Just a few years ago, I was crying myself to sleep every night, assuming this was what everyone did. Most mornings, it was a struggle to get out of bed. After my doctor diagnosed me with clinical depression, I realized that what I felt wasn’t just me. It didn’t have to be that way.
That isn’t to say that my eureka moment was all it took to heal my depression. I still struggled to combat my inner demons, and it took time and concerted effort to change my life for the better. But that mental shift was the first step. It empowered me to stop being a spectator in my life, and take control of my future.
One step at a time, I moved towards healthier alternatives, cut ties with negative people, and removed myself from unhealthy environments. I quit my corporate job, stopped using drugs, and began the slow process of turning my inner critic into an inner supporter.
Instead of focusing on what wasn’t working, I began to shift my awareness to gratitude, appreciating the small, seemingly unimportant things in my life. I made it my mission to fall in love with myself and my life. The first step in this process is awareness. I had already become aware that things could be different. I then had to familiarize myself with the specific criticisms I was prone to feeling towards myself. Only after recognizing my triggers and my unhealthy coping mechanisms could I replace the negative feedback with positive.
Over time, I replaced any self-criticism with self-affirmation. For example, the extra weight I ridiculed myself for my whole life became a signal of my financial blessings and my comfortable life. Instead of focusing on the areas where I was lacking, I chose to feel gratitude for everything I have.
By appreciating what was, I felt more grounded, hopeful, and happy. And I realized that being happy isn't just an end in itself. It's the cause of so many more wonderful things. Happiness is choosing to see life with an open mind. It's being available for the lessons that present themselves to us. It's showing up despite difficult circumstances.
And, by doing these things, you invite grace into your life. The more consistently you choose happiness, the more you'll begin to see things change for the better — in ways might not ever have expected. Here are a few of the ways choosing happiness has changed my life.
1. I wake up feeling connected to the universe, excited for the day ahead, and open to whatever life has in store for me.
2. I have increased stores of patience and find it easier to maintain my composure in difficult situations.
3. I am free from constant worry. I feel confident in divine timing and relaxed in the knowledge that everything is always in the proper order.
4. I no longer recognize problems as anything other than opportunities for solutions.
5. I have regained my faith in people. I assume the best, rather than the worst.
6. I've stopped seeing forgiveness as a defeat or a conciliation. I recognize it as an act of strength and self-preservation.
7. I can honor my own needs without feeling guilty for sometimes putting myself first.
8. I am secure in who I am, and no longer a slave to the opinions of others.
9. Even in my darkest moments, I am aware that nothing is hopeless.
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