By: Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D., LMHC
There’s a lot of hype about March MADness, and if you’re an NCAA fan (or married to one) you know it well.
But I’d rather think in terms of March Happiness; training mind and body, just as those basketball players train, to remain positive even when faced with stress, sadness and the cyclicality of life. You can create a habit of happiness.
During March Madness, 68 teams in the College Basketball Association compete the national championship. Sixty-eight teams, one month, 12,000 games – or that’s what it feels like to me.
All those teams are vying for that one feel-good moment they’ve worked so hard to achieve. They’ve dedicated a large portion of their lives to training body and mind, and when the final two teams compete, one team, each team member, and thousands of fans experience fulfillment and happiness.
This March, compete against yourself. Train your mind and body to be healthier and happier than ever before. At this point in the game, you may feel the odds are against you. About 40 percent of people who set New Year’s Resolutions have already quit trying. But this month, you are powering up, not gearing down.
You can do it. Here are my TOP 3 Tips for being happy in March and all year long:
Smile and Wave Goodbye to the Toxic People: Waving goodbye has never made you smile so big. In a world where everyone faces uncontrollable stressors and negativity every day (no matter how happy of a person you are), you must get rid of the things and people that are only going to bring you further down. Rid yourself of the toxic people in your life, the haters and the hurters. Take control of your happiness by not allowing others to steer your emotions up and down, or steal them altogether. If you can’t completely rid yourself of the negative people, you can definitely set boundaries to minimize your interactions with them. Saying goodbye means saying hello to happiness.
Take Time to Decide: The best way to be unhappy is to go around making promises or commitments you can’t live up to or, if you do live up to them, you despise every moment of it. You get one life, so make it a happy one. Don’t over commit to someone else and then under commit to yourself. Your happiness is just as important as everyone else’s, and don’t think otherwise.
When you make an impulsive decision, it is typically based on intense emotions and made with little thought. In most cases, quick decisions are not only poor decisions, they also reduce your control and even ruin your credibility.
To create happiness, make a habit of taking time when making both large and small decisions. Retreat, Rethink, React are your new decision-making steps, in that order.
Forgive: When you hold grudges, possess anger or find yourself always looking backward, it is hard to move forward. The great thing about forgiveness is you don’t have to feel it, you just do it. And you are doing it for you, not the other person. If you are angry with someone, your attention and energy is given to them, not you. You can’t control your past, and that can be upsetting sometimes. But you can control your future, and you can drive right up to happiness.
As you compete against yourself in March, you must dedicate a portion of your life to training your body and mind. This takes time and commitment. Remember that you are competing for one thing — that feel-good moment when you notice more days seem brighter; when you notice the win. It not only lies within you, but within your family (team) and all those who you interact with (fans).
This March, turn your Madness into Happiness.
About Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D, LMHC
Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D., LMHC, is the author of “Type ‘S’uperWoman – Finding the Work-Life Balance: A Self-Searching Book for Women,” (www.mindfulrehab.com). Motivated by watching those she coaches become successful and with a true passion for helping others, Dr. Kulaga earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and master’s and doctorate’s in counseling. As a licensed mental health counselor and certified professional coach, she has a special interest in the complex lives of today’s women.