Through a lot of hard work and determination, I learned that happily ever after isn’t perfect, but it is possible. It’s certainly not as easy as sitting around waiting for a white knight or a fairy godmother, but all the work that comes along with creating the life you want to be living is worth it. If you want to live happily ever after right now, it’s time to stop waiting and start working. Here’s how you can begin right where you are …
1. Open your mind to the possibility of being happy.
If you don’t believe you can be happy, you never will be. The first and most important step you must take when it comes to living a positive and happy life is to believe it’s possible. Even when things are miserable, even when it seems like everything in the world is against you, you have to open up your mind to the possibility of happiness. For me, this was quite difficult because I’d somehow gotten hold of the idea that happiness was uncool, boring, and naïve. In order to start living a positive and present life, I first had to rid my mind of these notions and begin believing that I could, in fact, be happy and cool, interesting, and wise.
2. Steer clear of joy-sucking, negative people.
Joy suckers are the kinds of people that will find a way to take the joy out of any situation, no matter how great it is. These people will constantly find the negative and focus on it intently. And these are exactly the kinds of people you don’t want in your life. Joy suckers and negative people are constantly bringing themselves down, and if you spend time with them, they’ll bring you down too. Strive to rid your life of the people who bring more negative than positive. And if you can’t completely steer clear of joy suckers, try to limit your interactions with them.
3. Love who you are, who you were, and who you will be.
Loving who you are is an essential aspect of living your own happily ever after. When you love who you are (as well as who you have been in the past and who you will be in the future, even if you don’t yet know who that is), you’re creating a culture of acceptance within yourself. Accepting and loving yourself in spite of your faults and flaws (and we all have those!) provides you with a strong foundation for living positively. If you love who you are, no matter what happens to you, you will be okay. You will always have your own love, support, and acceptance. And not surprisingly, the more you love and accept yourself, the more love and acceptance you’ll find coming your way.
4. Stop doing that which makes you unhappy.
Easier said than done, of course, but the less time you waste on activities that cause you unhappiness, the happier you’ll be. It’s easy to come up with excuses for why you have to do the things that make you unhappy—“It’s a job. I need money,” or “I have to keep drinking ‘cause all my friends do!”—but, in reality, you have more control over your life than you probably give yourself credit for. If something makes you repeatedly unhappy, stop doing it. Now. Don’t wait until the time is right or put it off. The sooner you stop doing what makes you unhappy, the sooner you can start spending time on what makes you happy.
5. Let go of people and things that hold you back.
Unfortunately, sometimes even the things and people we love can hold us back from achieving a truly happily-ever-after kind of life. If there are people or things that hold you back—especially in an emotional sense—you have to let them go. Clinging to things or people that may have once made you happy (or that you might have once believed should make you happy) will only keep you rooted in the same spot. A happily-ever-after requires the ability to progress, to grow, to move. If there are things or people in your life that don’t allow for positive movement, it’s time to let them go.
6. Avoid repeatedly rehashing the past.
We all know that the past is over and done with (and nothing we once did can be undone), but so many of us go back to it over and over again, posing questions like, “What if I had…?” or “What would have happened if…?” No matter how much you might want to go back, it’s never going to happen. The only moment each of us really has for sure is this moment right now. And who wants to waste it rehashing the past? While I won’t deny that lessons can be learned from past mistakes, I encourage you to seek out the lesson, take note of it, and move on to what’s happening right now.
7. Don’t dwell on what hasn’t happened yet.
Just as you can’t live in the past if you want to live happily ever after now, you also can’t dwell on what could be. Most of the things you worry about won’t actually happen (a proven fact in my own life!) and those that do happen often don’t play out exactly how you thought they would. So stop worrying about what hasn’t happened—and what may never happen. It’s okay to plan and prepare for what’s to come. It’s not okay to stress and worry incessantly. Stressing out about the future only holds you back from living happily right now so when you find yourself living in an imagined future, remind yourself to come back to the very real now.
8. Never forget the power of gratitude.
Happy people are grateful people. Grateful people are happy people. I’m not sure which comes first, but I do know that happiness and thankfulness are arm-in-arm with one another. The more grateful you are for everything you have, everything you are, and everything you experience, the more you will be able to be fully positive and present in your life. It’s often easy to take things and people for granted—especially those we are constantly exposed to—but know that a very real route to happiness is cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Cheesy as that age-old phrase might sound, attitude is everything—and a grateful attitude a gateway to happiness.
9. Find something you’re extremely passionate about.
Life without passion is b-o-r-i-n-g. If you don’t have something that excites you, that motivates you, that propels you to get out of bed in the morning, you’re missing out. When you feel passionate about something—even if that something is just a hobby and not your full-time gig—you feel alive. You feel excited. You feel positive. Finding that passion doesn’t come easily for everyone—but don’t give up on it. Keep trying things that interest you. Read up on random topics. Pay attention to the things that spark your interest. Once you find what you’re passion about—and start spending time doing it—you’ll know for sure that happily-ever-after isn’t just for fairy tales and romance novels.
10. Believe in your ability to write your own happy ending.
Each and every one of us has the power to write his or her own story—and to end that story with “…and they lived happily ever after.” It’s all too easy to give into the notion that our lives are out of our control, that someone else is holding the pen. But that’s just not true. We all have power over our lives. We can change partners, jobs, and friends. We can change hobbies, habits, and religions. We can change anything we want to—and most importantly, we can change our attitudes. Don’t ever stop believing in your power to write your own story. You’re holding the pen. You’re in charge of your story—the beginning, the middle, and the happy ending.