One secret to being happy is learning how to differentiate the things you can control from those that you can’t control. Learning this means that you work on the things you can control and let go of those that you cannot control
This is a message talked about by many authors such as Mark Manson in The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, Dale Carnegie in How To Stop Worrying And Start Living, Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson among others.
Once you know what to control, you get a better grip at your life and live a happier life.
Here are some 10 things that you can control and be happier
1. Control your attitude
“Having a positive attitude is like possessing a secret weapon”- John Maxwell
The attitude that you have towards situations can influence your happiness levels. If you choose to have a negative attitude towards all that’s happening around you and choose to complain all the time, everything will seem like a problem to you.
A positive attitude, on the other hand, will make you optimistic and see the good side of a lot of things. A positive attitude will help you see opportunities in the midst of adversity. Happiness does not happen to you, you choose it. Your attitude changes your thoughts and the more positive things you think about, the more you attract positivity. A positive attitude is also contagious.
Your positive attitude will lead to attraction to people with a similar attitude and therefore increased positivity in your life. If you approach someone with a positive attitude, they are likely to talk to you in a similar manner. This means the people around you will be grouchy when you are often grouchy and happier when you are often happy. Take control of your attitude and see your life transform and become be happier.
2. Control your reaction to things
“Men are not disturbed by events, but by the views which they take them”- Epictetus
How you react to the events around you influence how happy your life turns out. If you have thin skin and choose to take all the things that happen around you personally, they will affect your happiness levels. You cannot control what happens around you but you can control your reaction to what happens around you.
Captain jack sparrow says ‘the problem is not the problem, but the reaction towards the problem’. All around you, unfavorable things will happen. People will hurt each other, say mean things to each other and to you, among other things. However, how you choose to react to the things around you, choose to control your reaction, will influence how happy you are.
3. Control your relationships
You are in charge of the relationships that you develop. The choice of the right relationships can be the main contributor to your happiness. For example, if you choose to cut off toxic people from your life, you have made a step towards happiness. Learn to develop interdependent relationships rather than co-dependent relationships.
Co-dependent relationships are one which you depend on the other person for approval and support, you have conditions on the relationship such that you cannot be open and honest. You are afraid this person will blame you or resent you and you are constantly walking on eggshells feeling anxious and fearful without the other person, or in constant fear that you will offend them.
An interdependent relationship, on the other hand, is one whereby you appreciate each other, you feel safe enough in the relationship to be vulnerable and honest. In such a relationship, you take personal responsibility to play a role in the relationship and there is emotional autonomy. Each person is free to think independently and express their emotions.
The right kind of relationships is supposed to let you be independent and supportive but not controlling. Take control of the relationships you have and be a step closer to being happy.
4. Control your physical health
How you feel physically correlates with your happiness levels. If you feel lousy all the time, chances are you will be moody, grouchy, with no energy and all this deprives you of happiness. Your physical health is within your control and you can take charge of it to improve how you feel and increase your happiness levels.
The first thing about taking care of your physical health is changing what you eat and how you eat. Some eating habits such as regular consumption of junk food, not taking sufficient fruits and vegetables and lack of fiber in your diet can affect your digestive tract. An uncomfortable gut makes you tired, anxious, moody and upset basically all the time. The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ is true to a large extent.
The better you eat, the better you will feel. Another way to take care of your physical health is through exercise. Moving your body often is good for it. Exercise releases endorphins which contribute to a good mood. The more you exercise, the better your body will feel and this constant taking care of your health means you are less prone to diseases.
We all have gotten ill at some point and remember how much you wish for your normal body when you are unwell? Your physical health should be a priority in your personal development plan as it plays a great role in improving the quality of your life.
5. Control your mental health
As you work on your body, don’t forget to work on your mind. Your mental health is crucial to your happiness. You could have all the things you think they matter but if your mental health is not in place, you can lack the meaning of all the good things in your life.
To take care of your mind, fill your life with positivity. This includes positive people in your life, get rid of toxic people and surround yourself with healthy relationships that make up a support system. Feed your mind with the right material. Don’t read or watch material that makes you worry more and focus on negatives. Instead, focus on reading and watching informative, nourishing and content that will help you grow.
Another way to nourish your mental health is to develop resilience. Resilience and adaptability will make your mind stronger in such a way that you can handle the difficulties that come your way. Developing resilience will make you less prone to depression as you will learn to deal with things not within your control as well as handle sadness and inevitable life events such as loss.
6. Control your emotions
Emotional intelligence will take you a step closer to happiness. The moment you learn to recognize your emotions as they happen and take charge of them, you will be in better control of your life. Learning to recognize your emotions leads to self-regulation. You can regulate your moods, anger, sadness, and anxiety.
When emotions happen, being in control of them means that you take charge before the emotions lead you downhill. For example, when you are feeling anxious, you take control to find the reason you are feeling anxious. If it is something you can control, you work on it. If you cannot control it, you find fruitful ways to distract yourself so that you can stop feeling anxious.
Emotional intelligence will also help you develop healthy relationships. To build relationships with others, you need to be empathetic and have social skills all of which are elements of emotional intelligence. When you take control of your emotions, rather than having them control you, you take charge of your happiness.
7. Control how you spend your time
When we are productive, we feel good about ourselves. Doing something constructive with our time makes us feel good, boosts our self-esteem and as a result, we feel happier. Think about it, when you spend all day moping and watching TV, what do you feel at the end of the day? Not so good, right?
On the other hand, how do you feel when you spend your day doing something great such as working on something that’s important to you or helping others? You feel so good after. How you spend your time is something you can control and it can make you happier. Productivity will make you an effective person and will take you a step closer to your goals. The better you become at time management, the better you will feel good about how you have spent your day and this is bound to give you a boost of happiness.
8. Control how you prioritize
You can control how you prioritize and this has an effect on influencing the levels of happiness in your life. How do you set priorities? What is important in your life? It is good to know what matters to you so that you can set priorities around these areas. For example, if you set your priorities surrounded by material things, chances are you cannot achieve happiness.
You will earn something that you want today and it will make you want more. Before you know it, you are deep into emotional spending. On the other hand, if you set your priorities towards experiences such as freedom and independence, and you work towards these, their achievement will make you a much happier person.
On a normal day, set the priorities to work on what’s important and not so much on what’s urgent. Working on important things will get you closer to your goal and this will make you a much happier person.
9. Control your thoughts
Have you ever had a bad thought, a thought that something terrible could happen? Before you know it, you are thinking of a million things that could go wrong? One irrational thought gives birth to another and before you know it, you are in a whirlwind of negative thoughts.
You can control the way you think to achieve happiness. The moment you recognize that you are having irrational thoughts, you can practice thought stopping. This is whereby you consciously tell yourself, STOP! and start thinking about positive thoughts.
The more negative thoughts you have, the more you increase your anxiety and dissatisfaction towards life. However, good thoughts will make you more optimistic, develop a positive attitude and become a happier person.
10. Control your behavior
Your thoughts and your feelings (emotions) contribute to your behavior. If you are constantly having negative thoughts, and experiencing negative emotions, your behavior will not be favorable. You will likely behave in a way that’s not attractive to those around you and damage the relationships around you. You can control how you behave. You can take charge of how you behave when you are angry, think about the consequences and your behavior.