Last week was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, so I was invited to speak on a panel about happiness put together by ELLE Magazine. In the social media age, we all curate our timelines to show the very best of our lives. We have excellently composed highlight reels, editing out anything that doesn’t hit the required level of perfection, so it’s easy to feel as though there’s more pressure than ever to be happy all the time. So, what to do when you’re just not feeling it? How can you buck up when things ain’t going your way and everyone around you seems to have a picture perfect life?
We had a great discussion on the panel that night. I thought I’d share a few of my go-to methods to finding your own happy:
Stop thinking happiness is the ultimate goal
Happy is but one emotion. You will not, nor are you designed to, feel happy all the time. And that’s perfectly OK! You’re supposed to feel other emotions. Happiness, just like everything else, comes in waves. It’s not some magical perma-state of being. It’s always worth remembering that people who say they’re happy all the time are pretty full of shit.
Comparison is the thief of joy
If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it eleventy billion times. Stop using other people’s lives as a yardstick for your own happiness. Their life is not your life. You don’t know their struggles and failures. You don’t see their tears, hurt and pain. You can’t just see the end result (their success) and feel bad you don’t have that too – you have no clue what they went through to get there. In short, stay in your lane. Be happy for the success of others, but don’t start measuring your life against someone else’s.
An intimate knowledge of and relationship with yourself is integral to finding any kind of happiness. We all know someone who has a ‘I’ll be happy when…’ list. According to them, the happiness will come when they make more money, find the right relationship, have kids, or get the right job. Nope, nope, nope and also, nope. It’s never going to come from an outside source. Get to know you – and lemme tell ya, that is not a comfortable process. You’re not going to like everything you find out about yourself, but you have to sit with the squirmy discomfort of that for a bit, because only with that true knowledge can you learn, grow and really understand what makes you tick. Just being cool with who you are opens you up to premium levels of happiness.
Yup, obviously I’m always going to preach the importance of exercise. And look, it’s 2017 – that whole ‘Ahh, I’m a mess! I just like to get wasted! I don’t do exercise, exercise is for losers!’ thing is very 2010, cut that shit out. No one’s saying you have to train like an Olympian, you just have to get off your ass for a little bit each day. Exercise triggers all these neurotransmitters in your brain that are linked to mood, so there’s a legit scientific reason as to why you feel better after you do it. Enough with the excuses already, just go do it. Also, the you 50 years from now will thank you for it.
3 Good Things
One of my besties, Sarah Waite, taught me this. At the end of every day, write down three good things that happened. Simples. They don’t have to be big, life changing moments (actually, it’s kind of the point that they aren’t). I’ve written down things ranging from hitting major goals to cooking my favourite meal that day, the weather being great, having a nap or receiving a text that made me smile. The effect? No matter how crappy you think your day was, you can always find at least three things that made you feel good.
Locate and use the unfollow button
You know how everyone talks about how everything on social media seems so perfect and all these images make you feel crappy about yourself and makes everything seem so unattainable and arrggghhh, it’s all too much! You know there’s an easy way to solve that, right? Anything that makes you feel less than, makes you question your worth, feel crappy about your body, feel pressured to fit into an ideal you don’t subscribe to – simply locate and use the unfollow button on that account. You have options. Why are you willingly absorbing content that makes you miserable? That makes no damn sense! Take ownership, take control of what you take in. Choose good, positive, loving, uplifting shiz. It’s way better.