Let’s face it. The world is full of miserable and unhappy people. And you know what?  They want company.  In a society where we are expected to want the next big thing – the newest gadget – to strive for more, it can be a challenge to find contentment and satisfaction. And even if you tell yourself it’s ok to be happy, you may feel guilty about any joy.

People are people. Especially this time of year with the holidays all around us.  And I get it. Because when you’re surrounded by negativity, it can be super challenging to not BE negative yourself.

And it can be hard to allow yourself to feel joy.

It can feel is if you’re surrounded by energy vampires. Every time you talk to your sister, she complains about her husband.  Every time you walk into a meeting, people grumble about their work load.  Your social network feeds are full of kvetching and complaining about the injustices of society – like Starbucks being out of pumpkin muffins,  their company’s policy against being on Facebook during work, or the audacity of the airline making them wait ten minutes for baggage.

Your family members or friends may remind you of past failures.  It isn’t that they want to cause you pain, it simply means that they are struggling with pain of their own.  Or they’re afraid that if you don’t complain together, then you will lose your bond of friendship.

But you have a choice.

You could take up the mantra “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”  and proceed to grumble, complain and kvetch.  Or you could choose not to. Instead, you could choose to find something good in your life. There is immense value in small pleasures. So, I’m going to let you in on a secret that I learned:  it’s OK to step towards happiness.

In fact, it’s ok to BE happy.

I know that the washed and perfumed masses may try to squash your joy.  Yes, the news is full of scary stories. And it’s normal to worry about the state of the world. However, it’s important to your mental, emotional, and spiritual health not to let the fears of the world prevent you from stepping into happiness.

I’m not telling you to turn your back on someone in pain. In fact, turning towards their pain with love and compassion will help them step towards their own joy. But don’t let other people’s unfounded fear prevent you from moving forward.  Simply reassure them that your joy with life won’t diminish your relationship with them – it will simply enhance, strengthen, and feed the spirits of both of you.

Don’t let your own past fears stop you, either. The voices of the past may tell you that you don’t deserve to be happy.

They may insist that you must be thin, rich, and beautiful to maintain happiness.   They’re wrong.  They’re just echoes your silly brain trying to keep things from changing, Because even if the “now” is miserable, it’s “known” misery. Unknown happiness, on the other hand, could be really scary.

On the other hand, it could also be wonderful and amazing, and you know what? You are perfectly perfect as you are now in this moment, and if you are miserable on the inside, no amount of money, no number on the scale and no amount of plastic surgery will make it go away.

How do you deal with those voices and people? Don’t allow them to guilt you into feeling that you are lacking something when your life is really full of abundant joy. Just like making peace with yourself is a key to transformation, accepting that it’s ok to be happy will transform the way you see yourself and the way you see the world.  When you fully learn the lesson that no matter what anyone else may have to say, it’s OK to be happy, your life will change.

So, let me say this again.

It’s OK to be happy.

You deserve to be happy.

I’m sure you can find agreement with this statement.  Just like you need to create a peace agreement and accept who you are in this moment, you can decide that you are happy and are going to continue to step towards things that delight you.    Here are eight things to help you on your way.

One –   It’s your job to find happiness.

It is no one else’s job or responsibility – it is yours.  If you look to the outside world for it, you will always be reaching for it.

Two – The right job can enhance your joy in life.

If you are unhappy at your job, you have two choices: stop complaining and find the good in it or leave it.  If changing jobs isn’t an option, then it’s time to find some delight in what you do each day.

Three –   The right love relationship can make happiness a state of exhilaration.

It is not your partner’s responsibility to make you happy, it’s yours.  If you believe that you would be happy IF your partner changed, then you will be unable to discover any satisfaction.  If you are not happy with who you are, then having a loving partner won’t fix it.  If the state of your partnership is disintegrating, then you have a responsibility to yourself and the relationship to either change your attitude or your geography.

Four –  Distance yourself from negative acquaintances.

My friend group looks totally different now than it did a decade ago. Actually, it’s vastly different from what it looked like before the 2016 elections. It may be challenging to step away from longtime friends, but your peace of mind is worth it. Just because they’re miserable with the state of the world doesn’t mean YOU have to be.

Remind yourself it’s OK to be happy. Don’t chime in when a co-worker complains.  Choose not to participate in gossip.  Smile and walk away from negative social interactions. And yes, maybe it’s time to put distance between you and friends who are always negative and unhappy. Especially if they criticize you for being happy.

Five –  Remind yourself that someone else’s drama is not yours.

Allow those that you love – siblings, friends- to unburden themselves to you without attaching to their stuff.  Remind them that you love them.  Remind them that you want them to be happy.  Turn the conversation to a happy memory, a funny anecdote, or an exciting upcoming event.  Suggest to them a good therapist or coach – not as a judgment, but out of love.

Six –  Turn a blind eye to the media.

Social media is especially a downer a lot of the times, isn’t it? So, un-follow the Negative Nellie’s from Twitter, un-friend (or hide) the Facebook friends that only complain, and turn off the evening news.

Seven –  Focus on gratitude.  Every night before you go to bed, write down at least three things you are thankful for.  Going to sleep with gratitude on your mind will bring you a more positive approach when you wake to a new day.

Eight –   Smile.  A lot.

Yes, I know a lot of women are tired of being told to smile, especially by strange men, but smiling really does help increase your own happiness. So, choose to smile at grocery clerks and people that you pass.  Joy and happiness are catchy.

No matter how many Negative Nellies there are in the world that tell you that life is full of misery and woe, you can face the world with the knowledge that it’s okay to be happy.  You’ll find that the more abundance of joy you embrace, the more you will be able to shine your light of happiness to the world.  And when you do shine that brilliant light of happiness, you’ll find that that energy will be returned to you in every day interactions.

So, what about you?  What can you to today to remind yourself that you ARE happy?  What are you doing to step towards joy?

Need some help creating the life you desire? How about learning other strategies for living a happier life? 

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