If you read our post last month about challenging yourself to make happiness a priority for the new year, and decided to join us in that resolution, we applaud you. If you missed that post, it’s still a great time to get in on the action by making a commitment to yourself and doing all you can to be happy in 2024.
It’s all too common for New Year’s resolutions to be forgotten. We often feel pressure to maintain our commitment no matter how hectic life gets, or how many new responsibilities come our way. Then, when we start slipping in our commitment, we get frustrated about ourselves for not being as disciplined as we wanted to be and give up on the resolution altogether rather than endure that disappointment.
Choosing to be happy, however, isn’t that type of resolution. Happiness is, and always will be, measured by progress—not perfection. Let’s face it, none of us are—or likely will ever be—happy all the time. If you think about it, that’d be kind of boring, right? And the truth is, we don’t have much control over our emotions.
If someone cuts you off, you’re going to get angry. If you’re forced to wait in a long line when you’re already late, you’re going to get impatient. When you hear bad news, you’re going to be disappointed. When something bad happens to someone you love, you’re going to be sad. It’s natural, and, for the most part, it’s unavoidable.
The choice to be happy isn’t about avoiding or denying those reactionary feelings, but rather choosing to keep those feelings from dominating the rest of our day. There’s no doubt that it’s easier said than done. Isn’t everything? And, like everything else that’s worth doing, it’s going to take practice. At first, it will take a lot of practice. Especially if you, like most of us, have spent years allowing those spontaneous feelings to dictate our mood and behaviors for longer than they deserve to.
Don’t be hard on yourself. If it takes you an hour to regain your happiness, that’s okay. If it takes you until the next day, that’s okay, too. There is no right answer. There is no perfect amount of time. Everyone of us is different, and every situation we encounter is unique. Accept that. But don’t stop trying. Keep reminding yourself that your happiness is there inside you, just waiting for you to return your attention to it.
With practice, you’ll find tricks and cues, such as fostering gratitude, calming your mind, or surrounding yourself with uplifting people, that will help you regain your happiness in less and less time. (Check out this blog from Project Happiness to learn more, or if you need a little extra guidance.) It’s important to remind yourself that while you will never be happy all the time, it’s worth working toward being happy as much as possible. After all, who can argue that being happy feels good? And if it’s only possible to feel one emotion at a time, isn’t it better to work toward that one?
Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up on yourself. And don’t stop practicing. Your happiness is worth the effort.