One of the top regrets of the dying is, “I wish I’d let myself be happier”. Those words “LET myself be happier.” By saying it like that, it would seem they believed they actually had some control over their happiness. And if that’s the case, how in the world can we be happier? When I was in private practice, this question came up in nearly every session. No matter the issue that brought a client in the first place, most saw happiness as paramount in addressing their goals.

Do any of you have that person in your life that no matter what happens, they’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop? That even if they won the lottery, would complain about how much would go to taxes?! Do you consider yourself a happy person? Would the people around you agree?

I not ashamed to say that for me, I sometimes have days are just plain difficult. I embrace the negativity Nancy attitude and promise to try again the next day. Because sometimes, you just need a minute. And though we all go through seasons that are challenging, painful and even and scary, remembering to acknowledge our feelings, find support and believe that things do get better- and our past happiness and gratitude serves as padding for those rocky times.

Happiness is fundamentally important to our well-being. If we are happy our life is more full, we’re more enjoyable to be around- it’s like a magnet attracting others to us. It creates an energy or motivation to grow, learn and achieve. Our physical health can even improve.

Tangible steps to happiness:

  1. Identify and verbalize our gratitudes. You know the drill, beyond the material possessions, what good things do you have in your life? Friends, healthy children, family that show up when you need them, a job you enjoy, a partner you can laugh with.
  2. Avoid comparing yourself to others. This is so challenging! With everyone posting their best moments on their social media, we can easily fall into the trap that our friend’s lives are perfect. As a therapist, I can tell you everyone has a story. And often times, it’s lot more involved than you can ever imagine. A good lesson in not judging a book by its cover. No one is perfect, no matter what his or her Instagram feed looks like!
  3. Doing something for others. Did you know that when you do something nice for others, your brain actually releases serotonin (the feel good hormone) and you feel happier and more content. This is called the “helpers high.” For. Real.
  4. Spend time with people who support and encourage you. This is paramount. Especially as a mother. Find your tribe of other moms, family or friends and plug yourself in. We all need to know we’re not alone in our challenges and have the freedom to just be a hot mess every now and again.
  5. Know your triggers. Let’s be real, we all have them. Whether it’s someone we work with, a family member or subject that manages to press our every last button. Know them. Be intimately familiar with how your behavior or mood shifts in these situations. If you know it’s going to happen, you can cultivate your response, your nod and smile, if you will, your boundary setting or the old, letting roll off your back deep breath. I’ve often noticed that when someone rubs me the wrong way, it could be my own insecurity at play. Check yo-self, before you wreck, yo-self.
  6. Commit to your goals. What are the goals that you’ve put on hold or have promised you would revisit? Dust them off, start by setting smaller goals so you can work toward something you know will make your happiness tank fuller.

So there you go! Nothing too earth shattering or new, I’m sure. But simple advice from a mama who’s working to find happiness and contentment while the world spins madly on! Would love to hear what you think and things you believe keep your happiness tank full- let me know!