Sometimes life can throw us so many challenges, everything can start to feel overwhelming. It isn’t always easy to find the positive among the negative and keep smiling, and that’s OK. The good news is that there’s hope. There are countless ways to find the joy in life if you know how. Here are a few tips for finding inner peace and happiness:
- Play to your strengths
When we’re feeling down we tend to focus on the negative, often on our own personal weaknesses. Don’t! Consciously identify your strengths and build on them. Maybe you wouldn’t be able to run a major corporation, but you’re a star at running your kitchen as head chef. That would make you an excellent candidate to help out at a local community kitchen — you’d have the chance to excel at something you enjoy and for an amazing cause. Find rewarding ways to use your abilities and you can build your self-confidence and happiness.
- Get outside
Getting back to nature can do wonders for the human spirit. Make it a point to spend a little time outside each day, even if it’s only for a 15-minute walk. Better yet, break out of the ordinary, everyday, and take a day or weekend to visit a wildlife reserve, nature trail, or national landmark to completely immerse yourself in the natural world. It can be humbling to stand in the enormity of wilderness, and sometimes offers greatly-needed perspective.
- Be positive but realistic
Practicing “realistic optimism” can be an effective way to keep positive without giving ourselves unrealistic expectations and setting us up for disappointment. Sometimes constant positive thinking is counterproductive, giving us the false idea that if we simply tell ourselves something, it will eventually happen. The truth is, some things are beyond your control. Good or bad, some things happen because they just do and others will never happen no matter how positive we stay. Brace yourself for the possibility that things could go wrong, but instead of being frustrated focus on how you’ll overcome it and move forward.
- Focus on the present
Don’t let me scare you off, but here’s a fact: there are an infinite amount of things that could go wrong at your business dinner tonight or on your date next Thursday. But why worry about the future right now? Is fretting over the possibilities going to make any of them less likely to happen? Not a chance. So instead, keep your mind on the present moment because there are quite a few things you can do and control right now. For example, right now you can make sure you get your work done so you have plenty of time to prepare for your presentation. Right now you can grab some floss and get to work so that you have a charming smile for next week’s hot date. Focus on the present, and you’ll feel more in control.
- Get some exercise
A sound mind requires a sound body, so keep yours in shape. Get your heart pumping with some exercise at least a few times a week. Seek daily opportunities to stay active — taking the stairs instead of the lift is an easy one — and do so with others when possible. Swimming in particular can boost your mood and even help manage depression. But even taking a 20-minute stroll around the neighborhood can be a great way to clear your mind and keep you fit.
Relationships of every kind depend on clear, consistent communication. But being a strong communicator isn’t a skill that all of us have, and struggles with it can cause problems at home, work, and within our circle of friends. Be straightforward and say what you want to say; don’t talk around it. Be tactful, but if you aren’t happy about something, speak up! Whether it’s an unreasonable workload at the office or an argument with your spouse that’s still bothering you, find a way to calmly, reasonably approach your intended audience and talk to them about a solution. You may often find situations turn out in your favor: your boss genuinely didn’t realize he was overloading you and stops, for example.
Life will never be completely free of hard times or obstacles, but with these tips in mind it doesn’t have to break our spirit. If you think you may be struggling with more serious issues, don’t hesitate to contact a professional or confide in a loved one so you can find the support you need.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Travis White, a foodie who loves to cook healthy dishes. At LearnFit.org, he enjoys writing about how to live a healthy lifestyle while focusing on mind, body, and soul.