10 ways to become more cheerful
Not in the Christmas spirit yet? Life coach Sam Hook says we don’t need to panic…
By Sam Hook
Christmas is meant to be the season of good cheer.
But what happens if you aren’t naturally cheerful and just can’t be bothered with the festivities?
If you feel yourself being grumpy, critical and downright negative, the good news is that cheerfulness can be learned and developed. Yes, with practice, you can become a cheerful person.
You may not become super cheerful overnight, but with a few mindset shifts, you’ll be on your way to feeling happier. And if you stick with it, you just might become more cheerful, too.
Here are 10 steps you can take to increase your joie de vivre and bring more cheer to your life this holiday season.
Set a daily intention.
Decide when you wake up what sort of day it’s going to be and if you’re going to be cheerful or not – it’s your choice.
Direct your day with your pre-frontal cortex instead of being led by your primitive, unconscious brain. So, for instance, you could say: “I am going to find fun in Christmas shopping today”, instead of saying: “Oh God, I need to start Christmas shopping today”.
Hold your tongue.
When you feel the urge to complain or criticise, bite your tongue, stop and pause.
Staying silent is a wonderful way to get us through stressful moments without saying or doing something we will later regret. If you still feel something needs to be said after thinking it through, then formulate a kinder response.
Smile on purpose.
Even when things are tough – especially when things are tough – smile.
In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found smiling — even a fake smile — can have a positive impact on mood.
Essentially, triggering certain facial muscles by smiling can “trick” your brain into thinking you’re happy.
Ask your brain an empowering question.
Your brain is naturally wired to focus on the negatives throughout the day. But it’s also a powerful computer and loves finding the answers to questions you set it.
Instead of asking: “Why does my life suck?”, ask: “What can I do to find happiness today?” You’ll then notice opportunities to make your day happier.
Or give your brain a specific job. Try saying: “Your job today is to find all the positive things in my life.” Giving your brain a specific task helps calm the mind ‘chatter’ and stress that can stand in the way of a cheerful outlook.
Create, don’t consume.
We feel “cheerful” when we’re creating something rather than consuming.
Creating could be mending something, cooking, sewing or writing rather than consuming – aka, shopping, watching Netflix or scrolling on our phones.
Also, move your attention from ‘overcoming a problem’ to ‘creating a solution’. This creative shift can uplift and inspire us to behave more cheerfully.
Practice gratitude by focusing on one thing you’re grateful for.
Gratitude is at the heart of cheerfulness, so any time you feel miserable, think of something you are thankful for.
Focus on five reasons why you’re thankful for this particular thing – the act itself will redirect your brain to be more cheerful and appreciative.
When you’re creating a memory, it’s hard to want to be anything but cheerful.
Memories are all we take with us through life, and they matter most. Focus on how to turn this boring, uninspired, or tense moment into a memory, and you just might feel the cheer naturally pouring out of you.
Take a ‘Time Out’.
When cheerfulness feels like an impossibility, put yourself in a quiet place where you can sit or lie down for a while.
Take a few minutes each day to slow down, breathe deeply and, using all the senses, focus on what’s around you.
Take the spotlight away from feeling grumpy by helping someone else who may need your support.
Call a friend who might be struggling or ask your parents if you can help with something. Charities are also looking for volunteers too, so seek out a local organisation you can connect with..
Do something you love.
Make a list of all the things you love to do and that make you feel happy. Even the simple pleasures.
Then, schedule some of these into your diary to enjoy as often as you can.