Unmet expectations are the greatest source of unhappiness in life. These 8 practical ways to get happy right now have worked for me and my clients. Try a couple today and let me know what happens!
1. practice gratitude: make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for, and add ten more each day.
2. practice observing your negative thoughts, gently, as if they were a butterfly fluttering around—but don’t engage with them.
3. when you notice the negative thoughts happening, set your mind on all the things you have to be grateful for, a list that’s growing by the day.
4. DO something kind/thoughtful/generous for someone in need, when feeling disappointed or down. This helps remind you there are always folks with worse things going on, and you feel good about yourself for making a difference.
5. reach out to a friend or loved one and share your struggle—don’t carry it alone.
6. be mindful. Tune into this exact moment in time, within your body, and deeply, totally experience NOW. Your breath. The sights, sounds, smells, sensations around you. Realize you are occupying space/time in this moment, and no matter what has disappointed you, that moment is a gift and being able to appreciate it, even more so. Let wonder suffuse you.
7. Be kind to yourself. If a loved one or situation has hurt you, remember that the hurt part of you is your inner child. He or she may need nurturing, so do something special (non-substance abuse/food/gambling/retail therapy!) for yourself. Make a list for when life gives a smackdown, and then go back to the list and pick one of the items when needed. Some ideas from my list include: taking a walk in a special place with my dogs, tea with a friend, a long bubble bath, a hard workout, a swim in the ocean, slathering myself with that special expensive lotion my daughter gave me for Christmas, a massage. Your list will be as unique as you are!
8. Remember that learning to let go of expectations is a lifelong journey. If you find yourself smacked upside the head by something that’s happened a hundred times, and it still gets you: laugh a little at yourself. You have a habit. It’s going to take a lot of repetitions to respond differently to disappointment—i.e., not being disappointed when things don’t go the way we want them to. The good news is, you’ll have many more opportunities to practice this skill, and why NOT be happy? The skill of letting go of expectations may be the difference between going through life perpetually unhappy, and living each day content and fulfilled, regardless of circumstances.
Don’t be surprised if it’s challenging—LIFE is challenging! But make up your mind to learn to let go of expectations, and you will be amazed at how things change from within.