Think positive thoughts. Don't worry. Be happy. Be a glass half-full kind of person. It seems everywhere we look, happiness is being forced down our throats.
As a person who overcame clinical depression, eating disorders and drug addictions, I can attest to the benefits of choosing happiness as a way of life. But there's more to it than just slapping on a smile and being optimistic.
When it comes to truly living a happy life, it isn't about feeling good all the time. Rather, it's about allowing yourself to feel all emotions in each moment.
In my private life-coaching sessions, many clients explain how they try to avoid feeling bad, sad or angry because they assume it will keep them from what they want: to be happy and fulfilled. But the opposite is true.
When you avoid your emotions in the pursuit of happiness, it's like putting a Band-Aid over a broken arm. Nothing is fixed or solved. I encourage my clients to go into the emotions like guilt, anger, shame and embarrassment — because once they do, they report feeling more happy and free.
If you really want to be happy, stop thinking about happiness and just be where you are, in this moment, right now. Try to embrace your negative emotions more.
As a personal development book author, I see a trend in self-help books coming out in 2015 (including my new book) toward addressing all ranges of the emotional spectrum. Instead of striving for happiness, the real freedom comes from embracing where you are.
Here are tips to help you make the most of your down mood.
1. The upside to the worst case scenario
Imagine your ideal life. Now imagine the opposite. What would happen if you don't get everything you're working toward? How would you feel if you failed and your life never improved? Going into the darkness is one of the most freeing mental exercises you can do for yourself.
We spend so much time running away from what we fear that going into it will actually create a shift that frees you from your fear. In simple terms, your dreams will come true faster when you think about the worst case situation.
Before I left my corporate job, I asked myself what the worst case scenario would be. And then I asked if could handle it. The answer was yes. Five years and two best-selling books later, I'm living my dream life. I'm so thankful I went into that fear to free it. Your future self will thank you.
2. The upside of lashing out
I have a friend who's so sweet and hates confrontation. I've never heard her say anything bad about anyone, ever. On the surface, this sounds great. We all want to be the perfect person, but we're all human. And humans have tendencies to judge, make comments and get pissy.
Don't try to be superhuman. That pressure is enormous and unfair to you. One day, my sweet-as-pie friend exploded. All of the feelings she kept inside for decades came rushing out. It's better to share your thoughts along the way instead of bottling them inside, so you "look like the kind, good person." Just be honest with yourself and let yourself say what you want when you feel it. There's nothing wrong with honesty if it's true to you. Plus, ignoring your feelings is a missed opportunity to strengthen relationships.
3. The upside to stress
We all feel stress. But trying to cover it up with habits, addictions or situations will only suffocate the emotions. Stress is inevitable. Instead of ignoring it, let it out. Scream in the car, punch the pillow, throw your hands up and yell to the universe.
If you can pinpoint what's making you stressed out, it will ultimately lead you to freedom. For example, maybe you're pissed off because most of your time is full of nitty-gritty tasks for your boss, when what you really want is to have more trust and creative freedom. Maybe you have secret dreams of being your own boss one day. Go into what's stressing you out and ask what's standing in your way. When you address it, the stress will subside and you will have clarity on what actions will bring you more joy.
Embracing your mood, no matter how gloomy, can help you feel more balanced and free. Try it, and if you want to go deeper on the topic, grab this FREE Love Your Life to the Fullest Guide.