Could the secrets of being happy be as basic as outlook and a few adjustments to everyday life? There is certainly a physiologic component to mood, but lifestyle adjustments can help.
In a given year, over 20 million American adults have a mood disorder, and major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15 to 44. Depression can be debilitating, and medications are frequently prescribed but don’t always work; plus, they can have nasty side effects.
I’ve had very good luck with amino acid therapies to treat anything from anxiety and depression to cravings, weight loss, migraines, and chronic pain. I also tend to think that society has made it seem like constant happiness is the norm, and if you’re not always “happy,” there’s something wrong with you. Of course, depression that is ongoing is a serious issue and should be addressed as such, but it’s ok and normal to not feel happy 100 percent of the time.
With that said, if you are otherwise healthy, below are a few tips that should do anyone some good. With stress as the leading cause of disease and the powerful connection that your thoughts have on your physical health, your emotional wellbeing is as important as taking care of your physical body.
The 9 Timeless Secrets of Being Happy
1) Embrace New Experiences.
Most people suffer from merely existing versus really living. Don’t get caught in a rut; get out of it if you are. Explore. Play. Go beyond your comfort zone. Don’t lean on the excuse “I don’t have time to try new things.” It is as tragic and ridiculous as saying “I don’t have time to breathe.” New experiences are life. Live deeply.
2) Be Who You Are.
Recognize and clear through what others expect of you, including society’s expectations, your parents’ expectations, the opposite genders’ expectations, and anyone’s expectations. Recognize and clear through the guilt, anger, fear and other emotions that are sabotaging you. What are your dreams? Your goals? Your loves? Who are you? Be that person.
3) Let Go of the Past.
The past is good for two things: the happy memories, and the lessons it provides. Clinging to resentment and sadness for past events hurts one person the most: you. Don’t let the past suck the gift of the present out of you. Forgive. Let go. Be here now, and go forward.
4) Be Kind.
It is easy to act kindly to those who have been kind to you. Do so, but also remember that is not where kindness is needed most. Recall those many times where you made mistakes, where you reacted out of negative emotions instead of responding from who you really are. Recall how you felt, or how you would have felt, if others responded to your mistakes with kindness instead of harsh criticism or a cold shoulder. Negativity only breeds more negativity. Empathize, and choose to be kind. It spreads rapidly.
5) Be Responsible for Yourself.
Whatever happens, however promising or tragic, only one person is responsible for how you respond to it: you. There are no greater wastes of energy and potential than blame, envy, a desire for revenge, and wallowing in self-pity. You and only you are responsible for how you respond to anything and how you act. You wish others were a certain way? You wish the world were a certain way? Be the example.
6) Nurture Relationships.
Think of your most joyful moments. Think of all you have learned. Think of what has helped you grow. Chances are great these all involve other people, and other relations such as pets and nature too. There are over six billion people on this earth. There are infinite relationships to be had. Everyone has something to understand and to learn from. There is infinite love to be had, and to give. You can choose to be lonely, but you are never alone.
7) Recognize All You Have, and Be Grateful for It.
If you are alive, you are fortunate. If you can read this, you are fortunate. If you can walk, talk, see, smell, taste, or feel, or all of these, you are fortunate. You are what you focus on, so if you focus on what you lack, you become that lack. Focus on all that you do have, on the gifts inside and all around you. Be grateful to be great.
8) Do What Inspires You.
Painting, singing, writing, biking, swimming, gardening, reading, dancing, walking, woodcarving … what is your flame? What ignites you, inspires you, enlightens you, restores your life? Do it, and do it often. Do not believe your excuse of having too much work to do and too little time for what inspires you. Doing what inspires you is the very fuel that will give you the strength and motivation to do the other things you need to do, and do them well.
9) Remember that Happiness is a State, Not a Circumstance
Happiness is a state of being, not merely a moment of pleasure or joy. By committing to your happiness you acknowledge and accept that there will be times of challenge and suffering, but by staying true to who you are you will not just endure but thrive. Happiness is not just the bird floating serenely on the water, and happiness is not made unhappy by the rock that falls and temporarily disturbs the water. Happiness is the water itself, always being exactly what it is.
(9 tips by by Brian Vaszily, Founder of IntenseExperiences.com)
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.