Psychologically Speaking: Feeling groovy - being happy

Be happy in being you. Sounds a bit quirky, doesn't it?

smile image 88 224 (photo credit:)
smile image 88 224
(photo credit: )
Dear Dr. Batya, Why is it that some people seem so happy and others find fault with everything? How can I put myself in the first category while still staying grounded in reality? - F.W., Tel Mond Be happy in being you. Sounds a bit quirky, doesn't it? So many people seem so unhappy, but if they could reach just a bit more of their potential, they just might discover that they like who they have become. Liking yourself is no accident. Self acceptance comes from putting in the hard work necessary to discover who you are, determining what your goals in life are, accepting your faults and imperfections, and ultimately being aware of, and feeling proud of, yourself for your accomplishments. Learning to be your own best friend can add years to your life. Strangely, it is one of the main things I teach my clients in therapy. Here are a few things that actually work. You may need someone to help you get started or cheer you on in the beginning. Ask yourself if you are waiting to be happy instead of living in the moment. You have to pursue happiness rather than wait for it to land at your doorstep. In other words, happiness is a journey, not a final destination. There will always be challenges and excuses. Try to be positive and see the positive. Negativity, such as anger, can bring you down. As you learn to change your outlook, reframe things in a positive manner, notice the good and actually embellish it; you will be amazed how this alone can help change your outlook on life. While failure and events that seem unpleasant can cause us great sadness, they also do provide an opportunity for growth and real learning. Put things into perspective. By all means take on issues that are yours and work to resolve them; however, if it is something that really is not your issue but someone else's, recognize that you may cause yourself distress by taking it on as yours. Ask yourself why you are doing this and what you hope to achieve. If, on the other hand, you do have to take something on as yours for a while, acknowledge this to be the case and see it for what it is - something temporary and manageable. Just about anything is manageable for a short period of time. Recognize that some things are simply out of your control. It is easy to take everything that happens around you personally and take on the role of victim, but don't. When you realize that certain things "just happen" and you can't do much about them, it is much easier to cope if you just "go with it" rather than bang your head against the wall and become frustrated or feel guilty when things don't change. You can, and should, be responsible for your own behavior. Having this responsibility, which at times can be intense, can enable you to have the freedom to make choices. How others act isn't always within your control. You may need to learn how to let it go to feel lighter and happier. Set goals and focus on them. Make fewer commitments, but think about what it is that you do want and then devise an action plan to get there. Be concrete and realistic so that your goals hold meaning and are attainable. Writing down your goals and visualizing them may make them feel more real and easier to achieve. Set yourself a time frame that is reasonable. Focus on reaching small milestones along the way and reward yourself as you go. Sometimes to really appreciate all you've accomplished, you may have to physically pat yourself on the back and state, out loud, just how successful you've been. After all, if you see the good in your actions, are proud of what you have accomplished and can believe in yourself, others will see it also. Too often, too many people can only point out their own negatives and miss entirely their good qualities. No one is perfect, but often we assume we have to be. Recognize that there are bound to be curve balls along the way and plan for the unexpected. Meditate, pray, talk to yourself and acknowledge that these challenges are natural and inevitable and may just make you stronger. See how others have handled difficult situations, listen and learn from them, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. People like to feel needed, and always presenting yourself as competent can at times make others feel intimidated. See what it is you have to do and work out a strategy for accomplishing it. Simplify your life whenever possible and use effective time management strategies. Cut down on television and computer time if they are distracters. In other words, you may need to put in more time to reach your goal or stay more focused if other things intercede. Prioritize what is important and let go of the rest. Attitude and outlook can make or break your day. Put some fun in your day: Take a class or take up a hobby. Perform some acts of kindness toward those you know and even complete strangers and you might just discover that this makes you feel far better than screaming at the driver who cut you off, the person who argued with you over something minor or your child who asked a question at the wrong time. Breathe deeply and take the time you need to laugh, listen to your inner voice, relax and de-stress. Life is a trade-off and you'll win some and lose some. Look around you, decide what is really important and go for it. Put everything else in perspective. Remember, life is what you make it. Slow down, make the moments last, and you too can feel groovy. The writer is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Ra'anana. ludman@netvision.net.il