We think we know what we need to be happy. It's the perfect partner, job, or home, right? It's increasingly common to look outside to find what will 'make' us happy, when the things we really need are already deep within us.
Sometimes we look outside of ourselves so often that the true path to our happiness becomes convoluted, and we feel lost. There are, however, some ways to break through what's distancing you from your happiness, and reclaim your ability to connect with what makes you truly, madly, deeply, intrinsically happy.
Look Back, But Don't Live There
Some say you have to see where you came from to see where you are going. But what about when that refection turns into rumination? Rumination is less effective because rather than allowing you to learn, grow, and move on, it stops you in your tracks and perpetuates feelings that bring you down. So make it a point to look back, but not for longer than you need to internalize a lesson. What happened to you doesn't need to be indicative of what your future can bring.
Practice the art of speaking about a "bad" thing once or twice, and then removing it from your list of things to bring up to friends or family, allowing for a refreshed outlook, and new experiences to enter you life.
Internalize The Lessons Hardships Bring
There are people who always seem to rise above the hard stuff, and are so happy, you'd never know what battles they've fought in their lifetime. What makes them a winner? They recognize that you're "riding hight in April, and shot down in May." They default to viewing a setback as a gift broadening empathy for themselves and others, and a catalyst for a greater developed internal strength. It's not about what happens to you, but rather, the perspective you take when you look back, as you actively move forward.
Try journaling to get to the root of your negative feelings so that you can begin to distance yourself from 'em, lesson in tow.
Favor Difficult Conversations & Actions Over Quick Fixes
There are plenty of easy/quick fixes out there to life's problems: a few drinks, a 5-finger-discount, and romp with someone you don't know, or even the decision to sit on the couch instead of attending that social event across town. Don't let yourself willingly be robbed of the things you truly want. If you settle for a solution that is less-than-enduring, you'll only have the same issue revisit until you try a more lasting approach.
Think about the times you've made decisions that left you feeling good for a moment, but worse later on. What are steps you can take to ensure you engage in more difficult, but ultimately worthwhile behaviors that build you up?
Derive Happiness From Relationships & Experiences
Do you strive for the corner office or to have the latest and greatest gadget no matter the expense to your personal values? Take a moment to contemplate what you want out of life on a deeper level, and write down a few ways that you can get those relationships or experiences into your life.
If feeling connected makes you feel happy, you can begin to host events bringing people together, or invite potential friends out-n-about. Or if you wish you had more international travel experience, let work know a few months in advance, start saving and set automatic alerts for travel deals.
Hone An Awareness of How You Feel When Engaging With People
What makes one person toxic to another? It could be the negative Ned of the office who somehow manages to dim your life outlook a little more each time you chit-chat, or gregarious Georgina who speaks ill of others, making you wonder what she says about you, or a perfectly 'normal' human you just don't jive with. A toxic person could be a family member, friend, or coworker with the best intentions, but with the effect of making you feel less optimistic or trusting. You may find yourself internalizing that you're not good enough, or that you should really tone down your unrealistic ambition.
When you spend time with people this week, make note of how you feel after each conversation. Do you feel drained, apathetic, or down? Distance yourself from the toxicity of that relationship. Do you feel uplifted, motivated and vibrant? Get some more of that in your life! Your intuition knows.