Sure its soooo easy to say,” Just be happier you’ll achieve all your dreams“!
But how can you be happier when you are in the midst of dealing with cancer or serious illness, a divorce, you’ve just lost a loved one, you’re in the middle of extended unemployment, or just had your heart broken?
According to the book Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, the key to surviving and thriving in the face of such challenges, is to focus on your strengths and virtues. Virtues such as kindness, humility, valor, perspective, integrity, loyalty, or equity. People who are suffering care just as much as those who are not, about virtue. Your strengths and virtues are also key in helping you to build resiliency.
So what does it mean to be resilient?
“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.” – Psychology Today
Who doesn’t love a comeback story?
If you’re down right now, remember that you’re not out! You have the ability to be as resilient as the next person. Start practicing gratitude to help you get through the inevitable next hurdle in your life. Much of your happiness is within your control. This is empowering because there’s so much that’s not. Your choices CAN affect your circumstances in a positive way regardless of the challenges you face! #FBMQuotes (This is a tweetable!)
Regardless of your challenges, you CAN control how you look at EVERY situation. Your perspective will impact your ability to get through it. Here’s an example from the movie “The Good Lie“.
A group of children are orphaned in rural Sudan when their parents are murdered in front of them by terroristic coup. As a result, they’re forced to set out on their own to find food, shelter, and clothing. The journey to the nearest refugee camp is more than a 100 miles, with dangers all around. Terrorists are seeking to capture and enslave them and wild animals want to eat them. In the face of such adversity these children choose to cling to the fact that they had each other, it was what they valued most. In the midst of life-altering circumstances, they chose to focus on what brought them joy, each other. Lying in the grasslands under a dark and starry sky, instead of weeping, they beautifully harmonized a song from their childhood and focused on the fact that they were still together and alive! It’s truly a beautiful movie, a reminder of the power of the human spirit.
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This movie gave me such perspective. It reminded me that I can CHOOSE what to focus on. One of my favorite quotes is “What you focus on…grows!”. This is true of everything that occupies space in your mind. Choosing to focus on humility, kindness, authenticity, love, and integrity instead of some of the other thoughts that compete for your attention is a recipe for a happier life. And while all your problems won’t disappear into thin air, if you put this into practice, it is sure to increase your resiliency muscle.
So in closing, remember these 5 key points to building your happiness muscle:
1. Pick a positive perspective to focus on in your situation.
Although the negative is staring you in the face it won’t benefit you to focus on the worst of your situation. It can only lead to more sadness, depression, and misery. Change your perspective and you can change your life.
2. You need support and great relationships, helps to battle any adversity.
Don’t shut people out, they want to be there for you and to help you through this trial. They can even put up with your crappy attitude on the days when you’re not feeling your best. The people who love you will be able to deal with you at your worst. Put aside your pride and tell people you need their help.
3. Use your strengths.
What you’re good at will give your life purpose and make you feel life is worth living. If you’re a great cook, then cook. If you’re a great dancer, then dance. If you’re an encourager, then encourage. Use all of your gifts.
4. Be authentic.
Stop trying to be so strong! Vulnerability is strength. When you’re struggling, say so. People close to you will see through it anyway and know you’re not being your true self. I can’t lie to my sister, she always sees right through me. Eventually, I just tell her what’s wrong because to keep telling her “nothing” just keeps me stewing in my sadness and pain. Who has earned the right to hear your truth? They will be there for you and you’ll be surprised at how being authentic and vulnerable, will give them permission to do the same.
5. Practice gratitude.
This one exercise has the power to truly change your perspective, which is my number 1. When you focus on what you are grateful for, it shows you that you have more positives in your life than you realized. Even if it is small things, it will raise your level of happiness if you do this practice daily.
I hope you’ll take to heart what you read and re-evaluate how you navigate this journey called life. YOU have the power, no matter what has happened to you, or what life has handed you, to live a happy and fulfilling life. My prayer is that you’ll embrace this power and start practicing behaviors that lead to true and lasting happiness.
Reflection: Have you been focusing too much on the negative and what you lack, instead of what you should be grateful for? How are you going to change your perspective today, despite your challenging circumstances?