We live in a time where everyone is seeking to be happier and more fulfilled. Though reaching this goal isn’t always so easy.
There are many different views on what it means to be happy and how we can get there. Advertisers and the media want us to believe we can be happy if we buy their products, have more things, and look more attractive. More philosophical views would say that people aren’t meant to be truly happy and our sole motivation is an endless cycle of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Outside of these extreme theories, many psychologists would agree that people have different base-line levels of happiness, and that certain people are just happier than others. People have a happiness set-point that is based on genetics and environmental experiences, and regardless of what happens, our happiness level will fluctuate around this point. I subscribe to the theory that people are meant to be happy and that this is a natural human state. Happiness is something that we all have within us, it just needs to be cultivated and developed by changing our outlook and learning new ways of approaching life. Below are 10 ways to start leading a happier life and take a more empowering stance on the way you feel.
1. Realize that enduring happiness doesn’t come from success or wealth
We all know that money can’t buy happiness, even as much as we don’t want to accept it. This is because happiness is an inside-out job. There is an illusion that achievements, money, fame, and power will lead to greater happiness, but this is a fickle foundation to rely on. None of these things are permanent and at most they provide short-term happiness. Happiness comes from within, and we must learn to change ourselves in order to find more happiness in life.
2. Believe you have a right to be happy and choose to do so
I believe happiness is a natural state that we all are meant to experience. We are born into this world a perfect “10,” and until we experience criticism from others and tragedies in life, happiness is uncontested. The mind is peaceful until made otherwise, and we must learn to be like a body of still water, which reacts in perfect proportions no matter what is thrown into it. We can learn to respond to life’s situations in this way and feel more in control of the way we feel. Happiness is something we must make the choice to experience. We all have the capability to be happy; we just have to make the choice and take the steps to get there.
3. Remember the past is the past
No matter what happened in the past, it only has current emotional impact if you let it. Why keep worrying about what can’t be changed? With this frame of mind it becomes easier to forgive others and yourself, and to let go of negative baggage that’s holding you back. This doesn’t mean we have to forget, but we can at least forgive in order to move beyond the bitterness and resentment that keeps us from experiencing true happiness. Learn to see innocence in mistakes so you can move forward beyond past experiences. Learning to accept we will experience suffering offers a chance to be resilient and adaptable during tough times.
4. Take control of your time
Managing time offers a chance to do more of what we want and to feel less stress in the process. When things start to pile-up it can become overwhelming. Haste can lead to unhappiness, so give yourself more time to do things. Or, if you add something to your to-do list, take something off the list. Don’t always add more for yourself to do. Focus on what you’re doing now and not all the other things that still need to be done. Drop those things from your mind that don’t pertain to the current task. This will really lessen the emotional load.
5. Act happy
Acting as if, is a very powerful tool to change the way we feel. It sends a reminder to our brain that we’re happy. Body language is a very important aspect of acting happy. If you stand tall, walk proudly, and smile, it will impact how you feel. Put a smile on your face when feeling down. It’s very hard to feel incongruous with non-verbal communication. When someone asks how you’re doing today, tell them “Great!” and say it like you mean it. Convince yourself that you’re happy.
6. Seek work and leisure activities that engage your skills
If you know what you enjoy doing then do it! Happiness comes from engaging in life and taking a strength based approach. Start focusing on your strengths more than weaknesses, and engage in activities you feel good about. This will make you feel better about yourself, and feel like you’re improving and growing as a person. We all need to make time for leisure activities in order to unwind and relax, so find something you enjoy and start taking an active approach to living an engaged life.
7. Give priority to close relationships
There are always new people we can meet, and socializing is helpful to cultivate new relationships. Though, remember to make it a priority to cultivate those relationships that you know are most important to you. Spend time with people whom you already have an attachment to and continue to grow these. These are the people who will be around to offer support in times of need. As well, there are many relationships that can be toxic and harmful. Avoid relationships where there are often disagreements and drama, and spend time with people that add to your happiness.
8. Focus beyond the self
Looking outside of ourselves offers a chance to move beyond our own feelings and emotions, and experience an empathetic view of the world. Do kind things for others, whether volunteering your time or giving to charity. This is a sure fire way to feel better about yourself. Help others who don’t have such a comfortable lifestyle and feel grateful for all the wonderful things you have. This can really help put things in perspective.
9. Keep a gratitude journal
Keep a constant reminder of the things you are grateful for. At some point everyday write down or review all the things you are grateful for and the positive things that happened to you. Make sure to only write down positive experiences and focus on truly meaningful areas. It’s okay to think outside the box and really consider all the things that you are grateful for. This will prevent you from writing down the same things every day, and will help keep the exercise meaningful and impacting.
10. Nurture your spiritual self
Maintaining a spiritual focus offers answers and comfort when there may not always be a reason for what’s happening in life. This also helps to move beyond our ego and recognize a divine relationship that can provide everlasting happiness. We are much more than a temporal body trying to find direction in life. Through connecting with our spiritual self we can find direction and meaning, and begin to trust that the decisions we’re making will lead to greater fulfillment and happiness.
Seek happiness and it will come
Happiness is an emotion that comes and goes. There will be good times and bad times, but through it all we can make efforts to feel happy more often and in the long-run be happier overall by changing our habits, perceptions, and overall outlook about who we are the world around us. Happiness does take effort, but is something that can be experienced by taking an active role in how we feel and live. If things don’t go your way or expectations aren’t met, remember you are not a victim. You can choose to respond and react in an empowering way that you know will help you feel more happiness. I would love to hear how you bring happiness into your life. Please share your thoughts below on what’s helps you be happy and how you think we can lead a happier life.