5 Ways to be Happy NOW!

Written for CT Fashion Mag.  Article here.

How many times have you heard the phrase that life is too short to be unhappy? If you’re like me, then you’ve heard it probably one too many times. Everything in life is continuously changing. Nothing remains constant; it’s basic physics. Although my career as a scientist ended at the high school level, the most important thing I learned is that everything is constantly in motion. Simply put, one’s life can change in an instant. We all have good days and bad days, but at the end of the day, we are in control of our own happiness.

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Stephanie Cowan 2017

Being human, we all get sad, stressed, irritated, upset, angry, etc. for a brief or even extended period of time.  Recently, it took me almost two months to get out of one of the most creativity-blocking ‘funks’ I have gone through in my life.  I felt like I was just going through the motions of life without actually living it. This experience made me thoroughly reassess what was holding me back and forced me to stop and regroup.

Over the years, I found that one of the easiest ways to be happy right now is to bring yourself back to living in the moment.  We are constantly looking for the next life event or big-picture happening to take place, however, life also consists of the ordinary everyday moments that come in between these bigger occurrences.  Every single moment makes up your life, so if your currently sad, angry, confused, or just feeling ‘blah,’ why not be happy in this moment, right now? So here are my tips on how to be happy NOW.

  1. Just Breathe.  The first step is simply to breathe.  Inhale the good, exhale the bad.  Whatever it is that is troubling or making your feel sad, just let it go with each out breath. Take five long, deep, and slow breaths like this: Inhale for four slow counts, hold your breath for four slow counts, and then exhale for four slow counts.  Repeat these steps.   Anytime I am stressed, I tend to hold my breath or breathe shallowly, cutting off proper circulation to the rest of my body.  This is a huge no-no for trying to calm oneself down. If you can become aware of your breathing, you can start to ground yourself, begin to relax and focus on the moment. The simple, natural process of breathing is very calming and can dispel your anxiety and make you feel more relaxed and less stressed.
  2. Take a moment to ground yourself.  Even if you have to set your timer to exactly one minute, take that exact minute to recompose yourself.  For me, this is closing my eyes and meditating in silence.  I’ll even repeat a phrase like “you can do this, Marisa” or “you are so much stronger than you think.”  Try it.  I swear it works, even just for one minute.
  3. Visualize your “happy place.”  For me, I don’t have one exact “happy place” that I constantly resort back to in times of need.  Many people have that one place, but I have many happy places because it doesn’t have to be limited to a physical place or time in your life when you were genuinely happy.  I always think back to a joke a friend of mine once told me or simply the smile of a loved one.  It’s not rocket science, just a memory that makes you feel good inside and a visual that can’t help but make you physically smile.
  4. Step outside (unless the weather is bringing you down, of course, then just step away).  Get some sunlight and reconnect with nature.  I always find it so difficult to not be happy when I’m sitting or standing outside in direct sunlight.  If you’re in an office or at home just take a step outside, or at the very least, step away from your desk.  Go on a quick walk to recharge and to experience the serenity and beauty that is all around you.  Whether you are in a big city or a small town, there is always a piece of nature that can’t be ignored or underappreciated.
  5. Turn on your favorite song.  Once you’ve brought yourself back to living in the moment, choose a song.  For me, this probably entails a dancy/hip hop song from the early 2000s.  Pick something that 1. Isn’t sad 2. That you can sing (or rap) aloud 3. Reminds you of a person you love or a great time in your life 4. That you can dance to or at least bop your head to.  Moving your body in general can shift your mood and increase your happiness immediately as well.
Stephanie Cowan 2017
Stephanie Cowan 2017
Stephanie Cowan 2017
Stephanie Cowan 2017

No one’s life is perfect, and the unfortunate truth is that we aren’t going to be happy in every single moment of our lives.  However, when we fall off the wagon and become consumed with negativity or sadness, these five life hacks certainly come in handy for reassessing our current state of mind.  Just remember that you are in control of your happiness, and if you can slow down your thoughts, become present in the moment, and change your attitude from negative to positive, you can essentially become happy in any given moment.

Stephanie Cowan 2017

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Photography by Stephanie Cowan theblondwiththesmile.com @stephaniecowan

Criss cross backless swing dress by SheIn!

Xx Marisa

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