Increase Your Happiness Factor

When you tend to hold on to stress, unexpected circumstances can be particularly overwhelming. Whether you have financial difficulties, worry that your job is in jeopardy, have health problems or have experienced a death it can sometimes feel like you barely pick yourself up from one emotional crisis when the next hits.

The reality is that situations that cause anxiety and pain are a part of life and can't be entirely avoided. Because you can't eliminate these situations from your life, it's important to ensure that you also have positive life experiences so stress and crisis has less impact on your emotional well-being. Usually when you feel stressed, angry, upset or sad, you've got good reason. When painful events happen, it often feels like happiness is out of our control. But, you can cause positive experiences and emotions in your life as well, which will keep your emotions on a more even keel.

1. Do pleasant things today. Don't underestimate the power a few immediate positive experiences will have on your mood and emotions. Schedule at least one thing a day that makes you feel good. It could be anything: a phone call with a friend, exercising, eating food you love, watching a movie, taking a walk, reading a book or magazine, or being alone.

2. Set Goals. Set goals that will bring positive experiences into your life. If you've been passed up for a raise, set a goal to increase your value at work and earn a raise. If you don't think they'll ever recognize your worth, set a goal to find work that will. Again, schedule the small steps into your daily life. Keep focused on your larger goal and continually assess your progress. Whether achieving your goal will bring more money, better health, or a sense of accomplishment, identify the goals that will make your life better.

3. Connect with Friends and Family. Many research studies indicate that having close relationships is the biggest predictor of happiness. If you have conflict in your life, build or repair relationships. A few simple ways to keep friends and family members close include being kind, compassionate, and non-judgmental. Listen when they're having a hard time. Be direct and ask for what you want and need.

4. Attend to the Positive. Emotions last only a few seconds. However thinking about and focusing on the things that are bothering you can keep those emotions around for much longer. Notice if you tend to focus on the negative. If that's the case, refocus on the positive events in your life. Make a list of what your grateful for or remember what happened today or this week that made you smile, laugh or gave you a sense of calm. Take a few minutes and relive that moment in your mind.

5. Let go of worrying. If you notice yourself worried about problems in your life or expectations you can't live up to, let it go. Refocus back onto the positive aspects of your life and the goals you've set for yourself. If that seems too difficult, simply focus on your breath. Anywhere you find yourself sitting or standing inhale and exhale. If you're distracted by your worry thoughts, bring your mind back to your breathing and the sensation of inhaling and exhaling.

If you have good reason to feel bad, make some positive changes. It's important to ensure that positive life experiences balance out stressful and overwhelming times.