You have 24 hours to spend each day. If you are a full-time employee like myself, you subtract eight or more hours for work and seven or more hours for sleep, then you strategize on how to manage the approximate nine hours left for commuting, family, friends, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and so on. And here’s the exciting part: You wake up the next day to do it all over again.
Maybe you enjoy every minute of your days and look forward to repeating those tasks you have grown so accustomed to. Maybe you are hoping to crack the secret code to finding true happiness and inner peace someday. If you are a seeker of happiness and peace, know that you are not alone. Sadly, most people go through life being more concerned about what others want than really embracing what they truly want.
The code to finding happiness and inner peace is really simple, and it is no secret. The key is multiple positive experiences, but the challenge is recognizing the difference between your true reality and your perceived reality. If you don’t know the difference, you may fail to see when something great is happening in your life. For example, my daughter hated high school, but now as a young adult, she looks back and realizes it was one of the best times in her life. In another example, if you tell yourself that everyone is against you, then you begin to feel and act as if everyone is against you. In your perceived reality, you are a victim. However, in true reality, everyone isn’t really against you, but you are against yourself.
Many of us struggle with maintaining positive thoughts, which results in perceived realities that hinder us from creating happiness and peace. We mistakenly believe our unhappiness and stress is the fault of others, but often it is our own doing. We know we should replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. This is hard to do every day when we compare ourselves with others, consistently commit to doing things that don’t bring us joy, hold on to the past, limit self-forgiveness, overthink and overanalyze every situation, and live in constant fear of taking chances.
Don’t make it complicated. If you aren’t happy with who you are, what you do, and whom you spend your time with, then do something different to make yourself happier. You hold the key to unlocking your own happiness and inner peace. Once you recognize the power you hold within your mind, then you can take action to live life with happiness and peace. Here are six simple things you can do.
Embrace Your Uniqueness
It is amazing that we live in the most diverse society ever, but many of us struggle with embracing our uniqueness. When we fail to be more like others, we succeed at being our own greatest critic and worst enemy. We spend so much energy and waste so much time trying to act like others to ensure that we are not excluded, judged, or criticized that we lose sight of who we really are. The longer we work at hiding ourselves, the unhappier we become, and then we experience less peace. One of my favorite quotes is, “Just be yourself. Life is too short to be someone else.” Be confident enough to embrace your differences as well as your similarities with others.
Follow Your Desired Career Path
This challenge began for most of us when we were children. Parents, teachers, or other adults in our lives dictated what we should do. Then we got older and our friends, family members, and co-workers strongly suggested the career path we should take. We even asked ourselves what others would do, and we selected the most traveled or approved path. Instead, ask yourself what you really want. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks and do what makes you happy. Remember, there are only 24 hours in a day, so don’t waste precious time fulfilling someone else’s plans for your life.
Participate in Activities That Bring You Joy
Participate in activities that bring you joy, even if it means doing it by yourself. It’s OK to be flexible and participate in some activities that are not on the top of your list, but don’t spend most of your time being a people pleaser. If you consistently commit to participating in activities you don’t enjoy, you will begin to blame others for not considering your interest, when it isn’t their fault if you don’t speak up or stand up for yourself. Be OK with telling others “no” if you really don’t enjoy specific activities. Also, don’t volunteer yourself if you know you really don’t want to participate in an activity.
Focus on Today and the Future
It’s OK to learn from the past, but dwelling on past injuries and failures will ensure that you relive each day with negative thoughts. Ask yourself what positive change can occur from focusing on the past. If the answer is none, then focus on today and make plans for your future. Forgive yourself and others, then move on, because you have no other choice if you are serious about finding happiness and inner peace.
Assume the Best Intentions and Outcomes
Recognize that everything isn’t about you, and others may not realize what they have done or said to hurt you. Don’t overanalyze what people do or don’t do. When we overthink other people’s behavior toward us, we become defensive and paranoid, and make situations bigger than they really are. Recognize that sometimes there will be miscommunications and misunderstandings, and work to resolve them as they arise. Always consider that others’ actions are coming from good intentions unless you have facts to prove otherwise.
Many people don’t reach their full potential because they are paralyzed by fear of failure and fear of rejection. Jack Canfield, author and motivational speaker, once said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Remove the boundaries you set for yourself, by making plans to conquer your fears and achieve your goals.