When it comes to happiness, there’s often room for improvement. So, I spoke to Dr Lisa Patterson-Kane, about six simple things you can do to be happier. As a clinical psychologist and creator of the Get Happy app, Lisa knows a ton about putting a smile on your dial.
At its core though, happiness is often a case of subtraction, not addition – letting go of things, stopping well-worn thought patterns and choosing to no longer dwell on what you can’t change.
Here’s Lisa’s tips for being happy:
Accept the things you cannot change – We are constantly faced with challenges in life, many of which can occupy a large amount of our time and energy. Picking your battles is essential to becoming a happier person. It is important to look at the things that you are investing your energy into and ask yourself ‘is this something that I can control or change’. You cannot change what other people say, how they think, or what they do. You can only ever be responsible for yourself; for what you feel, how you think and what you do. If you are putting your energy into something that is beyond your control then this is wasted energy. By learning to accept the things that you cannot change and taking responsibility for the things that you can you will become a happier person.
Take action – If you have identified something that is within your control that you would like to change, then it is time to get stuck into it. Mark Twain once said ‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did’. Your life will not change until you make it change; thinking about what you want is not enough. You need to apply practical strategies to make it happen.
Be grateful – We live in a world of excess these days. Success is so often judged by the size of your house and by the car you drive. If you free yourself from these ridiculous self-imposed rules you will find that life suddenly becomes easier. Rather than always thinking about what you want and what you don’t have, take a look around you, and consider all of the things that you have to be grateful for and remind yourself of this often. Don’t waste your life wishing for all the things you want and not appreciating the things that you have.
Look after your body – This one is pretty simple. If you want to be a happier version of yourself, look after yourself. A car does not run well when it has no fuel, nor will your body. Eat well, sleep enough and exercise often.
Be in the now and forgive things in the past – It does not matter how many times you go over events of the past, they never change. The only time in your life that you can ever make changes in, is right now. You can chose to hold onto to grudges and rehash negative life experiences, but all you are doing is choosing to be unhappy. It is very easy to get caught in the cycle of anger and bitterness and to become distracted from the now. The only person that can break this cycle is you. If you get out of the past and starting living in the now you can become a happier person.
Laugh a little – We can learn so much from our children, the uninhibited pleasure that they show when something makes them happy. As we get older we get caught up what we should and shouldn’t be doing. Relax a little and let yourself have fun; watch a funny movie, catch up with an old friend, look through photographs from when you were a child do anything that makes you smile and laugh. There are so many benefits of laughing; first and foremost it feels good so give it a go…
Stay in touch with Lisa and follow the Get Happy app on Facebook.