By Jennifer Paterson

Happiness is not circumstantial. It is something we have control over. And until you take control of the happiness in your life you can not begin to live your best life.

Mind over matter. Your glass is half full. Attitude is everything.

Sometimes you need to step away from a situation and sometimes you just need to let things go, but being positive even in a difficult time can help tremendously. Your life is all about you. There are external forces and influences from other people, but it really comes down to you and your choices. You can’t hold anyone else responsible for your happiness.

There is no magic formula but balance is key. Balance time with friends, a partner, work and time by yourself. All are equally important for your mental health and happiness. If you are going through a rough patch then share concerns with these people. Ask for help. If they aren’t there for you when you need them, you may want to reevaluate those relationships. Not everyone is comfortable with being leaned on and that’s okay, but everyone needs someone to confide in and have a cry with so make sure to nurture those relationships that create a safe space for you.

Most people today feel overwhelmed with work and money troubles and this can keep you from living your best life. The best advice I can give in relation to work and money is to evaluate the importance of your spending. If you like to buy a lot of frivolous things and enjoy going out, is it worth it to get a second job to pay for these things? Or is your time away from work worth more than the things you want to buy? Maybe you spend a lot of money on clothes or makeup. It may be worth it to get a part-time job in a store that specializes in these items if they offer some good perks to employees. That way you would be making more money but also saving money by purchasing with a discount.

Take time alone. This may be difficult to do whether your roommates are always around or you’re a mother of three, but it is very important to take time for yourself. It can be as simple as going for a walk around the neighbourhood or pampering yourself with a night out or taking a bath alone, with the door closed. When things like work become overwhelming, this is key as things can snowball very quickly and get out of control. It’s much easier to maintain sanity with small breaks than try to reign it in when pulled in all directions.

And most of all my greatest suggestion to living your best life is don’t be afraid to say no.

I am guilty of taking on too many projects at once. My commitments always seem to culminate at the same time, leaving me stressed out with no time to myself or for the things I want to do that really make me happy. It is possible to give too much if you don’t include yourself on the receiving end and the best remedy is to just say NO.

Love yourself first.

If you don’t give to yourself, you can’t give much, if any, to others.

Jennifer Paterson is a freelance artist/activist in Winnipeg centred around animal and human welfare. She can be found onĀ Facebook as JM.Paterson.