Recently I've been reading a lovely book by Marci Shimoff called Happy for No Reason. This wonderful book provides tools for happiness and highlights stories of people who are simply happy. She shows us that circumstance has relatively little to do with our state of being, it's our perception that determines our level of happiness. In Chapter 3, The Foundation--Take Ownership of Your Happiness, Shimoff provides three habits that allow us to experience happiness.
1. Focus on the Solution. How often is it that a problem arises and we spend hours, days, weeks even, agonizing over how horrible it is, why me, I can't believe this is happening, etc. What would happen if instead, we used all that energy to create a solution? Wouldn't that make us feel better and reduce the number of hours wallowing in negativity. It's easy to get lost in our perception of "what is" but being stuck in the problem only causes misery and in the end we dig a deeper hole for ourselves. When facing a problem, face it. Allow yourself a few minutes of misery, than take a deep breath, and focus on the solution. You will feel better, plus, chances are, problem solved with will make you feel even better!
2. Look for the Lesson and the Gift. How often do we assign blame to a situation? My dog ate my homework, traffic was terrible, he doesn't like me, I tried my best but she wouldn't listen, it's all her fault, blah de blah blah blah. Recognize your own responsibility in the matter. Think about what you could learn from the situation and in some cases, it may even be a gift. One of the stories in Shimoff's book involves a woman who's fiancee ended their engagement just three weeks before the wedding. She spent a year wallowing in grief, blaming him for being a jerk, and playing the victim. One day her therapist said to her "If your relationship was so perfect, why is it over?" Sometimes we see only what we want to see, and in reality, her relationship had flaws that she simply did not want to face or take responsibility for, so she focused on the blame. After coming to terms with this, she focused on taking responsibility for her own actions, and ended up in a much healthier relationship. There are lessons everywhere, we just have to look.
3. Make Peace With Yourself. Taking responsibility does not beating yourself up. There is no happiness to be find there. Simply, recognize areas that may need work, forgive yourself for your errors, and be grateful for the positives. Let it go and be at peace with your decisions. We all make mistakes, but you can choose to forgive and see each trial as a lesson.
I highly recommend investing in this wonderful book. You can also download some of the exercises and happiness stories here.