1. Make your own happiness a priority.
Your happiness matters. Everyone, but especially women tend to put other people’s happiness before our own. We make excuses for why we neglect our needs – we are too busy, too skint, too stressed out. If you don’t value your own happiness then no one else will. It is entirely possible to look out for your own needs and still care about your friends and family. If you are happy, you are more likely to spread happiness and care for those around you.
Think about what makes you happy. Now what would make me delirious would be to wake late, eat cake, drink wine and spend the day sunbathing somewhere hot and beautiful. Thats not realistic at this point in my life as I think my kids would have something to say about it! But what does make me happy is blogging, making pretty things, reading, watching a good film, open fires, sauvignon blanc, walking in the woods with the dog and my family, my chickens, a good meal with awesome friends, a lie in with Timm, going dancing with my friends, a full english breakfast… There is a LOT that makes me happy that costs little or nothing and that I make time for. Its easy to neglect your own desires but important that you don’t.
2. Spend time with people who make you happy
Who are the people you enjoy spending time with? Who make you happy, love, respect and appreciate you and who make you be a better person. If you surround yourself with negative people then your life will be filled with negativity, and the opposite is true also, being around positive, happy people make you aspire to be positive and happy.
Sometimes we can’t help who we have to spend time with, we may have work colleagues or family members who are Debbie Downers and we have to hang out with them at times. But in our social lives it is so important to keep awesome positive people around us. The ones who make us laugh, who are joyous to be around. Im not saying fill your life with Mary Poppins’, some of the people who make me happy are filthy minded, raucous and quite dark! But they are interesting and make me feel good about myself.
3. Take responsibility for your own life
This is a biggy for me, the trait I hate the most in people is refusing to take responsibility for their own lives. People who have constant excuses for their bad behaviour, who think it is always someone or something else’s fault. People who say “its alright for you because…”
Own your life. Own your mistakes. Live and learn and move on. The world doesn’t owe you anything, you make your own path through this world. Everyone faces hardships throughout their life but you can choose to be a martyr to your tough times or own the shit out of them and move forward a stronger person.
4. Be yourself. Everyone else is taken
Be the best version of yourself that you can be. Be true to yourself and be proud of the person you are. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others, the fact is there will always be someone thinner, smarter, prettier – but honestly? Who cares? Whatever part of yourself you admire the most, be that more. The parts you dislike about yourself, be that less…
Be proud of your quirks and weirdness, stand tall and proud and applaud your inner awesomeness!
5. Create your own happiness
No one else can change your life and make you truly happy. Choose positivity over negativity, smile because you can. Choose to be happy. Be happy with who you are right now and allow your joy to shape your present and your future. Do the things that make you happy more often, spend time with those who bring out your smile and create your own happiness. If you are waiting for someone else to make you happy, you may be waiting a long time.
6. Find the silver lining
This is a toughie. When you are going through a really tough time it is easy to slip into feeling defeated and that life is just too hard. We go through things in life that we think will break us, illness, bereavement, job loss, money troubles, and it can feel like there is no way to get through these times. The truth is we are stronger than we think.
It is important to look for the silver lining even if that is only the tiniest sliver of hope. When I was recovering from my bowel surgery and was in pain, I was feeling humiliated by leaking bags and the inability to care for myself. During that time I struggled to see the silver lining, but the reality of it was that I was no longer sick. My Ulcerative Colitis was gone, ten years of illness, pain and medication were now in my past.
If there is no silver lining in your situation, for example the death of a loved one, then try to count your blessings and be grateful of the good things in your life.
When things are hard, and you feel down, take a few deep breaths and look for the silver lining – the small glimmers of hope. Remind yourself that you can and will grow stronger from these hard times. And remain conscious of your blessings and victories – all the things in your life that are right. Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.
7. Be kind
Be a kind person, one who is caring and thoughtful, who thinks of others and treats people with respect. Kindness breeds kindness. Its a simple one but so important, kindness sometimes is confused with being a doormat – this is bullshit. You can be a strong person who has a kind and loving heart.
8. Be open
Be open, share your thoughts and feelings with the people closest to you. If you are hurting then accept the hurt and allow yourself time to heal – let your loved ones in and be honest with them. A problem shared is a problem halved is a great saying, the act of speaking your troubles out loud can be of as much help as any advice you can receive. Becoming a more open person can lead to real happiness.
9. Let go of the past
Our pasts define who we are and we can learn lessons from the things we have gone through, but when your past is keeping you from moving forward it becomes a problem. We have all had tough experiences but if you are reliving the pain of this experience again and again and it is affecting your present then it is time to let go.
Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting what has happened or pretending it didn’t happen, it means letting go of the pain and resentment that is holding you back. This is easier in some situations than others, but be honest with yourself and if something from your past is affecting your present then it may be time to talk through those issues either with a trusted friend or family member or a trained therapist.
10. Take a chance
Last December my husband and I took a leap of faith, we sold our home and rented a 15th century mill to push our photography business forward. It was a risk, but a calculated risk. I knew that if there was a motto to live by (other than ‘If you can’t sing well, sing LOUD’) it was ‘I’d rather regret the things I did, than the things I didn’t do. We plotted and planned, did the sums a million times and then decided to take a chance. And it was the best thing we ever did, don’t get me wrong there have been some very tough times but throughout the year I knew we had made the right decision.
Life is not about getting a chance, it is about taking a chance. If there is something you have always dreamed of doing, then try to make it happen. If it works you will have achieved a goal, if it doesn’t you know you at least tried it and you WILL learn a lesson from it.
11. Be mindful
Live in the present, in the here and now. It is so easy to let busy lives, technology and procrastination take over our lives, but being mindful of the things around you can bring peace and happiness into your life. Take time to notice the things that are important in your life right now, experience life as it happens. Don’t dwell on the past or imagine how great things could be in the future. This moment is the only thing guaranteed to you in life, we never know what the future holds so enjoy today.
12. Concentrate on the things you can control, not the things you can’t
Worry and stress is a normal part of life but when your day is taken up with worrying about the things in life you cannot control it is a sign that things need to change. Worrying about things that are beyond your control is such a waste of your time and emotional energy.
Worry affects you, not the person or situation you are worrying about. If it is important to you and you can control the outcome and positively help a problem then great, if not then let it go. You have enough genuine problems to face in life without upsetting yourself with things beyond your control.
13. Face your problems and make a positive change
There’s no point in burying your head in the sand, if you have a problem you need to face it head on and make a positive change as no one is going to do it for you. The problem will not just disappear on their own without action from you, no problem is too big to overcome. It takes acceptance from you and then a plan, no matter how small the steps you need to do little and often and move it forward.
Some problems you will be able to overcome alone with a good old fashioned list and a bit of hard work. Others are bigger and need support from others. There is no shame in asking for help, whether it is the help of friends, family or a professional.
14. Appreciate the things you have
Perspective. There will always be someone better off than you and someone worse off than you. Learn to appreciate the things you have rather than worrying about the things you don’t. Im not saying we shouldn’t aspire to be greater than we are now, but just not to be so busy in thinking of the things you don’t have that you forget to appreciate all you do.
15. Love those around you
Appreciate and love those around you, bring joy to the people who mean the most by telling them how much they mean to you. Since my sister moved to Australia I end all our conversations with “love you!” I didn’t do this before she left but her moving half way around the world brought out something in me that makes me want her to know how much she means to me.
This isn’t about huge grand gestures, it is about personal, meaningful acts that let your friends and family know how awesome they are. A text message, sending a photo that you think they’ll find funny, a hug, a few words.
Love Sam xx