At any time of year, about half of us are searching for how to be happier, according to MaryAnn Troiani, a clinical psychologist and the author of Spontaneous Optimism: Proven Strategies for Health, Prosperity & Happiness. And that number is higher in November and December. "Stress and anxiety overwhelm us during the holidays," says Troiani. "Even people who are generally content may become blue." One of the main reasons: The images associated with the season shine a light on what may be missing in your own life. "When people are bombarded with commercials, greeting cards, and movies showing perfect families and friendships, they may start to question the quality of their own relationships," says Adam K. Anderson, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. "This can make them feel lonely and less fulfilled." Try these simple steps to be happy—today and throughout the year.
How to be Happy Step #1: See the Big Picture
"Becoming more spiritual is about letting go of control, being willing to go with the flow, and appreciating the surprising things that come your way when you do," says Robert J. Wicks, the author of Bounce: Living the Resilient Life. "You need to change your mindset and remember that there are other forces at work." But realizing you aren't always in the driver's seat doesn't necessarily mean you have to believe in God; it just means you shouldn't dwell on what's upsetting you when your perfect plan doesn't work out. "When something goes wrong, take a step back, agree to just let whatever happens happen, and try to find something positive about the turn of events; it will help you relax and keep everything in perspective," says Wicks. Something else to keep in mind: You may not control what happens, but you decide how you react and what kind of person you are. This outlook helps you avoid the "why me" and "life isn't fair" thoughts that can bring you down.
MORE: How to be happy on your worst day
| Dec 01, 2010