Have you ever seen the movie “What About Bob?”
Bob has OCD and every daily act is a struggle. He and his therapist discuss him making “baby steps” whether it’s taking “baby steps to the elevator” or what have you. A comedic movie and probably accurate to how crippling anxiety and OCD can be, if you have recently undergone a divorce and are rebuilding your life you already know that in many ways, rebuilding your life is going baby step by baby step. One of the tough tasks of life after divorce is creating your own happiness and overcoming your depression and perhaps, anxiety.
Yes, that’s right. You have another responsibility on your shoulders but this time, it’s a good one. When you are down and depressed, it’s hard to see the sunny side of the street. Here are a few baby steps you can take towards happiness. After all, you’ve got one life to live. You might as well make it the best.
I don’t care if you feel foolish saying it, pick a mantra that makes you feel good about you whether it’s “I deserve love” or “I am strong and happy.”
Whatever you choose, state it each day when you wake and when you go to bed. The reality is in many ways we are the sum of our thoughts. This will feel silly at first but eventually, you’ll believe “your thoughts.”
It can be as huge as buying a home or as small as going out on a first date for the first time in ages. Whether your goals are big or small, write it down and place it by your bed. Read it each day. This will make you feel focused, happy and positive.
Is it a morning run? Is it a daily cup of hot cocoa? Is it one glass of wine with dinner? Pick one relatively healthy indulgence that brings you straight joy and allows you to “indulge” a little and escape a bit.
Choose one friend to call when you are feeling sad and tell her or him it’s a 9-1-1. This person’s job is to remind you of all the wonderful things you have done in your life…to remind you how far you have come…and all of your blessings. This person is there to tell you, “Cut the wallowing.”
Feeling miserable and wanting to don Goth apparel all day? Practice your smile. It may be fake, but each day, take a smiling selfie. Watch over time how slowly that smile isn’t fake anymore. Again remember, you are your thoughts. Train yourself to be happy.
Take a photo of you at one of your happiest times in your life. Put it everywhere. Think back to a shot from a friend’s birthday. Your college graduation. Perhaps the birth of a child. Pick one of your best moments and hang it everywhere! Your room. Kitchen. Office. Make sure to look at it daily. See yourself as happy. Remind yourself you were at one point, happy.
Every time you have a “self-thought” in your mind, write it down quickly. Step aside and read it daily. I am willing to bet you’re saying negative things to yourself. Point out the no’s, not’s, cant’s and other negative talk. Rewrite your own thoughts in a positive version. Read them to yourself daily.
When you feel happy even for a minute, point it out to yourself. Maybe it’s enjoying an ice cream cone. Maybe it’s that first beach visit. Maybe it’s the smell of your favorite lotion. Maybe it’s cherishing an extra hour walking at night thanks to the summer sun. Whatever it is, notice when you are happy and tell yourself, “Hey Self—I’m happy right now!”
Bottom line is you may feel foolish but eventually, you will feel better. It is YOUR job to make yourself happy and no one else’s. Remember that! It’s a bit tough to swallow but it’s the truth. The only path to happiness starts with you.
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