Life getting you down?
Feeling like you can’t be happy until you have more money? Get that dream job? Land a spouse? Get rid of your debt? Lose 30 pounds?
Man, it’s so easy to get stuck in the negativity of situations. And, no, you shouldn’t always be happy and positive and pretend like the bad things don’t exist.
But, it’s totally possible to be happy even if your life isn’t ideal right now.
Happiness Is Here Right Now!
The real key is just deciding you’re going to find happiness even in the mess.
But when you start slipping down that negativity slope, it can feel nearly impossible to claw your way back up.
So I’ve put together some things to do to help yourself find happiness in your life right now.
These are things that take a conscious effort to do. But it’s worth the effort! It can help you approach life with a more positive attitude.
You might not be able to leave a difficult situation immediately, but you can start taking steps toward finding happiness right away.
- Stop Comparing Yourself
- Practice Gratitude
- Squash Negative Self-Talk
- Escape the Perfectionism Trap
- Avoid Negativity
- Surround Yourself With Happy People
- Work on Your Confidence
- Let Your True Self Shine
- Celebrate Little Things
- Take Opportunities
- Try New Things
- Spend Time on the Things You Love
- Spend Time Outdoors
- Work Toward a Purpose
- Narrow Down Your Responsibilities
- Watch Your Social Media Time
- Deal With Your Emotions
- Stick With a Budget
- Allow Yourself Little Indulgences
- Work on Relationships
- Be Creative
1. Stop Comparing Yourself
“Nothing compares. Nothing compares to you!” You loved Sinead O’Conner, right? Maybe I’m dating myself here.
But it’s so true. Nothing compares to YOU. So stop comparing YOURSELF to everyone else.
Do a search for quotes on comparing yourself to others. Do it. Just see how many results you get.
That’s because falling into the comparison trap is so harmful for your happiness and productivity.
Nowhere is that more dangerous than on social media. Mamas, that’s a highlight reel is what that is. Don’t fall for it. Even the “real life” posts that show “messy” houses aren’t real life for most of us.
Stop trying to keep up! You have to start catching yourself when you start playing the comparison game. Remind yourself that you don’t know everything that’s going on in that person’s life.
Keep yourself out of situations where the comparisons get out of control. Have a friend group that’s all about the comparison game? Spend less time with them.
Social media got you all sorts of messed up with the comparisons? Take a break. Or unfollow accounts that cause that anxiety in you.
And then, really start working on you and your confidence. Because you’re pretty darn awesome, whether you realize it or not.
2. Practice Gratitude
When I’m feeling like my life stinks, I’m usually not consciously working on gratitude. I’m ignoring the really good things that I have in my life.
Now, I’m not saying everything is a blessing. And that you can’t be disappointed or frustrated or even defeated when life keeps hitting you with crap.
I don’t think gratitude = toxic positivity.
I think it means taking the time to notice the things that truly are blessings. And those things don’t have to be the really big things.
Spend a little time each day focusing on gratitude. Not sure where to start? Check out this blog post with 15 easy, practical ways to practice gratitude.
3. Squash Negative Self-Talk
“You’re such an idiot.”
“You’re a horrible friend.”
“You’re the worst mom ever.”
“You’re completely screwing up your kids.”
“You really messed up that friendship.”
These are all things I’ve said to myself. (And a lot worse.)
What lies is your inner voice feeding you?
Here’s the thing. You’re not perfect. You’re not great all the time. You’re going to make mistakes. You might do some things that are flat out dumb or wrong.
BUT… you don’t deserve the verbal beat-down afterward. It doesn’t serve you. It doesn’t stop you from doing something stupid tomorrow. It just makes you feel like crap about yourself. And that’s not going to help you be a better mom or person or friend. It’s just going to make you…feel like crap.
That negative self talk serves no purpose. It’s you punishing yourself for the mistakes you made.
So stop. Take action to fix it instead of reliving it and feeling like a crappy person.
Yeah, I know. That’s so easy to say.
But it gets easier to actually do when you practice it every day.
Talk back! Call out the lies!
Listen, I still struggle with negative self talk. But I’m also a lot faster at stepping in and shutting it down when that tape starts playing automatically.
Turn it around and be realistic.
If you messed up, tell that voice to stop saying you’re an idiot or a bad mom. Instead, say, “I reacted harshly and hurt my friend’s feelings. I’m human.”
Then, figure out how you’re going to fix it.
4. Escape the Perfectionism Trap
Ah, perfectionism. Almost as bad as comparison.
I’m not a total perfectionist, but I hate to feel like I’m in trouble or that I did something wrong.
And I’m guilty of not doing things I want to do because I feel like I don’t know enough about it yet. Or I feel like I don’t have the skills. Or I won’t be as good as someone else who’s already doing it.
Well, guess what? I probably won’t be. Because that person has probably been doing whatever it is for years. And I’m just starting. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
Jump into something new.
Make a list of things you’ve been wanting to try but haven’t because you’re afraid you won’t be good at it.
Then pick one and try it.
Don’t worry about the outcome. Just start.
5. Avoid Negativity
If you let it, negativity can suck you in, man. And once you go down that negativity spiral, it’s tough to dig out.
Have you ever clicked on a negative news article and then another and another? Suddenly, you’re convinced the world is ending. You can’t sleep. You can’t focus on anything. All you can think about is the bad.
It’s not just news stories. It can be a person who’s always negative. Or a situation that brings up negative feelings.
If you keep going back for more negativity, it’s tough to feel happiness in your situation.
Pinpoint what stirs up negative feelings in your life. Maybe it’s social media. News stories. That mom at school that never sees the good in anything.
Now figure out how you can avoid it. If you feel yourself getting sucked in, step back and spend some time focusing on the good.
6. Surround Yourself With Happy People
You can’t be happy if you’re surrounded by unhappy people.
Constant pessimism. Rudeness. Negativity. Unhappiness.
Those things are catchy. As in you’re going to catch them if you’re around them too much.
And just like catchy physical illnesses, negativity can be detrimental to your health!
You can’t always remove the negative people from your life. Maybe you’re married to one. Or you sit right next to a perpetual pessimist at work.
But you can avoid some negative people.
And if you can’t, then focus on adding positive people into your life. Smother out the negative by adding more positive to your day.
Think about the people with whom you spend the most time. Are they mostly positive or negative?
Can you avoid some of the negative people in your life?
If not, prepare yourself mentally for interacting with them. Go into it knowing they’re negative, and do what you can to deflect that negativity.
Kill them with kindness! Meet negativity with positivity if you have to be around someone who is negative. Maybe they’ll get the hint that they’re bringing down the mood. And if not, at least your keeping your vibe high and positive.
Seek out positive, happy people! If you don’t have those positive, uplifting people in your circle yet, go out there and meet some new people.
7. Work on Your Confidence
If you’re unhappy with your life right now, there’s a good chance you’re also unhappy with yourself.
I’ve always dealt with self-esteem issues.
Feeling like I’m not good enough.
Feeling like the odd person out.
Worrying what others think of me.
All those fears held me back from experiencing a lot in life.
I’ve come so far in my confidence.
But there isn’t an instant cure. It’s something you have to work at every day. It’s something you have to fight for.
It’s so worth the fight, though. Improving how you see yourself unlocks so many doors.
And one of those doors is happiness! When you have confidence in yourself and stop worrying so much about what other people think, you’re free to just have fun and enjoy life.
Do some serious self-reflection to see if you have some buried confidence issues you haven’t addressed.
Work through your known confidence issues. That might mean journaling, reading a self-improvement book, or seeing a counselor. (No shame in getting the support you need!)
8. Let Your True Self Shine
Part of being confident is showing off your true self.
I’ve spent a lot of time playing small. Acting how I thought I needed to act to fit in.
The thing about faking it to fit in is that you’ll never really feel happy and confident in who you are. You know it’s an act. And you’re just waiting for someone to call you out on it.
And it just doesn’t feel natural or right.
Listen, someone is always going to dislike you. You’re not for everyone.
Think about some of the people who irritate you. The people that you cringe when you see. Or that you try to avoid if you notice them before they notice you.
Are those people really bad people? Probably not. They just have personalities or quirks that don’t appeal to you.
You’re not a bad person for feeling that way. They’re not a bad person for being that way. You’re just not a match.
You’re going to do the same to other people. And that’s fine.
You’re not going to be best friends with everyone. You’re not going to love everyone.
So just be you. Let your true self be seen.
You might be surprised who connects with that and ends up being a really good friend.
Plus, it just feels better when you can be yourself. You’ll be happier because you aren’t hiding the real you.
Ask yourself if you’re showing the real you. Are there certain people or situations where you feel like you can’t be yourself? Why?
9. Celebrate Little Things
It’s easy to celebrate the big things: a new baby, a new job, a marriage.
But I really believe celebrating the little things can be just as important and uplifting.
This is life. Happening right now. You might not get another big celebration before it’s over.
So stop saving up for the big things to celebrate.
Party it up over the little things.
You lost 5 pounds and can fit back into your skinny jeans? Good for you, girl!
Your toddler finally figured out how to use the potty after months of trying? Girl, that’s a massive win. Celebrate!
Being happy and recognizing the little things brings little bursts of happiness into your life consistently. It’s all about feeling gratitude.
Notice the little accomplishments in your life, whether it’s you, your kids, your friends, your coworkers, whoever, that’s doing the accomplishing.
Compliment people for those things.
Celebrate when you feel proud of something.
Make sure the important people in your life know how proud you are of them for their accomplishments.
10. Take Opportunities
I used to pass on so many opportunities.
I didn’t have the confidence. I worried I would fail. Or look silly.
I told myself I didn’t have time for different opportunities.
If you don’t start taking chances and taking opportunities, nothing will change in your life. Yes, this post is all about being happy with your life right now. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to improve it.
You don’t have to take every opportunity that comes your way. You might not want them all.
But if you have an opportunity that gets you excited, whether it’s as simple as a weekend getaway with a friend or as big as a job offer you weren’t expecting, take it!
Accept before your bring has the chance to talk you out of it. Jump while you’re still in the excited phase. You can work out the rest later.
11. Try new Things
Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to try new things. You might discover a hidden talent or passion for something new.
I tend to get stuck in my routines. I see my friends doing fun, exciting things. But I’ve never done them and don’t know how to do them. So I don’t even consider trying.
Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to try. Add to the list when something new catches your eye.
Then start doing them.
When someone invites you along for something new, say yes! Especially if it’s something you’ve been wanting to try.
If you keep psyching yourself out because you don’t know how to do something yet, read my article on how to start taking action even when you don’t know everything yet.
12. Spend Time on the Things You Love
Maybe you already have hobbies you love. Or things you enjoy doing. Or places you enjoy being. Or people you enjoy spending time with.
Doing those things naturally brings happiness to your life. It can give you a break from the tough things you’re going through. And we’re all going through a lot of tough things!
Write a list of things you love. People. Places. Activities.
Then do them! Regularly!
Schedule time for those things at the beginning of each week. On Sunday, look at what you have going on for the week. Find pockets of time for the things you love. And write them on your calendar!
If you wait for a free moment during the week, you’ll never find it. You don’t have free time. You make time for what matters.
13. Spend time outdoors
You’ll never find me hiking the Grand Canyon for a week carrying all of my own supplies on my back.
I’m not going to be rubbing two sticks together to make a fire.
You probably won’t even find me camping in a tent these days.
I’m not a total outdoorsy girl. I’m not afraid to get dirty. But I’m not some kind of crazy nature superhero who lives and breathes roughing it.
But still. There’s something magical about Mother Nature.
Nature is beautiful. And miraculous if you really let yourself think about it.
Getting out and enjoying it can remind you of the beauty in the simplest things, which can spark happiness.
Make it a point to spend a little time outdoors each day. Even if it’s just standing in your backyard with bare feet in the grass.
Plan more extensive nature treks when possible. A hike on a nearby trail. A Saturday afternoon sitting along a lake.
14. Work Toward a Purpose
Do you feel like you have a purpose in your life right now? Is it all diaper changes and playdates and no real work on yourself?
I wouldn’t trade my years doing the playdate/stay-at-home mom thing for anything.
But I felt like I lost myself in there.
Having some sense of purpose or working on something for yourself can make you feel happier right now.
You might not achieve some new goal immediately, but setting your sights on something and taking small steps toward it now can help you feel happier during the journey.
One easy way to do that right now is with online courses. There are so many available on anything you want to learn. One of my favorites was Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner.
Identify a purpose or goal you want to achieve.
Maybe that’s starting a side gig. (Check out my list of 125 side gig ideas to get you started.)
Maybe it’s earning a degree. Or making a career change.
Write down steps you can take to get there, starting with the littlest first baby step you can imagine.
Now do that first step! And then the next. And the next.
Look at you. Working toward your goals!
15. Narrow Down your Responsibilities
Being overwhelmed with too many responsibilities, especially ones you really don’t want to do, can suck away your happiness.
Obviously you can’t tell your boss to take a hike or let your toddlers fend for themselves.
But learning to say no to the unnecessary things can drastically increase your happiness.
When you say yes to everything, you’ll likely dread a lot of those commitments. It can become all-consuming.
Look at all of the commitments on your schedule. Decide what you can cut. Leave only the things you truly have to do and the things you want to do. Don’t feel bad for cutting the rest!
16. Watch Your Social Media Time
Social media can be amazing and wonderful. You can keep in touch with distant friends and family. You can discover inspirational influencers.
But you can also get sucked into the dark side of social media.
Letting online fights and negativity affect your mood.
Feeling inadequate when you see other people’s amazing lives. (Spoiler: most people’s lives really aren’t as great as they’d have you believe on social.)
When you spend too much time scrolling your feeds, you might notice your mood shift.
And you’re also wasting time you could be spending improving your life, doing things you love or spending time with your family.
Be aware of your feelings as you’re scrolling social media platforms. Shut it down if it starts making you feel bad.
Cut back on how much time you spend on social media. Limit it to certain times of the day.
17. Deal With Your Emotions
Emotions get messy. Especially when you’re like me and you feel EVERYTHING.
But you can’t avoid them.
You can’t stuff them thinking you’re free and clear.
You can’t eat your emotions or drink your emotions or drug your emotions away.
They’re still there until you deal with them.
Be okay with feeling your emotions. Let yourself be mad or sad or hurt.
But don’t unpack and live there.
When you’re done feeling your feelings, plan your action steps to move past it.
18. Stick With a Budget
Do you deal with unhappiness by shopping? I get it. Retail therapy is a thing. But it also blows your budget, which can cause stress, which makes it difficult to be happy.
So here’s the deal. If you don’t have a budget, you need one. You need to know that your incoming money is assigned to your expenses. And don’t forget savings.
When you’re in the thick of things, do whatever it takes to stick to your spending limits. You can also cut costs to make your budget easier to handle.
Create a budget or update your current budget.
Track your spending so you don’t go over.
Use the envelope method of paying with cash if you overspend with your debit card.
19. Allow Yourself Little Indulgences
I just said stick to a budget. Now I’m saying indulge?
But you can do both. Indulgences don’t have to be expensive. It can be letting yourself enjoy a well-earned glass or wine. Or treating yourself to lunch at your favorite restaurant.
Little indulgences bring a little happiness to your day. If you never let yourself have special treats, you’ll probably end up feeling deprived. And it’s tough to feel happy when you feel deprived.
Say yes to occasional indulgences. Plan out the splurges so you know they fit within your budget.
20. Work on Relationships
I find that I often feel unhappy when there’s something not quite right with my relationships.
Maybe I’m fighting with my husband.
Or there’s tension between me and my kids.
Maybe I’m feeling a weird vibe with one of my good friends.
Whatever the relationship, having issues in it can lead to general feelings of negativity.
Even if you’re not actively disagreeing or fighting with someone, if you’re not working on improving the relationship, it could affect your happiness.
Look at your most important relationships and think about where they’re struggling. Even if it’s something minor. Work on correcting those issues.
If you feel like your relationships are all good, think about how you can make them even better. Can you do something special to show your kids or spouse how much you love them?
21. Be Creative
Creativity can help you feel free and happier with your life right now.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, unhappy, etc., creative things are usually the first to go.
But forcing yourself to do something creative could help spark some joy and get you out of the negative funk you’re in.
For some reason, I always think of painting when I think of creative activities. But there are so many other options if painting isn’t your thing.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Playing an instrument
- Writing and performing a monologue
- Make over a piece of furniture or decorative item
- Redesign a room
- Put together new outfits
- Test out a new makeup look
- Create a terrarium or succulent garden
- Make jewelry
- Make your own bath products
- Experiment with essential oils
- Make an art journal
See? You don’t have to be an artist in the traditional sense to get creative.
Write a list of creative activities that interest you. Then do them!
Decide to Be Happy Now
Let’s face it. You’re not always going to be happy.
BUT… you can find more happiness in your life when you make it your priority. So start putting your happiness first.
But, you know, keep working toward changing the things that are making it tough to be happy. Go do it now!
And if you need a little more inspiration, check out my article on finding happiness in your current house, even if it isn’t your dream home.
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