Life is rarely a continuous smooth journey; it is often a mix of positive and negative experiences. Just like a zebra’s black and white stripes, we have moments of happiness and moments of challenges. Just remember that both the white and black stripes make up the beauty and complexity of life. And you could never appreciate and enjoy the good times without bad days. So, how to be happy when life sucks?
Understanding that challenges are a natural part of life can help us navigate through difficult times with resilience and hope. Just as the dark stripes eventually lead to the light ones, difficult phases can lead to personal growth and greater appreciation of the joyful moments in life. The key is to stay positive, seek support when needed, and remember that life’s zebra stripes are what make it a meaningful and enriching journey.
While it’s completely normal to experience difficult times, remember that happiness is something that can be cultivated and worked on. And here is how:
Accept your feelings
It’s okay to feel down when life gets tough. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, acknowledge them, and give yourself permission to experience them without judgment. Have more self-acceptance and self-compassion. Your internal monologue should be as non-judgemental and supporting as if you’d be talking to a person you truly love and appreciate, like your best friend, partner of mother.
Talk to someone
Reach out to friends, family, or a professional counselor. Talking about your feelings can be therapeutic and provide support. If nobody could listen to your worries and feelings, write a diary.
Even in difficult times, there are usually some positive aspects in your life. Focus on what you are grateful for, no matter how small. Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of the good things.
By the way, Dr. Robert A. Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, conducted a research study titled “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life.” The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2003, found that individuals who practiced gratitude reported higher levels of subjective well-being, optimism, and positive emotions.
Participants engaging in regular gratitude exercises also showed reduced feelings of depression and stress. Gratitude journaling, where people write down things they are grateful for, is a common gratitude exercise that has demonstrated significant positive effects on psychological well-being.
Engage in activities you enjoy
Do things that bring you joy or have in the past. Whether it’s a hobby, spending time with loved ones, or being in nature, engaging in activities you enjoy can boost your mood.
When depressed, we often say no to things we used to love for some reason. Sometimes we don’t feel the right to do something that could make us happy. While this is exactly the thing you should do if you’re feeling sad because life sucks at the moment.
If listening to music used to make you happier, ignore the devil inside you telling you to stop doing anything that could bring you joy. Do exactly the opposite! It will make you happier.
Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. It doesn’t have to be intense; even a short walk can make a difference.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive relationship between exercise and happiness. One notable study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and published in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2017 found that individuals who engaged in regular physical activity reported higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction – even when life sucks.
The study involved a large sample size and controlled for various factors, indicating a strong association between exercise and happiness.
Another study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2018 showed that exercise not only reduces the risk of depression but also plays a role in treating existing depressive symptoms. All in all, these research findings emphasize the significant impact of exercise on promoting happiness and overall well-being.
Practice mindfulness and meditation
One can’t say it too much. Mindfulness is a key to a lot of positive changes in one’s life! Mindfulness helps you stay present and aware of your thoughts without judgment. Meditation can reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
Hugging can significantly contribute to happiness, especially during tough times in life. When you embrace someone, it stimulates the release of oxytocin, which fosters feelings of trust and connection, leading to an improved mood and reduced stress levels.
This physical affection provides a sense of comfort and emotional support, making you feel happier and more grounded. A study supporting these effects is “The Effects of Hugging on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate” by Lightdale et al., which found that hugging led to a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate in participants, indicating its positive impact on well-being.
So, when life becomes challenging, seeking solace in a warm hug from a loved one can offer both emotional and physiological benefits, helping you navigate through difficult times with greater resilience and happiness.
Limit social media and news consumption
Social media can sometimes contribute to negative feelings, as people often share only the highlights of their lives. Limit your exposure and focus on real-life connections.
Doing something kind for someone else can give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Scientific research has consistently shown that helping others is linked to increased happiness and well-being. For example, a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2017 examined the relationship between helping others and well-being. Studies have found that engaging in acts of kindness and altruism, such as volunteering, leads to higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.
The release of neurochemicals like oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins during prosocial behavior contributes to feelings of pleasure and reduced stress. Additionally, spending money on others rather than on oneself has been associated with greater feelings of happiness.
Overall, the evidence supports the idea that helping others can significantly contribute to one’s own happiness and overall sense of fulfillment.
Set achievable goals
Break down bigger challenges into smaller, achievable tasks. Celebrate each step you take towards progress, even the smallest one.
Be gentle with yourself and avoid harsh self-criticism. Recognize that everyone faces struggles, and it’s okay to ask for help.
Create a routine
Having a daily routine can add structure and stability to your life, which can be helpful during difficult times. This routine provides structure to your life and helps you organize your time and tasks more efficiently. When it feels like life sucks, everything might feel chaotic or overwhelming, and having a routine can offer a sense of stability and predictability.
Seek professional help if needed
If you find it challenging to cope with your emotions, consider speaking to a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and support tailored to your needs.