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June 20, 2012

10 Tips for Finding Your Happy Place

By Tara Ballard

Happiness means different things to different people, but too often we focus on “things” that we think will make us happy. Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • If only I made more money, I would be happy.
  • If only I was thinner/leaner/a size 2, I would be happy.
  • If only I could find someone to love, I would be happy.
  • If only I had a better job, I would be happy.

I could go on and on, but my point is, you can “if only” yourself into misery!! And the thing is, will we really be happy if we attain those “if only’s”, or will we always want more? Here at Jillfit, we talk a lot about being happy with who and where you are right now, in this moment. In order to be truly happy, we must first start with ourselves.

So, with that in mind, here are my 10 tips for finding your happy place right now:

1] Practice gratitude.
This is a common theme lately, but I can’t stress enough how powerful a strong gratitude practice is. When you sit down and really think about all of the things you have to be grateful for, it’s hard NOT to be happy – at least a little! Like many, the first thing I do upon waking is to think of things I’m grateful for. A lot of times it is simple things like coffee, birds singing, family, etc. But more recently, it has gone deeper than that – I’m grateful for shelter and food when so many have neither. I’m grateful for my health, which is definitely a gift not to be taken for granted. I’m grateful for so, so many things, and no matter how bad things get, it pales in comparison to what so many others go through on a daily basis. I am crazy-grateful, plain and simple.

2] Carve out daily quiet time.
This sort of goes hand in hand with #1, but carving out even just 10 minutes in your day to just be quiet, reflect and breathe is so restorative. Whether the time is spent praying, meditating, practicing gratitude or just “being”, it is a very important part of finding happiness. I like to have my quiet time in the wee early morning hours, after my significant other has left for the gym, and everything is still and peaceful. I pray, meditate and read verses and quotes to set the tone for the day.

3] Learn to forgive.
Admittedly this is a hard one for me, but I’m getting better :). Learning to forgive, whether it’s yourself or someone else, is key to finding inner peace and happiness. Anger does nothing but make us feel bitter and miserable and for what reason? Forgiveness is so liberating.

4] Laugh often.
Seriously, let loose…be goofy…watch silly videos on YouTube and laugh until your side hurts! Laughter really is the best medicine.

5] Don’t dwell on the past.
The phrase “there’s no sense crying over spilled milk” comes to mind here. The past is just that, the past. You can’t change it, and it does absolutely no good to dwell on it. One of my favorite self-mantras is “acknowledge, accept, move on.” I say this to myself when I start beating myself up over something I’ve done that may have not been the best decision. Whether it’s something that happened yesterday or 10 years ago, it is done. Better to use it as a learning experience and be thankful for the opportunity to grow from it. I’ve done plenty of the things in the past that I’m not proud of, and for years, I suffered from huge amounts of guilt. It affected everything in my life – my self-confidence, my relationships with others, etc. I finally learned that I had to let it go and move on, else I would be miserable forever.

6] Pay it forward.
St. Francis of Assisi said: “For it is in giving that we receive,” and I am a firm believer in this. I feel very blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life who have helped me in various areas at various times. To be able to help others as I have been helped is a gift, and I feel is the path to true joy.

7] Appreciate the simple things in life.
Taking a walk with a loved one, taking a bubble bath, enjoying a cup of coffee or tea while sitting outdoors, reading a book, playing with your kids or pets, taking a “lazy day” to just sit in bed and watch TV…all very simple things, yet they generate such warm, fuzzy, happy emotions!

8] Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Things like getting stuck in traffic, coming home to a messy house after traveling, getting stuck in the rain, having to use another treadmill at the gym because someone was on “mine” used to seriously piss me off. I’m not kidding. But there came a point in time that I realized getting mad at those things was so silly! I have no control over traffic, and who cares if the house is messy? It’s just a little rain, I won’t melt…and good grief, there are 15 other treadmills I can use.  Jeez!  Why stress and be angry over such insignificant things? It just serves to keep you wound up into a big ball of stress and bitterness. Let it go (I say this for myself as much as anyone :))

9] Let go of expectations.
We’ve also talked about expectations quite a bit. How can I be unhappy and disappointed if I have no expectations of how something is “supposed” to go or how someone is “supposed” to act? When it comes down to it, people are going to do what they’re going to do…sometimes it works in your favor, sometimes not. If you go in with no expectations, it’s hard to be let down. Remember how in #8 I used to get pissed when I would come home to a messy house? Well, I had it in my head that my significant other should clean the house prior to my arrival, because that is what I would do for him. I expected him to do it. But fact of the matter is, a messy house is no big deal to him, so the thought really never crossed his mind. He wasn’t doing it to hurt me or make me angry…it just wasn’t even on his radar. Once I let go of that expectation, my homecomings have been much more pleasant – ha.

10] Say “I love you”.
Think about it…how do you feel when someone says they love you?  Whether it’s a friend, family member or significant other, saying and/or hearing those three simple, yet powerful, words can lighten your whole being. I’m going to share something that Jill doesn’t even know…but a year or so ago, we were on the phone, and as we hung up, she said, “love you.” I hung up saying to myself, “really, she loves me?” And then I realized, of course she does…I love her too. She is one of my best friends and has been there for me through so much. Up to that point, I had saved the “I love you’s” for mainly family, but not anymore! If you love someone, whether it’s a friend, family or whoever…don’t be afraid to let them know it. I’ll go first: I love you all!

I hope these 10 tips help you find your happy place. I revisit these often, because it’s so easy to fall back into the “if only” mindset. As always, practice makes progress :) Xoxo, Tara

Related: 8 Ways to Show Yourself Some Love


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