Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to become a "Happy Person"

Photo Credit: fauxto_digit           
            We have all encountered those people who seem to be perpetually happy and successful.  It is easy to sum it up to the fact that their lives are just better or easier than ours, but the truth is there are things that these people do and ways that these people think that greatly influence their success. 
            The first (and perhaps most important) is to surround yourself with happy people.  This may sounds simple, but in reality it takes a significant amount of dedication.  However, it is crucial to your happiness. Think with me if you will of the five people closest to you- the people you spend the majority of your time with.  When you are around them do you feel uplifted?   How would you rate their happiness?  As a general rule, your happiness will be an average of the happiness and success of these five people.  So you can see why it is so important that your inner circle is made up of people with a healthy, happy outlook.  According to Proverbs 13:20, "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."  The same is true to our happiness and success.
            There was a time in my life when I felt completely lost.  I found myself surrounded with negative people, and I was struggling with feelings of hopelessness.  Depression and anxiety made it impossible for me to find joy in everyday activities or plan for the future.  One day I ran across a self-help book and was captivated.  After giving it some thought, I decided I wanted to go back to school and study psychology.  I wanted to have a better understand of myself and the people around me.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I would never figure it out locked in my room all day.  One of the best decisions I ever made was so DO SOMETHING instead of just sitting around feeling sorry for myself.
            During one of my classes, I encountered someone unusual.  They smiled for no reason and believed they could succeed.  Each day after our chats, I found myself smiling too.  It was strange, and I liked it.  At that moment, I was reaping the reward of DOING SOMETHING rather waiting idly for my life to change.  I begin to understand the power of spending time with positive people.  Now that I had one happy person in my inner circle, I longed for more.  I began to wonder where more like-minded people could be found.  At that point in life I did not know a lot of truly successful and happy people.  However, I dressed myself up in my best clothes, put on my biggest smile and drove myself to social events and meetings where "successful people" gathered.  At first it was scary to listen as they talked about their extravagant lives.  But each week I went back.  Slowly, I begin getting comfortable enough to join conversations, and before long I was getting invitations to join them outside of the event.  I found mentors who have greatly impacted me in various areas of my life.  What I learned from this experience was that sometimes you have to go where the happy, successful people are.  You have to get out of your comfort zone and submerge yourself into the world of positive, successful, and happy people.  I learned that if I am the happiest or most successful person in the room, I am simply in the wrong room.
            A while back, I was discussing goals for the future with one of my new “happy friends.”  I told them I wanted to become a more positive person.  They laughed said that I was one for the most positive people they knew.  I couldn’t help but chuckle… because for the first time I realized that while my quest to self-improvement was far from over, I had indeed become a happy, positive person on my way to a life of success.   
            The second area you need to evaluate is your “self-talk.”  We all send ourselves messages throughout the day.  You may think to yourself, “I am never good enough.” Or “I wish I were better looking.”  You may not realize how much these messages are affecting your perspective.  Over time, your self-talk actually dictates how you feel about yourself and about the world around you.  By changing your self-talk to a positive voice, you will GREATLY change your level of happiness.  Philippians 4:8 states it best: "whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things."
            The third habit of happy people is setting aside “me time” each day.  It is vital that you have at least a few minutes each day when you can just relax and refocus.  This time can be spent meditating, praying, reading a good book, or simply taking a bubble bath.  The only rule for this time is that is should be spent doing something that relaxes you and refuels you from the long day.
            The fourth area that many people have to deal with before they reach their peak happiness is to make peace with the past.  Everyone has experienced things that are unpleasant and made mistakes they wish they could take back.   Until you face these issues you will never be able to move on.  Sometimes if your past contains particularly traumatic events, you may need to seek assistance from someone outside of yourself.  However, it is important when dealing with these past issues to remember that they should be left in the past.  Apologize to those you have hurt, forgive those who have hurt you, and then close the door to the past and look at your bright future.  It can truly be anything you want it to be.
             Lastly, find meaning in life.  This step is as unique as you.  We all have various activities or goals that inspire us and make us feel alive.  Find a new hobby, continue your education, volunteer at a charity… the options are unlimited.  Just make sure that what ever you do gives you purpose and brings a smile to your face.  By actively incorporating these five steps into your life you will rapidly find yourself becoming one of those “happy people” that you once watched with amazement.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)


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