Certified life coach, author and motivational speaker Dee Marshall says that two common stumbling blocks that hinder happiness are depending too much on external things and existing in life rather than living.
“We give away control of our happiness and too much power to external things — whether we have a husband, boyfriend, a job or material things. Even when we are upset or frustrated, we have the ability to choose. It's a decision to be happy," says Marshall. "Existing means you're here. Living means you're here and evolving. We've become passive, and we are allowing life to unfold instead of making life happen."
Marshall says that people often live their lives in the position of being carjacked, meaning they're allowing other people to dictate and determine their happiness. She encourages women to take control of their happiness on a daily basis by becoming the driver.
“We need to get out of the passenger seat and move to the driver seat and make a decision. Our happiness is depending on who is carjacking us. We take control by driving the car in the direction we want to go.”
Energy is contagious, and there's nothing like a Debbie Downer sharing her pessimistic 2 cents to ruin a good day or worsen a rough one. Whether it’s a co-worker, associate, friend or even a family member, choose to remain positive and limit your conversations when others start to unload their negativity. More importantly, remember to avoid negative internal dialogue. While you can excuse yourself from negative people, you can’t walk away from yourself, so start turning your “I can’t” into “I can."
Marshall recommends writing down five things you are grateful for at the end of the day, and she encourages people to start their day with a "gratitude walk."
“It's a way to be a happier person. As soon as you wake up in the morning, you want to put your right foot down and say 'thank' and your left foot down and say 'you.' When you start with the gratitude walk, your mind starts to identify what you should be grateful for," says Marshall. "Every time you step into a place, school, job, grocery store, etc., think about that one thing you are most grateful for at that moment."
So you made a mistake at work or embarrassed yourself on a date. Instead of dwelling on it, give yourself a pass when you make mistakes; take it as a lesson learned and move on. Learning to laugh at yourself in awkward or "oops" moments can make you more resilient. Research shows that laughter has health benefits, and smiling, even when you don't want to, can help to improve your mood. Besides, it's hard to be down when you're laughing.
People who have low self-esteem can struggle with being happy with their lives. Though having confidence doesn't mean that every day will be great, it does mean that you choose to believe in yourself no matter what your circumstances are or what other people say. Believing in yourself allows you to dream big and go hard after what you desire. And knowing that you are more than capable of accomplishing your goals can boost your happiness.
Whether it's prayer, meditation, nature or attending church, people have their own definitions of spiritual wellness. Marshall points out that being spiritually connected can produce a lasting happiness.
"Go deeper in your faith, whatever you believe. It allows you to shift from happiness to joy. Happy is based on external things while joy is a deeper place you get to by the way of your belief and faith. Tap into what you believe, your core, your foundation, and you should find something there that gives you joy to override external things," says Marshall.
Sure, you enjoy taking care of others, but making time to exercise, eat well, get rest and engage in your hobbies are important to your overall happiness. And remember, exercise is often linked to happiness because it releases brain chemicals to boost your mood and alleviate stress.
“Self-care is a form of loving and embracing ourselves, so it contributes to our overall happiness. It increases our value and self-worth. Whether it's pampering or exercising, those are activities to become better and live greater," says Marshall.
People, things or situations that drain your energy can immediately impact your happiness. Whether it's a job or unhealthy relationship, make a decision to cut ties and move on. This also includes dwelling on past failures and disappointments. It's difficult to be happy while lugging around dead weight. So if you're still thinking about what the ex did five years ago or a past regret, make a decision to forgive and move on.
Whether you buy someone's coffee in drive-thru, volunteer at a shelter or give someone a genuine compliment, being kind to others can immediately lift your spirits. Challenge yourself to do something nice for someone on a regular basis, whether it's a friend or a random stranger.
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