Write down a list of things that make you excited, however big, small, likely or unlikely. Then work to make them occur more often. And appreciate the good things you take for granted – your child’s hug or a good book. Look for moments of joy and savour them. recognize how many happen every day. Feeling good can be a way of life, not just an occasional accident.
* Take care of your health
Eating well and getting plenty of exercise will raise your spirits. Lack of nutrients will get you down so don’t skip meals or make do with junk food. Physical exercise is known to stimulate endorphins that lift depression and anxiety – so walk, swim, run or whatever you like doing best.
Smiling triggers happy feelings in the brain and reduces stress. Even if you don’t feel happy or confident just behave as though you do and soon you will. Find the joy in your life and you’ll be more attractive and nicer to be around, people will be nicer to you too – and you’ll smile some more! Joy is infectious but so is misery; therefore don’t have anything whatever to do with people who dampen your spirits, invalidate your achievements or tell you what to think.
* Make the most of your resources
Beware of ‘mustabation’, the belief that you must have a new relationship, a better job and a bigger house before you can be happy. Extremes of thought only set you up for failure. Remember, what you want is what you’ve not yet got but what you need is all around you! Don’t chuck the baby out with the bathwater, work to improve things.
* Recognize all possibilities but expect success
There’s a world of difference between expecting failure or rejection – so as not to be disappointed when it occurs – and recognizing it as a possibility. It’s sensible to look at a situation from all angles and to have a back-up plan to fall back on if need be. People who do this will often see failure as another step on the road to eventual success; but by expecting and envisioning success, there’s less likely to be a failure. You naturally move towards whatever you envision. Those who dwell on the worst case scenario, on the other hand, and give themselves worry and stress, tend to be devastated when it actually happens, even though they’ve been predicting it.
* Assert your rights
Think of things which you have a right to, e.g. “I have a right to an evening out with my friends from time to time.” Think of rights that every human being should have, such as, “I have the right not to be bullied.” Now, protect your rights with your life, and watch your integrity and self-esteem grow.
* Nurture your relationships
Take time and trouble over your friends and your partner. Talk and laugh with them and – especially – listen and understand their points of view. Don’t make being right more important than a friendship. People with a few close friends are more likely to be happy than those with many mere acquaintances.
* Be creative
Making something come to life that you have envisioned – whether a painting, a wonderful meal, a dress, an invention, a business plan – is infinitely satisfying. And you’ll feel pleasure every time you think of it. If you want to be happy, get active – at work, within the family and the community. You will feel happier when you’re participating in an activity, whether it’s just playing with a child or helping organize a worthwhile event.
* Live for the moment
Joy is often about living in the moment, being absorbed in what you’re doing, not brooding on the past or guessing your future. Decide what YOU really want and then go for it. This may mean a job, a friendship or a hobby. It can take courage but it’s worth the risk. Then give yourself wholeheartedly to the present moment.