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Your Happiness Cheat Sheet: The 5 Steps To Learning To Like Yourself

by Claudia Fisher

People have a lot of options of how, and with whom, to spend free time. The one person you can't ever escape including in your plans, though, is yourself. It's understandably hard to be confident always, to remain happy in daunting situations, and comfortable just doing things by yourself -- but to be successful in life, no matter what you're attempting to accomplish, you have to like yourself.

Weirdly enough, this isn't something that always comes naturally. It's easy to hold on to regret or to be mad at yourself for what you don't have, but this isn't a productive (or healthy) way to live. To truly like yourself might take a little practice, but it's probably the most valuable way to enhance your life.

Mind Over Matter

Have you ever heard of a phantom pregnancy? It is possible, albeit rare, for a woman to make her belly grow as if she's pregnant simply by her staunch belief that she really is. That's right -- a woman can experience authentic symptoms of pregnancy, including an enlarged stomach, despite having no baby inside of her. That's how powerful the human mind is. Harness this power to feel how you want to feel (insert Snap's "I've Got The Power" for effect).

A key component to liking yourself is to be happy; Happy people usually enjoy their own company (I have the best conversations with myself. As long as I don't talk to myself in public, I'm not crazy, right?). Unfortunately, people aren't typically unwaveringly happy all day, every day. But there are ways to enhance your mood instead of allowing a rut to weigh down on you for too long.

One way is to dupe yourself into feeling happier by faking it. The easiest method? Smile. This would be ironic advice if you knew me -- most wouldn't exactly call me the jolly type (it's just my resting face, I swear) -- but a smile, however forced at first, will eventually sooth you. My grandfather always used to say "just pretend you're happy; you'll feel better." I know, it sounds like one of those "easier said than done" scenarios, but he really was always happy -- so he must have been on to something.

Be Your Own Best Friend

Treat yourself in the same way you treat someone you already like and value. What are the qualities you most appreciate in a friend? Have those towards yourself. Everyone needs support, encouragement and occasional ego-boosts, so indulge a little.

One of the easiest ways to feel unlikeable is to speak to yourself in a negative way. Monitor the way you talk to yourself while considering how you would speak to your closest friends. Let's say your best friend eats a cupcake despite her diet. After she's licked the very last delicious crumb from the wrapper, you squeeze her gut and say: "You fat idiot, where is your self-control?" You would never, ever (unless you're a sociopath) do this. So don't talk to yourself this way, either.

You're stuck with yourself -- so be nicer. The way we talk to ourselves has a major impact on the mindset we have that day, and you want one of positivity. I'm not saying go ahead, encourage yourself into a frenzied, French fry bun burger binge (well, if you insist), but stop the verbal abuse. Your voice is the one you will hear most over the course of your lifetime (now you just think I'm schizophrenic), so how can you be confident and happy if your inner monologue is littered with self-hatred and aggressive criticism?


Take Initiative

Do you like boring people? If you're bored and do nothing about it... that's a problem. You need to be able to entertain yourself, otherwise you won't have any fun when you're alone. In my opinion, it's much more enjoyable to be interesting.

Start counting on yourself to have a good time. Being proactive in your daily routine is essential to not depending on others. Having activities and events you're genuinely excited about makes the less enjoyable aspects of your week more bearable because you know you've got something good in store for yourself. Of course, you don't have to do these things alone -- definitely invite others who you think would enhance your experience. But the important aspect is, taking control of your schedule gives you power: power over where you go, who you see, and whether or not you're fulfilled.

Don't Fall For The Illusion Of Options

The Internet has taken over our lives, being inundated with pictures and infinite information about strangers is virtually unavoidable, but it's important to differentiate what is reality and what is fantasy.

With all we are presented with on our computer, phone, iPad, smart watch, alien-drone-hologram-whatever screens, it's possible to be confronted with too many variations. But these are not always feasible options for our own lives. Just because someone else is traveling to every country in the world strictly by foot doesn't mean this is something you could, or should, also do.

Know what is impractical and completely unrealistic, otherwise you'll be overwhelmed by all the things you think could be (maybe, possibly) better. Constantly reconsidering your life's direction, dreaming of abandoning everything so you can do what so-and-so did, won't get you a more fulfilled life, just an imitation of someone else's.

And don't forget: Everything online is presented in snippets of the full picture, which you then (maybe subconsciously) fill in the blanks with your own version of the perfect complete story. Just because someone you vaguely know (through a friend of a friend) packed up and moved to Zimbabwe, which you found out from Facebook, doesn't grant your casual mumble of "I could do that" any credence.

And if you're always looking for something new, then you will always second guess what you already have, preventing yourself from realizing how content you are with your current situation. Enjoy the life you lead, and you will like and appreciate yourself for having all that you do.

Don't stalk other people's pictures and think that the way they live and what they have are practical for your own life. It's easy (but actually a little self-loathing) to glamorize what other people have. What you have in your life is tangible and valuable, while fantasizing about all the places you could go and jobs you could have is like you never grew out of playing with the imaginary friends you had when you were 5 years old.

Value Your Family

Some of us are lucky that this is a relatively easy one. Of course, parents and siblings can get on our nerves, but there are too many parts of our families we love to fixate on the annoyances for too long. But for people who have a harder time appreciating their families, it's essential not to be blinded by the aspects you dislike.

No matter how dysfunctional you think your family is, or how estranged from someone you may be or how much your sister really can piss you off, there has to be something you admire. Holding on to stubborn grudges makes you overlook any positive traits a person may have and inadvertently promote a little bit of self-hatred. After all, these are your roots; you share genes with these people whether you like it or not.

Remember the aspects of growing up that you liked, the things you still like about your family and hometown, and hold on to those. You will like yourself much more if you do.