Wednesday, 2 November 2016

How to be a Happier Person

noun: happiness; plural noun: happinesses
the state of being happy.
"she struggled to find happiness in her life"

Funny how the example above is so true for most of us. Happiness isn't quite an emotion anymore, it's a goal. An almost unconquerable goal, at that. It's something we all strive for. Something we all chase. Something that may or may not be within us, but something we need to choose all the same.

I'm going to be honest here. It's not always easy being happy.

But it's worth a shot, isn't it?

I've struggled with happiness myself. Mostly because I'm not quite as emotionally stable as I'd like to be, so I tend to go back and forth, but I do like to think of myself as a positive, optimistic person. And so today, I'm going to tell you - and myself - six ways to start your journey as a happier person. Let's get started.

1) Create an Intention
First things first: decide to be happy. Okay, I know what you're thinking: "Swati, why on earth would I decide to be unhappy?" But think about it. It's so much easier - and somehow more satisfying to the sadist within - to be miserable and complaining and grumpy all the time, isn't it? Isn't that why most of us share those memes on Facebook about being unhappy or thinking about death as a way of comedic relief (something I never do, just so you know - I don't have a twisted sense of humour)?
So yes. I'm telling you to choose happiness over sadness. One way you can do this is to create an intention every morning. Wake up, look at yourself in the mirror as you're brushing your teeth, and say, "I choose to be happy." It may sound silly. But do it just the same. This is going to set the tone for the rest of your day, and give you a jumpstart into being a happier, more positive person. If you don't intend to be happy, none of these tips will work for you. I can guarantee that.

2) Don't Criticise

Oh, this is a tough one to fix. Criticism seems to be hard-wired into our brains. A defence mechanism, perhaps? I don't know. Anyway, we have a tendency to criticise each and every thing that we come across, no matter how amazing or perfect it may seem. Old aunties do this ("oh, that bride may be pretty, but she's too skinny - how will she bear children?), our parents do this ("why can't you be more like Sharmaji's son?") and we ourselves do it ("I hate that professor. Why is she always on her phone in class?"). I'm not saying those things aren't justified. Maybe they are; how would I know? But criticising changes nothing. Constructive criticism does, sure, but not the one we partake in.
So how can you become a less critical person? For that, head over to step 3.

3) On the Bright Side...
Do this exercise every time a negative thought or criticism enters your head: "On the bright side..." Want an example or two? "She's too skinny a bride, but on the bright side, she loves the groom so very much." "You may not be as smart as Sharmaji's son, but on the bright side, you're such a good photographer!" "That professor is always on her phone in class, but on the bright side, she doesn't mind us using ours!"
See how you turned that negative thought into a positive one? There's always a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. There's always a silver lining to a cloud. You just have to search for it. It's easier to criticise, sure, and it may feel satisfying at first... but in the long run, being resentful will get you nowhere.

4) Affirm It
There's this great blog post by Jeff Goins I read a few years ago about how he always said he wanted to be a writer... until his friend pulled him aside and said, "You are a writer. Just start writing."
Such a big shift in your mindset, isn't it? And it makes all the difference. If you want to be a happy person, stop just wanting it and start affirming it. Think of yourself as a happy, positive, magnetic person, and start attracting those vibes and that aura towards you. If you think, "Oh, I want to be happy, but I'm so negative," then you're going to stay negative. Remember, creating the intention is one thing. Affirming it is another.
You are a happy person. Just start being happy.

5) Be Grateful, Baby
If you've been following me on Instagram, you'd know that I'm big on gratitude. I recently completed the 28-day gratitude challenge from the book The Magic, and I can't say how much it's helped to shift my attitude to one of gratitude.
If you want to become a happier person tomorrow, you need to start being grateful for the things you already have today. Gratitude makes you happy - it's been scientifically proven. Positive psychology for the win!
So if you aren't already being grateful, start. Download apps like Attitudes of Gratitude or Bliss on your phone, both of which I've used and loved. Grab a diary and jot down ten things to be grateful for every day. Whether it's that first cup of coffee in the morning or a special person in your life or even the air you breathe, it doesn't matter as long as you're genuinely feeling grateful for it. Trust me, this will change the way you see things. It will make you happier. And I know it's tough. Some days, it's hard for me to get all ten items on the list. That's okay. List down as many as you can. It will make a difference. I promise.

6) Be Around Happy People
Now, I'm not saying you should ditch your friends in their time of need. No. Absolutely not. But there's a difference between a bad situation and a bad personality. Some people are highly negative, draining and exhausting to be around. They're a bad influence on you, period. On the other hand, some people - the ones who have already been following these tips - are full of joie de vivre and are so much fun to be around. Be around those people. Try to emulate their habits. Ask them what's their secret.
And if you can't let go of those negative people - maybe they're family, or your best friend, or your soulmate - then challenge them to do the gratitude practices with you. Maybe together, you can both become happier people. That's killing two birds with one stone, isn't it?

If you've enjoyed this blog post, go ahead and share it with your friends, especially the ones who you think can benefit from being happier. What are some of your tips for becoming a more positive person? What's the one random piece of gratitude from your list today? Mine is gratitude for "honey and almond cornflakes. I never realised how delicious they are!"

I'll see you soon, Geeks. Bye!