When some people think about what they want to achieve in life, they have an end goal in mind: happiness. They think “If I could just lose 10 pounds I would be happy.” “Once I get this promotion I will be happy.” “If I just made x amount of money I would be happy.” What if we worked on being happy now, before we reached what we were pursuing? What if you could find that happiness within, outside of external circumstances?
A month ago I found myself in a rut. I just felt all around “blah." I was feeling unsettled and I just couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was feeling the way I felt. Usually when I feel like this I’ll listen to an uplifting podcast, read a good book, read bible verses or scroll through good ‘ol pinterest to find some inspiring quotes. I came across this quote and it shifted everything for me!
"Happiness is a choice – not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you." – Ralph Marston
Sounds so simple right? I just had to CHOOSE to be happy. A lot easier said than done and I have found it takes A LOT of practice! However it did make me realize that I was relying on everything but myself for my happiness- my husband, people, social media, validation from others, my work and more. I realized that the happiness I was searching for was not going to come from anything or anyone besides myself.
I started to do a lot of research on ways I can practice this inner happiness. In hopes to inspire others the way that I was inspired, I wanted to share what I found and created a 9 day #allinwithyourhappiness challenge. Each day is a simple step that can hopefully take you closer to finding that inner happiness.
*I understand that happiness is NOT a choice for some. I myself have struggled with anxiety and depression in my life. I am generally a happy and upbeat person, but have found myself relying on external factors for my own happiness. I have made a decision to change that.
DAY 1: Gratitude
“It is not happy people who are grateful, it is grateful people who are happy.” Research has shown that consistently expressing gratitude can improve your mental, physical and relational well-being. It can also have a huge and ever-lasting impact on all around happiness, with results that are long-lasting! Kamen, Randy. “The Transformative Power of Gratitude” Huffington Post, 1 June 2015
This week find 2-5 minutes every morning and evening to write down three things you are grateful for. In the morning it can be anything - a hot cup of coffee, the warmer weather, your spouse or partner, your health and more. In the evening write three experiences you are grateful for - light traffic on the way to work, meeting a new friend or having the time to get a workout in! Get a gratitude journal and make this a daily habit.
DAY 2: Give thanks
After a day of gratitude, think of someone you feel thankful for. Write them a letter or card and thank them for everything they have done for you. It can be ANYONE! A friend who let you vent to them, someone who bought you a cup of coffee, a public figure you have always looked up to, an assistant, a parent, a sibling, anyone! Give, mail or email them this letter TODAY and remember how you feel during this moment. You could start sending a text message, email or Facebook message to someone you are thankful for each day. Don’t forget your gratitude journal!
Day 3: Nutrition
Ever hear the quote “you are what you eat”? There is significant research on the negative effects food can have on the brain. The Mayo Clinic has actually found research that links depression and a poor diet. People who have diets that are high in processed foods, sugar (not fruit), processed meat and high fat dairy items are more prone to symptoms of depression. Those who eat mainly food groups such as fruits, vegetables and fish are less likely to report symptoms of being depressed. Zeratsky, Katherine. “Can junk food idea increase your risk of depression?” Mayo Clinic. 10 February 2018.
Today’s challenge - pick one food item in your house that is not healthy and falls into one of the food groups that you do not want to consume in high amounts. Whether it’s a bag of chips, ice cream or even alcohol, if you find yourself consuming a little too much of this on a daily basis… chuck it! Replace it with one of the healthier food groups. Start off small… but try to do this each week! I am not saying you can never have chips and ice cream again, but the goal is moderation. Eating a bag of chips and a gallon of ice cream a day is not moderation, so try to just have them 1-2 times a week.
Day 4: Exercise
Like Elle Woods says…. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make happy!” There have been so many studies that show those who are active are less likely to feel depressed or anxious. Sometimes when people hear this they think “but I have no TIME to exercise”! Good news! New research has found that any kind of exercise once a week or as little as 10 minutes a day can have a positive effect on your mood. Reynolds, Gretchen. “Even a Little Exercise Makes Us Happier.” The New York Times. 2 May 2018.
Today’s action item: pick one day this week for a workout… no matter what kind! It can be a class, a walk outside, a run... just do it! Or for 10 minutes a day the rest of the week, make time for any kind of exercise. Don’t forget your gratitude journal. :)
Day 5: Positive Vibes Only
No negativity or gossip! This can be a hard one. Challenge for the rest of the week is to participate in NEITHER!! That means, if you get a flat tire, instead of letting it ruin your day, be thankful you have a car to drive to work. If someone comes to you with a bad attitude or complaining, try to help them turn it around. For instance, if someone is constantly complaining about their job, the next time they complain - ask them what they like about their job!
GOSSIP! This one can be tough. Sometimes you might feel awkward if someone comes to you with some juicy gossip and you don’t want to engage in the gossip conversation. What you can do is change the subject. If you hear something and you reallllllly want to tell someone, write it down and then rip up the paper. You can do this! Try to practice this daily - starting today. If you find yourself gossiping or being negative, it’s okay. We’re human. Just keep on trying!
Day 6: Your Inner Circle
Ever heard the quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with?" This can be another tough one, but really take a good look at who you are spending most of your time with. Are they positive people, who inspire you, love you for being you, encourage you, are happy to see you succeed and are grateful for life? Or are they the opposite? Are they pessimistic, always complaining, bringing you down? If they are always bringing you down and never lifting you up, it is okay to create healthy boundaries. And yes, it is okay to create healthy boundaries with family too. As Peta Kelly says in Earth is Hiring, “Stop complaining about the things you are not willing to change. Yes, your relationship with your family counts as one of them. You can recreate and re-choose how you participate in your relationship so that it feels good for you.”
Today’s action item: write down five of your core values. Some examples could be your faith, positivity, compassion, kindness.. anything! Now write down the five people you spend the most time with. Do they possess these qualities that are important to you? Sounds harsh, but if they don’t even come close, start spending more time with other people who share your core values.
*While doing this, remember... No one is perfect, because we are human. You may participate in actions that don’t align with your own core values at times. Keep that in mind while doing this exercise.
Day 7: Acts of Service
Whenever you do something kind for someone else how do you feel? Do you feel really good on the inside? So many influential people have emphasized that if you want to be happy, do something for others!!! This can be something as little as buying coffee for the person behind you, giving your time to a friend, finding a charity you are passionate about and donating your time, giving to someone in need. Find an opportunity to do an act of service for this week. You won’t regret it! Here is a GREAT article on happiness and helping others.
Day 8: Raise your energy!
Circulating your energy helps get rid of old lifeless energy and makes new room for the new vibrant mood boosting energy! How do we do that? Switch. It. up. If you are an avid runner and run the same path every single day - start running a new route each day! If you work from home office every single day, try a new spot in the home to work. Maybe the kitchen. Maybe a coffee shop. If you write with a black ball point everyday, use different colored pens! I read about this technique in Earth is Hiring and started switching up my running routes. I really did notice a difference! So change a routine today! See how it feels!
Day 9: HAVE FUN!
How do you feel after a dance party? Or how about belting out your favorite song in your car? Definitely not awful, right? Make sure to add more play and fun to you day - and make it spontaneous! It sounds easy but sometimes if you’re in a funk that is the last thing you want to do. BUT even if you have to fake it in the beginning, you will be amazed at how much this can improve your mood! This can be a dance party in your kitchen, singing in the car, reading funny memes! Today’s action item…. HAVE SOME FUN!
I truly hope that this can be the start of you finding your own inner happiness. This is something that requires daily practice and doesn’t happen overnight, so make sure to give yourself some grace. At the end of the day we all deserve to be happy!
If you do end up participating in this challenge and sharing with others, use the hashtag #allinwithyourhappiness and tag me (@allinwithangie)! I would love to follow along!
The mood boost you can get from an inspirational book, youtube video or podcast is legit! Here are some of my favorites books and devotionals that I have read or on my list of books I want to read!
If you want to join our All in with you Happiness facebook group with everyone that joined that challenge you can do so here!