Achieve Happiness

Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being. We all want to be happy. But how do you achieve it? Even if you don’t have much happiness in your life, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of finding it. They say success doesn’t cause happiness; happiness causes success. Life is better all around when you are happy!


Adopting the Right Attitude

  1. Do an act of kindness for someone else. If you do something nice for someone else, it is likely to make you feel happier about yourself. Getting outside of yourself is a great way to alleviate your own suffering. [1]
    • Try to do one act of kindness every day. It could be something small – say, a compliment or helping someone at work with a project when you don’t have to. If could be how you speak to someone. Or it could be a bigger effort, like helping out a friend or stranger in need.
    • When you do kind things to others, they will acknowledge the goodness in you, which is bound to make you feel happier. You could make it a habit to make the first email you write every day be one that thanks or praises someone else. This will start out your day with a positive feeling.
    • The ancient philosopher Aristotle believed that to be happy a person needed to live a life of virtue. By virtue he meant showing such attributes as courage, generosity, and wisdom. How can you achieve these virtues? By acting out on them. Be generous to another person, for example, by sharing your time, your intellect, your care, or your money. [2]
  2. Smile a lot. Smiles are truly contagious. When you smile, you feel happier inside. It’s hard not to! And when you smile a lot, people will respond to you more positively, which will make you feel better.
    • Even if you don’t feel like smiling, just force it at first. Smiling releases endorphins in the body that will elevate your mood. [3]
    • Laughter is another way to feel happy. Find the humor in life. Watch a funny movie. Read some jokes online. People’s sense of humor varies. Figure out what you find funny, and absorb yourself in more of it.
  3. Focus on the positives. It sounds simple but it’s true. The old saying that you can look at a glass half full or half empty makes a lot of sense. So never forget the positives in your own life or how much worse you could have it.
    • You could make a list of all of the positives in your life. Write down everything you can think of. Tape it to the refrigerator so you see it every day. Or you could keep a journal that contains only positive experiences. A great way to focus on the positives? Imagine your life without the things you have. What would it be like if you didn’t have your house? Your spouse? Your job? [4]
    • Help someone in need who has it worse than you in some way (volunteer at a homeless shelter; help an elderly shut-in). This is a good thing to do but should also help you remember that it can always be worse.
    • Try not to constantly compare yourself to others. Don’t worry about the friend with the bigger house, or the co-worker who got a better job somewhere else. Focus on yourself. Chasing money is unlikely to create long-term happiness. [5]

Creating a Better Mood

  1. Associate with happy people. Research has shown that happiness is contagious. That means that people are happier if they are around happy people. If you're always around misery (including on the job), it's a recipe for unhappiness.
    • Researchers even found that a person’s happiness can affect the friends of friends of friends. The basic point is that social networks matter. So befriend and spend time with people who are happy.
    • That doesn’t mean you ignore friends who are going through a hard time. It just means you shouldn’t only have friends who are miserable or constantly in turmoil. [6]
  2. Meditate. Meditation will provide a sense of calm and reflection into what can otherwise be an excessively busy life. Many people feel like they never have time to pause and be grateful. If you take that time, it's going to make your life more centered, and happiness will follow.
    • Meditation means you find some quiet space every day to think and remove outside distractions from your life. What form this takes can be individual; for example, sitting on a sunny deck. Jogging. Going for a quiet walk. Listening to music. [7]
    • Meditation teaches the brain to focus. If you focus the brain, you will eliminate distractions that can cause a great deal of stress. And stress is a common cause of unhappiness. If you’re a religious person, pray.
  3. Smell something you like. Don’t forget all of the senses. The sense of smell can actually trigger good emotions and moods. So don’t forget to smell.
    • What smells good to you? Figure that out and smell more of it. Smell your favorite flower. Sniff coffee or food that smells good to you. Maybe you love the smell of a certain fragrance. Stimulate the emotions in a positive way.
    • You could also activate the sense of hearing by playing high-energy music that lifts up your mood. Everyone’s tastes are different. Choose peppy songs that are inspiring or energetic. Avoid any music with negative or sad connotations.

Improving your Life

  1. Find your passion. Do things you love and love what you do. Choose an occupation that moves you and that you enjoy. If you’re stuck in an occupational rut, find a way to change your circumstances.
    • Try not to get too sucked into consumer culture. It’s not a strong foundation upon which to build happiness. [8]
    • Some philosophers have argued that once people’s basic needs are met, they become more interested in things like achievement, freedom of expression, and other intangible concepts.
    • Being part of something bigger than yourself can make you a lot happier. [9]
  2. Forgive. Letting go of anger – we all harbor some of it – can be extremely difficult to do. But if you hold onto old grievances, you’re bound to only hurt yourself in the end. [10]
    • Try as much as possible to focus on the future, and learn from the past rather than dwell in it. You may need help from a religious leader or from a counselor to let go of deep traumas. However, learning to forgive and to let go of anger is mostly about you – not the person you need to forgive.
    • Seek reconciliation in situations where it might be possible, even if that means you have to take the high road when you think you’re the one wronged. It will make you feel better inside to be the generous one. Recognize that no one is perfect, most people have their own version of the story, and everyone’s an imperfect human being at the end of the day.
  3. Exercise. There’s no question about it. Exercise is good for more than your muscles. It’s also going to release adrenaline into the body, which is a natural mood lifter. [11]
    • If you exercise regularly, you will also be physically healthier and look fitter, which should lead to a better mood. How could it not!
    • You might meet people at the workout gym, increasing your social network. Or you could exercise outside. This way you will also get the warming rays of the sun (if you live in a warm enough climate). The sun has healing powers. Get out of a gloomy dark house for awhile and you will see an immediate mood lift!
  4. Change your situation. Make an honest assessment of your life. What’s not making your happiness stronger? Are there things in your life that are negative patterns that you just keep repeating?
    • Assess what aspects of your life add to your life in positive ways, and which detract. And then set out to remove the aspects that detract. Ask a friend or relative for their assessment, and see if they match yours.
    • Figure out the causes of unhappiness and to what degree you are playing a role in your own problems. What would it take to make your life happy? What life do you want? Write it down. [11]
  5. Be centered in yourself. You need to have a strong idea of who you are and your own self worth to be happy. If you don’t have those things, you need to work on them with a therapist or just by starting to recognize your own worth.
    • Be happy with yourself. Never change who you are for anybody; discover what you like and dislike, and figure out what you believe in and what issues are of little importance to you. This will help you discover who you really are. Then be proud to be you and let it show. If people don't like you the way you are, brush it off and embrace yourself. You are unique and special, so enjoy the wonderful things that make you stand out from the crowd.
    • Ignore the opinions of others, unless they come from someone you deeply respect. But random gossip or criticism that seems unfair – don’t let it rock you if you know you operated in good faith. [10]
  6. Develop a support system. You will be happier if you are not isolated or alone. If you feel like you have isolated yourself, force yourself to reach out to others or at least to slowly build relationships, even casual ones. Connection leads to happiness.
    • Support groups, friends at work, joining a new church or workout club, these are all ways to meet new people. Your support system could be a pet. Many people feel better when they are around pets, because pets provide constant and unconditional love.
    • A therapist could be part of your support system. Every individual is different, but sometimes people need help working through past issues before they can let go of them and move on to finding happiness. Don’t feel embarrassed if you need to seek outside help; it’s a sign of strength.
    • Be a support system for those who love you too. Make sure to prioritize what’s important in your life, and make sure you carve out enough quality time for those you love and who love you. Connecting with loved ones is a happiness builder.


  • Smile as big as you can when you're feeling overwhelmed; interrupt bad feelings the instant they creep up on you.

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