As much as this list of ten things I’ve written will help you to get out of a funk or brighten your life up, they aren’t a cure for depression which is a serious mental illness. I’m in no way implying that just by doing these things you’ll be “better”, because what many people don’t realize is that depression isn’t something that most people want to feel. For depressive disorders and symptoms, you should see your doctor (which I am not).
That being said, I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, and climbing out of depression is a steep hill that this kind of way of life can definitely help with. If you have any questions, please let me know!
1) Understand that positivity is not synonymous with naivety.
Having a positive outlook on life in general is extremely important for you to maintain happiness. If you’re always playing devil’s advocate in an nonconstructive way, assuming the negative outcome is the one that will eventually come to fruition, you’ll never get excited about anything! Sure, maybe you’ll “never be disappointed” if you keep your expectations low, but really keeping your expectations low is just being disappointed in life as a whole.
It’s not easy to be optimistic, to see a cracked glass as half full. Sometimes we’re in a shitty situation, but it is possible to train yourself to find sparkly (silver) linings. Think about each day as an opportunity, and every opportunity as full of possibility. Waking up on a Monday excited for what your day and week has in store for you isn’t naive. It’s healthy, and it takes skill.
2) Give your time, money, and attention to others.
Truly happy people dedicate large portions of their life to other people. It can be donating to charity or volunteering at a soup kitchen, sure, but it can be on a smaller scale, too! Show your friends, family, and significant other that you love them in whatever way feels the best to you. Write notes, leave gifts, say kind words, run errands for your loved ones. Do random acts of kindness for strangers!
No matter what it is, make sure you’re spending some of your day thinking about someone else in an altruistic way. Not that all of your time is spent thinking about yourself, but when we’re thinking about others it might be in a different vein. Maybe we’re cursing the guy that cut us off while merging, or thinking about how our boss is going to react to our presentation. I’m talking about thinking about someone else to make their life a little better. Make them smile, if nothing else.
3) Keep some of your life offline.
As a blogger, this might seem hypocritical. Yes, I share a lot of my life online– but it’s my job! It’s a decision I’ve made. But there are plenty of things that I choose to keep personal, because when you share everything you realize even more that there is something special about having a secret between you and one other person you love.
Whether you’re a blogger or not, you shouldn’t blast everything on the internet. Make an effort to actually enjoy experiences with all of your senses and mind instead of viewing it through a viewfinder or brainstorming what hashtag would go great with the 140 character quip you’re drafting.
4) Go with the flow and release the feeling of control.
Happy people understand that you can’t control other people, and it’s useless getting worried over external forces. Can you prepare? Sure! But at the end of the day you have to just let it go. No matter what you’re doing, you’re going to receive criticism and judgment. By living your life the way you want you’re inviting those things. People are going to envy you, hate you, and completely disagree with you. It’s all okay. (Tips to dealing with negativity.) You don’t need anyone else’s approval to do what you want in this life, and realizing that is a huge key to happiness.
photo credit: Travis Curry Photography
5) Enjoy the thing you do that makes you money.
Not everyone has the ability to call their own shots with their job, and that’s okay. But there is a terrible misconception that we’re supposed to hate our jobs. Not true! There is something out there that you can do that you will enjoy on some level, and it’s really important that you search for it. If you’re dreading to go to work in the morning, start finding more options!! Most people work about a third of their days, and that’s an unacceptable amount of time to be miserable. You do not have to stick out miserable situations.
6) Take care of yourself. Every single day.
Just be generally healthy. Get enough sleep, eat fruits and vegetables, and don’t consume too many drugs. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” Without basic human needs met, you can’t move on in your journey towards joy and self-actualization. So take your vitamins, go to the doctor if you’re sick, and don’t sit for super long periods. Make that beautiful body of yours move! Here are 50 ways to practice self care!
7) Love yourself. Every single day.
You have to know you’re wonderful. If you hate yourself, you’re going to find a very hard time being happy with anything else. Self love is one of the more important things I could ever teach you to do and, just like being happy, it is a skill. Build your confidence to realize that you deserve to be as happy as you want to be.
8) Show appreciation (for the little things).
Make note of how grateful you are for this life. Maybe it’s in your mind, verbally to a friend, or maybe you keep a happy journal. Recognize the things that you are able to have, feel, and experience and know that’s a gift. Happy people don’t take things for granted, instead they marvel over the life they already have.
It’s no secret I’m an advocate for celebrating the small (and stranger) things about life. You might not do it the way I do, with silly holidays and an “excessive” amount of glitter as (all of) my friends would say, but you do it your way. Take note of your five senses in every situation. How does this experience taste and sound? It’s okay to have “child-like” fun. Fun is fun.
9) Engage in human contact and affection.
Some people don’t like sex. It’s true! But that doesn’t mean that human contact and affection are out of the question. Long hugs, shoulder rubs, and hand holding are all great forms of physical contact that scientifically make you happier and healthier. Don’t discount sex, though! Sex and orgasms, whether with another person or alone, are going to make you feel more relaxed, satisfied, and happy because of all those chemicals that are released in your brain! And also… it feels awesome.
10) Embrace all of your emotions, but really make an effort to laugh and smile.
Don’t forget that being happy is an overall thing. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to get angry, frustrated, and sad. It’s good to feel it all, and you have to allow those emotions to wash over you organically. The good news is that when you’re a happy person overall, it makes it a lot easier to leave those “negative” emotions quicker and get back to your general state of joy.
Kids laugh hundreds of times every day, and we tend to not get anywhere near that as adults. It sucks! There’s a reason why kids are so happy most of the time, and this is one of them. You’ve gotta laugh. Hang out with interesting, funny, happy people. Get Netflix and watch a few stand-up comedy specials every week. Go outside and play. Fun, smiles, and laughter are all connected, and if you smile and laugh for long enough you’re brain will get tricked into feeling better!