How To Be Happy (Even on Really Hard Days)
I posted this a few years ago after we had just moved, when it was just so so hard to figure out how to be happy during some difficult days. In NO WAY AT ALL do I think it's really all that easy to turn on a “how-to-be-happy-switch”. But, I HAVE found that at least for me there are things that I can do each day to feel a little happier even on really hard days.
Today I came across the post again, and realized it was EXACTLY the same advice I needed to tell myself today, as we're going through this season of “social distancing”. (It's March of 2020 and we're watching the world kind of play out during the current pandemic.) While I'm honestly thankful for this slow-downed time at home, THIS IS STILL SO HARD. (And definitely makes it difficult to just feel happy some days!)
Maybe you're feeling the same. Pull up a chair and a cup of coffee – and know you simply are not alone today.
How I Learned To Soak Up Happy
A few years ago, we moved to a new home, new city, and goodness, it was so so hard.
It just wasn't easy on our family, and it certainly wasn't easy on me.
Thankfully though, things eventually eased up a bit, and we've slowly found our place at least for this season.
In the midst of that season though, there were some practical skills I learned that helped me at least feel how to be happy (and even find joy!) on really hard days.
The reality is, we all struggle through difficult things in life ~ whether it be a move, an illness, parenting struggles, the death of someone we love dearly.
(Or, in our current situation during a global pandemic and a little too much social distancing. WHEW.)
Life is hard.
There's just no way around it.
But, choosing to do a few certain things have helped ease my stress a little here, and maybe they'll be helpful for you.
And hopefully with a little patience, these simple strategies will help you focus on how to be happy today.
How To Be Happy (or at least feel a little happier today)
1. Exercise (even if only for a few minutes), pray, get dressed and shine your sink, every single day.
I don't know where the magic is in these tricks, but they really do work.
You've probably heard it before I'm sure, but if you're struggling with feeling overwhelmed, exercise will naturally help your body boost its endorphins. (And naturally brighten your mood.)
And, there's simply something grounding about sharing your worries with Someone bigger than you during seasons of doubt. Take a few minutes, list the things you're worried over, and find some peace today.
As for getting dressed and shining the sink ~ I will never ever understand why these help, but I can promise they absolutely do. Decide today to tackle those things each day, and see if they help you feel a little happier each day.
Don't give yourself a choice. Do these things every day. (Every. single. day.)
- Get Dressed
- Shine Your Sink
Make these your non-negotiable things to do. Every. Single. Day.
2. Facetime, call, or text a friend.
If you're struggling, and feeling isolated and away from folks you love, a simple call or text message can completely brighten your mood. Make a quick phone call while folding laundry, Facetime a friend, or send a quick text letting someone know you're thinking of them.
I can't tell you how much fun I've had skyping a friend video of our home (she's even gave me decorating tips while I walked through the house), and just a simple one-sentence text to another friend has really brightened my day. It's amazing what simply connecting with real people who care for you can do to lift your spirits, and it doesn't cost a thing!
3. If you need to, do some tidying.
I know it can be overwhelming in times of crisis and change to keep up with your home, but it can give you so much peace each day.
When I've felt before like I'm almost about to lose it, simply choosing to take care of a few things at home have helped so very much. Right after we moved when life felt unbearable, my husband came home and saw me in one mess of an office, and knew something had to be done.
I kept telling him that since we didn't have anywhere for most of the items to go until we had bookshelves, there was no point in tidying so I just needed to live with it. (It was months before we could get those bookshelves, but clearly spending hours each day in an office which was a disaster was not a great plan!)
UPDATE – our new office finally got finished ~ take a peek of the pretty amazing transformation over HERE
He enlisted the help of our kids, and in less than 30 minutes the entire room was cleared out to storage in the basement. I had no idea how much the clutter was bothering me, but goodness just having a tidy (albeit empty!) spot to work in has drastically reduced my stress level.
If you've got some clutter in your life that's making a difficult situation even more stressful, determine to take a few hours this weekend to just clean something out.
(I promise, you'll be so glad you did!)
4. Watch social media less if you need to.
Goodness, I love Facebook for keeping up with friends as much as anyone does, but if you're struggling with how to be happy, watch Facebook or Instagram less if you need to.
I've realized that watching what my friends are doing and feeling like our family was missing out was not helping anything. More importantly, I realized it was making a challenging situation even more difficult for my kids if they happened to scroll through and see what their friends were up to while we weren't there.
(And specially during the current global crisis and social distancing, if you spend hours each day online you may only feel more anxious. Get up, walk away from the computer, and find something in your space to make beautiful today!)
Instead of living the life you've been given, Facebook (or Instagram, or Twitter, or whatever it is for you), can make you wish for something you might not have right now. If you're going through something difficult (especially with a friend), limiting your time on social media and just really just living might just change your perspective.
My son took these pictures in our backyard the other night ~ amazing!
Look for beauty right where you are
5. Find the beauty in your current situation.
When you're struggling to find happiness, it's easy to miss the beauty going on in your current situation, wherever you are. It's so easy to wish for something different, rather than soaking in the gift that you have today.
Before we moved, never (ever) in a million years would we have snapped a picture like the one above in our backyard, and it truly is beautiful here. We used to walk to the grocery (which I miss ~ so much!), but now we can walk to the river. We used to have a back yard full of landscaping, now we have a yard abuzz with thousands of fireflies each night and watch deer from our kitchen window at just about every meal.
If you're going through something that feels so overwhelming and just hurts so badly, try to find something oh-so-beautiful even in your situation right now. It might be a special snuggle with a child who's struggling through a difficult season of their life, or maybe a walk outside to see some flowers in bloom.
No matter what your situation, there is something beautiful to be found right where you are. Take a second to find it and just drink it in and soak in the joy where you are today. If you're struggling through this whole-crazu-social-distancing thing, soak up the extra time with your family, the slower pace of your days, and extra home-cooked meals throughout the week. Rather than fighting it, soak it all up and be thankful ~ there is beauty right here today!
How To Be Happy When You're Tired
6. Realize you can't do it all right now.
If you're reading this in March 2020 and the current pandemic state of our world has you overwhelmed right now, you know all too well that you simply cannot do it all today.
You probably can't go to your regular restaurants. Or shop at your regular stores. Or meet up with friends of even go to work like you usually do.
It is all different right now.
Clearly, we can't do it all right now.
But prioritizing what you can do can help so much. During this season, know that you can't do everything right now, and only focus on your true top priorities.
Right now with my kids all home and oodles of meals to cook, the only things I can really tackle are taking care of our family, and keeping up (somewhat!) here on PPP. I've been convicted that I so often put my business ahead of my family, and right now they truly need to be first.
School will be here before you know it (although it sure doesn't feel like it right now!), and I'll never get back today with my family again. I hate that in many ways (because I really do enjoy my work so much!), but my home and family needs a wee bit more attention right now.
What that means also is that there are lots of things that you and I maybe need to say no to. If you're in a stressful season, really consider what your big priorities are, and then give yourself grace over the things you simply can't manage.
From my old office ~ we waited years for that room and I can't wait to figure out what we'll do here! (UPDATED – see what we did over HERE!)
How TO Feel Happy (-er) Today
7. Dream. Big.
Goodness, I wish I could come right over to your house right now, look you straight in the eye, and tell you just how important this one is.
Please please please use this exact season to truly dream big.
Take this time to imagine what you can do that seems entirely too big to even dream about today.
Taking the time to dream has undoubtedly been the thing that has helped me to just feel some peace this last week (and even a little excitement when I've allowed myself that gift.) We've always put some effort into dreaming big in our homes, and I've remembered how precious it is to imagine something new for our future, even if we can't have it all today.
During hard seasons, dreaming big about what you really want can set your focus on something new. My (wise) husband always encourages me when struggling to start dreaming about what I really want to happen.
He's encouraged me to really dream about so many things ~ our home, our yard, our travel vacations and more no holding back. Now, we may never get many of those big ole' dreams I've managed to dream up, but since my dreams are free, I might just as well imagine ~ and maybe one day those dreams will become a possibility.
Walk around your yard and plan what you'd like to see in each spot one day. Stake out trees even if they might not ever get planted, just to start dreaming. Eventually, some of those things you're dreaming of right now really might happen, but that won't ever happen if you don't start dreaming big today.
If you're struggling with through something that just feels overwhelming, look past the mountain in your life right now, and dream of where you may be in a year, two years, or even five years down the road. Dream of what you really really want, not just what you'll settle for. Work towards your dream even in the midst of your struggles, and know that those dreams might just become real for you one day.
There are seasons of life that just come with so many overwhelming things it's hard to even see outside right where you are. This week as I've struggled to find peace it hasn't all been easy, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. (And it sure doesn't mean God doesn't have a plan right here!) If you're struggling too, be encouraged that you are not alone, and know that even in the middle of the craziness, God has a perfect plan just for you.
P.S. I cannot thank you all enough for your kind words, emails, and texts encouraging me on last week's post (or on this one.) I feel so very blessed to have such kind people cheering for me along the way, and am so very thankful for each of you!
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