Tag Archives: be happy

10 ways to increase happiness

 

happiness

A female enjoying a day at the beach.

10 ways to increase happiness

Accept responsibility for yourself

When you accept that you are where your are in life due to your own choices and stop blaming others for your situation, you begin to feel back in control of your life. You, and you alone must be responsible for your own life. If you are doing things that make you unhappy, look at why you are doing them – what is the pay off? Do you like seeming like a victim? You don’t have to be a victim, you can choose to create a better life for yourself by changing what you are doing and making new decisions. Be hopeful about where this new-found power can lead you.

Be flexible towards life

“Musts” and “shoulds” create inflexible rules for life and the more rigid our rules for living are, the quicker we stress out when they don’t remain as we wish. Instead of using “must” and “should” in your vocabulary, try “could” or “it would be preferable”. The minute you adopt a more easy going approach to life, is the moment your stress levels reduce. There are very few things in life that MUST be a certain way…always ask yourself why it MUST be that way. Who said? Where’s the big rule book of life that tells you so? You will find you have a lot more choice and freedom as to the “musts” and “shoulds” you want to live by in life. You do get to choose.

Accept reality

Acceptance plays a big part in our levels of contentment and happiness. We don’t have to like reality but dealing with what is rather than resisting reality will save a lot of unnecessary effort in the long run. Instead of lamenting endlessly with statements such as “why me?” or ?It’s so unfair!”, look at ways to problem solve. Fair enough – we all deserve a little bit of ‘poor me’ time but put a time limit on it and then try to find ways to improve what is happening..or just wait a while and it might pass all on it;s own. The point is – stop resisting what life throws at you. If you’re stuck in a traffic jam, you’re stuck in a traffic jam. You can work yourself up into a froth or you can chill and listen to some music. There’s not much else you can do. Always distinguish between what you can and can’t control and then let go of what you can do nothing about.

Develop a high tolerance for frustration

If you procrastinate, lead an undisciplined lifestyle, frequently fail to stick with tasks that would be in your best interests to complete or go out of your way to avoid hassle in life, you may be someone with a low tolerance for frustration. Perhaps you have become caught in the “comfort trap”. Ask yourself whether your current approach is likely to get the best out of you and help you find out what you are really made of? It may feel okay now as long as you don’t want to be someone who wakes up one day and wishes they had engaged more in life. You will be left with a lot of “what ifs” which isn’t conducive to happiness or contentment. Challenge your “I can’t stand it” philosophy. You may not always like it but most likely you can stand it..that temporary upheaval for long term satisfaction. Don’t hide form life. See frustration as proof that you are really living and engaging.

Love and respect yourself

I love the personal statement “Always wear your invisible crown”-it’s a reminder to me to like myself and see myself as a good person who deserves love and care. You teach others how to treat you whether you realise it or not, vocalise it or not so it pays to treat yourself well – other will follow your lead.

Allow yourself to be feel negative emotions

How many times have you watched the runner up in a competition say “Well I am so grateful just to get this far..blah blah”. Sure – if that’s genuine, but it really is okay to be fecked off when things don’t go your way. We can’t always be positive, we can’t always be dynamic etc and that is okay. Watch those “musts” and “shoulds” again – I must always be happy, I must always cope – not necessarily. It is a normal and healthy part of life to be fed up, to have had enough and to want to check out and go live on a desert island somewhere. Feel the emotions – they are normal, don’t suppress them. It isn’t healthy to always put on a brave face irrespective of how you feel.

Be a critical thinker

Be a healthy sceptic. Don’t believe everything you are told.Whether that’s what parents and authority figures told you about who you are or whether it’s a media outlet trying to persuade you to think something new. Does the new message fit in with how you see yourself? A famous American psychiatrist, Aaron Beck – the founder of Cognitive Therapy argued that when people are in distress, they frequently show distortions on the way they think. Some of the major distortions we engage in which can be very unhelpful are:

black and white thinking (all or nothing thinking – nothing in life is ever all or nothing); mind reading – where we make assumptions about what other people think and feel (actually we don’t really know unless we ask them directly); catastrophising – when we make a mountain out of a molehill and work ourselves into a froth unnecessarily and personalising – where we blame ourselves for things that often have nothing to do with us.

Develop a problem solving attitude and get comfy with making your own decisions about yourself and your life. You don’t need the approval of others.

Be curious about the world and others

Be adventurous and be true to yourself when it comes to following your interests. A fulfilled, happy person is a kinder and more tolerant person and we could definitely use more of those on this planet. Make time for your own pleasurable pursuits and learn every day.

Focus on relationships

As I explained in one of my recent blog posts about oxytocin – the cuddle drug is wonderful when it comes to providing feelings of contentment. Oxytocin is produced by our bodies when we engage with others. Learn to trust others and let them in – you may be pleasantly surprised. Those with a supportive network tend to cope better in life when they are stressed and seem to be more resilient. Take a genuine interest in others – we all want to be loved and accepted and if you welcome others, you will find they seek you out. We really aren’t all that different from one another.

Personal change

Do you ever say to yourself, “I will do X/Y/Z when I have…” ? Get into the habit of just doing, instead of waiting for the right moment – there is never a better time than right now. Sometimes we need to engage in the behaviour before it feels right – acting as if we are confident can often lead the confidence to emerge. Try not to think fearfully about your option – be curious and adventurous and embrace the trial and error nature of life.

There is no foolproof formula to be happy but the above ten pointers will definitely help to increase contentment if you get used to applying them!

Mandy X

12 Positive habits for a better life

smiling photo

 

12 Positive habits for a better life

I wish there was a fool proof method for a fabulous happy life. There isn’t such a formula but there are definitely some good habits that can increase your chances of a better quality of life:

Stop making assumptions

We willingly put ourselves into a mental prison of chaos when we make negative assumptions about other people’s intentions. One thought leads to another and we soon spiral downward. If you don’t have clear evidence – lose the assumption.

Focus on what you can control

We spend to much time worrying about things we have no control over. Make sure that your worry check list includes the question – “is this something I have control over?”. Learn to let go of things you cannot control. It’s a part of life – embrace uncertainty.

Focus on gratitude and positive things

The more we look for happy events and kindness in the world, the more it naturally lifts our spirits. Make a point of doing this every day. Some people even have a “gratitude journal” and write at least 3 things in it each day to remind them of the good things in their lives as well as things they like about themselves. Humans tend to default to the negatives and this is a good strategy to counteract this.

Don’t overthink

Sometimes when we worry, all we do is worry – there is no problem solving going on and this is the worst type of worry. Learn to set aside “worry time” if need be – half an hour a day and use it to make lists and come up with solutions. Overthinking is usually an unproductive habit.

Talk to yourself as you would a best friend

Never ever put yourself down. Treat yourself like royalty. This one is so important. We all have negative thoughts about ourselves but get into the habit of identifying this negative inner talk and replace it with healthier, more supportive inner chatter.

Stop living in fear

Get out of your comfort zone regularly – it’s the only way to challenge and quieten the scary thoughts that stop us from reaching our true potential. Do a risk assessment and then go for it. Even if things don’t go according to plan, you will probably find the reality isn’t half as scary as you anticipated and you will learn that you are far more capable than you ever thought. But you won’t know this until you try -test out your fearful thoughts…

Take responsibility for your own life and happiness

When we blame others for our place in life we effectively hand over all our power to them. Take it back and take responsibility for where you are. You have the power to change things, to alter the course of your life – it is never too late. Every journey starts with that first step – you can do it. No more procrastinating.

Stop comparing

What a waste of energy comparing your life to that of others. You never really know what’s going on for others and we tend to see other people’s lives through our tinted perceptions and insecurities. If we feel we haven’t achieved financially, we will compare ourselves to those who we feel have made it in this area. Still – you never know for sure – they could be up to their eyeballs in debt. Besides, is financial success REALLY what you need to be happy?

Give up on perfection

Learn to relax a little and stop trying to control everything – it’s a losing game. Learn to work with the force of nature and the natural ebbs and flows of life. Too much perfectionism might stem from insecurity. Learn to see yourself as good enough.

Reject pressure from others and society

Part of living in a society, going to school etc is that we are taught to conform, be conventional and behave like good citizens. Be aware though of when you let your personal boundaries be destroyed by too much societal indoctrination. Learn to be a critical thinker and follow your heart not the main consensus – it dilutes our personal identity in the long run.

Be true to yourself

Do what you love, and be yourself even in the face of possible rejection. Yep, I know that’s a scary concept but oh-so liberating if you can practise it a bit more often.

Take time out

Life’s all about balance. Too much of one thing is never good. Learn to be good to yourself without the guilt. A bit of selfishness is fine now and then. Look after yourself and cherish yourself. There will never be another person like you…

Mandy X

 

 

How to have a successful relationship

happy man and woman photo

How to have a successful relationship

Stop scoring points

A successful relationship always involves acting with integrity, Even if your partner doesn’t. Respond in the best possible way and treat them as you would wish to be treated. Stop keeping score as this leads to resentment. Communicate about what isn’t working rather than using this resentment to get back at the other person in order to even the ‘playing field’.

No game playing

They didn’t test, so I not going to text them either. This is short lived nonsense that will only temporarily make you feel better. Act as you wish to continue in the relationship. Game playing is the beginning of the end if it becomes a habit in the relationship and it reduces trust.

Be honest and open

Speak up when you feel the need. Talk about what’s on your mind as it fosters intimacy and a stronger bond. Be human. Be vulnerable. Take that risk for excellent rewards of a successful relationship.

Communicate as much as possible – don’t suppress

If something bothers you don’t let it fester. Pick the right moment and clear the air. Try to communicate regularly and dissipate any inner tension in doing so. You will feel closer and do better as a couple in the long run.

Pick your battles

Not every indiscretion needs to become a point of conflict. Decide on your boundaries and your ‘deal breaker’ areas and stick to those. Regular bickering and arguing ruins relationships.

Don’t try to change the other person’s fundamental characteristics, personality traits

If they are outgoing and lively, let them be that way even if that’s not how you behave. Stifle someone and you suppress their spirit and dilute their essence and they will end up resenting you for it. Give them freedom to be who they want to be and they will love you more for it.

Treat each other with respect

When respect goes you may as well give up. Respect means you still honour that person and don’t want to hurt them. When respect goes, the gloves are off.

Be assertive, don’t use passive aggressive tactics

Ask for what you want – don’t expect the other person to guess if you have not explicitly told them. Use assertive script to get your needs met: “when you….I feel…so what I’d like is…”

Using this format fosters cooperation rather than a defensive reaction.

Always work towards the ultimate goal of the relationship – to be close, intimate and best companions

When you feel the urge to do something that might damage the relationship, ask yourself if that action will contribute to a happy healthy relationship or not. Use this to guide your behaviour.

Healthy happy and successful relationships are within the reach of all of us. Tread carefully and be thoughtful and love can be yours forever.

Mandy X

 

The 9 secrets of optimists

 

optimistic photo

The 9 secrets of optimists

They like themselves

Optimists have a good relationship with themselves. Their inner dialogue is not self-deprecating or critical. They regularly look for reasons to like themselves and remind themselves of their strengths and achievements.

Optimists possess a ‘self serving bias’

Optimists, unlike pessimists see the world in a way that bolsters their positive view of themselves. When something goes well they chalk that up to their own skills and competencies whereas pessimists tend to blame luck when they are fortunate. When things go wrong optimists tend to look at the situation rather than blame themselves and pessimists, predictably, see failure as being their fault.

Optimists nurture hope and watch their thoughts

Optimists protect their sense of hope at all costs. Hope is a driving force when it comes to an optimists motivation. They have a “can do” attitude to life and look for ways to make things happen rather than focusing on everything that might go wrong. Optimists have mental buffers that allow them to see the brighter side of life. They are less inclined to catastrophise or see the world through a negative filter. They choose thoughts that keep them balanced and are able to rationalise when life throws them a curve ball.

Optimists expect others to like them/they are more outgoing

Optimists see the world in a positive frame of mind. They see themselves as good company and automatically expect that others will like them. Because optimists have such a positive view of themselves and how they fit into society, they tend to be more outgoing.

Optimists feel more in control of their lives

Much research has been done on happiness levels related to how much control a person feels they have in their life. It has been found that the more control a person feels they have, the happier they are. Optimists take responsibility for where they are in their lives and feel a great sense of control over their futures. They know that they cannot control everything and that there may be problems along the way but optimists tend to believe in their own capabilities to cope and find a way forward.

Optimists know how to be assertive

Optimists tend to have healthy self-esteem and as result they do not shy away from being assertive and asking for what they want. They tried to achieve a win-win situation where everybody’s needs are met. They do not automatically expect others to know what they want and are happy to express their needs.

Optimists are self aware

Optimists tend to be people who are quite self-aware. They clearly understand their strengths and weaknesses and they capitalise on their strengths and minimise their weaknesses. They are not afraid to try new things and don’t allow fear to paralyse them.

They possess an attitude of gratitude/appreciation

Part of being happy involves having the ability to appreciate what we have instead of constantly comparing ourselves to others that are more fortunate. This serves no other purpose than to make us feel deprived. Optimists enjoy striving to improve themselves that they are also fully aware that making comparisons with others is a dead-end road. It is far more effective to compare how far they have come on the progress they have made for themselves. Optimists empower themselves.

Optimists have positive expectancy – about  life and other’s intentions

Optimists have a very healthy view of the world. Generally, they are not bitter and twisted and they can happily enjoy the success of others. They do not see success as a finite resource. They expect good things in their life and they also expect that other people are generally well meaning. They tend not to have negative preconceived ideas about strangers and tend to maintain an objective approach.

I am aware that this blog post portrays optimists as superhuman. This isn’t the case. Optimists are just normal people who have learned to choose their thoughts carefully and to replace negative thinking with more objective possibilities. Some people are naturally more optimistic than others and this will be down to their genetic make up but we can all CHOOSE to be happier.

How to be more optimistic

Act as if

Every time we act we reinforce the idea tendency behind it. Our behaviour can change the way we see the world as well as our thoughts. It is just as easy to act into a new way of thinking as it is to think yourself into a new way of acting. Use the phrase “fake it to make it”. Sometimes we have to pretend in order for something to become real.

Going through the motions can trigger the right emotions. Getting out there and being sociable forces us to behave as if were happier and this can in fact free us from feeling unhappy and pessimistic. Learn to stretch yourself little bit by little bit. Think about a role model that you particularly like-this could be a family member or a well-known celebrity. Imagine how they would act and behave in certain situations and try to emulate this. There are many routes feeling happier and more optimistic.

Mandy X

Recommended Reading – The pursuit of happiness : David Myers

optimistic photo

Photo by symphony of love

Photo by symphony of love

 

References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/the-secrets-happiness

How to Build resilience and happiness within you

happy photo

How to build resilience and happiness within you

If you want to be unhappy, make sure that you gain your self esteem and validation from external sources and temporary pleasures. The most insightful and wise way to improve contentment is to build a strong inner core within yourself of self acceptance – a core that cannot be taken away by something external. How precarious will your confidence be if it relies upon someone treating you a certain way? How sad it is if a person lacks the necessary skills to comfort you and connect with you – internalising another person’s lack and personalising this lack so that you end up blaming yourself is a true pity.

You can’t control others so never base your worth on their behaviour. If someone does not treat you in a loving way, it does not automatically mean that you are not loveable. Never jump to this conclusion. Take complete responsibility for your own happiness and don’t expect someone else to make you happy. If they do see it as a bonus but not as the only way to feel good about yourself.

You can choose to feel happy now. Watch any talk that goes like this: “I will be happy when I am in a relationship” or “I will be happy when I am rich, thinner, more popular etc”.

Happiness is an inside job – you carry it around with you by the way you see yourself and the interpretations you make about the world and people around you. We all have insecurities and other people can be huge triggers for our feelings of self doubt.

Here are suggestions to help you build you inner self-love-core:

1) Remind yourself regularly of your strengths and achievements.

2) Make a list of things you like about yourself and keep it nearby – read it regularly.

3) Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead compare yourself to where you have come from. Look at how far you have progressed in your life. We are all on our own path of enlightenment.

4) See yourself as separate from how others treat you. Never associate your level of worth and love according to how others treat you – especially when their behaviour is negative. Their bad behaviour is more likely to be about them and their lack, than about you.

5) Regularly talk to yourself in a positive way – examples: “I am good company”, “I have a great sense of humour”, “Why wouldn’t anyone want to spend time with me?”. We all find it easy to look at our faults – stop doing that. It won’t help you, it will just make you feel sad. We all have faults, just focus on the good stuff. Watch the negative self talk – it is so destructive.

6) “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. – Eleanor Roosevelt. Other people will have their opinions and you will not be able to please everyone, so be true to yourself and follow your heart. There will always be the ‘judgers’. Be happy, be in your bubble. Protect your happiness and self worth at all costs. No one is worth taking that from you.

Mandy X

Why fun is essential

 

person laughing photo

Why fun is essential

Did you know that relentless stress actually changes your brain chemistry? Prolonged stress leads people to begin to feel helpless and powerless. Their body tires from constantly being in “fight or flight” mode and it can lead to health issues too.

There is an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting how stress affects us negatively. The more stress we cope with for long periods, the more likely we are to develop anxiety, depression and even panic attacks. It’s our body’s way of sending us a message that we desperately need time out.

It’s a modern epidemic – people who work crazy long hours and rarely take regular breaks. The constant strain becomes familiar and turns in to a pattern of behaviour that is damaging but also familiar, thereby reinforcing itself. There is a subtle pressure to work hard, achieve and be successful although society pushes us towards unhealthy goals. We believe that working hard is admirable, that putting in overtime makes us committed. I think it makes us look like fools who believe we are valuable when we ‘do’ instead of understanding we are valuable just ‘being’. I am not saying we should all become lazy lay-abouts but balance is healthy and MANY do not have any balance in their lives.

Fun is absolutely essential for balance in life – balance externally and balance internally. The body begins to shut down when confronted with ongoing stress.

Look at it this way: It’s rather like the keys of a piano being hit so hard that the impact puts the strings out of tune. The piano still plays, but it plays dif­fer­ently. While another hard hit on the keys might have bro­ken a tuned piano wire, the now — slack wire can with­stand another hit … and another. If the hits are even harder, the wire stretches more. You can almost hear the piano (and the brain under acute stress) say­ing, “Go on, hit me again! I can take it.” But the cost is that both are out of tune and the melody is never quite the same.  In the human ner­vous sys­tem, this kind of adjust­ment or adap­ta­tion pro­tects the brain from harm by chang­ing the way it responds to stress. Perry and Pol­lard point out that repeated expo­sure to stress — chronic stress — results in a new way of cop­ing with a con­tin­u­ous stres­sor, but it is less effec­tive.  Not a good thing.

In a series of experiments, Daniela Kaufer, UC Berkeley associate professor of integrative biology, and her colleagues, including graduate students Sundari Chetty and Aaron Freidman, discovered that chronic stress generates more myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons than normal. This results in an excess of myelin – and thus, white matter – in some areas of the brain, which disrupts the delicate balance and timing of communication within the brain.

It is clear to me that modern life is changing us. We are more cranky and depression and anxiety are increasing. This problem is compounded by the fact that mental illness and stress are not taken as seriously as obvious health problems such as a broken leg or cancer.

I believe that many of our health conditions can be improved by looking at mental health as a primary source of many health issues. People drink alcohol excessively and find means to escape stress that are unhealthy such as gambling and drugs. There is not enough emphasis on stress relieving techniques that can be offered by mental health professionals to help people cope better. Instead we have a planet where everyone is stressed out and doesn’t know who to turn to or how to self soothe in healthy ways.

One of these ways is to make time for fun. Listen to happy music, go for a dance. Skip for a few minutes..do something silly. Take regular holidays. Play. Climb a tree…do whatever works for you but make time to be less serious. If you cannot switch off your serious side, it may be time to get help from a counsellor/psychologist who can show you how to get your fun side back.

Fun is underrated but it may just save you from a ‘cortisol-pickled’ brain that definitely won’t help you to achieve your true potential.

Mandy X

 

Photo by marc kjerland

 

Refs:

http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2011/11/14/the-neurobiology-of-stress-the-human-brain-likes-to-be-in-balance/

http://news.berkeley.edu/2014/02/11/chronic-stress-predisposes-brain-to-mental-illness/

Make your own happiness

 

 

happy person photo

 

Make your own happiness

 

Everything you need to feel happy and content lies within you. Whilst it is difficult to feel happy if you are in survival mode, once the basics are met such as food, safety and shelter…there is nothing stopping you from being as happy as the next person.

How we see ourselves and our circumstances in life is where your power lies. What do you tell yourself abut yourself and your life? What would you like to believe about yourself and your life?

 

We all have moments when life gets on top of us and we can be hard on ourselves but the way we respond to what life hands us can make or break how our lives turn out. Instead of telling ourselves that we aren’t good enough or that we are inferior when things don’t go our way, it makes much more sense to protect your self esteem and self belief.

You can do this by accepting and realizing that everyone makes mistakes and has self doubt. We tend to be our own worst critics yet it does us no good. Beating ourselves with the naughty stick is the worst type of motivation.

 

Inviting positive experiences in our lives involves speaking to ourselves in a kind and empowering way. Tell yourself that everything is happening as it is meant to and that there is a reason for everything in life. Understand that challenges will always come your way, yep, some may even have you on your knees feeling out of your depth. It’s okay…it really is. We all go through it.  Success isn’t failing, it’s getting back up again. It’s telling yourself that something good is in the pipeline and that the tough times don’t last forever.

It’s also about having purpose in life and doing something with your time on earth that makes you feel that your life is worthwhile…whatever that may be. It’s different for each one of us.

 

Make the choice to choose thoughts that work for you. Choose beliefs that keep you feeling good about yourself. Other people’s views about you are never more important than your own.

 

Mandy X

 

Stop holding on to negative beliefs

 

negative thoughts photo

Stop holding on to negative beliefs

Seriously – allow more inspiration into your life and less perspiration. You can choose your beliefs about the world. What you believe shapes how your life will be more than you realise.

There is no need to struggle. There is no need to suffer. Learn to relax by feeding yourself thoughts that make the world a friendly, less scary place.

When you work too hard at something, it might just be that somewhere in your mind you don’t believe you deserve it.

What is your inner dialogue like? What story do you tell yourself on a regular basis? Do you believe you are insignificant and unimportant? Believe it or not but this type of thinking will make it more likely that this will be true for you.

Believe in possibilities, believe in the goodness of others…don’t allow the world to beat you down and turn your sweetness into bitterness. You can choose to believe that things come easily and you can choose to believe that life will always be a struggle. Your beliefs will affect how your life turns out.

Believe that life supports you. Reframe limiting self beliefs – who you think you are can’t handle it but who you REALLY are can…

Say “yes” to being a better receiver. Open up to help and support…look for all that life offers you. If you are engaging in the wrong beliefs, you won’t see the opportunities.

We tend to look for things in the world that confirm what we think about the world. SO if you believe negative things, you will be confirming these to yourself every day.

Try to believe the opposite and make a choice to ACTIVELY look for the opposite of what you believe – you will find it.

Mandy X

Photo by symphony of love