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When you write a lifestyle blog, it can be easy to give the impression that you’ve got it all together and that your life is totally under control. However, like everybody else, I have good days and bad days. Sometimes, my life runs more like a jalopy with transmission issues than a well-oiled machine.
This week was one of those times. I experienced a big setback, the kind that makes you think wine o’clock should start shortly after breakfast.
The details don’t matter; it was just one of those curve balls that life lobs at everybody now and then. In the moment, I was hugely disappointed. It’s possible that I even felt sorry enough for myself to shed a few tears. But within a few hours, I pulled myself together and moved on.
And you know something? I feel kind of proud of myself for doing so. A few years back, a disappointment like that would have landed me on flat on my face for days, maybe even weeks.
But not anymore.
Adopting a Happier Outlook: Tips for a Happier Life
That’s because I’ve learned a few things over the years, adopted practices and attitudes that help me keep my equilibrium even when it feels like my world is turning upside down.
There aren’t any big secrets here, most of my Tips for a Happier Life are pretty commonsensical. I don’t always get it right. But I try my best and when I succeed, these 14 Tips for a Happier Life definitely help me appreciate and enjoy life, in spite of the setbacks. Maybe they’ll help you too.
It’s a pretty big list, so I thought I’d tackle them in two parts.
This week, I want to focus on the first seven of my 14 Tips for a Happier Life. These are the bigger picture items, practices and attitudes that have the potential to impact the world that stretches beyond yourself.
#1 Have A Faith
The first of my 14 Tips for a Happier Life is also the one I’ve personally found most important.
I’ve been a practicing Christian for more than 40 years and find it hard to imagine navigating the stormy seas of life without my faith. But it’s not just me and it’s not just Christianity. Study after study has shown that people who have a spiritual practice of some kind of happier than those who don’t.
I know this has been true for me. And I also know that my faith also helps me to practice and hold to the next six tips on my list.
#2 Keep Your Perspective
Life is filled with setbacks and disappointments. It’s just part of the deal. When you’re dealing with them, it helps to pause and think about the situation from a broader perspective.
My faith teaches me to look at life from an eternal perspective. When I look at it that way, there’s not much that’s really worth getting upset about. But you don’t even have to look ahead that far to put most setbacks into a different context. Ask yourself if the problem you’ve encountered is going to impact your life ten years, five years, or even one year from now. If not, then it’s probably not as serious as it seems in the moment.
# 3 Look on the Bright Side
Okay, a couple of you probably feel like smacking me right now. I get it. When you’re feeling sad or sorry for yourself, there’s hardly anything more annoying than having some Pollyanna tell you to look on the bright side.
But the thing is, it helps. And if you look back on your life, you can probably recall many times when something that seemed awful in the moment, turned out for the best later on. So consider the possibility that f it happened before, it might happen again. No matter how tired the cliché might seem, most clouds do have at least a small silver lining.
#4 Don’t Hold Grudges
I don’t know what to say about this one except don’t. Seriously.
Holding grudges will make you angry and bitter and turn you into the kind of person that nobody wants to be around. It’ll also leave you with really deep, ugly wrinkles from frowning. And who wants that?
But seriously, no matter how legitimate your grievance might be, I guarantee you that holding onto that grudge will cost you more than it’s worth. Whatever it is, let it go. You’ll be happier in the long run.
#5 Admit When You’re Wrong
This is a tough one for most of us. I know it is for me. But just like letting go of grudges, you’ll feel better when you do it.
If you need a little help with this, take some time to read a post I wrote in 2018, Twelve Words That Will Change Your Life. Because, believe me, they will.
#6 Be Generous
People in difficult financial straits often think they can’t afford to be generous even if they wanted to. But generosity isn’t just about money. We can be generous with time, with praise, and in countless other ways that support and lift up others.
It’s nice when generosity is reciprocated, but I tend to believe that generosity is its own reward. And the facts support that viewpoint. A recent study has shown that generous people tend to be more satisfied with their lives overall. You can read more about it here.
#7 Influence Your Sphere
I think we can all agree that the world is full of problems, big ones. When we look at the size, scope, and number of those problems, we can start to feel hopeless.
We want to help make the world kinder, cleaner, fairer, and better in all kinds of ways. But where do we even start? And is there any point?
Whenever I start to feel that way, I remember this story.
A little girl went from a walk on the beach after a storm and saw thousands upon thousands of sand dollars that had washed up onto the beach and been stranded when the tide went out.
Being a very smart little girl who had paid attention during science class, she understood that sand dollars are not shells but living creatures and would die if they were out of the water for long. So she set out on a rescue mission and started to walk the beach, picking up sand dollars and casting them back into the sea.
After several hours of this, a grownup came along and told her it was hopeless. “There are just too many,” the grownup said. “You can’t save them all!”
“I know,” the little girl said, and bending down to pick up another sand dollar and then casting it back into the surf. “But I can save that one.”
It’s true that you can’t fix all the world’s problems or save even a fraction of the starfish who need rescuing. But seeking to create good within your sphere of influence can add up to big changes over time.
It can also lead to a happier life for your family, friends, community, and yourself. Because doing good feels good too.
Come back next week for 14 Tips for a Happier Life – Part Two. We’ll be talking about seven personal practices that can help make your life happier and more fulfilling.