When I was in high school, I started becoming pessimistic, unenthusiastic and uninterested. I’m not sure if I was under unfair circumstances or if it was typical teenage angst and anxiety. I know it wasn’t the former; I had a family who loved me, friends who hung out with me and a bright future ahead of me. At the time, I didn’t perceive my life as privileged. In fact, I constantly compared it to others. I let my fear of failure control me, my insecurities grow, and my negative energy attract negative occurrences. It wasn’t the circumstances. It might have been the teenage angst. It was, rest assured, my perspective and attitude that pulled me into a downward spiral I thought I would never be able to escape. Now, I generally like to call myself a happy person. Sure, I have days where I hate school or work, am upset about something or at someone, caught up in everyday drama or pressed against the face of adversity. Who doesn’t? We can’t always be happy. But, we can carry a more positive, happier attitude that can make others and ourselves feel better about life’s curveballs. By incorporating some of these thoughts and manifesting them into actions, I became a more happy person.
1. Never fear failure
I decided to make this the first point because I felt like this idea is fundamental advice for anyone that’s trying to change his or her life, whether big or small.
As a child, I prided myself on the things that I was successful at doing. I was an exceptional mathematician, outstanding computer game player and biking extraordinaire. Looking back, many of the memories I remember as a kid are the same bike riding treks through my neighborhood and completing the same games and subjects I had already mastered. This monotonous schedule and cycle of success translated itself into my middle school years. Although I had some interest or sought to learn more about certain subjects, sports or activities, my fear of failure and rejection impeded any of my attempts to try something new. I didn’t play any sports or run any clubs, and I didn’t participate in extra-curricular activities. I was too afraid to pick up a basketball to find out that I couldn’t make a basket. I felt like I wasn’t living a life I wanted to live and was holding myself back. I was so used of being successful at what I usually do, that I didn’t try to learn or excel at something different. It was the fear of failure that stopped me from expanding myself. It was this fear that made me feel like I had already failed.
Upon entering high school, I knew that I needed to change my attitude and reach out for other opportunities and gain new interests. I expanded my leadership roles in student government and joined men’s tennis. I grew passionate about service and poetry and the environment. I constantly worked with new ideas and new people. Every day was a learning experience for me. Although I lacked any experience prior to immersing myself in this new area, I was not going to let the fear of failure stop me from enjoying my life. Adolescence was a time of experimentation and growth.
In essence, don’t let the fear of failure or fear of rejection keep you from wanting to try new things, expanding your knowledge, or getting to where you need to be. Everyone starts off at the same place. Deciding you want to do something and committing to it is the hardest part of a journey toward achieving a goal.
2. Don’t compare your life to others
I still find this very hard, especially because of social media. Social media has become the perfect outlet for people to post about their amazing vacations, craziest parties, new jobs, successful workouts and good food. Looking at pictures always makes me feel jealous or unproductive. I feel less happy about other people and more sad about what I'm missing out on. For lent last year, I gave up Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. I became more productive with my schoolwork, more social with the people around me, and felt less anxious about needing to check what everyone else was doing. I was focused on what I was doing. Appreciate the friends and family that make up our lives. Embrace your struggles and focus on conquering them. Being preoccupied in other people’s lives keeps us from enjoying and improving our own. We can also look at these people and experiences and use them as motivation. It’s nice to say “omg you’re #goals!” It’s even better to take action. The things you want in life aren’t restricted to certain people. It may be harder to achieve, but still possible.
Lastly, Always remember that the cool pictures and posts you see online are just the good parts. These people are probably studying at home, spending time on their phones or eating the same cereal just like you are. Remember all of the good memories you’ve had in the past and remind yourself of what’s to come. In the words of J Cole, “No such thing as a life that’s better than yours.”
3. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good
I used to have a hard time figuring out why I still felt lonely even though I was surrounded by so many people. I realized that the people I surrounded myself with weren’t people who made me feel good about myself. Forget your “friends” who constantly make you feel bad about what you do, criticize your life choices or pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do. Find people who make you feel comfortable and support you. Having good friends who listen to you make life easier to go through.
4. Love yourself
Being confident isn’t easy. Take it from someone who’s experienced feeling insecure. Everyone feels it-every gender, every ethnicity, every age. Society's standards make it hard for us to be happy with ourselves. With celebrities, the media and our own peers, accepting who we are with the constant pressure to look, act or be what everyone else thinks is “beautiful” or “normal” can make us feel inadequate. Trying to be happy about who we are is easier said than done.
Throughout middle school and high school, I lacked any feeling of self-worth and self-confidence that would have allowed me to feel good about myself. Thoughts that I was untalented- not smart enough, not athletic enough, not artistic enough, were engraved in my mind. I felt like God forgot to give me something special, something that made me worth it. I was obsessed with trying to become someone that my family would be proud of and my peers would respect. It seemed like the only way to love myself was if others loved me.
Some point in high school, I realized that I was trying to find love in other people to make up for the love I didn’t have for myself. I wanted to impress others in order to impress myself. I didn’t need to change my personality, or interests or hobbies. I didn’t have to act or talk a certain way to find love. I needed to change how I felt about myself and embrace who I was. After changing my perspective, things started falling together. I didn’t feel the need to be different in a way that would damage my identity. So, I get that loving yourself is challenging. When I don’t do well on a test, can’t land an interview, or can't finish those final reps at the gym, I start self-doubting myself again. Remember that these moments of failure determine who we are. Loving yourself doesn’t just mean being confident; it’s respecting yourself enough to keep going and not succumbing to failure. By loving myself, I’ve accomplished more in my life than I have before. I introduced myself to new people, found real friends who respected me as much as I respected myself, and realized all of the positive qualities that make up my character and used those to help myself and others.
5. Do what makes your happy
Go running. Go shopping. Eat what you’re craving. Go out with your friends. Learn about something that interests you. While it’s important to keep our responsibilities and goals in check, Life doesn’t always have to be miserable. Sometimes our careers or long-term aspirations prevent us from enjoying necessary moments and feelings in life. Make time for yourself by doing what you enjoy.
6. Believe everything happens for a reason
For me, this idea has always been one of the most helpful ideas that I have incorporated into my everyday life. Believing that everything happens for a reason, especially when life doesn’t go my way, helps me turn a negative thought into a more positive and assuring one. I didn’t get the internship I initially wanted for the summer after my freshmen year of college. I started doubting myself and became anxious about my future. It turns out that, this past summer had been one of the most memorable summers of my life. I went to multiple trips, including a spontaneous trip to lake Tahoe with friends, a birthday weekend in Los Angeles, an unexpected trip to Europe with my sisters and a part-time job that I enjoyed working at. I met new people, traveled to new places, and spent my break being with friends and family I haven’t seen for a whole year. Things ended up working out. Even though I didn’t get the internship, I have memories to look back on. It's like things were meant to be the way it turned out. I know that there are many more opportunities for a career-building job or internship. Sometimes the unexpected circumstances that occur lead us to certain people, places and serendipitous experiences that make us stronger and change our lives.
7. Be nice
It’s simple. I get that you might be having a bad day (we all do) or maybe you think you’re hardcore like rihanna and think having a resting bitch face and idgaf personality is cool. You know what’s cooler? Being respectful of other people, smiling at them, starting a conversation or helping them when you can. All of my favorite people in my life that I look up to and enjoy being around are all genuinely nice people. All of the people I try my best to avoid are the ones that are negative and disrespectful. Small actions, words and vibes you don’t think people notice/care about actually impact another person’s day. Remember to be nice. It makes you feel better too.
8. Always express gratitude
Lastly, being thankful about your life is the easiest and best way to be a happier person. “Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, avarice, hostility, worry, and irritation.” People who appreciate every aspect of their life have found to be generally happier, more energetic, optimistic, hopeful and attract positivity.The more blessings we think about, the more we feel satisfied about our lives. There are enough things to be thankful for every singly day even though our lives seem unchanging. Challenge yourself to recount your blessings at the end of every day or week. I promise you, you will be surprised at how many good things you have in your life that you forget about when you’re stressed, nervous or feeling down. I’m thankful for this delicious carbona pasta I’m eating that I wish everyone could try. I’m thankful for being able to attend an amazing university that accepted me, despite how challenging classes are and expensive the tuition is. I’m thankful for people who continue to inspire me to be a better person and motivate me to keep up with this blog.
I know some of these points might seem redundant or something you continue to hear and disregard. As cliché or cheesy these ideas can be, slowly incorporating them into your life can make you feel happier.