What’s making you unhappy?

You were happy before. But now going through life seems like a dreadful chore. You feel disengaged and bored at school. You don’t want to leave this damaging relationship because you still want to make it work. You know things can get better but you don’t know where and how to begin.

Being unhappy is no good for you and the people around you. No one wants to be around someone who’s unhappy with themselves and neglects their responsibilities. And your loved ones definitely hurt when they see you hurting too.

Change begins with you. We present 6 actionable steps that we hope can be taken right at this moment to start being happy.

1) Start your day off with something to look forward to

How your day starts determines how the rest of your day goes. Have something to look forward to whether in between or at the end of the day. Something that keeps your mood up and excites you. Some examples are attending a class you’re passionate about, reading a book, meeting up with a friend you haven’t seen for a while, or simple things such as eating your favourite food, visiting your grandparents, or giving a relative a call.

One thing you should constantly remind yourself is, you don’t need other people or material possessions to make you happy. But don’t get us wrong. Spending time with your family and friends is something you should look forward to and can help you stay happy at work when we possess relationships out of work we can count on.

However, placing your happiness in the hands of another and expecting them to make you happy does not work. You’re in charge of your own happiness. You know yourself best. So, start filling up your day with little things that make you happy.

2) Set goals, and focus on one thing at a time

We should set goals to accomplish things in life - our dreams, our achievements, our responsibilities. It could be to ace that group presentation today, complete writing that report, or being consistent at the gym.

We need to establish daily, weekly, or monthly goals. Our goals provide us direction, help us to look forward, keep us motivated, happy, and enable us to evaluate our performance gradually. When we’re focus on completing a goal, we feel challenge and put in our best effort to achieve it. We need to find meaning and purpose in our life to pique our interest and curiosity. 

All this is important so that we do not find ourselves stuck in a repetitious cycle of doing things that doesn’t help us to grow. This is what causes you to feel emotionally and mentally disinterested at what you're doing. 

3) Create a playlist to boost your mood

This depends on whether you can concentrate on the things you're doing when listening to music. Most of us listen to music when we’re on the MRT, when we're studying or at work, and even when we sleep.

Music enhances our mood and is capable of making us happy. Most of us don’t live alone, and there’re all kinds of conversations, phone calls, and distraction that can get overwhelming. That’s when you need music to help you lay off the distractions and outside noise.

People also listen to music to manage their moods and create a barrier from their external surroundings. It can be helpful, depending on what you choose to listen to. Our brain is constantly trying to process new data; therefore, you may want to avoid any new music when you’re dealing with a project with an upcoming deadline because your brain is unable to focus. Therefore, listening to familiar songs can do wonders for helping you concentrate.

4) Stay away from gossip and drama

As much as we can, we need to learn to step away from gossip and drama that surrounds us. Unless it involves you directly, it saps our energy and leaves us more dreadful than before. It does nothing but cause us temporary satisfaction when we hear of what befalls others, but ultimately, the outcome is pointless and does nothing to benefit our lives. This is unhealthy.

Politics exist and happen everywhere – whether in school, in the office, and even amongst friends. There’ll always be someone or a group of people involved in gossiping and stirring up drama. You may not prevent it, but you can choose to step away. While it may seem entertaining or refreshing to hear something juicy, it doesn’t do you any good. Plus, it can often make you seem untrustworthy in the eyes of others.

5) Start a side project

Do you want to spend the rest of your life building the dream of someone else? No.

You have dreams you want to fulfil. You may not have what you need to fulfil them now, but you can constantly work towards it. What you choose to do on an everyday basis will never fail you. Remember that.

Pick something you are interested in, and work towards developing it into a potential career. Even if it doesn't pan out, at least you have created a hobby out of it, and most importantly, you have enjoyed it. 

For instance, if you've always wanted start an online leather-crafting business, you can start by setting aside a portion of your allowance/salary and spend it on courses or training to understand more about the techniques of working with leather. With that, you can start small and slowly boost your business.

When you have a side project to work on, it motivates you to work harder and push yourself out of your comfort zone. This thought process not only helps you to perform better at work or in school, it also helps you to develop into a better person as you move towards your dreams.