Here are some key things I’ve learned and seen over the years that I’ve been meaning to share here ever since March 20th’s first observance of the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness. And now some scientists who have started doing a “happiness index” have studied postings on social media and found that the day of the Boston Marathon bombings was the saddest day on Twitter. They look at the keywords and hashtags used. They’ve even done work that shows which areas are the happiest.
Here are some tips on how to build a happy life:
- Make an effort to spend time with your family and friends. Being around people who you and who support you is a mood-booster.
- Be grateful for what you have. I’ve already talked about gratitude and keeping a gratitude journal on this blog. It really works to write down the things that you are thankful for — even on days when you feel you don’t have much to be thankful for. This is an essential practice especially when you feel down. It is possible to draw out a positive in almost any situation.
- Stay optimistic. This builds on the previous point of seeing the glass half full instead of half empty. Look at the good side of situations. While I still find it difficult to be optimistic ALL of the time, for the most part I try to find the good in others and in most situations. I admit that when there is something bad such as a loved one having a health challenge, I tackle that by thinking of the worse-case scenario first so that hopefully it won’t end up that bad. Then I can exhale. (But PLEASE don’t do as I do, do as I say to do.)
- Feeling a sense of purpose. Having a goal helps you have a reason to get up every day and look forward to something. Some missions that we set can involve others and help build a community — a community that has a shared goal. It feels great to accomplish your goals and then it boosts you to tackle your next marker.
- Living in the moment. Since my daughter and I don’t get to spend every day together, I look forward to all of the special moments. I try to have fun with her and be spontaneous — and very silly. I want Torie to remember a happy Mommy, even though I worry about our tomorrow, next week, next month and next year all the time. I push that down as often as possible so that we can share good times together and make some lasting, wonderful memories.
Right now, one of the books that I’m reading is Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project and I love it. It’s so honest about daily life and it’s many hurdles — small and large. I hope one day to meet Rubin and thank her for that book. She also has a wonderful website built off of her book. Check it out. Maybe you’ll even start your own “happiness project.” Go for it, have fun and be happy!