Don't Worry Be Happy

The popular Bobby McFerrin song wisely states, “Don't worry, be happy. In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double … .” There is definitely truth to that. Many things, like worry, can prevent us from being our happiest. However, it is important we are happy. If we aren’t that means there is some aspect of our lives that needs adjusting. There is no need to go on living life in misery because that’s not really living at all.

“The term happiness is used in the context of mental or emotional states, including positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy,” provides Wikipedia. “It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subjective well-being, eudaimonia, flourishing and well-being.”

I’d love to be in such an emotional state but easier said than done. There are many obstacles in our day-to-day lives that can inhibit our ability to feel happy: other people, the weather, work, family, emotional/mental stress, etc.

Meg Selig says you can learn to stop unhappiness through The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism:
  • There is suffering in life. Some unhappiness and misery is inevitable
  • You may be causing some of your suffering
  • You can stop your own suffering
  • Once you cease to create your own suffering, you are more likely to live a good life, one in harmony with your deepest values and goals
Makes logical sense right. So how might you be causing some of your own suffering?

Sarah Hansen discusses 50 small things that could be causing your unhappiness:
  • You worry
  • You hold onto the idea of control
  • You hold grudges
  • You believe everyone should play by your rules
  • You compare yourself to others
  • You chose to be happy only when all of your dreams are realized
  • You are a glass-half-empty person
  • You are lonely
  • You seek materialism over all else
  • You don’t make time for the right things 
  • You hang out with unhappy people
  • You haven’t discovered your purpose
  • You’re stuck in the past (or future)
  • You’re unhealthy
  • You’re afraid of failure
  • You’re in debt
  • And many more
All these can be changed or improved somewhat by you. But again, easier said than done. Nevertheless, it is not impossible--all it takes is a desire to change, effort, and commitment. Frankly, just by relaxing a little can most of these bad habits be eliminated. Just think, if you chill out, you wouldn’t worry so much or fret about others. You would just simply be. How content does that sound, not to mention peaceful.

According to Courtney E. Ackerman, MSc, happiness is often called subjective well-being and there are a few factors that heavily influence overall happiness in general such as individual income, labor market status, physical health, family, social relationships, moral values, and experience of positive emotions.

You should evaluate your status and relationship with each of these factors in order to learn how you might become happier or to at least learn why you aren’t feeling so happy. And, the great news is that you can always do so. “The answer from numerous studies is a resounding YES—you CAN learn how to be happier,” Ackerman says.

Once you find out what areas of your life you can improve first, get started ASAP. Your happiness is one thing you shouldn’t put off.

Ann Pietrangelo suggests adding the following habits to your routine that can help you be happier:
  • Smile
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat with mood in mind
  • Be grateful
  • Give a compliment
  • Breathe deeply 
  • Acknowledged the unhappy moments
  • Keep a journal
  • Face stress head-on 
  • Declutter
  • See friends
  • Plan your week
  • Ditch your phone
  • Get into nature
  • Explore meditation
  • Consider therapy
  • Find a self-care ritual
  • Give back
  • And more
These may seem like small things but they really do work. A drop in the ocean is still a drop no matter how insignificant it may seem. Just think what a lot of drops can do--soon you’ll have buckets.