Whether we work for a fortune 500 company or a telemarketing get-up, we all want to be happy. No one wants to be sad and depressed–ever. But the truth of the matter is, a very large majority of us are. We get through our days, but we spend most of it sighing dramatically, rolling our eyes, mentally screaming every profanity we’ve ever heard and some we create and reserve for special occasions (sometimes saying them out loud) and sobbing to ourselves in bathroom stalls.
How do I know this? Less than two weeks ago that was me. Let me break it down for you this way. Why? I know you may be sitting there thinking “who does she think she is? Telling me how to live my life?” No, that’s not what I’m trying to do and before I can give you a few key steps to smiling again, let me give you a little bit of a background on me.
I am educated…I spent a quite a few years and a few thousand dollars in student loans to ensure my education was top notch in a field I wanted to be in. Media, writing, creating, anything that was creative I wanted to do. I teamed my diploma with a degree and writing credentials and figured I was ready to take on the world! Sadly or unfortunately (depending which way you look at it), the economy crashed right as I was in about my second year in university. Newspapers were going under, radio stations were disappearing, television stations were changing formats….I figured, that’s okay–things will pick up by the time I graduate.
Boy was I wrong.
Things didn’t pick up. I got a job in customer service and began working, with every intention of going back to media the moment I could. That didn’t happen and after four years, I saved up some money and made another gamble. I went back to school-this time, for Law Clerk. Then I graduated, with amazing marks and ready to take on the world–again. Alas, the result was even more dismal than before because even though I was recognized as a hard worker I couldn’t find a job in that field either because I didn’t have that much experience!
Isn’t that the least?
And thus began my struggles. Sometimes I would burst into tears for no apparent reason. I would text my best friends with “I can’t deal today.” And one or both of them would sit on the phone with me, on three way trying to cheer me up.
So, how do I go on?
This leads me to ten of my keys to happiness.
- Friends – Surround yourself with amazing people. This is one of those instances in life where quality is definitely better than quantity. You can have a few thousand ‘friends’ on Facebook but still feel like the loneliest person on the planet. I have a few friends and I am very happy with them because I know if I need something I can pick up a phone and ask for help. This was proven time and time again so I can positively say I know they got me. And when I say this I don’t mean a ‘yes man’ or ‘yes woman’ – they don’t have to agree with you all the time–because let’s face it, sometimes we make terrible decisions.
- Don’t be afraid to do things alone – Yes, I know this may make you seem weird but you have so much freedom when you do things by yourself. No one to tell you when to go and when to leave. No one telling you they don’t like what you’re doing. Because of this blog and my need for content, I’ve gone on many outtings on my own. It isn’t as bad as people think it is because you meet others. If you’re like me and need to get out there more, going to things alone forces you to talk to people and it is your prerogative to have fun.
- Learn to let things go – Sometimes you just have to look at something, say to yourself “yup, that happened,” and move on. Trust me, I am not trying to be a jerk but we all have the tendency to hold grudges and that is not healthy for us.
- Stop taking on more than we can handle – Yes, I am the queen of over-extending. I write, I work a day job, I trying to re-learn the little French I knew, I am CELTA certified to teach ESL so I’m looking to get into that, I blog, social life, family and on and on the list goes. We are going to have to learn to say “no, this is my list for today, tomorrow is another day.”
- Learn how much our body can take – this may seem odd on this list but hear me out. For those of us who over-extend, push ourselves to do more in two hours than most people do in a week, we get tired and burnt out and instead of taking a break, we push further. This is when our bodies break down. There are only so many walls your body can hit before it gives in. Exhaustion leads to compromised immune systems, compromised immune systems lead to illnesses and so on and so forth…We need to take a small break from time to time and not feel guilty about it.
- Negative thoughts – Oh here we go now – I am the queen of negative thoughts. I could see nothing positive in the world. I heap every misfortune on my head and carry those with me everywhere and trust me, they get heavy. Which will explain the bursting into tears at strange times or being in bed not wanting to get out–ever. But I digress. My BFF got me to watch THE SECRET recently and while you don’t have to buy everything they’re saying, you have to admit that letting go of negative thoughts is a good idea. So, do what I do (I took this from the Secret). Sit down and write down all the things you’re thankful for – trust me there are things because no matter how bad your life is, has to be one thing you’re thankful for. Then, make a list of the things you want – for me, my own place, the ability to travel etc. Then every morning you wake up take a quiet moment and meditate on them.
- Me Time – Take time for you without feeling selfish or guilty about it. The other day I went on a date with myself. People thought I was weird that I’d do that. I mean, how dare I take a few hours out of a horrible day/week to do something to calm myself down? Forget those people. You work hard, right? You spend a good 90 % of the time doing stuff for other people, right? You are human, right? Then take some time to recharge. Sure, you don’t have to go on a trip out of the city/country/area but take a moment, to go somewhere that makes you happy, that revive you and just be in that place for at least an hour. This will help, trust me!
- Social Media – Cut back/Go Social Media Dark. These days we have Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, WhatsApp and the list goes on and on and on. We have them on our tablets and cell phones and laptops – We are on the bus with them, in bed with them, at school with them at work with them–ENOUGH! I mean think about it, if you have two hundred people on your friend’s list and all two hundred of them are posting into your feed, this is more information than we used to get before Facebook, right? So, of course it will affect us. Take a break. The world won’t end because you decided to go for a walk for an hour rather than logging into Twitter. Sometimes I spend a while day without logging into Facebook. I get “we miss you” emails from twitter.” There’s no shame in going Social Media dark for a little bit.
- Laugh more – If you have Jamaicans in your life you will hear them say if I don’t laugh I’d cry. Sometimes, bursting into laughter is the absolute wrong thing to do. But when hear a joke, laugh. Laughter is one of the best medicine there is out there, it doesn’t require insurance or a prescription so use it!
- Nights out – I don’t do this nearly enough. Why? I have to adult now (lol). This means I have work and other responsibilities that just get in the way. Now, I’m not saying every night hit the town like it owes you child support, but pick a night–once a month and just go out with your girls or boys, or girls and boys. You don’t even have to go to a club. If you live in Toronto there is plenty to do around the city, sometimes they’re free. Look through Toronto’s Event Brite listings for things, plus if you’re a reader like me, the Toronto Public Library always put on different things you can get involved in. This city is just brimming with wonders, find the ones that make you smile and get cracking!
I hope these steps help. I’m not a shrink but these things work for me. This journey your’re on will not be easy. Nothing worth having is easy. And you’re going to have train your thoughts into breaking old habits but isn’t your happiness worth it?
I’m hoping it will help you through whatever it is you’re going through or at least begin putting your life on the track you want it to.