I am a marketing and communications consultant and freelance writer. Living on the Gold Coast in Australia. Check out my website www.sarahsays.com.au or follow on Twitter @WENGoldCoast
Published August 29th 2012
If you're happy & you know it & you really want to show it
The elusive "happy", that is what we are all striving for, right? It means different things to everyone and can be found in a variety of places and ways. Sometimes with the stresses of everyday life, it is easy to let things get on top of you and for frustrations to get the better of you. Certainly in the past I have been very guilty of this, often claiming that the world is against me, with cries of, why me.
But since arriving in Australia and taking this as an opportunity to change how I think and react to things, plus with the influence of The Law of Attraction I have been trying hard to be more positive and happy everyday. Some days are harder than others of course, such is life, but overall I have discovered that simply being fed up and annoyed most of the time is a pointless way to spend my life, especially as 75% of things are impossible to change anyway, so really, why waste my time. No one looks back wishing they could have been annoyed, sad and furious more.
So I have adopted some rules and identified what makes me happy and brings me joy, in order to channel them on the grrrrr days, and I now can honestly say that when I feel a bit down I now know that happiness is just around the corner, and I can find it in any of the following ways.
1. Friends – I am blessed to have the most excellent friends; they are my constant, the thing that I rely on the most and who bring me the most joy. I guess when you get to your mid-thirties (eek) the friends you have at that point are the people you have chosen to be in your life long term, which makes them special. My friends have always been there for me and whether it is for a shoulder to cry on, a kick up the bum, a sympathetic ear or a telling off I know that they will keep me on the right track and make me feel better. It is amazing to know that you have people on your side no matter what, supporting you, being proud of you and there to talk to when you need. I am proud of each and every one of them and I am thankful that they are in my life. Recently I started "mate dates" with my friends, doing regular separate night or day things with them individually (even those in couples) sharing a common interest, spending some quality time and discovering new things together. A great way of adding a new dimension to friendships.
2. Music – I love music, pretty much any genre I enjoy and I have a vast collection of albums and singles from a variety of artists and decades. Music has the power to change my mood and cheer me up in an instant, there are certain songs and albums that simply just make me happy listening to them. Recently I have created a "happy" playlist on my iPhone – a selection of songs that make me smile, make me remember or that is just fun and infectious. When on the way to college or work on the bus, or on the treadmill at the gym, I put this on and it doesn't seem so bad. My album choice of the moment, which just fills me with joy, is The Hurts (a stunning British synthpop duo) debut album from 2010, I have seen them live a few times but only got their album last month. I just cannot stop listening to it, every song is just wonderful. The name of the album, which I only noticed recently, (and I swear this isn't set up) is Happiness.
3. Give Back – One of the best things I have ever done is when I did a charity 10K run a couple of years ago, this was before I lost weight and got healthy, so when I signed up for it, it was pretty unusual to say the least, which potentially was one of the reasons the donations flooded in. I decided to run for Macmillan cancer, they have been apart of my life and I was thrilled when I managed to raise over £750 for them. It is a wonderful feeling to give back, and although I certainly cannot give to every charity or cause, it is my mission to choose something each year that I can either volunteer at, or raise money for and help in some small way. For me nowadays, it is very important to have perspective and to reflect on what I do have, and to be grateful for those things.
Me after the 10K Run. I was happy but i was also exhusted
4. Exercise – I guess this really does depend on the person, many people probably think the opposite when it comes to going to the gym and exercise, and up until recently I was one of those people who thought it as a chore. However I have to say as I have got healthier and into the swing of it, I find it does give me a sense of satisfaction that I haven't experienced before. Going to the gym, having a swim, or going for a run first thing makes me feel like I have already accomplished something before the day has even started and that is a great feeling to have. Plus looking better makes me feel better, and feeling better makes me happy.
5. Learn – In the last few years I have been like a sponge when it has come to learning, and I feel so much better for it. Potentially it was my two and a half years working for a university that started it off as they very much encourage professional development, so I signed up for a few free courses where I felt I needed help and where I wanted to better myself. I struggle with confidence so signed up for a leadership course and it really helped me, it boosted my confidence and showed me that I do know the answers, and it helped me to believe in myself more. I am now studying a Business Diploma and it is again showing me that I have valuable knowledge, that I am capable and that I know what I am talking about. This boost in self-belief has led me to set up my own business and I already have two new contracts.
6. Pamper – Sometimes we need to spoil ourselves, and we should, we deserve it. Get a new haircut, buy a new outfit, book a massage or do something that is totally self-indulgent that will make you feel recharged and refreshed. Sometimes I feel guilty taking time off but then when I return to work, life, college etc I always feel much better after the break. We all need time off, we need to enjoy ourselves and get that balance of work and life. We work hard to live a great life not the other way around, so it is impeccable to have some "me" time and to look after ourselves and be selfish occasionally. The truth is that happiness is infectious, so taking some time for you (even just an hour) to recharge will indirectly make those around you feel better, it will make the stuff you are doing better and generally lead to a happier vibe.
7. Create – Whatever it may be being creative is very fulfilling and also can act as a channel and outlet for relaxing and unwinding. Getting a hobby, be it cooking, photography, making your own cards, learning a language, knitting or like me writing it allows us to do something that we enjoy, that we are good at and that keeps our mind active but doesn't stress, demand or pressure.
8. Say Yes More – A few years ago I made a new years resolution to say yes more. I had tried the usual like giving up drinking, giving up chocolate and other unrealistic goals that I simply was not going to stick to. I found it liberating and it led to me doing the 10K charity run, I went on a number of dates, tried new places, met new people and experienced new things. A brilliant resolution that challenges you - it makes you think about what you let in to your life, block out of your life and the little choices we make everyday that could lead to something huge if we allow it.
9. Love – In whatever form whether for a partner, a friend, for family or a film, an artist, a place or a pet it doesn't really matter what is important is that we should do it more. It is sometimes easier to focus on what we don't like or love but actually where does that get us. I have been trying to channel my focus into what I love, what makes me happy and what I have – a much better use of my time and energy, and if I am to believe the Law of Attraction (and I do) then feeling love and joy will only bring more of that to me.
10. Know What Doesn't – Quite often this is the place we naturally start from and that's totally fine. I think knowing what you don't want and what doesn't make you happy is the key to unlocking what does. It is difficult to focus on what you want and to try to move away from the things that make you sad or unhappy, as usually they are significant periods in our life. But eventually it's about getting to that place where you can separate into those that you can change, and then making those changes, and those that you can not change, accepting them for what they are letting them go. Not easy, but I am getting there.
11. Get Lost – Not literally obviously, but I mean in a good book or a film or TV series. I love to read and I love movies and like my music my tastes are varied and eclectic. Getting completely absorbed in a film or in a book is a welcome distraction from real life and I often find the break that I need to clear my mind of the various thoughts, worries, ideas and pictures that are constantly changing. A good sign of a fascinating book, a great film or an interesting programme is when I don't check my phone or look at my watch and when it feels like a few minutes has gone by but in fact it has been hours. It's almost like putting your mind on pause, and I think we all need that sometimes.
12. Beach - I am lucky to be living on the gold coast but to be honest pretty much any beach anywhere is perfect for seeking a bit of calm and reflection - whether Brighton or Cornwall, Bondi or Surfers, the beach for me has a calming tranquil effect and the vastness of it makes me feel slightly insignificant which is a good thing. Sometimes we can get caught up in life, stress, work and relationships and be consumed by our own lives. For me walking or sitting on the beach, the sound of the ocean and sand between my toes makes me realise I am just a tiny part of a very big universe and suddenly silly worries and problems don't seem so important.
13. Compliment – Will the like attracts like approach I think this is very important – we can all get caught up in being negative about someone but how often do we compliment each other and voice the nice things we are thinking. I have started to recently, when an appropriate, to tell someone if I like their shoes, or top, or hair or that I think they have lost weight or anything really that is something I have thought. It must be sincere of course, but I know from experience how nice it is to get a compliment and how it can totally lift your day. I always remember a story from a number of years ago back in the Midlands UK where I am from, a woman in her mid thirties was at a petrol station filling up the car with her 2 kids in the back when a man came up to her and said "I hope you don't mind, but I just wanted to come over and tell you that I think you are beautiful" and he left. She contacted the local paper and radio, as she wanted to find him to say thank you, she said that for a long time she felt down and pretty insignificant and his comment had changed her life. It is a story that has always stuck with me – what a lovely selfless thing to do, he probably didn't realise the impact he had.
14. Smile - Smile and the world smiles with you, right? Have you noticed that when you walk past someone and you smile at each other, that the smile then lasts for a few minutes? A much nicer feeling to be carrying around with you all day then feeling glum and fed up. I try to smile and say "hi" or "good morning" to those I encounter throughout the day. It's true that smiling makes you feel better and I kind of see it as spreading joy around - like a smile baton relay. Although obviously there is a fine line between friendly and sinister smiling - possibly smiling manically at everyone (especially on public transport) may result in some funny looks so judge the situation and smile accordingly.
15. Children – Whether your own, friends children or family there is something to be said about the innocence and fun they bring to your life. My 4-year-old niece Sophie just makes me laugh every day – she is very cheeky and very cute. She is at that wonderful age where she is absorbing and learning and forming opinions (Dora is "stinky" apparently) so everyday brings something new and I love that. Even if I am in a bad mood, stressed, tired or ill, I just cannot resist spending time with her and she always makes me smile.
16. Laughing – It is such fun to be silly and to laugh! I love to laugh it really does make everything seem so much better - that uncontrolled, just can't stop belly laugh with people is just priceless. Now my ridiculous sense of humour holds no bounds and I have often laughed uncontrollably about something so insignificant (a noise, a word, a facial expression) it makes it that much funnier - I have my friends to thank for most of those moments. If you can make me laugh then you have a friend for life. I think if you can hold those moments, store them and replay them when feeling fed up, it can often get you laughing all over again and can make you feel instantly better. Or sometimes I make myself laugh by doing something silly, like, stupid crazy dancing in front of the mirror (when I have the house to myself of course), I recommend a vigorous shimmy and some thrusting – you will just end up laughing at yourself and feeling much better.
17. Travel – It's a big wide world out there and it is waiting to be explored. I have never really had the travel "bug" as such; I am not really a backpacking kind of girl. But since being in Australia and travelling to (so far) Perth, Darwin, Bali, Hong Kong, Sydney, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Melbourne it has opened my eyes to some amazing places, cultures and sights and it makes me hungry for more. I want to travel to as many places as possible in my life and see the world – how wonderful it is and how lucky are we that it is so easy to jump on a plane and travel across the world. I have a list and I cannot wait to get more ticks on it.
18. Challenge - Sometimes facing a fear or doing something out of our comfort zone can bring a new feeling of happiness not experienced before. When I was in Cairns I set myself a challenge to go snorkelling on the great barrier reef - now if you knew me you would know that this is huge - I have a considerable fear of the sea and the evil wonders within it but decided that I wanted to do it. Terrified I managed to summon the courage to do it and it was amazing. When I emerged from the sea I was so happy I could have burst - not because someone had done something or something had happened, but because I had achieved something and was feeling true pride and pure happiness. An incredible feeling that lasted for a good few weeks after coming home, and is a total incentive to set my next challenge. When setting them it needs to be a challenge yes, but obviously if you are afraid of heights, flying, being strapped to someone and hurtling to the ground then a skydive is perhaps a challenge too far. Start big enough that it's an actual challenge but small enough so that you will see it through.
19. Try – I guess this is all we can do. If you have tired your best then whatever the result it should give you a sense of pride and happiness even if it isn't exactly what you hoped for. I have been in Australia for 10 months and I am immensely proud of everything I have achieve and done in my time here. Whether I will be able to stay here long term I am unsure – there are so many factors that I cannot control, but I know that if I do head back to London then I go back a changed woman.
20. Pretend – It isn't so easy some days, so I often find that I can "play" happy and actually, eventually I forget whatever has got me down or annoyed me and my mood lifts. So when feeling blue if someone asks how I am, I now say I am wonderful thanks, admittedly I sometimes may come across as a woman on the edge and those days we ignore, but mostly the more I say it, the more I focus on it and the more trust I will be, the happier I am.
Great article, Thank you. The last one based on "fake it till you make it" is so true. Even just making yourself smile produces good hormones for us so is beneficial. Love your list and I am blessed like you with great frineds. They are the family you choose for yourself.