Happy Fourth of July!
As Americans, one of the reasons we observe July 4th is to commemorate and celebrate our many freedoms as a country and as individuals. Our Declaration of Independence states our basic rights as human being derived from that freedom; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It can be tough in today’s world to find happiness in the midst of a pandemic, civil dispute, anger, hate, and discord. We all have the human right to be happy, but unfortunately society has perverted what it means to be happy.
We often derive our happiness from relationship, possessions, and status in life. Yet, possessions and status rarely last forever and we end up having to grieve losing them. In regard to relationships, we often place our ideals for happiness upon others. Inevitably, when they don’t meet those ideals and our expectations, happiness eludes us.
So how do we discover true happiness in our pursuit of it?
Here are nine suggestions:
- Take deep breaths.
Just one deep breath can turn down your “fight-or-flight” instinct and activate your “rest-and-restore” mode. In fact, take three minutes and do it TEN times. Breathe in for 7 seconds, hold it for 2 or 3 seconds, and breathe out while relaxing tense muscles for 11 seconds.
- Find something in your day that makes you feel grateful.
Wrote down up to ten positive and VERY specific things that made you smile or at least consider smiling. Gratitude changes the negative wiring in your brain.
- Smile for three minutes.
The deliberate decision to smile activates happiness-inducing chemicals such as dopamine in your brain. Even if you don’t feel happy, you can fool your brain into providing those chemicals. As a result, you will then feel happy…eventually.
- Use images or memes to help remind you of purpose and joy in your life.
This practice is called contemplative meditation. A photo of your family, your travels, nature, meme, gif, or a favorite saying can be restorative and promote moments of happiness. Change them up as needed.
- Appreciate yourself for who you are and how you were created.
Think of one thing you’ve already accomplished or handled well today or focus on a good quality you’ve demonstrated. Drawing your attention to your strengths will lift your spirits. Using personality assessments like Myers-Briggs, Keirsey, Birkman, Enneagram, and others can help you discover those strengths.
- Notice the small things in life and give them influence.
The Gottmans research proves that small things often have a larger impact on positivity in the brain and in your relationships. Meditate and reflect on a good experience and allow it to blossom. Your happiness level will steadily increase.
- Slap a label on your negative feelings.
Emotions fall into five main categories: Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. Labeling your emotions can take the edge off. Attaching a label out loud forces your brain to deal with it. It moves from the emotional brain to the rational brain, making you hurt less and feel more in control.
- Find positive meaning in negative events.
Start by thinking about the setback as a challenge rather than a failure. Remind yourself, you are doing the best you can at the moment, even if you are unable to do anything. Something good can come of it.
- Sit up straight.
Yes. Your posture can directly affect your mood. Slouching increases negative emotions, while good posture promotes positive ones.
Now get out there and PURSUE HAPPINESS! Happy Fourth of July!