“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama
I used to be constantly depressed.
After dropping out of college, I worked three jobs a day to help make ends meet. At the same time, my classmates were graduating from college and getting much higher paying, cushier jobs.
I lived in a tiny apartment that had cockroach problems. I constantly complained and could not find the motivation to do anything. I thought about giving up. It was only when I started making these small changes that I started to feel happier.
1. Embrace religion and/or spirituality.
Religion and spirituality have been shown to help people daily, providing hope, stamina, and faith in something bigger than themselves. It’s a largely recognized practice throughout all cultures, promoting positive ways of being, humanity, love, and morality.
Practicing religion is good for the soul and makes you more aware of those things that are beyond you.
Recognize that the universe is large, and you are a small, but key player in it. Feel significant that you are a part of such a large and wonderful system. Take time each day to pray and focus on the bigger picture, whatever that may be for you.
When I started practicing Buddhism, I found myself better able to put things in perspective. Rather than be bogged down by the immediate circumstances and the heat of the moment, I learned to first take a step back. This helped me get through many days where I would otherwise feel depressed.
Humans are social beings, so it’s important to unwind and spend time with friends. Friends provide a social network for group enjoyment, whether it’s through sharing a meal, watching a movie, or playing games. The opportunities are endless. Plus, they are your support system during tough times.
Friends are not the only means of socializing. Volunteering provides a social outlet with a humanitarian benefit. It’s a good idea to give time helping those causes that are important to you.
Are you an animal lover? Spend time at a shelter or cuddle up with kittens at Cat Haven. You’re a people person? Find a local charity that allows you to feed the homeless or help a child learn to read. If you love politics, volunteer for a candidate you believe in.
When I first started feeling depressed, I became very reclusive and would shun any interaction with those around me. I gradually realized that that was only making things worse.
Now, regardless of how busy I am, I make time to meet with my best friends at least once a week. I invariably felt happier and more relaxed after those meetings.
3. Work positively.
Your job takes up much of your day, so find ways to enjoy it. Be creative.
Bring headphones to work and listen to music while you’re being productive, which will improve your work performance. Bring flowers or simple green plants to your desk and decorate your workspace, personalizing it to you. Take small walk breaks to stretch your legs and clear your mind. Don’t forget to hydrate. It’s important for the thinking process.
Find ways to use your own set of personal skills to improve a role within your company. Your boss will be grateful. Focus on how your work enhances the lives of others or contributes to the growth of the economy in some way. Changing these small things can help you work more positively.
When presented challenging tasks at work, I used to complain a lot. My happiness and work satisfaction improved significantly when I turned this habit on its head. Instead of avoiding challenges, I looked forward to them; I now see them as a way to help me learn and grow.
4. Stay healthy and fit.
Surround yourself with nature. City living oftentimes leads to a lack of greenery, and we can forget that we all need a bit of nature and occasional distance from the fast-paced, often polluted lives we lead. Drive to a nearby park and take a walk. Find a local hiking trail or nearby lake.
Next, be active and have some fun while doing it. You should enjoy moving your body. This can take the form of dance or recreational sport. Maybe you like running alone, so you have time to for self-reflection and deep thinking. Oftentimes you come up with your best ideas when you are outside moving.
Just find what it is you love, and do that. If it’s something you enjoy, it will be easier to create the habit.
Yoga is an essential part of my daily routine. Every morning, upon waking up, I practice for thirty minutes. This daily practice is something that I have total control over. Regardless of how uncertain and stressful the day can be, I can always take solace in the fact that I still have control over this important part of my day.
5. Maintain a healthy mind.
Staying positive can be difficult some days. We all have troubling times in our lives, but there are many ways to cope with these issues that will not affect your sleep, allowing your body the rest it needs to revitalize and heal itself.
First, write your worries down each night, as if to write them away. Tell yourself these are to be resolved during your waking hours, and you will reflect on them at that time and only then. This permits yourself sleep and offers time for your body to relax, renew and restore.
Secondly, reflect on what you’re grateful for each day by writing an A-Z gratitude journal before bed. This means that you start with the beginning of the alphabet and write one word that you’re grateful for that day that begins with A, and go all the way down the list to Z.
Don’t stress it if you get stumped. This is simply an easy exercise to remind you of what you are grateful for in your life. I do this every day; it never fails to remind me of how fortunate I am in spite of everything I had gone through.
Thirdly, meditate; practice deep breathing and mindfulness and accept the things that “are.” It’s a simple concept, but can be a more difficult practice. It will get easier with practice.
6. Cherish your home.
Your home should reflect the people that live in it. Someone should be able to walk into your house and feel like it couldn’t be a home for anyone else but you. It should reflect your personality and emanate positive vibes.
It should be inviting and filled with love. It should reflect the wonderful life that you live, enhancing your hobbies and ideals that are important to you. Fill it with positivity, nature, and your personality.
I take time at least once a month to do a mini house project, which can range from buying some plants for the house to repainting a part of the ceiling.
7. Get to know yourself.
Everyone is great at something, whether it’s writing, creating websites, drawing, or something else. Find your personal gift and develop that skill. Give time to that skill, and recognize this is part of who you are. Enjoy and embrace it.
Trying something new once in a while can help you discover interesting hidden talents. I didn’t know I was good at social dancing until I randomly decided to go for a class with a friend one day.
In addition, don’t just focus on doing the things you’re good at. Do the things that you love as well, whether it’s reading, relaxing, traveling, or playing sports. Make sure you carve out some time for those activities you enjoy.
Thirdly, it’s vital to spend some time in solitude each day so that you can reflect and grow. This is something that’s important for everyone, even for those that are married and have families. You have to be whole and happy before you can help take care of your extended family and those around you.
Be kind to yourself. Happy living!
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