Abraham Maslow once said, “At any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.”
Every single great moment in history happened because someone decided to take a leap. Branch out, take risks, try new things. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. You’ll find so much happiness in going places you’ve never gone before and trying things you’ve never done.
Spend Time With People
I’m a people-person; I love being around other people and spending time with them. Sometimes, though, I need a moment to myself to breathe and relax. I believe each person has to find their own balance- you NEED to set aside some time to be with yourself and take a break from socializing.
However, I also believe that some people take too much time for themselves, instead of going out with friends, they stay in and watch half a season of Parks and Rec before going to bed.
As much as I like sitting on the couch and watching TV or eating popcorn while watching Mission Impossible for the millionth time, it doesn’t make me nearly as happy as playing a board game with my brothers or going out with my friends.
That’s because memories are made of moments that we spend with people, not the moments we spend with our stuff.
The most valuable thing you possess is your time. The greatest gift you can give someone is some of that time. In ten years, you aren’t going to care what happened in the latest episode of your favorite TV show, but you might remember the activities you do with the people you love.
Shut Off Your Screen
I know, I know. I’m typing this while staring at a screen, and you’re reading this while staring at a screen.
But this might be one of the most important ways on this list, and it kind of ties into what I just talked about.
While social media sites can be fun and engaging, they can also be discouraging. Constantly comparing your life to what others post on their Instagram account or looking at others’ selfies on Snapchat is never going to boost your self-esteem. Living in a virtual world is no way to live. The real way to make memories and experience new things is found by shutting off your screen, getting up, and going on adventures.
The best memories I have throughout my life were made when I shut off my phone and just lived. Usually when I’m having fun, I don’t look at my phone at all. While your phone can be very helpful, it also holds you back. Stop checking your texts and being distracted; focus on the people around you and the memories you are making. It never hurts to disconnect for a couple hours. I promise, you can still have fun without your phone. (Click here for a cool video about disconnecting.)
Have a Goal to Improve, Not Conform
One of the biggest problems I’ve seen in today’s society that causes unhappiness is the desire to fit in. Instead of focusing on how we can improve ourselves individually, we focus more on how we can change ourselves to conform to society’s norms.
If you want to change an aspect of your life, you should think about how it can make you better, not how it will make you feel more accepted.
For example, if you want to lose some weight, you should be thinking, “I want to lose weight because I want to take better care of my body,” not “I want to lose weight because all my friends are skinnier than me.”
Focus on your own personal growth and becoming better each and every day. Don’t worry about what others are doing- as Dieter F. Uchtdorf so simply put it, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Your uniqueness is your biggest strength.
Herman Melville said, “It is better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation.” And he was right. It’s easy to feel inadequate, out of place and like you don’t belong, but take it from a very out-of-place, awkward teenage girl (me)- happiness comes when you embrace your limitations as part of who you are. You can improve, you can become better. Work hardest on enhancing your talents, cherish your uniqueness. Being different is the most wonderful thing a person can be- don’t forget that!
Listen to Good Music
As someone who has always loved music, I know how much power it has. I can be in the best mood ever, but if I start listening to a sad song (like Supermarket Flowers, oh gosh. Tears.) I will be sad for the rest of the day.
A couple months ago, I had a realization- a lot of the music I was listening to had rain-cloud lyrics- and it was taking me down a notch on my happy scale. So I cleaned out all my playlists and found a bunch of sunshine vibe songs that boosted my mood. Ever since, I mostly play the sunshine playlist on shuffle. (It’s a collaborative playlist, if you wanna add some of your mood booster jams, go ahead!)
There is nothing that can lift your mood faster than listening to your favorite song. If you do need some alone time but you still want to feel better, put in your headphones and find something uplifting.
Look for the Little Things
This is probably one of the biggest lessons I have learned about happiness. It can be found in the smallest moments of life. When I’m having a bad day, I try to focus on small, good things that happened throughout the day.
Whether it be the fact that someone said hi to me in the hall or that my scrambled eggs were delicious, there is always something good in each and every day. Ultimately, happiness has infinitely more power than sadness- a small piece of goodness can overcome any darkness you may encounter in your life.
When there are a dozen reasons to be sad, find two dozen reasons to be happy. The secret to happiness is actually really simple; all you have to do is shift your focus. Look to the good and you’ll realize how much of it is all around you. You’ll notice more of what you focus on: if you focus on goodness, you will find it.
Focus on Others
One of the best men to ever walk this earth, Gordon B. Hinkley, once said: “True happiness comes only by making others happy… the best medicine for despair is service.”
How right he was! As a human race, we are all connected; we grieve together, we celebrate together, and we join together in times of need. When we give someone else a chance to be happier, we will feel that happiness reciprocated. There is no purer form of happiness than knowing you have improved the life of someone else. Happiness is created from unselfishness and charity.
I love doing service projects, and one of the reasons why is because it makes my heart so much fuller and so much happier. Service changes people- it teaches us how to love one another. I think it also shows us that by putting others first, we will forget about our own problems.
The greatest happiness in life will come when you stop focusing on your own problems and instead work on solving someone else’s problem.
In the end, please realize that you are not alone in your search for happiness. It’s impossible to be happy all the time, but if you surround yourself with people who love you, you will be able to battle any hardships that come your way.