How to Feel Happy Even if You’re in a Gloomy Place in Life
© 2023 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
Job loss, layoffs, companies closing their doors, drops in the stock market and home foreclosures are now daily topics in the media, making it more and more difficult for Americans to uphold a positive attitude.
Surveys are showing that Americans are overwhelmed and uncertain and as a result, stress levels are on the rise. In one survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, nearly half of the 1,791 adults polled admitted to an increase in their stress levels over the past year. Additionally, more than half reported feelings of fatigue and lying awake at night due to stress and 60 percent reported feeling irritable and angry.
Another study by the American Psychological Association cited the current recession as the main stressor for eight of 10 Americans. The key to managing your stress levels while being flooded by constant reminders of a shaky economy and how it could impact your family is by applying positive psychology techniques.
An early glimpse of the benefits of following a positive lifestyle was presented in the book titled, Think and Grow Rich, written by Napoleon Hill. Since then many books with titles such as:
… have been published all focusing on the unlimited benefits of positive thinking and expanding the emergence of positive psychology.
The Growing Field of Positive Psychology
Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable humans and communities to thrive at optimal functioning levels. The study of positive psychology has a strong emphasis on the benefits of optimism and having a positive outlook and draws attention to the root of psychological health going beyond disease and disorder.
According to the Positive Psychology Center, the area of positive psychology focuses on three areas: positive emotions, positive individual traits and positive institutions.
Three Main Areas of Positive Psychology
Individual traits—study of individual strengths and virtues, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control and wisdom.
Positive institutions—study of strengths that build better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose and tolerance.
Practicing a positive lifestyle not only decreases your stress level, but can also add years to your life. One study revealed that people with a pessimistic outlook on life had a nearly 20 percent higher risk of dying over a 30-year period than people who kept a positive outlook on life.
12 Ways to Lead a Happier Life
Keep a gratitude diary. By spending only five to 10 minutes writing down things you are grateful for you can increase your overall satisfaction with life and experience better physical health and increased energy levels. You can also write a gratitude letter to someone who did a kind thing for you or write about a recent accomplishment, treasured moment or special relationship that brings you joy.
Perform an act of kindness each day. Volunteer at the food bank, visit a nursing home, help a friend’s child with homework, mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn. Make a goal to do five kind acts a week. Volunteering and performing acts of kindness is a great happiness booster because it triggers a myriad of positive effects such as building a strong connection with others and receiving reciprocated acts of kindness in return. It also adds meaning to your life and gives you a sense of purpose.
Limit your news watching. Decide how much news you will watch or read each day and maintain the delicate balance between staying informed and being dragged down
Spend time with your friends and family. Be open to accepting help and support when needed from those close to you. Keeping strong personal relationships strengthens resilience and is key to regaining hope.
Savor the simple joys in life. Focus on the smile of child, the sunlight on your face, the leaves changing colors or the smell of the grass after a fresh rain. Some psychologists suggest “carrying” some special moments with you and replaying them in your mind during difficult times.
Give your body what it needs to function at its optimal level. Make a point of getting plenty of sleep, exercising daily, meditating, smiling and laughing a lot to create a more satisfying life.
Take the time to Stretch and Exercise each day. When stressed out people have the tendency to hold stress in certain parts of the body like the shoulders and the neck. The simple act of stretching each day can do wonders to releasing the tension in your mind and body. It takes just 15 to 20 minutes of stretching a day to experience the beneficial effects. And while there are countless stretches out there, it takes just 15 of them to stretch 95 percent of your body, according to Jacques Gauthier, a top stretching expert.
Regular exercise is a key way to stay mentally healthy, life lasting. This can be achieved by creating harmony in body, mind and self. Clear your mind of the day’s stressors and bring peace to the end of your day by listening to relaxing music. To keep stress levels at bay, embark on a practice for transforming your stress into life-enhancing experiences.
Visualize what you want in life. Write down about your ideal life in detail. Rather than dwelling on your fears in life, visualization allows you to create a hopeful outlook and at the same time reduce your daily stressors.
Replace negative self-talk with focus and statements on what you should have done and will do. THEN give yourself credit for your Achievements. Transform your internal voice into your personal cheerleader. When a negative thought crosses your mind, replace it with your desired outcome.
Feed and nourish yourself with focus on the positive, as what you think and say is the reality you are creating for yourself. Keep previous achievements in your back pocket to pull out when you’re feeling insecure. Focus, manifest and project what you want life, love and relationships to become by replacing the focus on problems.
Replace problems with solutions and desired realistic outcomes that you can and do take actions to achieve your desired outcomes. Share your vision with those who share your perspective and passion. Don’t waste time repeatedly trying to convince those who only seek to bring you down.
Hear their concerns, express appreciation for their concerns, then identify ways to overcome the hurdles. Stay positive. Stay focused and passionate on all the ways your actions help, serve, and benefit others. Your happiness can easily become infectious by sharing your joy and expressing as much appreciation as possible to others for their being a part of the accomplishments!
Internally release and forgive others you are challenged with so as to not harbor crippling paralyzing anger or fear. Replacing it with the focus on your present and future goals and joyful interests. Cherish and celebrate each moment as if it were your last.
Create mental pictures of these above points … in advance of challenging circumstances … in quiet meditating moments … before trying times that you know are approaching. Picture your ideal outcomes and release the things -- with complete acceptance -- that you have no ability to affect or change.
Preparation meets Opportunity!
Mental Health America
American Psychological Association
Positive Psychology Center