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8 Ways to Help You Reset, Restart and Rejuvenate Your Happiness

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Happiness is like a muscle we have to constantly work at for it to grow and become stronger. Some people assume we’re entitled to feel good all the time just because we have the right, but being truly happy isn’t always an easy task. More often than not, we spend a great deal of our lives searching for things to complete the puzzle, and on this journey, we experience things that leave us questioning our strength to deal.

The amount of expectations we are faced with in today’s society has promoted an unhealthy self-perception. We look at people we perceive to be happy and oftentimes our first instinct is to compare. We pressure ourselves to reach unattainable standards so we can try to get to this island of paradise where everyone else seems to be living, but the journey feels like crossing the ocean without a raft. Trying is tiring, and each time a wave crashes down on us, we can find ourselves back where we began, feeling left out, not good enough and defeated by the higher power that is life.

The problem? We’re so focused on trying to swim across the ocean to that island of perfection that we ignore the idea building our own paradise where we already are is more than achievable.

When you learn the difference between what being happy looks like and what it means to truly feel happiness, I find you unlock the truth to a deeply satisfying kind of life. I’m not claiming to have uncovered the realm of life’s greatest secrets, but I’ve spent a majority of my life thus far in an unhappy, negative place and I’ve learned a thing or two about bouncing back and becoming absolutely fearless.

Here are a couple of things to consider on your own pursuit of happiness:

1. Always have faith in your decisions and be true to yourself at all times.

Doubting yourself will only allow others to doubt you. Also, I find it’s hard to trust a person who is unsure of themselves. Own the decisions you make. Be confident in those decisions. It’s wise to absorb the advice from the figures in your life who you trust the most, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to learn from the mistakes you’ve watched someone make. But when all is said and done, the words you speak and the impact that you have is your responsibility. No one else will live with the choices you’ve made more than you will. So live authentically, speak with integrity and don’t second-guess your judgment. There are no mistakes, only lessons.

2. Listen to your intuition more often.

I think there are one of two types of people: one who faces the world with their heart and makes decisions based on their emotions, or one who bases their actions and beliefs on pure logic and fact. Whether you think with your heart or your head, vibes do exist; all you need to do is pay attention to whether you are feeling them pulsate negative or positive energy.

A couple years ago, I accepted an interview for a job that gave me a bad vibe right from the beginning. When I woke up the morning of my interview, my anxiety was unusually high. I’m a strong interviewee, so it was unusual for me to be so afraid of something I was used to excelling at. I chalked it up to just being nerves and drove an hour to the jobsite, despite my gut feeling telling me something was wrong. As it turned out, the job I was applying for was a senior position — a detail which wasn’t disclosed in the advertisement I replied to. Despite referring to the resume I had provided weeks ago, the panel of interviewers decided to drill me on the knowledge they “thought I had.” I ended up leaving mid-interview in tears because I felt silly. I wish I had listened to what my gut was telling me.

3. Start building healthy habits that are super easy to pursue.

I’m not talking about pressuring yourself to go to the gym five times a week — pressure is not a part of your journey for joy. I’m talking about small things you can do throughout the day that help free your mind of stress. For example, make your bed immediately after you wake up. Not only will it be less likely for you to crawl back in during the day for an unsolicited nap, but it will make your bedroom feel tidier; therefore, your brain will feel like there’s less to do. The same goes with washing dishes immediately after you use them. I know it’s a hassle, but would you rather come home from a long day of work to a pile of dishes that still need to be done? Probably not. Also, start your morning off by opening up all the blinds and curtains to let the natural sunlight in. You’ll feel more invigorated to get out there and start the day if you can see the rest of the world has already started theirs. You’ve got this!

4. Learn how to do things (and be) on your own.

I find this is a huge self-esteem booster. I’m sure having a partner around to kill the spiders and reset the breaker when the power shuts off is mighty convenient and all, but the ability to be self-reliant is a direct route to fulfillment and satisfaction. There’s a ton of positive feelings associated with having a long list of personal and technical skills. Try these on for size:

  • You don’t have to wait for someone else to get something done.
  • The look on your snub boss’s face when they expect you won’t be able to do something, and you knock it out of the park.
  • Being single becomes much easier. I think the more independent you become, the less reliant you are. You might find relationships to be less stressful, or even find yourself not “needing” a partner as much as you did to get by.
  • You’re ahead of the game during a global pandemic; you know how to feed yourself, fix things that break down, grow your own crops, keep yourself entertained, etc. Shout out to COVID-19.
  • You’re empowered. You rely on people less, but are able to provide a lot more. You’ve built your own life that has few limitations and roadblocks. You cannot put a price on freedom.

When I can fix something around the house without anyone else’s help, I feel like a freaking superhero. Over the years of living on my own, I’ve learned how to change out light fixtures and swap them for ceiling fans or chandeliers. I know how to take apart my appliances and clean or fix them when they stop working and I can do a number of repairs on my car unassisted. All these things were self-taught and they make me feel powerful AF.

5. Dispose of the term “should” from your perceptions of life.

Here’s some examples of the big, bad should:

“I’m 30 years old, I should have a full-time job by now, a family and a partner.”

“She makes me feel so bad about myself every time I see her, but she’s my mother, the only one I’ve got, so I should keep that relationship alive.”

“We should stay together whether we’re happy or not, our kids need a strong family structure.”

“I can’t handle how people react about my obesity; I should have bought the one-piece bathing suit.”

There is no “should” because there is no set standard of what a happy and successful life actually looks like. Where is this book of rules that says it must go this way or else it doesn’t count? “Happy” and “successful” are subjective adjectives defined by each individual, meaning what you consider to be successful could be wildly different from someone else’s perception of success. Wealth could equate to happiness and success for some, while others feel their lives are fulfilled by having healthy and happy children. Someone who has survived a serious illness might find just waking up to another day is more than enough for them to be happy. Stop expecting life to look and feel a certain way. There is no certain way. Make it what you want it to be.

6. Disconnect from social media from time to time.

Here’s a scenario. It’s midnight, you have work or school in the morning and it’s time for sleep, but you’re caught in this gravitational pull of swiping through the Instagram profiles of absolutely random people insisting you feel inspired, when really you’re just downright self-depreciating. Well, that was a productive use of three hours. Pretty much all of us do it. It’s hard to stop this engaging in this behavior, and many of us can’t stop. Tell me, what does your life look like when there’s nothing to compare it to? When there’s no one telling you what looks cool, what your style is?

I believe the best thing you can do for yourself in your young adult life is walk away from the online world, even just for a while. I can guarantee when you’re not being bombarded with images of how your life “should” look, you’re going to feel so much freer to do what you actually want with your time without the shame and guilt of it not matching up to a stranger’s “inspiring” fitness routine or diet plan, or being on an extremely expensive vacation you can’t afford.

This girl recently admitted to going $10,000 into debt, creating what appeared to be the “perfect life” online, which she regretted months later when her savings ran dry. Here’s the kicker, though. Even after publicly debuting what a financial mess she created for herself in 2018, her Instagram account still reflects the same image of her in designer clothes and escaping on lavish vacations. She, of course, hasn’t shared this article on her profile for all her followers to see. There’s usually a crucial piece of the story people leave out on purpose. Remember that.

7. Make a physical list of things that make you happy.

When things get busy, we have a tendency to overlook our needs. Our daily lives can become so overwhelmed that we actually forget how to relax. Or worse, we feel that we haven’t earned a break or deserve the rest. There will be times when you have to actually remind yourself to tune in and do something that is just for you. It’s OK if you can’t think straight after a week of deadlines, making meals, maintaining relationships and not getting enough sleep. That’s what the list is for. Treat it as a reference, an inspiration and a reminder.

Here are a couple of things on my own personal list: buying fresh-cut flowers or a new plant for the balcony, going out for breakfast, planning an event or road trip, having an at-home spa day and pampering myself, ordering take-out and watching my favorite show with a glass of wine, visiting a nursery, greenhouse or conservatory, going on a hike with a picnic, spending the day at the library with a book or my laptop.

When all else fails, I find doing something nice for someone else is a surefire way to instantly boost your mood.

8. Learn the power you have over your thoughts and exercise this daily.

Our brains are very powerful tools we can manipulate in different ways. You have the ability to create or destroy, to love or to hate, to grow or to shrink. It’s far too easy to be submissive to our own minds, believing every thought it produces or convincing ourselves of things that aren’t good for us. You can learn to rewrite the workings of your usual thought pattern by staying on top of your thoughts and ensuring you’re being fair to yourself at all times. When negative or self-depreciating thoughts start to creep in, use  discipline on your mind. Say “No, I will not believe the bad things I think about myself today,” and follow through. The more you repeat this mantra, the more your brain will believe it.

Sometimes, this world can be a harsh and unforgiving place. Even well into adulthood, we are still learning how to navigate our way through and we can struggle to keep our heads above water when we feel like we just can’t catch a break. It’s true we all deserve to be happy, but it doesn’t just happen. We may not get to pick our lives or the circumstances that are most ideal for us, but we can choose to make the most of what we’ve got, and maybe even push for a little bit more. The fact is, the days will continue to come and go no matter if we’re happy, sad, broke, rich, old, young, lucky or cursed. With time being the most valuable resource each and every one of us share, don’t waste it by waiting for something to give. You have the power right now to nudge your life into a direction that suits you better. Every small effort brings you closer to being free of whatever it is you believe is holding you back from being truly happy. Don’t ever let yourself give up.

Unsplash image by Hean Prinsloo

Originally published: March 25, 2020
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