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“I don’t know! I’m just not happy!” I said as I sobbed into my husband’s broad chest.
Even now, I remember the moment clearly because it was a wake-up point for me. I thought that if anyone needed to learn how to always be happy and positive, it was me.
There I was, sitting on our worn tan couch in our living room. It was a Saturday and I had been discontent all day. That seemed to be the case all the time lately.
I felt mad at my husband, which was what started the whole discussion. And I was frustrated because he could not seem to do enough to make me happy.
I wanted the secrets to a happy life, but I wanted them to plop right in my lap! Now! I needed to learn how to always be happy and positive, and if that wasn’t possible, then to at least find contentment.
Remembering How to Always Be Happy and Positive
I wasn’t sure what happened. It had once come so easily.
My husband just being in the room used to make me happy. We had all the things we needed to be happy and I knew that. I also knew that I was projecting things on to him that really weren’t his fault.
So what was wrong? How could I find the secrets to happiness again?
My Personal Growth and Personal Development Journey
“Starting” might be a bit of an inaccurate word to describe what I was about to embark on.
You see, I had just finished reading a book called “The Four Doors” by Richard Paul Evans. In it, he talked about living your life’s purpose. That’s the real reason I was crying. I felt like my life had no purpose and just blended into the sameness of the daily routine.
Have you ever been there? Started on your own personal quest to uncover the secrets to a happy life?
Or perhaps, you longed to create the life you love, but didn’t know where to start?
I’d like to share with you what I discovered, and share some of my best tips on how to always be happy and positive from my book, “The Pearl Perspective: How Changing Your Perspective Can Change Your Life.”
What Defines Happiness?
Before we delve into the tips on how to always be happy and positive, let’s define what is happiness in life. Sometimes we, as adults, over-complicate things. I think that the definition of happiness is one of them. Happiness to me is living a content, fulfilled life where moments of joy are common.
Happiness also includes having a positive attitude and making a conscious decision to cultivate positive thoughts.
It means making the choice to see the bright side of situations, looking for the lessons in hard times, concentrating on taking action to fix the things that you can, and trusting that the rest will work out.
What is Contentment?
Are happiness and contentment the same thing?
While not the same, both happiness and contentment are both pieces to the puzzle of living a happy, fulfilled life.
For example, I might not be HAPPY if I had to work late, but at the same time, I would be content if I knew the work furthered my life purpose. You might not find me at my desk with a big smile on my face, relaxed and laughing. You would probably find me at my desk with an intense look of concentration and focus.
Understanding that contentment is a component of happiness is the key that can unlock how to be happy in life always. Learning how to be positive no matter what is another key, but today we are going to focus mostly on the happiness part.
The Best Tips on How to Always Be Happy and Positive
Each of the following tips is taken from my book, The Pearl Perspective: How Changing Your Perspective Can Change Your Life. They teach you how to not just find contentment in your life right now, but also how to just be happy.
#1. Your Happiness is Your Responsibility
My husband is incredible, but he’s just a man. No other person no matter how special they are to you can always make you happy. I had to take responsibility for my life and my choices. Our choices define our lives.
In order to find your happy, the first thing you have to do is take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings. You can’t control other people’s thoughts, feelings, or reactions. You can only control yours. If I wanted to be happy, then I had to start taking some personal action.
#2. Get Your Inner Critic Under Control
The first step for me was getting my inner critic under control. Are you familiar with the inner critic?
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Stop the Negative Self-Talk for Good
It’s that voice in your head that whispers lies to us and tells us things like “you’re not good enough.” and “you can’t do that.”
When we let the inner critic run wild, those thoughts have the potential to cripple us.
We can go from feeling happy and positive to feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut in a matter of minutes if we start listening to and believing our inner critic.
#3. Squash those ANTs
Those whispers that our inner critic tells us to have another name – “automatic negative thoughts” or ANTs. Just like the insects they sound like, ANTs have a queen that drives them. Her name is Insecurity. Yes, those ANTs pop up because of our own insecurity.
Do you know what I do when I see a tiny insect ant in my house? If it’s just a single one, I squash it. You can squash your own ANTs too. They go *splat* quite easily when exposed to the truth.
A large part of learning how to always be happy and positive is learning to combat negative thoughts. You won’t be happy if those ANTs are always dragging you down.
#4. Combat Limiting Beliefs
Those ANTs that our inner critic whispers hold us back from doing what we really want to do. They form the basis for limiting beliefs that we think to be true. If you are going to live a happy life with purpose, you will have to stretch your comfort zone, which also means overcoming those limiting beliefs.
The most common way to do this is with affirmations. Affirmations are statements that we want to be true that directly conflict a limiting belief. They are a “new program” that our subconscious mind runs.
The best affirmations are a positive statement that starts with “I am” followed by emotion and wrapped up with the specific thing you want to be true. For example, if you have a goal to lose weight and your ideal weight is 128 lbs. You could craft an affirmation that says “I am feeling energetic and great at 128!”
#5. Practice Mindfulness and Live in the Moment
Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzz word lately in the personal development/personal growth field. I had never heard of it until I started blogging.
Sometimes I would do something that I was supposed to enjoy. I would go out with the family on a day trip or take the kids to the park but I would not enjoy it. Why? Because I spent the whole time with my thoughts a million miles away.
I might have been worrying about something, planning something out, thinking of being somewhere else entirely, or obsessing over something that hurt my feelings. I not only ruined the experience for myself but often for the whole family because they would be concerned about why Mom’s not happy.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout the Day
If your mind is somewhere else, how many memories of the event are you going to walk away with? Not many. You don’t know what happened because you weren’t paying attention to what was right in front of you!
Live in the moment. Fully immerse yourself in the experience. Forget about the grocery list, forget about your to-do list next week. Concentrate on who you are with and what is happening right now. Kids are masters at this. When they are playing they are fully immersed in the experience. They are not worried about next week, tomorrow, or even what will happen in the next hour. They lose themselves in the experience. Soak it up.
Stop worrying about trying to take the perfect picture of the family swimming. Put the camera down and hop in with them! One of the best gifts you can give your loved ones is the gift of your full and complete presence.
#6. Exchange Worry for Concern
Have you ever seen a Chinese finger trap? It’s a little toy, usually a novelty, that is nothing more than a woven tube. You put a finger in each side of it easily, but if you try to pull both of your fingers out quickly at the same time, you are trapped! The harder you pull, the tighter the weaving becomes! You can’t get out! Worrying is like a that Chinese finger trap – the more you pull, tug, and struggle, the tighter it binds you. You feel trapped and helpless as worry sucks away all your hard work learning how to always be happy and positive.
The truth is – worrying is a habit. When you worry, it’s much like the child who convinces him/herself there is a monster under the bed. The feelings of being terrified are real, but the monster under the bed is fiction. Worry is based on fiction, with emotions that are often overblown in relation to the real situation. It’s not constructive. Concern is worry’s more realistic cousin. Concern is fact-based and constructive with emotions that are proportional to the situation.
How To Tell the Difference in Worry and Concern
For example, if my car tires are wearing thin, concern might look like: “My tires are getting thin. With the current amount of driving that I do, I should have about a month before they need to be replaced. I’ll call several tire shops in the area and price tires, and then evaluate how I want to pay for them.”
Worrying in the same situation might look like: “Oh my goodness! My tires are getting thin! What if I have a flat on the freeway?! What if there is nowhere to pull over and I have to drive on it until it explodes or causes a huge multi-car pile-up! I could die in the wreck! My poor kids would be without a mother and my husband would be devastated! How would they make it without me?!”
Wait a minute…. I went from “My tires are thin” to “I’m dead.” Does the worrying scenario make any sense to you? Is it constructive and based on fact and are the emotions proportional to the real problem, or are they vastly overblown and based on fiction? That’s the same as trying to pull both of your fingers out of that Chinese finger trap and panicking because you can’t get them out at the same time.
The secret to escaping worry and the secret to getting out of the Chinese finger trap is the same – you let go. You will find that if you stop and evaluate the situation and ask if it based on fact or fiction, worry will start coming unraveled. Likewise, if you gently take your fingers out of the woven tube, you will find the Chinese finger trap quite easy to escape.
#7. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Comparing yourself to others is a trap. I should know because I find myself falling into it all too easily. In your journey towards unlocking the secrets to a happy life, comparing yourself to others is a habit best left behind. No two people have the same journey.
You have different gifts, talents, and strengths than anyone else. You also have different challenges to overcome, as well as different resources at your disposal.
When you compare yourself to others, you do not see the challenges that they had to overcome. When you are tempted to compare yourself to others, remember that their success is only the tip of the iceberg. Ask any successful person – they will tell you that they had their own challenges to overcome, just as you have yours.
#8. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is a major secret of how to be happy in life always. The great majority of us go through periods in our lives where we have less and periods where we have more.
When you practice gratitude, it brings the focus to what you have instead of what you don’t. The beautiful thing about gratitude is that it need not be time-consuming and you can practice it anytime, anywhere.
You can stop and ponder your blessings, or what has gone right in your day. You can make a gratitude list, journal about it, respond to gratitude prompts, or even make a gratitude jar. However, you do it, practicing gratitude is one of the most important secrets to happiness.
The biggest benefit of practicing gratitude, in my opinion, is how it shifts your mindset. You will be much better prepared for living a positive happy life when you are grateful for the good things presently in your life. I remember a day that I prayed for the things that I often take for granted now. Do you? Gratitude brings it back into remembrance.
#9. Be Mindful of Your Choices
If your choices are consistently bad and you do not take action to make them better, your life will still be unhappy. Make informed choices. Think about the consequences. Make the right choices that align with your goals.
#10. Realize that Critics Usually Have a Problem With Themselves, Not You
I am a pretty sensitive person and handling critics have always been something that I have struggled with. As I have gotten older, I started realizing that how people treat others has to do more with themselves than anyone else. Hurting people hurt others.
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You might be able to identify with this – if I am sick or hurt, I am cranky! Imagine living your whole life like that instead of just a few days. People lash out as a coping mechanism. It has nothing to do with the people they lash out at, and everything to do with them.
If someone gives you hurtful criticism, the problem is most likely how they feel about themselves.
#11. Surround Yourself with Positive Happy People
We can’t always control our environment, but when we can, it certainly helps! Surround yourself with positive people that lift you up. Pay attention to how you feel after hanging out with them.
Do you feel uplifted and energized, or do you feel sad and unmotivated? When we are around positive, happy people it makes us feel the same way. Attitudes are contagious! Make sure yours is worth catching.
#12. Take Care of Yourself
Practicing self-care is huge. Our physical and our mental health is tied together. If you are drained and exhausted all the time, you will not be happy. Remember that your happiness is your responsibility.
Take time to recharge your batteries. You would not expect your electronic device to work well if the batteries are low. You are no different. Even if you know how to always be happy and positive, you won’t be able to put it into practice if you don’t take the time for self-care.
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Take the time that you need to care for yourself and make sure that your needs are met. Your work will be much better quality, as will your gifts in caring for others. You have to make sure that there is something in your emotional bucket before you can pour anything out.
The Last Thing You Need to Know About How to Always Be Happy and Positive
If I can find the secrets to happiness and learn how to always be happy and positive I know you can too. I’m not saying that I’m perfect at it every day and that I never struggle. I am saying that I’m much happier than I was in the instance that I described in the opening paragraph.
Living a positive happy life is one of my big goals in life and it’s one that I hope we share.
Ready to start living the secrets to happiness? Get your FREE 12 Printable Affirmations to help you start thinking and living more positively today.
My book, “The Pearl Perspective” details the tips much more, but when you realize that happiness is your responsibility, you are taking the first steps towards learning how to always be happy and positive.
- Get your inner critic under control.
- start squashing those automatic negative thoughts that pop up with the truth.
- Stretch your comfort zone by combatting your limiting beliefs.
- Practice mindfulness and live in the moment. Breath it in and enjoy it.
- Exchange worry for it’s more productive cousin, concern.
- Stop comparing yourself to others and start practicing gratitude on a regular basis.
- Make well-thought-out choices.
- Realize that critics usually have a problem with themselves and not you. Most of them are just lashing out.
- Surround yourself with positive happy people and take care of yourself.
These secrets to happiness may sound simple, but they will make a world of difference in your life when you start applying them.
Just like everything else, if you want to always be happy and positive, it’s all you, Boo!
What’s your secret to always being happy and positive?
More About Guest Contributor
Jennifer Webb is the author of “The Pearl Perspective: How Changing Your Perspective Can Change Your Life” and blogger at contentmentquesting.com. She is passionate about inspiring others to live their life to the fullest and enjoying all the little things along the way.