Here’s the thing about happiness: it shouldn’t be circumstantial. If you’re all sunshine and roses when things are fab, but miserable and dejected when things aren’t so fab, you’re at the mercy of your external environment. You’re a puppet, and someone else is holding the strings.
If a wayward breeze or an unanswered text or an unexpected accident can destroy your outlook on life, you’re a victim of circumstance. Nobody wants to be a victim.
Truly happy people manage to maintain their joy through even the toughest of times. Are they always cheerful? Are they smiling at funerals? Are they stoked to lose their jobs? No. They have normal, healthy reactions to shitty circumstances. But they eek out happiness wherever they are. Their enthusiasm for life remains intact.
I’m still working on it, myself. It’s not easy to stay upbeat when things look grim, but it’s a skill worth cultivating.
Here’s how to stay happy when times are tough:
Count your blessings.
If you’re not already doing this every day, WHY NOT? I can’t stress this enough, appreciation can change your life. And even if it seems like 86 things are going wrong, I guarantee you more are going right. You’re alive, you have people who love you, you’re fed and watered, the sun is shining — life is pretty sweet, from any perspective.
See the bigger picture.
I believe in our benevolent universe. I believe it brings us what we need, when we need it. I also believe it knows us better than we know ourselves. Its timeline is not our timeline, and what seems like a horrible twist of fate or nasty blow might be the best thing that ever happened to us. We just can’t see it from where we currently stand. Try to trust in the wisdom of it all. In the words of Byron Katie (LOVE HER): “Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.”
Occupy yourself with worthy pursuits. Frankly, I interpret, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” to mean, too much time to think = hell in a handbasket. Volunteer, throw yourself into an art project, EXERCISE like crazy — just keep yourself occupied, mind and body (and ideally, soul).
Immerse yourself in inspiration.
I think this should be a daily routine, but it’s even more important if things are looking grim. Read stories of survivors; watch elevating vids; talk to positive people who’ve overcome obstacles. Often, tragedy or adversity brings out the best in people.
Imagine the alternatives.
We use our noggins to torture ourselves, to worry incessantly, to dream up horrible scenarios — but how often do we use its powers for good? Imagination is everything, and if you can see it, you can be it. Visualize yourself exactly as you want to be. See your unpleasant situation leading to a happier, healthier you. You’re a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Endless paths could stem from your current coordinates. Open your mind to all the journeys that may await.
Don’t fight reality.
Right this minute, things are what they are. So much of our suffering stems from arguing with what is, wishing it were different. It’s your choice to accept this moment as it comes, or fight futilely for something else. The now is always perfect, if we choose to see it as such.
Any others you’d add? I’d love to hear how you stay happy when times are tough. <3