Let’s face it, you could use a little more happiness in your life. Who doesn’t want to worry less, smile more, and have the future looking so bright that you’ve got to grab your sunglasses? I know I do! Most of us spend so much time feeling sorry for ourselves that we don’t make room to feel happy.
We all have habits or behaviors that aren’t healthy. Maybe you start your day by looking at your ex’s Instagram. You know it’s going to make you feel lousy but you just can’t help yourself. Or perhaps it’s the perpetual thinking patterns that you’ve had for years. You know, that mean girl in your mind that wont shut up, cutting you down and letting the anxiety-driven thoughts fill your mind? If you really want to feel happy you’ve got to stop the behaviors, thinking patterns and actions that don’t serve you. It’s not always easy, but becoming aware of what’s not working is first step in making room for happiness.
Stop It Already
1. Stop being hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. So when you find that, “the mean girl in your mind” AKA your “ego” is beating you up, try to talk back. “I am doing the best I can.” “I’m learning from mistakes.” Don’t let the voice of negativity win. Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy. Do a thought log to help identify who’s talking, the mean girl or maybe the real you is trying to speak up but just doesn’t know how.
Get it out on paper. There is a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) tool that I love. On the left side write what you’re insecure about or the “false” belief about yourself. Then, on the other side of the paper (like a T chart), write down what you would say to a friend. How would you validate them and show them compassion?
|Thought/Belief||What Would I Tell My Friend|
|I’m never going to find a date.||*You haven’t found the right person yet.|
|I’m not attractive. I am boring. I suck.||*You have friends who like you and want to spend time with you.|
|*You’ve had people like you in the past and they weren’t the right fit. You deserve better.|
|*You have great qualities and the right person will come along soon. You also have a lot of awesome stuff going on with work and in your free time.|
It’s up to you to be willing to notice and try and talk back to thoughts that aren’t serving you. Start with the ones that are obvious and move on from there. Pretty soon, your inner confidence and reliance on yourself will be stronger than ever.
2. Stop trying to buy happiness. Who doesn’t like a trip to the mall or a binger on Amazon from time to time, especially if you’re in need of a new dress or have the money to blow on that bag you’ve been eyeing? Keep in mind, no matter how much the shoe, the car, or the house costs, it’s not going to be a preferment fix for feeling happy. Before you purchase anything, make sure your intention is not to fill an emotional void. If you need it, want it, and can afford it, get it. Buying something to make you feel better about yourself will only result in disappointment and sadness, especially when your credit card statement comes.
3. Stop ignoring the small moments. Enjoy the little things, they add up. The discount you received on a purchase, a smile or “hello” from a stranger, the favor your neighbor did, notice these moments. These are beautiful, positive happy experiences that we often brush off and look for big, grand gestures. Start focusing on what you’ve already got and the beauty around you
4. Stop ignoring your dreams. I did this activity in one of my groups recently. The adults hadn’t been asked what they wanted to do in anything other than their career since they were in diapers. Life isn’t just about what your title is or what you’re going to be when you “grow-up.” In order to build a happy, positive life, think about all the little and big things you want to try and achieve. Try the exercise below, and don’t worry about how epic or simple your answers are. Want to learn Spanish or travel to Uganda? Great, get it on paper. Write them all down. It puts your dreams into action (click on the image for the free printable).
5. Stop being mean. The rude comment you made on someone’s blog or a judgement about a strangers appearance (even you just whispered it to a friend), spreads some seriously negative vibes. They don’t go away. Your body and mind remember the negative feelings. Whats worse, is even if you don’t care what others think, it’s likely that you’re going to feel guilty or “icky” about it later. Try to see other’s points of view, and if you disagree do so respectfully. If you find yourself criticizing someone, try to point out something positive too.
What do you need to stop in order to start making room for happiness?
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.