Let me confess being a sad kid and a frowning teenager. This is very depressive to think about because I thought that was my true nature(spoiler — I was wrong!). Happiness, a smile, and a good laugh that go with it were something very temporary that could last for a brief moment and then vanish away for a long period of time. There were many reasons for that and my introverted psyche was a good predisposition for putting myself into the gloomy world. Another significant one was lacking a good role model of a happy adult whose behavior I could mimic and learn from. This fact has been revealed pretty recently at the kitchen, actually, during some casual talk with my husband when we both had that “aha!” moment that brought to the same conclusion — experiencing happiness, and more importantly, keeping it as your default state, should also be learned. I wish I could learn that as early as possible but my path of getting to know how to be happy has started in my twenties and still is a work in progress. But there are some decent results I’ve achieved so far. So it’s time to share my findings with you.
Below are the recommendations that worked for me to feel happier than ever before:
1. Rid off the toxic stuff
This is that kind of thing that hard to imagine beforehand without going through it. But when you’ve tried, you are never coming back to the previous way of being. In my life, there are two types of toxic things — one that relates to the mind and another that relates to the body.
Unhealthy downshifting relationships, aggressive environment, uncontrolled information consumption, social media impact, etc. — those are things that take you down hijacking your time and energy instead of adding nothing to your own personal growth and well-being. I’ve been through all of these starting with reevaluating relationships with relatives and friends to moving to different cities to dwell in. The goal was to gain independence and achieve control over my life. The most recent thing from this domain was to opt-out using social media, Facebook and Instagram in the first place because I had to admit that I was addicted to“the scrolling-feed syndrome”, as I called it, and information showcased there made me upset and doubt about my abilities, past achievements, and future gainings. Now I know that using Zuckerberg’s products is possible only when my mind is stronger and less vulnerable to others’ intrusions.
What you do for your mental health is not enough. When you feel real pain in your stomach or feel a headache this doesn’t add any bit of happiness either. So checking up on your body through your own eating habits was another side of a toxic-stuff coin. This topic is so huge that may take up a whole new article or even a series so I’ll make the story short for now. Starting from Jan 9, 2017, I opted out of fast carbs, caffeine, gluten products, meat, dairy, eggs, fried and roasted food. You’ll say I’m crazy and how one could refuse from so many yummy food options that are available these days. I’ll say yes, at first it sounded like a crazy thing, moreover, like a hard thing. But you know what — it’s been more than a year and I can’t bear the previous diet, my body is simply disgusted with it. There are fair reasons for that:
- fewer wastes — more energy to accomplish lots of things per day;
- less fatigue — more stamina and courage to go for long-term accomplishments;
- fewer thoughts about pain and diseases — more space for constructive and bold ideas, and wider bandwidth for a larger amount of information.
This list could go on further because I feel more healthy and energy-filled than ever before.
2. Defeat your fears
There are so many of them — fear of failure (my favorite one), fear of success (yeah, it’s a real thing), fear of missing out, fear of being judged, fear of being in a spotlight, fear of name-it-yourself. There are two things about that. Bad — they all are hidden very well in the subconscious and hard to distinguish from a real way of your mind’s thinking. Good — they aren’t new and there are lots of techniques to deal with fears from books to couches and therapists. One thing I can guarantee — once you’ve defeated at least one of them the next would be easier to take over. This process is like weeding your garden and enjoying the flourishing flowers afterward. Like any caring gardener of your mind, you do need to do this weeding process regularly because fears we obtained once can return even we’ve defeated them in the past. No worries now you’ll be aware of them and fully equipped to win the battle. Thanks to this approach, monsters in my head don’t look like ones from a scary movie anymore instead after a while they are like Monsters, Inc. world residents. They make you smile, right? And this is one step towards obtaining a joyful mood.
3. Dig into your true nature
It is surprising though many people don’t realize what their true desires are. I’ve been among those until recently. Situations when you make choices that aline with someone’s authority, trends, persuasions were very common things and as the result, my true self wasn’t satisfied that led to unhappiness. This odd state of affairs even drew a conclusion that design is not my thing because I don’t match someone’s tastes and believes about whom designers should be. It’s ridiculous because in fact those rare moments of true happiness and states of flow in the past were related to the creation and designing process.
It took me a lot of effort, mostly courage, to admit that things I believed were mine, in reality, were a projection of others’ ambitions and wishes — people I care about, people I admire, and to be fully honest, people I envy. When you know what isn’t yours, it’s easier to strip off add-ons that came from outside and focus on what has left inside. My recipe for that is thinking, analyzing, talking, and connecting the dots between your behavior and your decisions. Become your own observer if you are watching another person. Believe me, you’ll notice so many of what you were missing out of sight before.
4. Accept the fact “You’re unique!”
There is a Goldie-Socks situation when it comes to self-esteem — when it’s too little, when it’s too much and when it’s just right. In most cases, my option is too little. Once I received a piece of advice to use a multiplier when I need to decide on my abilities to accomplish things. Advice is great, very logical indeed. However, how would I define this multiplier, though? Good question, right? I haven’t found an answer yet but come up with another solution. When you dig your true nature out of junky thoughts and believes you need to embrace this raw quintessence and nourish it at least as much as previous substitutes. There is one statement that is a real helper here.
There is a trifling chance someone else could be on the very same spot and at the very same moment in time and space with you. This makes you a unique combination of all experiences you’ve been through.
It means no matter whether those situations from the past were good or bad they definitely had an impact on my mindset making it exclusive with all its wrinkles and scratches but beautiful like a wooden pattern. So when in doubt about your uniqueness have a look at your palms and fingers. They have a perfect reminder about this theory — all set of lines you see there took a shape that resembles only you.
5. Do what you love every day
“Do what you love!” is a must-have these days, especially for creatives. So I’d like to stress out on a tiny detail that adds a new meaning here. It’s frequency.
For example, I love drawing and I draw. But unfortunately, I don’t do this kind of thing regularly like every day or every two days, etc. but I can’t say I don’t draw because it happens occasionally. After each drawing session, I’m really pumped and elevated. This hobby brings joy and a state of flow to my life. However, the longer the break between each drawing session the least strong is this happy feeling. To strengthen the impact of this hobby I had to add frequency that will turn this activity into a habit so the happy state could be repeated so many times in a row that started to feel like innate. Turning happiness into a habit sounds like a smart idea. A tool that helps me tackle this task is a bullet journal where I have a table with things I want to turn into habits. I update this list at the beginning of each month. I’ve been doing this for a fourth month already and what I can say is that some things are easy to convert into regular activities some not. Despite some options on the list failed, this habit tracker helps see what you adhere to or what things are more important in your life at the particular moment since they require fewer efforts than others.
6. Find a companion
This is a special ingredient I hold to the very last moment. The reason is that everything above requires continuous support, occasional guidance, cheerful encouragement, and thoughtful advising. I put all of these into a concept of a companion. For me, this word means a lot but in the first place, it’s a partner. For everyone else this could be a couch, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, a parent, a spouse, you pick it. The point is that it’s good to have someone by your side when you are dealing with fears or self-doubts, someone who could back you up at the moment of need. I’m glad to have someone like this on my way to gaining constant happiness.
Following these approaches, I became a person with a genuine smile as my second nature. I can catch myself thinking “I feel happy” several times a day. This is something I couldn’t tell myself 10 years ago. These significant changes happened thanks to the enormous efforts of self-analysis and painful insights along the way. Nevertheless, it’s paid off and this new knowledge can be shared with others.
If you have any questions, suggestions, things to discuss in this post, I’m eagerly looking forward to your feedback. Also, stay tuned as more cases are on their way 😉
You can also find me on
… Dribbble sharing tiny design pieces called ‘shots’
… Behance describing large ‘projects’ in detail
… Twitter sharing some design-related thoughts