It's hard to be happy when you are stressed, resentful, or afraid. We all go through periods of time where events in life make us feel one or more of these negative emotions. When we experience these feelings for too long of a stretch, our brain establishes these emotions as a routine - it forgets how to be happy.
The first steps along the road to happiness are very simple. You may have to force yourself at first. If you are depressed, angry, or unhappy you can easily feel justified and become attached to these states.
- Be grateful - about anything - your spouse, your home, your life, the sunrise, your dog, your job - it doesn't matter what, just be grateful for something. Make it a practice to take a few moments every day and be grateful. Establishing a practice of gratitude first thing in the morning and again just before bed time in the evening can be very effective.
- Be generous - smile, forgive someone, give to charity, buy someone a cup of coffee, send someone a check in the mail ( for no reason ), offer your time. Knowing that you have more than enough ( time, money, love, whatever) will help you to acknowledge and share in the abundance of the world around you.
- Love yourself. This one always sounds corny to me. If it seems to cheesy or mushy to you, start off with loving life; you'll learn to love yourself later. Fake it if you have to. Tell yourself over and over - I LOVE LIFE! I LOVE MY LIFE! It may take a lot of repetitions to re-wire your brain, but it will happen eventually. The human mind is very malleable.
- Do something fun. Think back to something that you once really enjoyed doing and DO IT! Try doing it again. Give yourself permission to have fun.
There are many things that you can do to be happy. Below I've listed a few great resources, but for now, try with the few steps above. Establish these routines as habits - baby steps.
Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living