Why try so hard all the time, only to feel like you’re falling short? If you really want to know how to be happy and content, they key is to learn to accept yourself – just as you are.
Psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopoulos presents her top must-dos and real solutions for how to be happy.
Tips on how to be happy:
Be the unedited you
Want to know how to be happy all the time? It’s all about learning to let go of self-consciousness. No one has the right to judge you – accepting that is the first step towards being the unedited you. Break the habit of shaping your personality to fit those around you. People-pleasing won’t bring you happiness. Remember, if you can’t fit your internal critic, you’ll struggle to be happy.
Forget the word ‘must’
Next time you think “I must” or “I should” or “I have to”, challenge that thought. As soon as those words enter our head, life feels like a chore and our sense of control goes out the window, along with our sense of fun. Reframe the way you see your “musts” in life so that you feel like you’re doing things on your terms.
Say your mother wants you to visit her for the day; why not suggest taking her for lunch instead? Altering the terms and time frame means both of you can have the day you want. Be clear which things in life are the real “have tos” and which ones you’ve chosen for yourself. Decide which musts really matter.
Pick your fights
No matter how great your relationship with your partner, you’re bound to have the odd bicker. It may be that you’ve got into the habit of picking up on the little things, instead of addressing the fundamentals.
So he didn’t do the dishes. Ask yourself, “What’s the real issue here?” It’s probably that you feel it shows a lack of respect or raises issues about who cares about who the most. Look out for any patterns or recurring themes as a clue to what’s important to you. Then talk to him about what’s really bugging you.
Also check if what you heard is what was actually said. Did he really say, “I can’t be bothered to make conversation with you?” Or did he just say he was feeling tired after work? Reflecting back on what you’ve heard helps clear up any miscommunication, making for a happier relationship.
Make peace with ageing
Challenge the idea that you’re “less perfect” as you grow older and never allow age to define you either. So you want to learn to Samba in your 60s, or spend the summer on an Indian yoga retreat? Mastermind your own happiness plan and ignore the expectations of others. Ask yourself, “Does your self-worth lie in your looks or in the brilliant way you connect with your children, your work, or your talent for painting?”
Don’t put all your “self-esteem eggs” in the beauty/youth basket. Focus on your passions and your talents and make sure you recognise the increased wisdoms that you have certainly acquired.
Whether it’s your boss or a so-called friend who fires a killer insult at you, instead of dwelling on it, only give yourself a set amount of time – say 15 minutes – to think it over. Ask, “Is there anything I can learn from this comment? Do I want to confront them about it?” If nothing positive can come from it, then don’t let it take up headspace, which could be given to healthier, happier thoughts.
There’s a great saying which goes, “There are only two things to worry about”:
- Things you can fix, in which case, fix them
- Things you can’t fix, in which case, stop worrying about them!
So, if for instance, your boss humiliates you in front of your team, you can either make your feelings known by saying, “Next time you pull me up on something, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t do it in front of other people” Or, accept he’s not going to change, then let his comment wash over you. His toxicity is his problem, don’t let it spoil your day.
Laugh at yourself
When you’re able to laugh at yourself, it shows you accept the real you, imperfections and all. Once you get in the habit, it’s amazing how easy it becomes. It’s a trait that many naturally happy people share – they could have exactly the same day as someone else, but would find snatches of humour in little moments, which others might miss Retrain your brain to think like an optimist and find something to laugh at every day.