With Valentine's Day swiftly approaching, some of you may feel lonely, sad or as if you were missing out on all the romantic feels. Cut it out. This holiday should not make you reconsider your life or make you feel as if you are the only one who doesn't have someone. I have a boyfriend and we don't even go out on this holiday. He usually cooks for me or we cook together at our place. I have also made it a rule that we do not partake in gift giving - and yes, I really mean it. We shouldn't focus all our romantic energy on one holiday, splurge on gifts and be extra affectionate just to live our other days differently. You also shouldn't let a holiday control your emotions to the point of saying things like "I hate Valentine's Day" or "this day is stupid". Ignore the holiday! Enjoy your day, instead. We as a society have gotten too comfortable allowing the world and people to control our emotions. I was inspired to write this post to help solidify the fact that you can be truly happy. All on your own. When you learn how, you will no longer be easily pushed and pulled in every direction by anyone or anything. And this whole new universe of positivity, that some of us so stubbornly reject, is suddenly available. I put together a list of six practices of a truly happy person. I speak from a stoic and mindfulness perspective as to give examples of the practices you can put into action. Once you put these simple but significant ideas into practice, you will start to see that the only one in control of your happiness, is you.
Don't look for happiness in others
First things first - it is not someone else's job to make you happy. Happiness comes from within yourself. Yes, others can add to it like a significant other or best friend. But, you cannot put the responsibility of your happiness on someone else. It is unrealistic and will not help you lead a happier life. Others' happiness is out of your control so focus on your own inner happiness.
Keep it Simple
Anyone else a victim of overthinking? It is truly one of the devil's most powerful weapons. Not only is it healthier for your mental state, keeping it simple brings a beautiful sense of clarity to your life. If you focus on the present, more often than not, everything else will fall into place. You will not always be 100% sure on everything in your life and you shouldn't be - this is how you figure out who you are and grow. As long as your morals, values and goals are clear, you can rest easy. Try not to constantly compare yourself to others and change your mind based on every piece of new information presented. This is easier said than done living in a generation full of overwhelming societal stimuli but with practice, it can be achieved.
You Don't Have to Have an Opinion
You don't have to have an opinion on everything. If you do, you don't always need to voice it - surprising for some but no, most people are not secretly looking for your unsolicited opinion. And opinions they are, meaning there is no right or wrong involved. There are a lot of headaches we could all avoid if we would just mind our own business. Next time someone is gossiping about something negative or brings up something negative and/or sad just for the hell of it, ignore it. Especially if there is nothing you can do to fix it. Bear no opinion. A lot of times, people want your opinion just to validate their own thoughts or actions. Sometimes, being silent is the best option. Plus, no one like a know-it-all.
Mediation is it's own art form. It takes a lot of practice and is not as easy as one would believe. It does not require you to always sit criss-cross with your hands on either knee. There are many different types of mediation but I personally practice mindfulness and gratitude meditation. You can practice mindfulness just about anywhere. As you are walking, as you eating, as you are at work - focus on all five senses and truly be where you are at the moment. If you are feeling angry or sad, honestly ask yourself how you really feel - are you really unhappy or is it based on others or irrelevant opinions? You should practice gratitude mediation every day. I set aside a couple minutes every morning to sit in silence and reflect on what I am truly grateful for - where I live, the ability to walk, having people that I can trust, running water, freedom, or the fact I can order food whenever I want at the drop of a hat. That last one I am extremely grateful for.
Control your Emotions
What's in your control and what isn't? Get in the habit of asking yourself this simple question. You cannot control others or external events but you can always control what you think and how you react. Instead of focusing your energy outward, focus inward on yourself. Negative emotions like anger, sadness and resentment - don't let it pull you in every direction. Your emotions and impulses are forever in your control. Cut the strings that pull your mind and know whats in your control and what is not.
Do More of What Makes You Happy - Stop Chasing Happiness
This may seem cliche but I challenge you to really think about what makes you happy - even if the mass majority disagrees. Would it still make you happy if everyone mocked you for it? Heads up, most people don't even know what they want and tend to just follow the crowd. Don't waste your energy trying to coordinate your interests with what's in and what isn't. You like watching cartoons even as an adult? Do it. You want to go vegan? Do it. You actually like Justin Bieber's music? Listen to it. None of this makes you part of any "group" society likes to put people in, either. Ignore comments like "oh, you're one of those people" or "I can't believe you're like that too". People tend to try and put you in a specific category just to make themselves feel better. As long as you are not hurting yourself of anyone else, just do what makes you happy. We must stop chasing happiness as well. "I can't wait for the weekend" or "I hate Monday" need to cease to exist in our language. As long as you keep chasing happiness, you will never truly feel happy until you reach the limit you set for yourself and even then so, the feeling is fleeting. Let it come to you and live it everyday. Happiness is indeed a journey, not a final destination.
Disclaimer: This is not supposed to be taken as legit medical advice. These are my own opinions and how I personally, and how the average person can, live a happy life. Some people may suffer from severe issues such as depression and while they can put these ideas into practice, should also seek professional help. Love and happiness to all.