I should start with a disclaimer. I am by no means an endlessly sunny, positive person with beams of joy shining out of my face. In fact, people who know me in real life may look at the title of this post and laugh – why is that old cynic being so hippy all of a sudden? Similarly, it’s desperately unrealistic to aim to feel happy all the time – happiness is just one emotion in the human spectrum, all of which we are destined to experience. However, I truly believe that practicing positivity as regularly as realistically possible can have a big impact on how happy you feel on a day to day basis.
It’s not possible to be positive all the time. Life often throws terrible things into our paths that have a big impact on how we feel and we often can’t to anything to alter that. And when we do feel sad or angry it’s a good idea to let ourselves feel those things fully so as not to stifle our emotions. Having said that, there are certain techniques and actions that we do control which can be really helpful.
As discussed in my post from a couple of weeks ago, when you are struggling with postnatal depression, or any other kind of depression or anxiety problem, following simple steps to being more positive can aid recovery and help you to move forward. With this in mind, I’ve listed below five actions that I take to make me feel happier and more optimistic in life, and, in turn, keep myself mentally and emotionally healthy.
I’ve written about this a lot in the past. Before I had my son and experience PND and anxiety I very much lived for the future. I was both a planner and a worrier. And although looking to the future and being responsible is important, if we focus too much on next month or next year, or indeed dwell too much on what has already happened in the past, we risk missing out on the simple pleasure we can get from today.
When you are suffering from intense anxiety thinking ahead even to the next day can be frightening and overwhelming. To combat this, I practiced living in small chunks of time instead – if I can just get through the next five minutes/next hour/next day/next week etc. When I was very ill this was a great tool to help me manage all my worries and fears, as well as talk myself down from a panic attack.
Although now I’m well I don’t need to do this as much, and I’m thankfully able to make plans for the future again, I took away from this the importance to enjoying small moments of contentment when they do come. I now make sure I pause at least once or twice a day during a happy, calm or content moment to really absorb those feelings. I often also write down each evening three positive things that happened that day, no matter how tiny they are. This helps to remind us that there can be small positive moments even in days we consider difficult or challenging overall.
Take responsibility for your choices
I often hear people complaining about something that’s recently happened or about the direction their life has taken, and I can’t pretend I don’t do this too. There are certain events in life which are totally outside of our control – mainly death and illness – but the vast majority of situations we find ourselves in either happened because of something we did or can be changed by something we now choose to do. By taking responsibility for our own actions (or inaction) and the impact they have on our level of happiness can help us to feel more in control and content.
Cut out negative influences
This one seems simple enough but it can be really hard to move away from an individual who isn’t good for you. I’m not just referring to people who are overtly bad for you – encouraging you to partake in reckless behaviour etc – but, in fact, anyone who is having a more subtle effect on your mood. Perhaps you have a really old friend who you feel you should be loyal to because of your history but who, in actual fact, is selfish, draining or generally negative? Do they cause unnecessary drama in your life? Has your friendship become one-sided; are they taking more than they are giving? Perhaps you have a family member even who is overly critical or controlling. Cutting out these people from your life can be really tricky in some cases but when it’s done the result is very freeing. Or if it is someone you can’t ‘cut out’ (an in law for example!), maybe try to build up your defenses with that person so that their negativity can’t penetrate you so easily.
Find Time For Your Passions
By this I mean hobbies, interests, self-care and ‘me time.’ Maybe you’re creative, sporty or musical? Maybe you love a particular series of books or follow a particular band. Whatever you’re passionate about, whatever makes you feel good, do it as much as time will allow. Make the time if necessary.
Do Good Things For Others
I’m not talking about running for election or becoming Mother Teresa but if you can find the energy to make a small gesture to improve someone else’s day then you will likely find this makes you feel happy too. I began this blog both to record my own PND recovery but also to try to help others like me to feel less alone. Whenever I get a message from someone who is suffering but is even slightly comforted by something they’ve read here I’m touched for them but it also gives me a lovely boost too.
I’m a work in progress when it comes to positivity and I feel I always will be but that’s okay – just making tiny changes can be enough. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut lately, I really hope you find these ideas a little useful.
37 comments on “Five Ways To Feel More Happy”
I loved this post and you are spot on it is impossible to be happy all the time and I don’t think we should be striving for that. I really loved the points about letting go of negative influences and finding time for your passions too. Thank you for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT
An imperfect mum (Catie) recently posted…Top tips to support children writing at home
I love this, especially about finding time for your passions. Me time is so important.
Just popping back from #bigpinklink
Hey Laura, Thanks for this great article.
There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved. George Sand.
Some really good advice, I find it really helpful to avoid the news and most social media and just focus on the positive stories when I’m feeling unhappy. #TuesdayTreasures
What a lovely and useful post. I often find myself worrying too much about the future and I like your #1 tip about being present. I think I have to practice more of that! And yes, finding your passion. It can be very cathartic. Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink
Agent Spitback recently posted…Excuse me, But Where’s My Mommy Halo?
Great advice! I particularly like the first one about living in the present. I’ve always been a worrier and tend to over analyse things in the future as well as reflecting on things in my past. I’m really trying to make a huge effort to live more in the present and enjoy certain moments more. I like the idea of writing down 3 positive things from your day too! #BigPinkLink x
Cheryl @ Tea or Wine recently posted…Changing Schools
Thank you Thank you Thank you! I had such a tough day yesterday – this really has helped reading this, starting today off on the right foot xx #BloggerClubUK
Fi – Beauty Baby and Me recently posted…Our Holiday Diary… It Started So Well
Lovely list. I would add to the part about taking responsibility for our actions that we can also take charge of how we react to things that are out of our control too. x #BloggerClubUK
Madeline (This Glorious Life) recently posted…The messages we receive as children
I love this article. So many people moan on about being unhappy but yet never do anything about. There’s so many things you can do to help yourself (and even sometimes help others too) that will make you feel better in yourself. People often ask why I’m so happy, and I can’t answer exactly why, but it’s a state of mind and a attitude thing.
Sally @ Life Loving
Thank you so much for sharing these reminders. You are absolutely spot on and ‘living in the present’ rather than worrying about the future, really resonates with me. Alison x #BloggerClubUK
Alison (MadHouseMum) recently posted…Connections
What a great post. Definitely worth remembering these tips. #TuesdayTreasures
Helena recently posted…DeeDee&boo Review: The Girls Nursery
Love this list – these are all such good ways to try and feel more happy. For me, being present has made the biggest difference – the uncertainly around my daughter’s heart condition has forced us to live in the moment much more than we did before we had her and it certainly has helped us to appreciate those moments more and enjoy them. #BloggerClubUK
Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) recently posted…Review – Real Baking Great Baking Set and Chocolate Pen
This is such a good post. It’s easy to get consumed by the negative and often it’s out of our control. We went through a very tough time but I found trying to take each day at a time and not worry about what hadn’t yet happened helped. I also found getting to the gym was a great outlet for stress. #sharingthebloglove
Fran Back With a Bump recently posted…Get Your Hands Off My Baby
This is a fabulous post. I found when I was struggling that ‘being present’ helped me cope, I also think finding my passion was what really dragged me back into loving life. For me that was writing and also being around animals. #eatsleepblogRT
I love this post. These ideas make so much sense. I am really struggling at the moment, but I started my blog as a hobby (to give me some me time) and it is definitely helping! I am finding writing to be very therapeutic. My problem is that my negative influence (the one responsible for my low confidence, low self-esteem and general mood most of the time) is a family member. Any advice there?! 🙂 #SharingtheBlogLove
chocolateandwineandillbefine recently posted…Our September in Photos
Such good points here. I think taking responsibility for yourself is key to so much. It’s part of being an adult to own your decisions and choices in life, and whatever results from that. And once you disengage from the things you can’t control, life gets so much easier. #sharingthebloglove
Joanne Mallon recently posted…MAD Beauty Disney Classics range
Me time is so important. I agree. A great post with some fab tips. #bloggerclubuk
Jaki recently posted…My Happy Place, My Guilty Pleasure
Wonderful post. I know that I’m not a naturally happy person, but I definitely find that being present has a huge impact on me. I’ve also worked hard on removing negative people from my life (although much as you describe, I have one that is sadly not possible to remove, so I’m trying to find ways to minimise their effect on me). Despite not describing myself as a naturally happy person, I would say that I’m very happy these days! Thanks so much for joining us again at #SharingtheBlogLove
You speak so much truth in this post! I have suffered on and off with depression for many years (although it’s probably about 2 years since I last had a prolonged bad patch) and I know that making conscious descisions that impact on my happiness levels is really important. I have a close friendship that seems very one-sided and I have learnt to only meet up when I am able to cope with it. I also think doing good for others is really helpful too. I’ve never really thought of that as a reason to do it, I just volunteered anyway (it’s what my post is about this week), but I’ll definitely remember this point in future. #SharingTheBlogLove
Lucy At Home recently posted…The Voluntary Baby Group Leader
This is a really good post. All of those tips are so right on. I really need to focus on being present, especially with my kids. #sharingTheBlogLove.
These are so common sense yet why do so few of us actually do them? Making time for my passions and enjoyable pastimes is something I really struggle with – I love to read and colour but hardly ever do these things! Great #TheList and I’ll take them on board and get happier! Thank-you x
Great post, ensuring that we make time for ourselves and to do what we love is so important but something that is often forgotten as parents
Brilliant post! I’m not in a very happy place at the moment and I find being in the present and not getting to carried into the future is helping. I try to surround myself with people that aren’t going to have a negative impact on me, at times this has meant I’ve had to be selfish and put me first. This is a new concept for me and I’m working on it. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove X
Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…A Snapshot of September…
Some wonderfully simple tips in here but we can all be guilty of not focusing on them. I try to be present as much as I can, but often find my mind drifting to the future or things I’d like to change. I’ve got two under two so am on my own with two kids quite a lot during the week. It was starting to get me down for a while but then felt guilty – after all, I chose to have them! I realised that it was because I wasn’t making time for me. My days and nights were taken up with children. Over the past month or so I’ve made time to go to the gym a few nights a week and meet up with friends for a trip to the cinema or out for a drink. It’s made the WORLD of difference. I feel like I’m me again, and then ready to happily give my focus to my kids. #thelist
Thank you SO much for this – brilliant advice. I have always suffered with anxiety and been a worrier so this is really useful advice. #Sharingthebloglove
Great post. So well written and considered. These are all great things that can definitely help to make you feel more happy as you suggest. I do some of these things and others I could be better at or try, which I will now that I’ve read this. Thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily
This is great advice, I cab espically relate to the be present one! I tend to stress about future events more than ever with a baby in tow. I must try and make more time for my hobbies too! Stopping by from #marvmondays
Mudpie Fridays recently posted…#RememberingTheseDays Week 13
Great post! I’m a big advocate of self-care, it makes such a difference!
These are great tips, many of them were really helpful for me too.
I used to run and run until I could sweat out the worst of the darkness and mindfulness became my main goto when things got tough with the bub.
I’m getting better but I still rely on mindfulness. I’ve also learned the importance of making time for my passions and creativity.
Simple and practical, loved it.
Samoina recently posted…Struggling with Postpartum Depression? Here’s what you may want to avoid
I love this post and it’s so fitting for what I’m currently experiencing, well done you! x
Battling with constant anxiety I am trying to practice a lot of these on a daily basis and you are so right it’s not easy it’s hard! But by concentrating on small positive aspects of our life and moving away from negativity is definately empowering. Thanks for this blog! Great read. Go you!! You are marvellous xx @mummyurmarvellous
What a wonderful article. I loved this and you are spot on. We can impact our lives dramatically by cutting out negativity in all aspects.
Wonderful post, honest. I need to follow these points, I definitely advocate one step at a time, I’ve posted on mental health issues myself and its tough not to be hard on yourself, but that’s the key to being happier
It is really easy to be hard on ourselves, isn’t it? But we must try to be more gentle to ourselves. Thanks so much for reading xx