“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.” ~ Dale Carnegie

I am a jolly woman who loves to crack a smile at every chance she gets. However, I wasn’t always like this.

I never wanted to be perceived as weak, so I was never up for confiding about my true feelings in anyone, not even my family members. Often, I would fake a smile. Since no one could tell the difference, my life went on until the day all the frustration I was hiding came to the forefront, turning my life upside-down.

One day, I had a nervous breakdown in the office. I had never experienced anything like this before and never thought this could happen to me. But, everyone faces helpless circumstances and frustration at some point in their lives.

What matters is that we remain optimistic and happy during the turbulent times. The truth is, being happy and letting go is the only way forward.

Today, I am sharimg some tips that brought a real smile on my face in my difficult times. I sincerely hope the following tips will enable you to do the same.

1. Accept Circumstances as They Are

“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” ~ William James

The biggest mistake I made when tackling my difficulties was that I ignored the fact that I was in a helpless situation and that I will take time to get over it. Since the first episode of the nervous breakdown, I had difficulty concentrating on most routine tasks. But, I simply didn’t want to accept that things weren’t in my control until one day I forgot to pick up my kids from school. That was the last straw. I understood that my personal and professional life had worsened because I kept ignoring the mounting crisis.

Accepting things as they are, however, was easier said than done. At first, I decided to accept the situation entirely as it is just for a day. I stopped asking myself questions such as “Why me?” or “What have I done to deserve this?” I kept repeating this process every day until finally, my mind was clear enough to accept the situation.

Once I accepted the circumstances, I was able to focus my energy on important tasks instead of worrying constantly. I felt relieved of the overwhelming stress. Eventually, I also developed a more compassionate view towards life. I soon realized that acceptance is the key to forgiveness, letting things go, and moving on.

2. Let Go of the Past and Move On

“There is no standing still because time is moving forward.” ~ Greg Lake

Accepting the facts is only the first half of the equation, letting go of the painful past is the final half. Just like the average Joe, I also used to carry the baggage of my past mistakes. The longer I held onto my baggage, the more it weighed me down. So, I had to learn to let go of the terrible mistakes made by me (and others) that may have led to the unfortunate circumstances.

However, to let the things go, I first had to vent my emotions somehow. So, I started keeping a journal. Honestly, I am a terrible writer, but then I wasn’t preparing for an essay competition, was I? I would just scribble a few lines about how I felt every evening just before going to bed. This simple trick brought me to the root of the problem.

If keeping a journal is not your cup of tea, you can write a letter to an imaginary friend, record your frustration, or talk to someone. Do whatever it takes to get the pent up emotions out.

3. Find Purposeful Activities

“True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ~ Helen Keller

Another great way to keep your mind from going back to the painful memories is shifting your focus to other things. I like to call them purposeful distractions. I grew up in a family of book lovers. So, to keep my mind occupied, I would engross myself in one of my favorite books. I also went on to take up horse riding lessons that I had kept postponing for one reason or the other.

The activities we engage ourselves in can directly affect our thoughts and emotions. So, instead of worrying about the things that we can’t control, it is better to focus our energy on the ones we can. Ask yourself, “What can I do to focus on my happiness?” Read, write, paint, cook, or sing, just find a purposeful distraction that will keep your mind from ruminating about the frustrating experiences. Remember, an empty mind is the devil’s workshop.

4. Learn to Appreciate the Smallest Things

“Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air.” ~ Georges Bernanos

We’re all blessed with so much in our lives. Unfortunately, we often tend to take them for granted or forget them altogether in our fast-paced daily routine. What are these blessings really? They are the smallest things that fill our lives even in the most helpless and frustrating circumstances. They can bring you tiny drops of pleasure which, when put together, form the ocean of happiness.

Whenever I reflect on my past, I often remember having long telephonic conversations with my mom when I had just started living on my own. Another fond memory is that of taking horse-riding lessons, which were great fun. Back then, I simply didn’t know that my life would be made of such small, but precious moments. Now I know that even a supposedly bad day will have a positive moment within it. All I have to do is find it.

Appreciating the small things means being grateful for what you have. It won’t completely eradicate painful memories, but it will certainly help you concentrate on the good ones. Over the years, I have developed the habit of celebrating little things. There is no shame in rewarding yourself after learning a new skill or finishing a mundane task. My trainer and I went to the movies after I successfully finished my horse-riding lessons and I felt encouraged to get better at it.

5. Get a Healthy Dose of Support

“Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.” ~ Tim Gunn

The importance of having a solid support system can’t be stressed upon enough. I considered myself a strong, self-sufficient person and hence, didn’t ask for help, which was a big mistake. The truth is, being alone sucks, particularly during the hard times. The day I forgot to pick up my kids, my husband immediately called my mom. The next morning she joined us for breakfast. I was surprised because my mother, who doesn’t like to fly, had taken a two-hour long flight just to see me. This made me realize how stupid I had been not to confide in my loved ones. Had my family members not been supportive, my stubbornness would have led to my absolute destruction.

Seeking timely emotional support had a profound effect on my self-esteem. Contrary to my belief, it also improved my sense of independence in a way I had never experienced before. However, if you can’t find support at home, try joining local social clubs, community centers, church groups, or private support groups in your community. Use technology to reach out to the people you count on. Above all, don’t hesitate to seek professional help, if necessary. Today, I have extended my emotional support system to include friends and a few co-workers, and it has worked well for me.

Life is like a roller-coaster ride. During the difficult times, depression gradually penetrates our mind, pinning us against the wall. You can follow the above positive tips to preserve your happiness even during helpless circumstances and moments of frustration. You can tweak them as you wish. So, which tips did you find useful? Do share your thoughts with me in your comments below.

Swati Kapoor is a qualified dietitian at Practo. She has a Masters degree in Dietetics and Food Service Management. She is a strong believer in spreading the goodness of ‘nutrition through healthy eating’. As a responsible dietitian, Swati examines her patients’ health history carefully before recommending any diet or workout regimen, because everybody has different requirements.

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