BY DR LYDIA THURTON
From grocery store lineups to paying bills, it can be hard to find the joy in everyday life. When we exist in stretches of uninspired living it can put us in a rut. Negative thoughts start to creep in more often. Why does everyone else seem so happy? What’s wrong with me?
Getting through life’s rough patches is essential to creating the life you want to live. Watching and learning from my patients, there are some sure fire ways to pull yourself up by the boot straps, dust yourself off and start enjoying your life NOW.
The average child laughs 300 times a day. The average adult five. Try to think about what and who makes you laugh. When we laugh we play. When we play we relax. When we relax we win. And by win, I mean win at life. It’s impossible to be unhappy when you’re laughing. I know that sounds obvious. Many of the best life tips are. Find someone that lets you be silly. Spend time with them. If someone makes you feel like you have to focus and be serious and concentrate on what you are going to say next, spend less time with them. Unless they are work related. Then work with them, but don’t hang out with them outside of work.
This is morbid. But picture your funeral. Picture a good friend/cousin/sibling/child standing up in front of your loved ones. What would they say about you? I’ll tell you what they won’t say. They won’t say that you were amazing because you paid all of your bills on time. Or you managed to sell 10% more widgets every quarter. Nor will they say you had great hair or a flat tummy. They will say nice things about you. Important things about you. How caring you are. How deeply you loved. How deeply you are loved and valued and ultimately missed. Those are the things to focus on. Often we get down when we aren’t focused on the right things. Think about what you want said at your funeral. In the end, that’s all that really mattered anyway.
At the root of much unhappiness is attachment to expected outcomes. When our reality doesn’t match what we expect we feel sad/bad/mad. When patients say things like this I know they are unhappy, “I should be able to take vacations twice a year.” “I should have had another baby by now.” “I could have been a great boss if I’d only got promoted” It’s totally fine to have goals. But when you have a general feeling that you aren’t getting what life “owes” you, you will suffer. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have, if you keep looking for the next thing, wanting more, never feeling “enough” you will feel anxious and depressed. It is normal to strive and normal to want better for yourself, just don’t stay in that mindset all the time. Your happy place is in the here and now. There are little joys in everyday life.