The other day, my kids were at their dad’s house. I went and did a little shopping and stopped and got myself an ice cream cone. Driving down the road, eating my cone, I thought, I have reached a level of happiness most people never see. This is what it feels like. This is what it feels like to be content. I have learned to be happy.
I have spent years being miserable. Just wallowed in misery. I was in unhappy marriages and relationships. I worried too much about what others were doing; Not living my own life and pleasing everyone but myself. I had to train myself how to be happy again, took steps, and it did not happen overnight.
Happiness doesn’t happen overnight.
You can’t spit out, “I want to be happy,” and it happens. Like anything in life, you have to work for it. I worked hard on myself and my mental and physical space to train myself to be happy again.
Years of adverse events and thoughts have only taught your brain to think that way. Learning to be satisfied with your life is work, and it’s breaking negative habits.
What is happiness?
Happiness is a state of mind. It’s a feeling of excitement, joy, and, I believe the most important, peace and contentment. Happiness means different things for different people. But essentially, it’s all internal.
Today, I am the happiest I have ever been. And I am happy alone. This has been the best year of my life thus far. To get here, I learned some major life lessons. Life lessons I hope never to live again.
I have gone through some major life stresses, some of the worst on the scale of stressors. I also had to put in some major work.
Some self-reflection, improvement, and gratitude for the small things. Here is how to be happy and what I did to accomplish a content and happy life.
Do Not Get Money and Happiness Mixed Up
This is where people get it wrong. If they had more money, they would be so much happier. Wrong. Happiness and money have nothing to do with each other. Yes, money makes life easier. Yes, money can stress us out if we do not have it and make us angry. I get it.
Money should not be the end all be all in your happiness.
I have had a lot of money, lost a significant amount of money, and currently am on a strict budget and do not have a lot of money, but I am the happiest I have ever been. Why? I pay my bills before anything, and what is left over, I try to make the best of it.
Key phrase: make the best of it. Objects, fancy cars, huge houses do not, I repeat, do not make you happy.
Learning to be happy in your own space with what you have will bring peace to your life. How broke or how rich you do not mean happiness. Have you not ever seen a rich person miserable, and you think, “you have so much money, how can you possibly be miserable?” Because the two do not go hand in hand.
Simplifiy Your Life
With that said about money, simplifying your life can do wonders for your soul and happiness. My dear sister-in-law and wise beyond her years told me after my first divorce, “keep your life simple; you need to simplify.”
What did I do? I went and bought a big house, too big to furnish and maintain. I ended up moving back to my marital house, got remarried, and had another baby.
Guess where I am now? With another child alone (I love her, would not change a thing), divorced again. After the divorce, I took my sister’s advice. I simplified. I bought a little red brick house in the country with a small yard, less space.
There is no extra space for extra stuff. I uncomplicated everything. I got rid of “extra” stuff and space. Each kid has their own room, and there is a cozy living space and kitchen where we gather as a family.
This little house is easy to maintain, easy to clean, has fewer bills, more peace and time for things I love to do the most. Simplicity goes a long way emotionally, mentally, and financially. Make your home your sanctuary, where you come home to peace.
Learn To Be Grateful.
Yes, I know, I know, you have heard this time and time again. I am the most cynical and negative thinking human you will meet. Once I changed my thinking and how I view the world around me, I became happier. Being grateful for the small things can drastically change your perspective and bad attitude about things you think you deserve or need in your life.
Be Grateful For The Small Things
I always joke about my car. Do not get me wrong; It’s a nice car. Joking around with the valet or my kids not to mess up my prized possession. I tease because it is a basic level, with no leather seats, seat heaters, or fancy buttons (which I am completely ok with). I call it my basic “B” car, but I love it.
One day, I went to get a covid test, and the nurse came out to my car, and she said, “this is my absolute dream car.” What you complain about or think is not good enough, or you make silly jokes to hide your insecurity may be someone else’s dream; what you have someone is praying for, therefore be grateful. In your time of self-pity, you are better off than someone else.
I have always been grateful for my car, I only tease, but I gained a new perspective over that small interaction with the nurse. I now look at my “basic” car as reliable to drive my kids to school, to get groceries, how it gets me to point A to B. It’s not fancy but does its job, and I am grateful for a vehicle that makes my life work. It’s all perspective.
Being grateful does not have to mean what you possess or own either. It is walking with your dog, a nice fresh cup of coffee in the morning, a hot shower at night, a good book, a quiet evening watching a movie with loved ones, even something simple like nice, shaved legs or clean sheets climbing into bed.
Furthermore, indulging and being grateful for small pleasures add up. It makes you feel good about your life. Sit down every morning with your tea for coffee and write five things you are grateful for every morning for a week. Watch how your attitude changes and your day is set up on a positive note. I see that this is a joke on the internet, but I’ll be damned; it works.
Live Your Life How You See Fit
Learning how to be happy involves learning to live your life how you see fit. Do what you want, make the choices you wish, but live with the outcomes—positive or negative. Letting too many people play puppetmaster with your life will make you a very unhappy person. You must learn to be yourself and fall into the world as yourself. Make your own choices, pave your own path.
I love to travel. It is a value and priority to me. Personally, I would rather have good memories than an expensive pair of red-bottom shoes. Everyone values things differently, even a pair of expensive shoes or a purse. I respect what is important to them.
If my family and friends disagree with a life choice, I consider their opinion because I respect them, right or wrong; I make my own life; it’s my life and will do ultimately what is best for my children and me. Every single time. If it turns out badly, I live with those repercussions. Once I started doing this, and it takes practice, my life changed for the better. Don’t let other people ruin your happiness or tell you what you need to do.
Have Something To Look Forward To
Travel is important to me; travel will likely always be valued to me. I find traveling and making memories with my kids on the top of the list for me. Solo travel is important to me too. When my kids are at their dad’s, I book weekend trips on a strict budget. I find a way to do it. Having something planned and to look forward to is essential to life.
I noticed after my divorces I was getting in a rut. Spending time at home alone, not doing anything but watching Netflix and eating Ranch Corn Nuts in bed (true story). While this is fine and actually makes me quite happy in general and needed sometimes, I was overdoing it and a bit too comfortable with the routine.
I didn’t have money to go on trips. Then I realized there is a whole state of Texas out there. One of the most traveled cities in the United States, Dallas-Fort Worth is a 20-minute drive. I started doing little day trips to towns near me. We found little cabins to stay at. I tried new restaurants.
Try something new. Even if it’s as simple as trying a new food truck, coffee house, or a park or bookstore you have never been to.
Get out of your rut or routine occasionally. You will feel so good about having something exciting to look forward to. The experiences will ultimately lead to a more fulfilled life and happiness.
Surround Your Life With Things You Love
Learning how to be happy involves surrounding yourself with things and people you love. Not like, but you love. After my last divorce, I had to move; I had to remove people from my life.
My home had too many memories. I moved into my current home and told myself I would only fill it with things and people I absolutely love. Whether the items are small or have to save months, nothing is coming in that I do not love.
Make a Home You Love
With that being said, since I didn’t have a lot of money to buy things, I found happiness in an organized clean, space. In your current space, organize your life. Make a “home” for all your items, keep your space clean and tidy. Make your bed every day. Clean your kitchen at night. Make your coffee the night before and set out the mug you love the most.
Additionally, use what you have to make your home a home and somewhere you find peace. If you do not have the money to buy things for your space, make sure it’s tidy and organized. Clean out drawers, clean your garage, clean your closet, clean the weeds out of your yard, put your laundry away nicely. You can make your space somewhere that makes you happy and inviting with no money.
Learn How To Be Happy Alone
Sorry, but this is a very true statement. Unfortunately, this is a lesson some people never or refuse to learn: being in a relationship or relying on people to make you happy is a dead-end street. You must learn how to be happy alone or make yourself happy apart from your partner or friends. It is no one else’s job but yours.
If you are not happy with life and where you are, how do you expect to be happy with adding another person? Misery loves company. I suggest you do not do that to another person. Trust me, I have been on the receiving end of that scenario, and it makes you more unhappy. It only puts you further behind in your journey to happiness.
I love being married; I love being in a relationship. However, I have been single for three years, and I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I found myself and am content. What I like, what I bring to the table, and what I am willing and not willing to accept in a relationship.
I actually am so happy and content that nothing will get in my way of peace, nothing. I learned how to be happy alone, satisfied with or without a relationship.
To be satisfied with your life, you don’t have to be in a relationship.
It is not the only thing in life that can bring your fulfillment and, ultimately-happiness. Travel, self-improvement, education, spending time with people you love, a career you are passionate about invoke happiness.
Work On a Better Version of Yourself
Learning to BE yourself is crucial as well as HOW to be happy with yourself is essential to overall contentment. Simple activities such as reading or listening to a book on positive self-improvement can change your life, a negative perspective, or how you see the world.
Take a class that interests you. Small steps to get in shape. Travel somewhere you have never been; try a new museum, restaurant, or activity you usually would not try. Challenge your comfort a bit. Challenging and learning are teaching you how to be comfortable with who you equate to happiness.
Conclusion On How To Be Happy
Happiness is a state of mind. It’s a feeling of excitement, joy, and, I believe, the most important peace and contentment. What happiness means to you may be different from what it means to your neighbor or me, but at its core, it’s all internal- emotion that resides in our minds rather than something tangible we can touch.
And yet, so many people chase after things outside themselves for their own personal happiness instead of looking inside because they think life will only get better if they have more money, more love, or live somewhere else. But as someone who has experienced both highs and lows – I know firsthand how fleeting moments of true happiness are no matter where you find yourself living or what you’re doing.
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