3 Ways to Stay Happy Around Unhappy People

Happiness is so much more than a feeling of delight.

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Image Licensed from Shutterstock
Image Licensed from Shutterstock

Happiness is an inside job.” – William Arthur Ward

Happiness is a personal journey that becomes possible when we hold ourselves accountable for our happiness and unhappiness.

Half the battle of living a life well-loved, is to embrace being the conductor of our own amazing life adventure.

Instead of getting caught up believing life is hard, or is always happening to us, it’s refreshing to open up to the idea that we get to play and we have a say.

As happiness curators, we may become well-versed at playing and knowing what makes our hearts sing.

For example, I’m aware that the daily ingredients that lead me to my happy place include: solid sleep, regular exercise, nutritious food, connecting with my loved ones, being in nature, and expressing my creativity to plant a few seeds of hope out into the world.

I’m crystal clear about what happiness looks like to me. For the most part, I’m pretty good at bringing these ingredients into my daily recipe for living well.

Chances are, you also have a good practice and understanding of what your definition of happiness includes.

If so many of us already know how to feel good each day, why does the staying power of happiness waver when we’re out in the world around others who aren’t happy?

How do we stay connected to our true nature in environments that are hard to be in?

While there isn’t a simple solution to this sizable question, here are 3 helpful ways to stay tethered to your happy place, no matter what’s going on around you.   

1. Lead From Acceptance

While we may know what our definition of happiness includes – it’s helpful to also remember that happiness is so much more than a feeling of delight.

Happiness is making room for all human sensations, including: joy, sorrow, love, loss, worry, peace, laughter, tears, and everything else in between. Sometimes we get lost in thinking a happy life is one where we are always in a state of joy or bliss. Then when we feel anything but cheerful, we beat ourselves up and confuse who we are with how we feel.

It’s a huge relief to stop being so hard on ourselves and instead lead our days from a place of acceptance. Lasting happiness comes when we are at ease with who we are and the current state of the life we’re in – no matter what that looks like. It’s about accepting all emotions and challenges that go along with being human.

The trick is to remember our emotions and challenges are part of the landscape of our life adventure – they aren’t the determining factors that define our worth.   

2. Choose Your Level of Engagement Wisely

As human beings, we have an innate desire to relate to other human beings – particularly those who are close to us. We are social beings.

In a Scientific American article titled, Why We Are Wired to Connect, Mind Matters editor, Gareth Cook asks scientist Matthew Lieberman a series questions about Lieberman’s research on the neuroscience of human connection. In one of the responses in the article written by Gareth Cook, Matthew Lieberman states that: “Evolution has placed a bet that the best thing for our brain to do in any spare moment is to get ready to see the world socially.” Lieberman goes on to say: “I think that makes a major statement about the extent to which we are built to be social creatures.”

Getting our social needs met, while learning to play nice together in the sandbox isn’t straightforward. We won’t always be surrounded by others who are like-minded. In our jobs and communities, we will inevitably come across people who have a way of being unhappy about everything.

The main challenge then becomes how to ‘not’ adopt someone else’s narrative or negative vibe as our own. The foolproof method would be to carefully choose who we interact with, and to control the external influences we are exposed to. But, that method is not realistic in our daily lives. We are social beings living on a planet with over 7.7 billion other social beings. Isolation is not an option that’s easily attainable or in our best interest.

It may be more realistic to be aware of our external surroundings and put some healthy boundaries around how deeply we invest in our social interactions – particularly with those who don’t feel good to be around.

We can choose our level of engagement wisely. We don’t have to get swept up in someone else’s unhappiness. Visualize putting an imaginary protective bubble around yourself when you know you have to share space with others who are hard to be around.   

Find other people you’re aligned with who feel good to be around – those are your people to engage with on a deeper, more meaningful level. We can get our need for social connection met, without pressuring ourselves to be on the same wavelength with everyone we come in contact with.

3. Shift Your Perspective

Practice what it’s like to challenge your narrative. When you find yourself around unhappy people, or in challenging circumstances, ask yourself this question: How might I see this person or situation through a different lens?

In order to notice when there is room to shift our perspective, we have to be self-aware enough to realize how our judgments and perceptions shape our experience of others. Adopting a daily mindfulness practice of some kind is a great way to get into the regular habit of being able to shift perspective with more ease.

Just because we are social beings, it doesn’t mean we have to see life through the eyes of someone who is unhappy. We don’t even have to see life through our own judging eyes that perceive others as unhappy.

Instead, see how it feels to view others and life experiences through the eyes of love. When it feels hard to be around others, or to feel at ease with who you are in your life – see what shifts when you let love help you see.

Let love help you see others.

Let love help you see yourself.

Let love lead you to lasting happiness.

Originally published on emilymadill.com

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