How to Be Happy in Uncertain Times

These are the 18 things that happy people do every day.

Westend61/ Getty Images
Westend61/ Getty Images

We get very few guarantees in life, which means we’re always living in uncertain times. Some more uncertain than others. Even if you’re uncomfortable embracing uncertainty, and being invigorated by it seems out of reach, here’s what you can do to turn fear into fantastic.

1. Focus on what you can do, let the rest go. Give all your time and energy to that which is within your control- which is mostly limited to how you think, act and feel. Let go of grudges, anger, pain and fear for they do not serve you.

2. Stay in the present moment. Ruminating about the past, the last time there was a recession, set back, job loss or other difficult moments in life or focusing too much on the future prevents you from fully enjoying the day you’re in.

3. Remember that you have survived uncertain times already. You have experienced difficulties and come out on top. That same strength will get you through life’s challenges in the future too.

4. Connect with friends and family. Connection is a cornerstone of happiness. Often, people who are isolated feel more depressed. Investing in your friends and family who have your back and you have theirs (in an always and forever kind of way) gives you the security to get through uncertainty.

5. Focus on the good. Good and bad things happen to everyone. Finding the silver lining in adversity helps us to keep the perspective that good things are more plentiful than difficulties. There are gifts in every day.

6. Practice compassion. Be a compassionista. Listen intently to the stories of others. Be involved enough to be empathetic and kind without taking on the weight of the situation as your own. Offer to help if that seems appropriate, keeping in mind that sometimes listening intently is enough.

7. Control what you let in. There is negativity everywhere you look and listen- in the news, politics, in your environment at work and maybe even at home. Energy is contagious; you can protect yourself by limiting time spent with negative people. Balance what you can’t avoid with healthy doses of positive. Seek out stories about the good things happening around the world. Better yet, be the good.

8. Be a judgment-free zone. Each of us is doing our best with the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical resources we have. These resources vary by the day and are different for everyone based on our early childhood programming, experiences, personal filters and personality traits. How we think, act and feel are based on genetics and what was role modeled for us until we learn different or better. In this, we must not pass judgment on others for their abilities. It’s also why we must be kind and compassionate. Be willing to go first and with those you believe don’t deserve it. Spread more of what you want to see in the world.

9. Lean into your faith. If you have a religious or spiritual practice, lean into it. You cannot feel faith and fear at the same moment. You are choosing one or the other. Simple prayers like “Show me” or “Help” and “Thank you” are enough.

10. Move your body. Walk, run, exercise, do yoga. Do what works best for you. Exercise releases endorphins, serotonin and other happy chemicals in your brain. You will feel the benefits quickly and enduringly. Not only do you reap the physical rewards of feeling more comfortable in your skin, you feel emotional benefits too. Exercising when you least feel like it is when it does the most good.

11. Meditate and practice mindfulness. Include at least 15 minutes of stillness in your day. Learning to observe your thoughts through mindfulness and meditation teaches you to have control when your brain wants to worry. This control allows you to release anxiety, anger, and frustration so that you can easily return to happiness.

12. Read something inspirational. Know your go-to sources of inspiration and motivation. Watch Youtube videos, interviews, Ted Talks and read books by people that remind you who you are and where you’re going regardless of what’s happening in your life and the world around you. Hang out with your mentors any way you can.

13. Create daily rituals that nurture a positive mindset. Daily rituals are what you do when you wake up, to regroup during the day and in the evening before bed. The set of habits that starts your day dictates its trajectory. Let them be good ones. Meditation, exercise, positive self-talk all set the tone for the day.

14. Ask for help. If you are dealing with things beyond your control and capabilities, ask for help. Asking for what you need is the surest way to get it. If someone tells you no, do not take it as rejection but simply ask someone else. Try a coach or a therapist if you are unable to shift your thoughts, feelings, and actions on your own. This is the work most worth doing to improve the way you look at the world and your place in it.

15. Have good conversations with yourself. Stop negative self-talk by (1) recognizing the negative messages you tell yourself, (2) refuting the negative messages by showing proof that they are true or in the absence of proof, accepting that they are not true, and (3) replacing negative messages with kind, affirming self-talk. Be your own cheerleader even if you don’t believe it at first or think it feels awkward. Smile and tell yourself, “I love you.” It’s easier than you think to trick your brain and shift your thoughts.

16. Focus on what’s most important. If you do not have what is most important to you (people), focus all your energy on getting those things. When we have what is most important to us, we care less about what we perceive is missing.

17. Stop trying to control the outcome of anything and everything and focus on how you want to feel in each moment. Make how you want to feel your mission and priority each day. Write a mantra that supports it (mine is Bright, Cheery, Happy). Mantras and mission statements are positive and self-affirming.

18. Be decisive about who you are, what you want, what your goals are and what your personal protective boundaries are. Articulate these so that they are crystal clear and stick to it 100% of the time. Before you do anything, ask yourself, “Is this good for me?” If the answer is no, don’t do it or do less of it.

Perspective is everything. These 18 habits are some of what science says creates lasting happiness and what I have used in the uncertain times in my life. These tools give me strength and resilience to not only survive in volatile times but to thrive and be happy. They will do the same for you.

Originally published at medium.com

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