory, I have no problem asking for a favour, for help, for support, etc. …. The practice shows something different – I tend to not ask for anything that I deem “non-critical”, reducing greatly my opportunities to: 1) enjoy simple pleasures 2) allow others to be a part of my life more actively 3) build more human relationships 4) accept vulnerability 5) get what I want 6) focus on the here and now…. To name a few.
#3. Be interesting to yourself
Basically, finding yourself interesting, enjoying the activities you do on your own, appreciating the time you spent at the gym, looking at your reflection when passing by glass buildings, etc. etc. You are interesting! You have a lot of crazy fascinating thoughts! You have a lot to give to yourself when alone! You are one of a kind and worth the exploration! You don’t know everything about yourself and finding a new aspect, ability, skill, preference adds to the person you are. How great!
#4. Call friends
Apparently most people already do that… or do they?! Sharing is fun. Sharing is happiness and sharing can be with new, random friends and people you meet or with an old group of known favourite folks. Call them, arrange catch ups, coffees, walks…
#5. Eat well even if you are not particularly into food
Why not be picky about food more than usual? What do you really fancy today? Strawberries? A burger? A fine dining with ceviche? Take away? Just make sure you don’t go for McDonald's or Pizza every day. it needs to be more on the "“fine” food spectrum with the occasional pizza for ... added glamour :)
#6. Buy candles and use them…
I have not a met a single person that doesn’t like candles and a nice ambiance… Make the sacrifice to go to a shop and just buy some nice ones that smell good (yes, this is for men too!). Before going to bed or during your usual Netflix routine – have those lit.
#7. Reduce the TV and phone time before going to bed…
How about a book and the candles? How about nothing?!… just being on your own, doing nothing before bed but relaxing… it opens up space for all sorts of other nice things like sex with your partner, falling asleep on time, feeling restless and overcoming it…. It makes you creative and before you know it you will find alternatives to the not so healthy routine you have in place.
#8. You are entitled to be happy…
Now, this is a toughie… I did feel deep down a bit guilty when I am happy, knowing that other people around me that I care about may not be feeling the same. Guilty to travel, guilty to spend a whole weekend in bed with my partner, guilty for spending money on a new coat that my mum never had…. You are responsible predominantly for your life and mostly happiness. Even when you have children you need to still prioritize you being happy for their own sake and even health. You are a full-time example of how life can be and it would be best to show them happiness and love.
#9. Focus on personal development
If for some reason you feel unhappy or there is an area in particular where you’d like to see some improvement – focus on it by taking proactive action. Sign up for seminars, buy books, go to meetup meetings, find groups on social media… choose to do something about it and you’ll immediately feel happier, more in control, more hopeful.
#10. Buy yourself something shiny No comment needed – open for interpretation, no price tag requirement whatsoever. Applicable to both men and women and a top notch advice from expert friends that turns out to be very effective. (note: sparkling bunny rings are absolutely acceptable! )
#11. Don’t force it…
If you are unhappy all you need to do is gently try to figure out what would make you happy and do it! If it turns out that this one thing is ‘complaining’, ‘crying’, ‘being grumpy’ and a ‘diva’ or a ‘prince demanding’ – fine! Do it, as long as it’s not a life-style.
This is a list of items combining deeper concepts such as self-love and self-appreciation with practical items such as the type of food we choose or what to buy… regardless of the light, easy language – those are the items that truly get us to happiness more often than many of us experience. It't not trying to remind you to be grateful and patient and humble or to mediate and do sports. It is simply a way of telling you - you have the control every day.
It's time and it's an obligation to live life with more happiness.
Warmest regards, Ina.