group of people jumping for joy

Happiness is a choice, albeit a really hard choice, it’s a choice nonetheless. We can all create happiness in our lives no matter the issues we’re facing or the stresses we encounter throughout our lives. However, I will not lie to you, it’s not an easy thing to achieve. Once you’ve made the choice to bring positivity in your life the hard part begins.

Sometimes the greatest challenges we face in our lives are not the stress or difficult issues, but the things we need to let go of. We may need to face the reality that our relationships with the people we love or the things we do are actually negatively impacting our lives. The hard choices may involve distancing ourselves from friends, lovers and family who may be the cause of our stress. It may also mean that we need to take a different direction at our jobs or attempt an entirely new career. Happiness may even require us to abandon our dreams which we often give so much of our lives to that when they’re not realized in the way we had hoped, may further hold us back.

5 steps to happiness

1) Identify the stressor(s) or issue(s) in your life.

2) Temporarily isolate the stressor(s) or issue(s) by limiting your access to the people or places that cause them.

3) Identify what about these people or places is causing the stress.

4) Create a plan to deal with the cause of your stress and decide how you will implement your plan.

5) You may discover that the stressor(s) or issue(s) in your life are too great to solve or remove in which case you may need to make a plan to remove them from your life. This could involve a career change, making new friends, and/or limiting your exposure to the stressful environment.

Happiness is a hard choice. I’m not saying that people should isolate themselves or give up on their dreams. I suggest that we all need to reassess the things we love most dearly to see how these things truly affect us, and how well they serve our needs. It could be that the things which served us well a month ago are hindering our progress. It could be that we have outgrown our dreams and the places we live or the things we do.

Admitting to ourselves that we don’t know what’s best for us anymore may seem like a crazy idea once you begin to evaluate your life, but we’re not stagnant beings. We grow and change, and the world around us needs to change with us, or we will never be happy because we will continue to expect our life to reflect the things that may have worked for us in the past. Letting yourself grow is so important to identifying who you are and what you need.

Sometimes the most dangerous thing we can possess is hope, because hope can lead us down a one-way street that leads to a dead end. If we never stop to think where we’re headed, or what choices, people or dreams led us there, we may blindly run into disappointment. It’s a really hard and long process. I’ve done it, but it is worth it in the end. You can’t let others speak for you and you certainly shouldn’t let others decide for you, but that means that you have to know what’s best for you. Temporarily stepping away from people or things causing issues and stress in your life will give you enough time to find your true motivation and goals. You should never feel ashamed for looking out for your hard-won happiness. Everyone needs and deserves happiness.

Read more: HABITS OF THE HAPPIEST: 12 ways to improve your health by living like the happiest people»

by Tihana Skoric

image: Dance the Night Away Jumping over Sunset via Shutterstock