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How To Be Happy (Even In Hard Times)

by - Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Did you welcome February with open arms? One sentiment I saw repeated a lot this past week was that January was an usually long and cruel month. Recent events, from tragic deaths and natural disasters, political trials and armed conflicts, to international health epidemics, have made for a very challenging and depressing start of the year. That can make it very difficult to stay positive, even for the most optimistic amongst us.

How do you cope with hard times? Lately, there are days when it seems the entire world is in shambles and I'm left feeling as though we're all doomed. But then I remember nothing good ever comes from self pity and if I want to be a happy wife and mother and a productive, functioning human being, then I need to shed that veil of woe right darn quick.

5 Ways To Feel Happier

February is the month of love, kindness, and gratitude. What better time to remind yourself that happiness is always within your grasp; it springs from inside. Here's 5 tips on how to be happy, even in hard times.

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1. Practice Gratitude Daily

One way to instantly become happier is to remind yourself of all the things you have to be grateful for. I've started a new morning routine where, before I even get out of bed, I take a moment to think of a few things I'm looking forward to that day. It could be as simple as that first cup of coffee or the fact that I have no meetings that day and can be focused on work. I remind myself to stay grateful throughout the day too. For instance, when the door opens at 3:40pm, I tell myself how lucky I am to be able to greet my daughter each day she comes home from school. It's a small thing but instantly puts me in a different mindset.

You can also practice gratitude at the end day as you fall asleep. Think of all the blessings, big and small, you encountered that day. From the warm bed you're sleeping in, a welcome call from your mom, to being healthy and feeling good, there is always something to be grateful for. Inserting moments of gratitude in your day are like little bursts of sunshine and help to keep your attitude positive.

2. Let Your Feelings Out

When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart talk with a good friend? In this increasingly digital world, those kinds of deep conversations happen less frequently and if you work from home, chances are you'll have days where you don't talk to anyone beyond your own family.

Talking with others is one way to get perspective, give voice to what you're feeling, and work through your thoughts. Spending time with others can also be an instant mood lifter. If you can't do it in person, go old-school with a good old phone conversation, or have a video chat. And if you don't have anyone nearby to talk to, you can also spill your thoughts out into a journal. Sometimes putting your thoughts on paper is enough to see the bigger picture and you'll realize what you're facing isn't as difficult as you imagined it to be.

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3. Practice Self Care

When life feels heavy, don't hesitate to take a time out and show yourself some care. Do those things that restore and rejuvenate your soul. Do you enjoy sitting with a cup of tea and a good book? Does exercise fill you with feel-good endorphins? Or will a quick 20 minute nap do wonders for your mood? Find out works for you and put it into your day whenever you need a lift.

This could also mean giving yourself a mental break. Spending quiet time meditating can help you focus on your thoughts. You can use the time to really understand why you're feeling what you're feeling. Instead of feeling pent up with anxiety, sadness, or anger, you can work through those emotions and reach a place of calm, understanding, and peace.

4. Spread Kindness

Showing kindness to others is a no-fail way to feel good. Even when you're experiencing the worst of times, there are always others in worse positions and you have the ability to show them kindness. I find that you can even "fake it till you make it" in this regard... you can be in a bad mood yet still commit an act of kindness. Do it enough times and your bad mood will certainly disappear.

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Kindness is one of those things that truly are better to give than receive. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture either. Paying a compliment, holding a door open, even smiling at a stranger and having them smile back... there are actions that have the benefit of making you happy. You'll also be reminded that there is still goodness in the world and that, even in your own small way, you can have a positive impact.

5. Shut Out The Noise

I'll be honest, I'm increasingly relying on this tactic to keep me in my happy state of mind. When the news seems filled with sad stories, just don't read the news. The same goes for your social feeds. If Instagram is making you feel sad or depressed, or if you find it pushes you into a constant comparison trap, step away.

This isn't the ostrich burying its head in the sand. It's a necessary action for self preservation. You can't be focused on the happiness in your own life if you are preoccupied with the unhappiness of others. We all strive to be understanding and empathetic individuals but you do need to put your own needs first. Give yourself room to breathe, dream, and just be. And then once you find your own inner strength and peace, you'll be in a better position to help and support others.

Feeling sadness or pessimistic at times is a normal fact of life. But with practice and effort, you can get back into a happier frame of mind. What do you do to get back into a positive mindset? How do you lift your mood?

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