Embrace your feelings, and let them inspire you
Writing for Quick and Dirty Tips, psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen’s top advice is to let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling. Don’t expect to feel happy all the time, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that every moment you spend not feeling happy is somehow bad. As humans, we’re meant to experience a range of emotions, and we need to tap into them as they all have their own power. Anger isn’t pleasant to experience, but it’s what spurs many of us into action, whether it’s calling your kid’s teacher to complain, contacting your representative, or joining a rally. Likewise, sadness can be cathartic. Let yourself experience your emotions, then move on.
Look out for others
One of the traits that is the most strongly associated with happiness and meaning is high-quality social relationships. Hanging out with friends or receiving from others is linked to happiness, while being a giver or spending time with family tends to confer meaning. In short, connecting with other people can provide us with the happiness and comfort we seek in the wake of all the bad news we’re bombarded with these days. Strengthen your bonds with the people in your life, and join a club or volunteer if you’re lacking in the friends and family department.
Seek good news
Negative headlines are everywhere these days. While much of what constitutes news tends to be somewhat negative in nature in the first place, newspaper and news sites also have to get views and clicks to stay afloat, so sometimes it’s those tragic stories that get the most attention. What you don’t hear about too often, however, is all the good things that are happening. The world is actually improving in metrics like poverty and violence, though you wouldn’t know that if you just stick to the top stories. A terrorist attack or a missing child is far more shocking and attention-grabbing.
If the news really is getting you down, consider changing how you look at it. That might mean taking a break from the news altogether for a time, or better yet, look for “good news” websites. You want to know what’s going on in the world, of course, but switching from leaving the 24/7 news channels on in the background all day to just reading the headlines for ten minutes in the morning could do wonders for your mood.
Stay away from social media
Those of us who actively avoid social media can attest to how freeing it is. You won’t be missing out on as much as you think you will by giving it up cold turkey. Sure, you might miss a few cat memes and those pictures of what your second cousin had for breakfast, but you’ll also be spared those fake “highlight reels” of people’s seemingly perfect lives designed to make others feel inadequate and all those clickbait articles, fake news and debates that tend to ensue on such platforms.
In fact, a University of Copenhagen study involving more than 1,000 people found that those who quit Facebook for one week felt more positive emotions and greater satisfaction with their lives.
The important people in your life know how to contact you to share what you truly need to know, and you’ll be far happier discussing these developments with them on the phone or over tea than by staring at impersonal words on a screen.
Life is full of challenges, so stack the odds of happiness in your favor by exposing yourself to more good news, strengthening your bonds with loved ones, and letting yourself experience all the emotions that strike you.
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