Do you sometimes feel like your life is just out of control? Or specifically, out of your control? Of course, you do! We all do. We have so much going on these days that we hardly know if we are coming or going—much less feeling like we control what is happening.
Often, this lack of control can bleed over and negatively impact our ability to feel happy too. So much so that many experts are now saying that feeling out of control of life and the circumstances and happenings that affect you, may be one of the biggest reasons people feel unhappy in general.
The question then, becomes what to do about it? Checking out of life isn’t an option. The kids have to be taken care of, the bills paid, and the house has cleaned. Thus, we must look for ways to control what we can control and learn to let go of what we can’t. Perhaps the easiest way to do this – to minimize the craziness and overwhelm – is to simplify.
Hopefully, the tips below can help you pare down the noise in your life, regain a little control, and perhaps, feel happier too!
Simplify your time by slowing down…
Have you ever noticed how the angry driver flying up behind you, swerving around you, and aggressively cutting back in front of you, ends up at the traffic light down the road right beside you?
Often, trying to rush and race through life to save five minutes can add up to a feeling of “craziness” that not only doesn’t help you get more done, but it also becomes counterproductive. This “hurry” all the time adds up to increased stress. And when we are under stress, we don’t perform as well at anything, period. We make mistakes that we have to go back and fix. We forget things that create the need for extra trips, costing extra time.
Thus, try just slowing down. When we slow down, it’s amazing how life seems to become calmer too. More than likely, it’s because we have changed our perspective and hence, our perception.
An added benefit is that when you slow down, your children slow down and this is healthier for them (and more conducive to sanity for you) too.
Simplify your relationships by practicing conscious communication
How often are your relationships with your partner, children, bosses, co-workers, and/or clients a source of strife? This is frequently due to poor communication. Usually, communication will suffer when we always feel rushed or busy. We don’t take the time to listen really. Consequently, we only hear what we think we hear and fill in the blanks with assumptions. This is not communicating at all!
To simplify your relationships with better communication, try to only speak with others when you can honestly take the time to hear the words they are saying. It’s also best to save important conversations for when you can look at each other and pick up non-verbal cues.
If you follow the above guidelines regarding communication, you should find you (and they!) won’t take things the wrong way so often or get offended so easily. Additionally, you will likely find yourself more empathetic, caring, and understanding of other people when you connect with them through unhurried, focused communication. Thereby, improving your relationship with them significantly, all the way around.
Create a Calmer Morning for a Calmer Day
Have you ever noticed how you start the day – the tone, speed, and mood – is pretty much how it goes all day long? Thus, the importance of starting the day off right.
To ensure you don’t start your day rushed and frantic, try to simplify by preparing for the morning, the night before. Iron or lay out your clothes – and the kids’ clothes if you are still helping to get them dressed. Set up the coffee maker on an automatic timer. Prepare breakfasts and lunches in advance, over the weekend when things are calmer so that you’re not rushing to get that done in the little morning time you have before heading out.
Also, try to put everything you need for the day in one place where it’s easy to find and grab on your way out the door. You might even make an effort to get up and out of bed, just 15 minutes earlier. It doesn’t seem like a lot but how often do you find yourself rushing and hectic because you are just 5, 10, or 15 minutes late?
Sure, things go wrong. People do stuff that irritates you. Even your loved ones get on your nerves sometimes. But focusing on it, dwelling on it, and complaining about it likely only makes it grow and swell in your mind until it impacts more than just that moment in time. It can affect your overall happiness if you let it, by putting you in a “bad mood.”
Numerous studies have shown that people who complain less are happier than those who complain all the time. The very act of complaining out loud seems to negatively affect mood very quickly. So just don’t do it. Next time you are tempted to complain, really try to keep it inside. Simply not letting it “out there” – where others can respond and react dragging it out and possibly elevating any issue – might be all it takes to make a big difference!
Say yes less, ignore the news (including social media), and want less
If it sounds like this last combined tip is advice fit for a monk, you’re right. Monks have the art of simplifying down perfectly. And they seem to live calmer, more serene, and likely, happier lives than most.
As women, we often say yes because we don’t want to hurt anyone else or make them angry. Yet, the one we hurt by overextending is ourselves and often, the ones in our life we hold most dear—our family. Next time someone asks you for a favor – for your time, energy, or money – ask yourself if this is something you really want to do and can do without feeling resentful? A good test is how the words, “Can I ask you a favor?” followed by the request, make you feel. If you don’t feel good about it, politely decline. You’re not going to get brownie points for doing something you don’t really want to do, and you probably wouldn’t do it well anyway.
The last two suggestions in this section should be self-explanatory. The news and social media can be a big downer and frankly, anger-inspiring and depressing. It can also be a huge time-drain. If you are simplifying, simply ignore them for a while and see how your mood and level of happiness changes. That will likely tell you what you need to do.
Finally, want less… What this amounts to is expressing gratitude for what you do have. Numerous studies have proven that thinking about what you are grateful for, elevates feelings of happiness dramatically. What are you grateful for in your life? Since we tend to get more of that which we focus on in life, spend time considering the answer to the previous question, and the rest might just fall into place.