I am not always “Miss Brightside” — which you probably won’t find shocking since the name of my column contains the word “Gripes” and does not imply that I’m the eternal optimist. However, after several hard blows this year, I found myself feeling beyond gripey; I fell down in the dumps and generally unhappy. So, I decided to try something new — make a focused effort to figure out how to make myself happy.
Serious soul-searching, gut-wrenching, and emotional work on yourself is not an easy task. Yet here I am, all the stronger for it. I decided I could either let some bad luck and unfortunate coincidences make me even grumpier than I usually am, or I could find ways to focus my energy elsewhere until things improve. I needed to discover how to find the sun on my darker days.
Here’s how I accomplished that — in hopes it will help you when you’re feeling low.
Ways to Discover Happiness in Each Day
1. Find Things that Bring You Joy
Cooking has always been a passion of mine, so I poured myself back into culinary adventures. I started looking up new recipes and trying them out on my family and friends. What I found is simple enjoyment doesn’t always demand a big monetary investment. Preparing a well-liked dish really brings out my inner joy.
My dog, June, works as a pretty good cheerer-upper, too.
2. Try New Things
I have always been a voracious reader, and recently I joined a book club again. It has been years since I’ve been a member of…well…anything. The club has six participants. We meet once a month, rotating who gets to pick the book we’ll discuss. I am LOVING it! It has opened me up to new types of books that I never would have read in the past. While they’re not all home runs, I am having a blast.
Also, I have started attempting minor home repairs on my own, attending estate auctions with my mom and aunt, and changing my hair.
“New” does not have to be scary.
3. Rid Yourself of What Makes You Cringe
I despised my living room furniture. It was supposed to be a different color, but I wasn’t home when it arrived, and a friend accepted the delivery. He signed on the line that everything was okay and THEN sent me pictures. The store refused to take it back. So, there I was — stuck with brown furniture that I hated. Fortunately, my grandparents offered me their barely used living room setup. JACKPOT! Within minutes, the old couch and loveseat were scooped off the curb by one of my neighbors. What seemed like a lost cause instantly became a win-win situation.
The Ultimate Takeaway
What I have learned on this journey is this:
There are always going to be dark days, but there are always opportunities to make them brighter.
Sometimes, crappy things happen to good people, but it is how we choose to react that makes the difference in how they affect us. I was hurting myself by letting my run of bad news shape my attitude every day. So, I changed my M.O. intentionally and committed to making myself happy again. Guess what? It worked — and it is pretty awesome to look on the bright side. I highly recommend it; just bring your sunglasses!