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This is how they do it...follow the lead of Happy People and improve your odds in the Happiness game

When you were young, you played "Follow the Leader," right? Whoever was the leader did something, said something, or danced or sang, and everyone had to follow suit. 

We've all had a rougher time of it the past two years with the COVID pandemic making some huge and potentially long-lasting changes in our everyday lives. While we're getting used to it, it doesn't mean that all the changes have been happy ones.

Change isn't easy for some - in fact, many people are just plain TIRED of change and experiencing a degree of change fatigue. "No more changes!" they scream - "No More!"

There are, in every community, groups of Happy People. They don't seem to be having the same challenges with all the changes that are happening in our collective lives, or in their individual lives...or are they? Perhaps those Happy People have found ways to manage their expectations and reactions to change, and they've found a secret to success.

Success being happiness - or at least a degree of happiness. 

We could all use a little more of that, right?

Let's take a look at some of the habits of Happy People and how we might apply them to our own lives, and then, let's get to work and adapt them so we can join the ranks of Happy People. I'm ready...you ready? Let's go!

Step 1: Realize that your emotional state shifts constantly

Not only is our world in a constant state of change, but our emotional state is also! We can be happy for short (or long) periods, but if you think about something that stresses you out - like job changes, losing a job, having to return to the office after happily working from home - you'll go through some emotional ups and downs.

Happy People also experience these changes in emotion - they handle the well, though. They know that no one is deliriously happy all the time. There are very few people who are truly happy all the time. That's perfectly normal - after all, 

The Happy People Secret? Don't put pressure on yourself to be happy during all of your waking hours. Second? Don't compare yourself to others who seem happy - you don't know what they've been through or what they are going through. Ride the waves of your emotional state and keep an eye out for things that DO make you feel happier. Big things, small things, everyday things all count. 

The more you look for them, the more of them you'll see. It can be as small as seeing children playing on the playground, seeing a favorite commercial on television, or reading poetry. You can help shift your emotional state by indulging in activities that make you one of the Happy People.

Step 2: Be grateful for your life and take care of it

How's your health? Good? Not as good as a couple of years ago? You have the power to do something about it if you're not satisfied with your level of physical health.

Online resources for figuring out what to eat are plentiful - and there are SO many choices! If you want to incorporate more vegetables in your nutrition plan, there are websites that can help you create a meal plan and a shopping list that fits your budget. 

Ready to get in shape? There are online workouts and classes, so you don't have to do it alone, and so much variety that you won't be bored after a month.

Happy People incorporate healthy eating and movement routines into their lives. In fact, exercise encourages the release of endorphins - those "feel good" chemicals that create experiences like a "runner's high." You don't have to be a marathoner to feel them, either. 

Start a walking routine in your living space (my husband does "laps" around the house during commercials when watching tv or movies) or take a neighbor's dog for a walk. Be intentional about your body and make it feel better, and soon you'll join the ranks of Happy People who find joy in movement and getting stronger.

Step 3: Happiness does NOT always equal dollars

Having enough income to take care of your family can contribute to your happiness and lowering your stress levels, but Happy People aren't solely focused on money. If you're obsessed with money, you can probably obtain it, but it won't lower your stress levels, and it may in fact decrease your level of happiness.

Obsessing about money isn't healthy as the sole focus for your energy and activities - focus on being content with what you are doing and avoid making the almighty dollar in the form of a salary increase your "favorite" pursuit. Doing an excellent job will normally result in regular salary increases but driving yourself into a state of burnout isn't good for you or your job performance.

Happy People are often experts at what they do - intentionally, because they've taken advantage of opportunities to extend and expand their skill set for more reasons than money. There are lots of people in the world who have walked away from lucrative jobs (or even preparing for lucrative jobs) because they've realized that the call of their heart was taking them in a different direction. 

Sticking with your field of expertise for more than just the dollars help Happy People continue to be happy while they are making decent money and living a full and rewarding life.

Step 4: Value the friendships and relationships in your life

Happy People take advantage of opportunities to connect with other people through their relationships and friendships - and they don't need dozens of friends to accomplish this. A few good friends that can be trusted to always have your best interests at heart is a terrific way to reinforce your entry into the ranks of Happy People.

Social media can make connecting with people easier but getting together in person gives you much more insight as to whether the person you THINK you've met actually exists. It's far too easy on social media to create a persona and motives that simply aren't true and wouldn't fly if you met the person in real life.

Social media can make it seem easy to create connections - as easy as clicking a button - but what are those relationships built on? Happy People get together in person with those members of their tribe that are important to them and who bring value to their lives.

Online relationships can be good, and even productive, but remember that we are perfectly imperfect human beings, and are very social creatures.  We should not avoid the real-life gatherings of groups in favor of online ones that may not provide the stimulation and emotional connection we crave.

One of the best potential benefits of online relationships involves connecting (or reconnecting) with distant relatives and friends. I am in contact with many friends from my high school graduating class even though I no longer live in the area. COVID made travel and in-person gatherings difficult, and I have a Great-great-nephew that I haven't met in real life yet, but whose cute videos and photos posted on social media help me feel less distant. My mother's last living brother and I stay in touch weekly via social media - an irreplaceable relationship that make me on of the Happy People.

Here are a few activities that can help you realize how close you are to joining the ranks of the Happy People, and may help you solidify your pursuit of a happier life:

1. Make a list of tangible and intangible things that make you happy. Sometimes making such a list can help you realize what you DO have to be grateful for and happy about. Seeing it in black-and-white can help you see your life is not bad - especially when you're down in the dumps - and that you have most of what you need to maintain that happy life. 

2. Improve your health and happiness over the next 30 days.  Choose a nutrition and exercise plan you want to try for the next 30 days. If you need help, work with a nutritionist or a personal trainer to get suggestions and get access to resources. You're worth the time and effort it takes to do the research. Beginning to pay more attention to your physical self will help give you additional energy and you'll feel happier!

3. Make time in your calendar to connect and spend time with close (or new) friends at least once a month. Reconnecting with people you've lost touch with can be extremely rewarding. You can also check into places to meet new people who may become friends. Shared interests like music, theatre, or books can be a jumping-off point for expanding your social circle in real life. Check your local newspaper or online information sites for meetings in your area, set an intention to have a fun time, and enjoy activities that will help you join the ranks of Happy People.

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About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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