Why wait to be happy?
Client: “I want to be in a relationship.”
Client: (with look of complete confusion regarding the question) “Because I want to be happy!”
Me: “Why wait to be happy?”
Client: “Because, I need someone in my life to make me happy!”
And there, my friends, is the problem: the conviction that, in order to be happy, you need to be in a relationship.
The result of this belief? Getting into relationships that are not a good fit (at best) and unhealthy (at worst).
It is true that when we are in a good relationship, we tend to feel happier. But, often we miss the fact that happier people are more likely to be in happier relationships. There really is some component of “which came first, the chicken or the egg” here.
And, if we focus on being happy right here and now, regardless of our relationships status, there are only positive side effects. The research shows, for example, that happier people:
- are more resilient to stress
- are physically healthier
- have closer friendships
- enjoy more meaning in their lives
- experience greater productivity and success at work
- even live a longer, more prosperous life
Sounds pretty good to me- how about you?
Sure, you might be thinking, you can say that, but society tells me something else. I am nothing if I am single.
THAT’S NOT TRUE!
So, with that in mind, try applying the following tips:
Believe in yourself:
Ever feel down about yourself because of how you think others view you? Guess what- it only hurts because you are believing it too.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
So, when people make comments, give you looks, or act in a way that you find upsetting, remember you are agreeing with them at least on some level, or else it would not hurt.
Believe in who you are as an individual. No one needs another person in order to be worthy, valuable, special or important. In fact, the more confident you are, the better you feel about yourself, the more happiness you will enjoy- regardless of your relationship status.
Don’t put your winter coat on in summer:
I used to live in Dallas, Texas where it could easily be 100 degrees for the entire month of August. And yet, in the winter months, the temperature often dropped down below freezing.
If we were in Dallas in August with the thermometer reading 101 degrees and I was wearing a winter coat, what would you say to me?
Probably something like, “You need your own shrink.”
But, what if I said to you “I am preparing for January when I know it will eventually be cold”?
My guess is you would still think I am crazy.
I have worked with many single individuals who are doing just this. They are putting their winter coat on in summer.
One woman told me “I don’t mind not having a boyfriend right now because I am busy with work, but I know I am always going to be single.”
Whether this is true or not, her anxiety, helplessness and hopelessness about not having a relationship was making her miserable. She was sweating in her down jacket while it was still summer.
We have no idea what the future holds - really. Making negative assumptions, however, does increase the likelihood that not-so-great stuff will occur. Whether you believe in Law of Attraction or simply the notion of self-fulfilling prophecies, worrying about worst case scenarios often makes them more likely.
So, be present in the here and now, instead of fretting about what may happen. Enjoy life RIGHT NOW. Make it your goal to bring joy and happiness into your life. Yes, it is easier said than done. But, it is possible. It is so worth getting rid of the worry and enjoying more joy.
Develop a gratitude journal:
One great way to take off your winter coat and be happier NOW is to develop a gratitude journal. Everyday write down at least three positive things that happened to you: experiences you had, people you spent time with, successes you had. These need not be monumental (e.g., “I won $1 million in the lottery) but rather anything that you appreciate.
If you have trouble, ask yourself this question: “what would I miss tomorrow if you lost it all today?” Everyday “luxuries” such as having a safe home and clean drinking water, as well as functions we take for granted such as being able to take a deep breath on our own, may not initially come to mind for gratitudes, but I am sure if you did not have them anymore, you would wish you did. So, why not appreciate them while you still can?
When we stop focusing on the negative (“what is going wrong”) and start concentrating more one what is going right, we attract more positives into our lives. So we experience more joy, fulfillment and positive experiences.
Take advantage of your time and freedom:
Take some time to assess what you really like. What are your individual values, strengths and areas of interest? Then start applying them in your everyday life. Like to travel? Take advantage of last-minute travel deals. Always wanted to be able to cook? Take a cooking course. Love animals but can’t have one because of your job? Volunteer at an animal shelter. This is also a great way to meet new people who have similar interests.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that when I was in high school, I used to joke that exercise was against my religion. Even the thought of going for a jog induced a visceral response of complete dread. But, when I got to college, I forced myself to work out and eventually started to like it. And now, many (many) years later I still love the way I feel after a great workout.
In addition to the wonders it does for your physical health, research shows that exercise helps reduce depression (as effectively as anti-depressant medications), combats stress, enhances self-confidence, improves sleep and even boosts libido.
And, working out is a terrific way to meet new people: in a kickboxing class, out jogging in the park, practicing yoga, taking rock-climbing lessons…social connection with new friends is another great way to increase happiness.
So what if you are not in a relationship? Try these five steps to be an even happier you!
For more on happiness, check out twodaymag's newest contributor and author, Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo's book: A Happier You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness