Love, family, friends, health, wealth, resilience, gratitude, purpose, faith. All of these things affect our happiness and state of well-being, some more than others. The most important contributor to happiness, however, is one many of us are the least likely to practice: self-acceptance.
Dr. Mark Williamson, director of the charity Action for Happiness, which conducted a 2014 study on the habits that contribute most to our happiness, said: “Our society puts huge pressure on us to be successful and to constantly compare ourselves with others. This causes a great deal of unhappiness and anxiety. . . . . If we can learn to be more accepting of ourselves as we really are, we’re likely to be much happier. . . . Our day-to-day habits have a much bigger impact on our happiness than we might imagine.” (University of Hertfordshire.
“Self-acceptance could be the key to a happier life, yet it’s the happy habit many people practice the least.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140307111016.htm.)
Fortunately, there are a number of “day-to-day habits” we can develop that will lead to self-acceptance and happiness in life. Here are 8 habits that will help you learn to be happy just being yourself.
1. Practice being confident.
There are a number of things you can do to build confidence. To start, make a list of the things you love about yourself and that you do well. Include big and little things. Next, make a list of things that make you insecure. A lot of times, we end up being anxious about trivial—even silly—things, as well as things we can’t control.
Examine this second list and cross off those things that you determine to be trivial or silly. Once you have completed both lists, take time each day to review them and remind yourself about the things recorded on the first list that you do particularly well. In time, you’ll find that you are able to cross off more and more things on your list of insecurities because your confidence will have grown.
Affirmations are great confidence builders and perfectly complement your daily review of each list. Simply stand in front of a mirror and repeat aloud this affirmation:
“I am accepting my unique gifts and talents now. I receive compliments, and my goodness expands daily. I trust myself to grow in positive ways.”
As you repeat the affirmation, apply a drop or 2 of this oil blend to the palms of your hands, rub your hands together, and inhale:
3 drops cilantro
3 drops myrrh
3 drops siberian fir
3 drops ylang ylang
2 drops wild orange
Find something to laugh about each day. Laughter releases endorphins that promote a sense of well-being and help relieve pain. Laughter also reduces stress, decreases blood pressure, and improves sleep! If the opportunity to laugh doesn’t come up naturally, create an opportunity yourself: remember a time in the past when everything went woefully wrong but seems terribly funny now, watch a comedy, do a quick online search for a few jokes or a comic sketch, read the funny pages, ask a friend or family member to tell you their favorite joke (if you have kids, ask them to tell you one; their laughter is particularly contagious).
3. Be grateful.
Take a few moments at the beginning of the day to think about those things for which you are grateful. A wonderful experiment is to start a gratitude journal or calendar. Each day write down one thing you are grateful for. Do this every day for a year without repeating any entry. At the end of the year, you’ll have a list of 365 things to be grateful for, ranging from small conveniences (like a flushing toilet) to meaningful relationships (with children, spouse, friends, parents).
Repeat this affirmation after making the daily entry in your gratitude journal:
“I am grateful. I fill my mind with heartwarming thoughts of gratitude. I allow joy to fill my entire being. I am taking the steps I need to take to be grateful and happy in my mind, mood, and thoughts.”
Couple the affirmation with a few drops of this oil blend, which can be applied to the bones behind your ears and/or rubbed between your hands and then inhaled:
4 drops bergamot
3 drops wild orange
2 drops rose
2 drops siberian fir
1 tablespoon fractionated coconut oil
4. Give Generously.
When presented with the opportunity to give, do so generously. Give of your time and talents, as well as your wealth. Give compliments generously. Forgive yourself and others generously. Graciously receive help, compliments, and forgiveness from others. Remember that denying another person the opportunity to give generously themselves also denies them the measure of happiness that comes from giving.
5. Practice Loving the Way You Look. Smile.
Make a list of your favorite features. Splurge on a few items of clothing that you look great in and wear them whenever you need a pick-me-up. Accessorize with accents you love—a favorite ring or belt or watch or pair of earrings. Remind yourself that your body can do amazing things.
Repeat this affirmation frequently:
“I love and accept myself.”
Use a few drops of this oil blend, applied to the core of the body or the bottoms of your feet, to increase the positive effects of the affirmation:
2 drops bergamot
2 drops fennel
2 drops frankincense
2 drops geranium
2 drops ylang ylang
6. Do Something You Love.
Make a habit of doing things you enjoy—taking a walk in the park, reading, gardening, cooking, working out, participating in a favorite sport, playing board games, going to the theater, hiking, enjoying nature, fishing, visiting with a friend, skiing, swimming, traveling. To help yourself get in the habit of regularly doing things you love, make a list of all those things you enjoy and then pick one each week (or month or quarter, depending on the breadth of the activity) and schedule a time to do it. Write the activity down in a planner or record it in the calendar in your smart phone and think of it as being as important as the other meetings, appointments, and activities you participate in.
7. Take Care of Yourself.
Get enough sleep, add “me time” to your day, take some time to meditate, exercise regularly, eat healthily.
Frequently couple self-care with this affirmation:
“I choose to live a healthy and happy life. Wealth flows easily and effortlessly to me. I celebrate goodness and I am deserving of all that is good. I joyfully contribute to the goodness of this world. I fulfill my commitments and responsibilities confidently and with ease. I am important.”
Diffuse or rub this oil blend on your feet as you declare the affirmation:
4 drops wild orange
3 drops frankincense
2 drops cinnamon bark
1 drop rose
8. Become an Explorer.
When you know more about your surroundings, you tend to love them more. This, in turn, builds feelings of contentment and well-being. It also makes you an active participant in your community rather than a passive bystander.
There are many ways you can learn to love where you’re planted and develop positive habits in connection with your community: attend cultural events in your city, find the beauty in your community (hiking trails, parks, historic landmarks, waterfalls, public gardens, etc.), learn about your city’s history at the library or local museums, volunteer at community events and outreach programs (the local soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, a care center, the children’s hospital, and so on), attend neighborhood caucus meetings, learn about local politics and civic concerns.