walking in the rain

Let me guess.

It’s been a long week.  So much to do and so little time to do it.  Every time you cross an item off your to-do list, another one creeps up to the top like a sneaky little rodent.

Have you ever felt like the world does not want you to be happy?

I definitely have from time to time.  It’s hard to remain jovial and upbeat when things don’t always go according to plan and you feel like you’re trudging through a storm.  It’s easy to get frustrated when everyone else seems so happy, and you are struggling to just make it from day to day.  The worst part is, you know that your frustration is infecting your work and your relationships.

But you don’t have to accept sadness and frustration.  There are steps you can take to make substantial improvements in your happiness.  Changes that will, over time, help you leverage your unique talents to serve those around you.

Interested in being happier?

Personally, when things get overwhelming, I take a moment to think about all the things I should be grateful for and remind myself of my personal journey.  You are not who you used to be.  Let me repeat, you are not who you used to be.  You are a conqueror who has overcome challenges and you now have family, friends and opportunities to help others with your personal story.

Focus on your blessings and be mindful that frustration does not last forever.  Happiness is based on  perception. Tweet This. 

To put it simply, change your focus.

Realize that you are not alone in the rain.  To be fair, everyone has a different strategy and some will work better for you than others.

So here are 5 great resources that discuss how you can increase your happiness, and also increase the happiness of those around you by pursuing creative side projects.

Taking Steps Toward a Happier You

1. 7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People

In this article, Gregory Ciotti reminds us that although happiness is defined by each individual, there is much we can learn by observing others who live happy lives.  He shares a few insights and lessons from his observations on the things that impact happiness.  The two that stood out for me are: (1) having 5 close relationships and (2) spending more money on experiences.  Lately, I have focused much more on using my resources to enjoy fun experiences with the people I care about the most.

2. 25 Horrible Things That Happen If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

One of the things that definitely saps my happiness is being tired.  This article reminds us why sleep is so important, especially for people who are trying to be their very best.  What I found most insightful is that sleepiness impairs your ability to learn, causes slowness and leads to poor vision.  Being uninformed, sluggish and blind to the path ahead sound like a clear sign of an individual who has given up on being creative and using their gifts to serve others.

3. Pursuing Happiness or Meaning in a Career

Author Ben Casnocha writes in this article that the things that make us happy are not always the same things that make our lives seem meaningful.  He suggest that while people who pursue happiness tend to focus more on reducing their personal stress or worry, people who pursue meaning focus on how they impact and relate to others.  There is a relationship between the two, but they are distinct as well.  Casnocha believes that we should choose a career that’s meaningful, but also weave in “happiness” as much as possible.

4. How to Turn Your Side Project Into a Full-Time Gig

In this short 5 minute talk, Toronto based entrepreneur Heather Payne shares how she turned a side project into her full time business, Ladies Learning Code.  It is a reminder that we should share our bold ideas with the world and not be afraid to get started.  What began as a small fun project with friends blossomed over time into a fun business that is impacting the lives of others.  We all have the power to do this too.

5. How to Make Your Side Projects Wildly Successful

Here, Paul Jarvis offers some great tips on making your side projects successful.  He suggests that we treat them as experiments and break the experiment into small tasks that we tackle little by little.  Although you may have grand ideas, focusing on your end goals can sometimes become overwhelming.  Instead, think about how you can use the resources you have and test your idea in small ways.  You can grow little by little.  Sometimes an experiment will fail, but the key is that you are constantly learning and growing.

Start Being Happier Today

Getting through the storm is hard.  Work becomes overwhelming, family life becomes stressful and it feels like no one understands.  But we must remain mindful that there is so much to be thankful for.

More importantly, there are concrete steps we can take to become happier, starting today.  Start by getting a full nights worth of sleep, which means you might have to sacrifice some TV time.  Use some of your free time to pursue a fun side project.  View it as an experiment and take it one small step at a time.

Happiness is not a state of being.  It is a process.

You can become happier today be simply being thankful, being restful and remaining mindful of the amazing gifts you need to share with the world.

And When All Else Fails

There will always be 24 hours of happy online, thanks to Pharrell Williams and Daft Punk!

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