How to Feel Happy in Uncomfortable Situations

In April 2012, my sister and I hosted a 50th birthday party for our dad. Everyone we invited to the surprise party was full of smiles and laughter. Contrary to our guest’s joy, I felt sad and unhappy. During the party I went into the bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror and saw an overweight, chubby, depressed 21 year old. I thought to myself, “You’re fat, unhappy and unworthy of love.” I cried for a few moments in the bathroom and then realized my burning desire to be happy like my dad and our family friends. The following day, I decided to share my feelings with a close family friend. She had no idea I felt that way. She offered her sympathy and lent her advice to lose weight and become happy. In that moment, I told myself I would never return to sadness and self hatred. I decided to change and find happiness.

How To Be Happy

Over the last three years, I slowly developed new habits resulting in long term results. I moved to a new city, lost 40 pounds, made new friends, rekindled my passion for theatre and discovered a new passion for entrepreneurship. In this journey, I made small tweaks in my daily routine to enhance my happiness and overall well-being. These are 5 simple happiness hacks I implemented that you can use to make wiser decisions immediately.

Play Like a 10 Year Old

Last week, a friend and I went to a trampoline gym. For an entire hour, we repeatedly bounced, flipped, fell down and stood back up. By the end of our workout, we were sweaty and exhausted. For the first time in 14 years, I felt like a 10 year old again full of laughter and energy!

You don’t have to go to a trampoline gym (even though I highly recommend it), its just important to take time to play and stop taking yourself so seriously. You can walk to a park, play on the swings, swim in a pond, or play hide-and-go-seek with a friend. Even if its just for 20 minutes/once a week, make sure you exercise regularly to increase your happiness hormones.

Shake Your Money Maker

Make a playlist with your favorite, upbeat music, then listen and dance! If you’re self-conscious and nervous about getting caught, lock yourself in a room for 5-10 minutes to have your own dance party. Dim the lights, turn up the volume, and let the music move you.

Music has the natural ability to help you feel happy when it’s matched with your desired mood. When you want to be happy, listen to songs that make you feel good! When you want to feel relaxed and stress free, listen to music that soothes you. If you don’t have time to make your own playlist, use free mobile applications like Pandora and Songza to find your perfect happy playlist.

Help a Sista’ (or Brotha’) Out

Stop thinking about yourself and identify what you can do for someone else. It doesn’t have to be significant. It can be as simple as buying your co-worker coffee or relieving your spouse from doing the dishes. Even though you may not be rewarded with instant happiness, doing something for someone else makes the other person feel great and they are more likely to return a favor. That person is bound to help you out in the future. So ask yourself, “What can I do for someone else today?” Now do it!

Boast Your Inner Giant (to yourself)

You have to talk positively to yourself and stop self defeating thoughts. Keep a journal, talk into a tape recorder (you’re pretty awesome if you still own a cassette player), or write daily affirmations on a whiteboard near your desk. Identify your positive qualities, stories, and achievements, then write them down!

Make sure you don’t become a bragard in front of others. Instead, compile your positive thoughts in a personal, secure location (ie – journal) that’s within reach. Refer to it regularly when you begin to think negatively. Replace every negative thought with three positive thoughts, and you’ll begin to look at life through a positive lens.

Think Pina Coladas & Getting Caught In The Sunshine

Determine an event you’ve always wanted to attend or a destination you’ve wanted to travel to, then plan it! When you have a vacation or event to look forward to, you immediately become excited about the future. The future is full of possibilities, so discover places to try new activities, learn a new skill, or relax on a beach with a pina colada.

To recap, make sure you regularly decide to:

  • Exercise
  • Listen and dance to your favorite music
  • Help others
  • Build positive thoughts
  • Plan an event or vacation in the near future

Always surround yourself with other happy people and mimic their behavior. It’s critical that you make this part of your daily practice and take time to define your own happiness. Try these hacks and watch yourself feel young again. Did I miss a happiness hack? Let me know in the comments, then share this article with someone who could use a little happiness today!