How to be Happy

We’ve all been there: down in the dumps, our stress meter is red-lined and we’re ready to run away and find a sunny beach.  As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I’ve definitely spent more time than I care to think about feeling down. Here’s a list of the things I did (and do) to help move myself from unhappy to happy.

Recharge

  • Take care of yourself.

No one else’s wants are more important than your needs. Pay the Bills. Keep your home clean. Eat healthy meals when they are hot. Get as much sleep as you can. Get exercise. Drink water. Go to the doctor (make the time!). Get your hair cut.

  • Your wants are as important as anyone elses wants.

Do the things that make you happy, even when they are of no use to anyone but you. Paint. Read. Play video games. Go get a massage. Have a night out. Go to the movies.  Do whatever it is that you do to make yourself enjoy the world around you

Engage

  • Learn to say yes and mean it.

Say yes to play. Say yes to adventure. Say yes to going out. Say yes to laughter. Say yes to cuddling. Work yes into your life, and when you say yes, engage joyfully and fully, not out of a sense of obligation.

  • Connect with community.

Get involved in something that connects you with people and your community. Volunteer. Go to Church (I say this as an atheist.). Join the local theater group. Go to game night at the comic shop. Do whatever you can to connect with people.

Detach.

  • Remember that the only person you can control is you.

Everyone else makes their own choices. You can lay down boundaries and consequences, but you can’t actually change anyone but you, which means you can’t take ownership of anyone elses behavior or feelings. Including your children.

  • Acknowledge other people’s emotions and backdrops.

Let people have bad days. Let other people own their own emotions, positive and negative. Including your children.

  • Learn to say no without guilt or excuses.

You don’t need to justify your reasons, you don’t need to have reasons. You can say no to anything except meeting the needs (not wants) of your children.

  • Anger and frustration are symptoms of feeling powerless to change the things that are bothering you.

Recognize when those things triggering anger are not things under your control and be willing to adjust your boundaries and consequences accordingly or change your mental framework and perspective.

With all of that said, if you feel persistently unhappy, or gray, or irritable, get help. Depression is real. It is also very treatable. And, as with any other illness, it’s easier to treat the earlier you catch it. So, if you think you might be depressed talk to your family doctor or seek the help of a licensed therapist. I have and I can promise, it helps.

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