Many of us feel that in the not so distant past everything in our lives was going well; we had a great job, a good income, functioning family, time to enjoy things, and life, in general, was satisfying and happy. Then, out of the blue, our company started laying people off, our relationships hit hardship, someone close to us has passed away, or we entered retirement and suddenly feel an emptiness - in each and every one of these situations, the happiness we felt might suddenly turn into sadness, frustration, and anger.
This narrative we’ve written may seem familiar to you, but you'll be surprised to hear that it's not foreign to anyone who’s had a personal crisis of any kind. So how do you bring happiness back to your life? How do you get out of the darkness that prevails in your world and return the light that was there before? To answer these important questions, we’ve compiled nine life tips for you that you can apply to bring the happiness back to your life.
“When a person can't find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure,” said psychiatrist Victor Frankl, one of the most prominent intellectuals of the 20th century who wrote the book "Man’s Search for Meaning" following his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Frankl developed logotherapy, a psychotherapeutic approach that emphasizes the desire for meaning as something guiding us, humans. If you are dealing with dissatisfaction, depression and a sense of sadness, you can take care of yourself by starting to apply the principles of Frankl's approach to your life by following these simple steps:
“Keep your options open.” You’ve probably heard this piece of advice more than once, but know that keeping your options too open will often make you nervous, stressed, and exhausted by trying to decide between too many things. When too many choices are at hand, your decisions may become less and less favorable. The most important and significant thing you can do to restore happiness to your life is to gradually and efficiently reduce the number of insignificant decisions that you need to make each day. How do you do that? Adopt a routine like this:
The average person is exposed daily to dozens of messages, visible and subconscious, that dictate how they should look and what they should do to be happy and integrate into society. What is sad here is that in most cases, even when we follow these messages, instead of integrating, we find ourselves feeling even more disconnected. When we don’t feel loved and understood for who we are, we can never feel happy.
Therefore, being able to learn how to remain true to oneself is one of the key points of restoring happiness to life. You will only be able to adopt this ability if you realize that moments of vulnerability are the points in time when we are most exposed to embarrassment and if you learn how to deal with them and accept them in the right way, you’ll be able to brush off and get up that much quicker and correctly. Start in the simplest way, get up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, "I may not be perfect, but that’s perfectly normal, okay, and acceptable" and continue your day with this approach.
Human curiosity has almost no limit, and in each and every one of us lies its seeds. Satisfying our curiosity – which is expressed by us being captivated by a thriller or constantly checking our e-mails - causes the release of the hormone dopamine in our brain, which causes vitality and elation. But while the small examples we mentioned are responsible for brief moments of happiness, Dr. Todd Kashdan, a psychologist, lecturer, and author of several books on curiosity, argues that in order to stay happy for a long time, we need to develop "inquisitive curiosity." "Instead of trying desperately to explain and control our world, we embrace uncertainty, and see our lives as an enjoyable quest to discover, learn and grow." So how do you become "curiosity researchers”, as Kashdan defines it? Begin by adopting the following habits:
It may sound like a cliché, but it has been proven correct time after time: the happiest people are those who have a positive influence on others. Denis Waitley, a lecturer, and author of motivational books, once said: "No man or woman is an island. To exist just for yourself is meaningless. You can achieve the most satisfaction when you feel related to some greater purpose in life, something greater than yourself", and he is absolutely right.
Each of us has a talent that we can contribute to the world, the hard part is not the sharing itself, but only finding out what it is that we can share with others to help them and ourselves. Think carefully about what your personal ability is, or better yet - just go out, do and contribute wherever you can, and there is certainly a chance that you’ll find what you do best. Quite a few studies show that giving is a powerful tool for achieving happiness and restoring it to our lives, and doing so can certainly give us the energy boost that we so desperately need.
There are quite a few cases in life that things don’t go as expected and things we thought would be good and pleasant are proving to be quite a difficulty. For example you always wanted a new car, but from the second you bought it you were worried about scratching it; you always wanted to retire, but from the moment you reached retirement age – you suddenly found yourself without employment, looking for meaning in life; and there are other examples as well. Daniel Gilbert, a professor at Harvard University, says one of the reasons for this dissatisfaction is that we misjudge the results we’ll produce from taking certain steps and the kinds of things that make us happy.
To avoid this mistake and to predict more accurately what will make him happy, Gilbert says "If I wonder what it's like to become a lawyer or marry a busy executive or eat at a particular restaurant my best bet is to find people who have actually done these things and see how happy they are." This is the way to predict happiness more precisely - to find in your surroundings people who already have the lifestyle you want to adopt, hear their experiences and understand how they perceive happiness.
Getting into your daily routine is one of the most common causes of dissatisfaction, and you are more likely to suffer from it. Simply put, you are a bit bored, but at the same time, you may be hesitating to experience something new. For example, you may not really like the job you have now, but on the other hand worry that if you leave, then your economic situation will deteriorate and nothing better will pop up.
Whether it's the situation you're suffering from or another issue that makes you feel that you have no way out of this vicious cycle - leaving your comfort zone can eventually turn out to be the most appropriate step to lead your life to a much more satisfying place. How can this be done despite all the hesitations and fears? Here are two ways to strengthen your desire to get out of your routine and experiment with things that are not in your "comfort zone":
One of the most significant differences between happy and unhappy people is the habitual routines that we, as human beings, feel we can’t do without. Charles Duhigg, an expert in science and technology, argued in his book "The Power of Habit" that all habits consist of three parts: the cue (the catalyst), the habit itself, and the reward. We will explain this argument in an example of a very common habit of smoking: the stress and tension that a person feels in their life may be the catalyst that causes them to perform the act itself - cigarette smoking, and the reward is nicotine, which allows the body to relax somewhat, but it is clearly not healthy in any way.
If your habits and hobbies don’t make you healthier and happier, the result may be that you spend more than half your day doing things that will not really benefit your long-term satisfaction. If this is true for you, try to change your habits and make them better and more useful to you. For example, if stress is the cause of your smoking, try taking a walk or engaging in activities like yoga and meditation which will relieve stress, replace your body's demand for nicotine, and lead you to a healthier and happier lifestyle.
We’ve become accustomed to suppressing emotions perceived as negative such as sorrow and pain. Whether we’ve lost our jobs, loved ones, or any other case that has caused us a heavy feeling – we can often feel expected to recover from the heartbreak and return to our normal lives quickly. The mistake is that we make ourselves meet these impossible expectations and prevent the tears or the sense of pain from breaking out. That feeling continues to exist in you and only becomes worse and more harmful if you try to lock it within you.
Therefore, it is important that you express your feelings fully, whether positive or negative, and even give yourself a period of time to sink into and experience them in their entirety. Turn emotional recognition into a habit, so that once you begin to feel sad, you’ll be able to clearly tell yourself, "I feel sad" and from then on you will be able to give into this feeling and freedom to experience it in all of you. Remember, however, that the most important thing is not to get sucked into depression and turn yourself into a victim, but to feel the sensation within you, to give it room to seep in, and let it go when the time is right.