12 Steps to Happiness (or at least feeling happier)

12 Steps to Happiness (or at least feeling happier)

Happiness, you want some more of it?  Here are my tips!

1. Get to know yourself and what makes you tick.

First things first – who are you, really? This is a doozy of a task!  It requires a lot of quiet thought and digging into some unpleasant emotions and past experiences, but it tells you who you are and what you value.  Self-awareness is invaluable.  I meditate for 5-10 minutes as often as I can to keep my equilibrium, vitality, and centeredness.

Here is a really simple, easy and great exercise to get you started. All you need is pen, paper and your thoughts.  How to Find Your Values.

2. Ask “Why not?” when presented with an exciting opportunity.

Do not live in fear of the unknown and let your life become paralyzed. Sure, things can be scary, but don’t waste your life and sacrifice happiness for safety.

E.g. I want to live in Europe one day – not sure how I’ll do it, I don’t know the details or specifics, but I am resourceful, thoughtful, I’m not the first person to do this. I can research, plan, network and organize an international move.  It’ll happen.

3. Keep an open mind about EVERYTHING in life.

There is the growth mindset and fixed mindset. Guess which one is related to general happiness?

4. Invest in relationships which feeds your heart and soul

I have friends and acquaintances and then I have soul-friends. Soul-friendship is a connection I struggle to describe, but when you experience this kind of bond, you know it.  Our vibes click, energy levels heighten around one another, we just love being in one another’s presence and being in contact.

In the past year or so I have made three new soul friends – they are all different ages, different backgrounds and walks of life but my soul recognizes their soul and we just “get” each other. If you find this, invest in the friendship!  It’s rare to find.

5. Think long-term and make plans, but always allow for flexibility.

E.g. I wanted a lot of kids (4 sounded good), my husband and I planned to have 2 and see how it goes. Then I unexpectedly became pregnant with identical twins. We had to be flexible.

6. Work on having a pure heart and the right intentions.

Let go of greed. Has greed ever served you?

No matter how small the act, I am rewarded more for doing the right thing than trying to take what is not really mine (or cheat the system). You know what I am talking about… cutting corners, acting shady because you think no one is watching, trying to get more than you actually pay for (ahem, that’s stealing).

Trying to get more than I deserve has always backfired – it’s bad karma.  I learned this lesson the hard way.  Living life with a higher moral code works much better.

7. Pay attention to the gifts you are given.

With the right intention, the universe conspires in your favor. This has happened to me in a BIG way.  I cannot recall how many times a “funny coincidence” has happened in my life.  So much so I stopped considering these events coincidences and it’s just my normal.  I am no longer surprised when things seem to fall into place seamlessly or something comes my way unexpectedly, just as I need it.  In response, I smile and think, “of course.”  Happiness is often presented to us, but we don’t see it.  Look for it.

8. Lean on your life-partner

I could not accomplish half the stuff I do without my husband. He’s a phenomenal father.  We are each other’s greatest cheerleaders and support and respect one another immeasurably.  My happiness would mean nothing without him by my side.

If you do not have a similar relationship with your life partner, it is time to have a conversation or try this fun activity together!

9. Make time for self-care

This could be alone time (like taking a soak in the tub) or something more extravagant like a girl’s night out, or even a weekend away.

10. Keep low expectations for what constitutes a good day with kids

They are alive, fed, and generally happy.  It’s a good day!

With 3 kids (presently ages 6 and 3 year old twins) my attention is always split and someone is almost always crying.  I am not exaggerating.  If there is a quiet moment where everyone is playing nicely or they are content (i.e. NOT crying) it’s a great day worth celebrating (envision an internal happy-dance).

11. F*ck others’ expectations.

Do what YOU want to do without making excuses or justifying it to others.  Happiness doesn’t hinge on meeting the expectations of someone else.

I have seen people who live their entire life based off expectations of others. They are not happy.

People choose a college, major, then create a career because they were told what to do by someone else, or it was the overlying expectation.  Were they ever asked “What would make you happy?  What do YOU want to do?” Even more tragic is an unhappy marriage forged and sustained due to external expectations.

F*ck others’ expectations, do what makes YOU happy.

12. Physical self-acceptance, it’s worth it.

This goes beyond accepting my body shape because I have come a long way there. Love your body for all it has given you and still does every day.

While looking at a photo of myself in elementary school, I thought, “Wow, I looked great and I looked a lot like my daughters – natural.” I wanted to go back to that and free myself of the burden of hair removal, over-grooming and placating to a societal standard of beauty I am just not interested in.

It’s a small thing, but I no longer pluck, wax, thread, or shape my eyebrows.  This is saying something for my Polish/Russian/Israeli lineage!  Likewise, I don’t worry about bleaching, zapping or removing hair.  I will pluck stray hairs on my chin because they annoy me and it’s satisfying to remove them (what the heck chin hairs!).

Moreover, I do not give any thought to self-tanners or time spent basking in the sun. The sun ages skin and I’m not asking for melanoma.  Most importantly, I like my skin tone just the way it is.

I prefer to go make-up free. I have a reputation for being good at doing my make-up and the result is nice, but I am still overall annoyed with the amount of time it takes. On the weekend and days off from work, my beauty routine consists of brushing my teeth and putting on SPF 100 sunscreen (Really, I am not a sun-worshipper).

13. Let go of money = happiness

Money provides comfort and the ability to do some things which cost money (like travel), but I cannot purchase the most important things in my life with cash. The love of my husband, children and friendships are invaluable.

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