May 03, 2016 / by Alisa Hafen / No Comments

I recently came across a terrific blog post claiming “The 15 Things To Give Up To Be Happy.”  Although I agreed with most of them, some of them I didn’t.  I don’t believe that those same 15 things will work for everyone.  Nor do I believe that the 10 that I will share with you will work for everyone either.

I get asked on a daily basis how I am so happy despite my circumstances.  How did I remain positive through all the changes that were taking place that surrounded my accident?  Let me answer you this, I am happy in spite of my circumstances.  Because of the things that I have learned on this journey, mostly the last 11 years of my life, that I would have never experienced otherwise.  These experiences have shaped my life and made me who I have become today.  There were times right after my accident that I am not proud of and I wish to not even recollect, but throughout that time and more recent times, these are the things that I have found truly work for me.

1-Know Yourself.  How many times have we heard “no one will love you until you learn to love yourself” or “nobody knows you the way you do”?

So get to know the right-now-real you, both the good and the bad, and own it. Write down your qualities, characteristics, values, strengths, and weaknesses. What makes you happy? What drives you crazy?

The good news is that if you don’t like certain aspects of yourself right now, you have it in your control to change that. But to change something you first have to know what you’re working with. So do some serious soul-searching and figure that out!

2.Learn to say “NO!” At the end of the day, it’s about how you say “no”, rather than the fact you’re saying no, that affects the outcome. After all, you have your own priorities and needs, just like everyone has his/her own needs. Saying no is about respecting and valuing your time and space. Say no is your prerogative.

3. Accept What Is.  One of the greatest sources of misery in my experience, is refusing to accept what is. How often do waste your time with questions such as: What if I had done that differently? What if yesterday had turned out differently? Stop turning your back on reality.

If you’re happy, accept that you’re happy. You don’t try to justify that feeling. If you’re upset, accept that you’re upset, don’t pretend you’re not. If you made a mistake embrace your imperfection, don’t beat yourself up.

As you begin to accept what is, you will find that your experiences are exactly what you need at that moment. Sure, life won’t always go according to plan, but at the end you will survive, one experience stronger.

4. Visit a quiet place. Libraries, museums, gardens, and places of worship provide islands of peace and calm in today’s frantic world. Find a quiet place near your house and make it your secret getaway.

5. Find What Makes You Tick.  Some people may not care to admit this, but I honestly believe that we each have something that makes us tick.

While it’s true some people just discover what they love, many of us have to do some searching. Not knowing what makes you happy, is the surest way to remain stuck in a miserable state.

Finding what you enjoy to do is fairly easy. If you enjoy a certain activity (assuming it’s legal of course) continue doing it. I realize that is overly simplistic, but you get the idea.

Don’t worry about what your family or friends think, but rather focus on what brings you joy. I’m not suggesting you be selfish or hurtful in your pursuits, but it’s important you take care of yourself so you can give your fullest to the world.

6. Volunteer. Helping others enables you to put your own problems into perspective and also provides social interaction. While happy people are more likely to help others, helping others increases your happiness. One study found that volunteer work enhanced all six aspects of well-being: happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and depression.

7. Spend time alone. Although relationships are one of the best antidotes to stress, sometimes you need time alone to recharge and reflect. Take yourself out to lunch or to a movie, or simply spend an afternoon reading, browsing in a bookstore, or antiquing.

8. Get and stay organized.  The National Association of Professional Organizers estimates that a huge percentage of work days are lost to people looking for things they have misplaced.  Disorganization is the enemy of productivity, and it may even fuel procrastination.  A few minutes spent every night organizing papers, assignments, long-term deadlines and goals can pay off handsomely in higher well-being and accomplishments.

9. Focus on What You’ve Got
You can’t afford your favorite sushi restaurant, the pressure of the holidays is sneaking up on you and the last time you cuddled with someone you liked,. Well, we all have our share of inconveniences. But what in your life is going right? When you put your energy toward dwelling on what’s wrong, you get stuck there. Instead, focus on the good things you have going on. Soon you’ll not only feel better, you’ll also draw more good things your way. Having trouble finding a few things to be grateful for?

10. Surround yourself with like-minded people.  Change is never easy. It’s even more difficult if the people you choose to spend time with aren’t the “right people”. When you’re trying to be positive and happy and surrounding yourself with people who are negative and miserable. Misery loves company right?

So surround yourself, instead, with people in whose presence you feel optimistic, happy, and vibrant. If you can’t think of one person in your life that meets this standard it’s probably a good sign that you need to find new people!

I’ve had to “weed out” people who I thought were my friends – these were the people who always seem to be gossiping, talking about negative things, and focusing on the downside of every situation. I learned to be picky about the people I spend time with and limit the amount of time and energy I spend with those who tend to be toxic to my well-being. And no, it wasn’t fun or easy doing this, but it was worth while because they were just bringing me down.

 “He who depends on himself will attain the greatest happiness”
~Chinese Proverb