Be Happy

Happiness is not a simple goal, but is about making progress, when it's as elusive as ever. Being happy often means continually finding satisfaction, contentment, a feeling of joy, and a sense that your life is meaningful during all kinds of problems — that does not depend upon finding ease or comfort.[1] Nobody is jolly or elated all the time, but some individuals are definitely more fulfilled/fortunate than others. Some studies reveal that happiness has little to do with comfort or possessions — so what is it about? A sense of well being/happiness is good for your health, so what can we do to have that?[2] Read on to learn how to be happier.


Developing a Happy Outlook

  1. Change your thoughts. People have a natural tendency to remember negative experiences but forget positive ones; however, thanks to adaptability (neuroplasticity), you can actually change the way your brain functions. You can train yourself to be happier by seeking self-actualizing work and your kind of fun.[3]
    • Practice mindfulness. Occupy your mind with positive thoughts, actively striving, seeking, working on goals and humming a tune, for happy effects on the mind and body. Focusing on your experiences in the present moment without judging them or yourself can help you become more compassionate to yourself and to others.[4][5]
    • Meditate. Activities that promote meditation, including an extended peaceful prayer, yoga, Tai Chi, or spiritual reflection, actually change an area of your brain called the insula, which is involved in your experience of empathy/understanding others. Developing your empathy muscles (helping others) will help you lead a happier life.[3]
    • Make small events into appreciated “experiences.” Focus on and preserve the great little moment in a photo, write a journal or Facebook entry or make a short video. Make awareness of a gorgeous sunny day; accept a compliment from a friend. Why — this will train your brain to be happier by actively acknowledging the beauty of small moments and turning them into memorable “experiences.”
    • Smile a little, hop, skip and sing in those moments, and they will not slip so quietly through the cracks of memory. Say, "Thank you, so much!"; perhaps, write thank you notes on Facebook, use text, email or snail mail, appreciating people in a big way.
  2. Look for the positive in all your experiences. The old saying that you find what you look for is true. Start. Because of this, make it a habit to actively seek out the positive in any experience. It’s not only good for your overall happiness, it’s good for your physical health, and boosts your immune system.[3][6]
    • Accept harsh experiences and problems as learning opportunities. It can be tempting to let challenges or roadblocks keep us from feeling happy. Sometimes, it looks like there’s nothing good about a particular situation or experience. However, it’s important to think about even the greatest setbacks as experiences we can learn from for great results in the future/tomorrow.
    • Don't give up on your ideas. "Try, fail often, get over it quickly," says Myshkin Ingawale, in a 2012 TED talk. He discussed his inventing small, inexpensive blood-oxygen and hemoglobin diagnostic technology that now help save women’s lives in rural India. Many ideas were not successful at first. But instead of allowing himself to give up or see these challenges as failures, he used them as learning experiences for his next attempt. Now, his handheld invention for blood analysis has helped reduce maternal deaths from anemia and complications in rural India by 50%.[7]
    • Refocusing on the positive can help you heal from traumas.[8]
  3. Cultivate optimism. Why does winning the lottery not make people happy? In the 1970s, researchers followed people who'd won the lottery and found that a year afterward, they were no happier than people who hadn't. This is called hedonic adaptation,[9] which suggests that we each have a “baseline” of happiness to which we return. No matter what events occur, good or bad, the effect on our happiness is temporary, and happiness tends to quickly revert to the baseline level. Some people have a higher baseline happiness level than others, and that is due in part to genetics, but it's also largely influenced by how you think.
    • There is power in intentions, having a purpose: Positive thinking is an important component of self-esteem and overall life satisfaction.[10] Optimism also tends to make your personal and work relationships better.[11]
    • Optimism is more than just positive expectations. It’s a way of interpreting everything that happens to you.[12] Pessimism tends to explain the world in global, unchangeable, internal terms: “Everything sucks,” “I can’t do anything to change this,” “It’s all my fault.” Developing an optimistic outlook means thinking about yourself and your world in limited, flexible terms.[13]
    • For example, a pessimistic outlook might say, “I’m terrible at math. I’m going to fail that test tomorrow. I might as well just watch TV.” This statement suggests that your math skills are inherent and unchangeable, rather than a skill you can develop with work. Such an outlook could lead you to study less because you feel like there’s no point to it — you’re just an inherently bad mathematics student. This isn’t helpful.
    • An optimistic outlook would say something like “I’m concerned about doing well on that test tomorrow, but I’m going to study as well as I can and do my best.” Optimism doesn’t deny the reality of challenges, but it interprets how you approach them differently.
    • “Blind optimism” isn’t any healthier than pessimism. To go skydiving on your own without any preparation or training because you’re optimistic about your abilities is obviously a bad idea that could lead you to injury. True optimism acknowledges the reality of situations and equips you to face them.[12]
  4. Practice active gratitude. A multitude of research confirms that gratitude is good for you. It reduces anxiety and depression, helps you become more positive, strengthens your relationships with others, and encourages compassion.[13][14][15][16] It also has been shown to increase your feelings of happiness.[17]
    • Some people are naturally higher in “trait gratitude,” or the natural likelihood of feeling thankful. However, you can train yourself to develop an “attitude of gratitude” no matter how high or low your level of trait gratitude is.[18]
    • Try to avoid approaching situations or people as if you “deserve” anything from them. This doesn’t mean that you have to put up with disrespect or being mistreated, but it does mean that you should try to take people as they are without feeling “entitled” to specific benefits or actions.[19]
    • Accumulate all the little joyful things that happen to you during the day. They add up. You could keep a journal, and write them down. For example, if there was not bad traffic on the road, if you had a very scrumptious breakfast if your friend said something uproariously humorous that made you laugh, if you took your dog out for a walk in the park and played with it, add these together. You’ll probably find that you have more to be grateful for than you even realized.[20]
    • Share your gratitude with others. A word of thanks, even a brief one, can make someone else feel appreciated. Sharing your gratitude with others also helps you remember what you’re thankful for.[21]
    • Let the good things sink in. It’s not enough to just note good things when they happen. Really take the time to think about them and let those experiences sink into your memory. Consciously telling yourself, “This is a wonderful moment and I want to remember how grateful I feel for it” can help you store up these memories for when times get tough.[22]
  5. Determine your core values. Your core values determine how you think about yourself, your life, and the world around you. These beliefs guide your decision-making. They may be spiritual, or they may not, but they’re the things that are fundamental to how you look at life.[23] For example, “commitment to excellence” could be a value, or “dedication to family” or “belief in a higher power.” Whatever your values are, research suggests that when you aren’t living your life and making choices that are “value-congruent,” i.e., in line with your values, you’re likely to feel unhappy and dissatisfied.[24]
    • Research suggests that when you are consciously aware of your values, you’re more likely to act in accordance with them.[25] Take a little time and reflect on what is most important and meaningful in your life. You can think about times when you felt happiest or most satisfied and what the common factors in those situations may be, for example.[26]
    • Often, employees’ dissatisfaction with their jobs can be traced back to a mismatch in core values. If your company doesn’t value the same things you do, you’ll feel unhappy even if you like your work.[27]
  6. Visualize your “best possible self.” This is an exercise that has been shown to increase your feelings of happiness and well-being.[28][29] It involves two basic steps: visualizing how the “future you” looks when you’ve achieved your goals, and identifying the characteristics you need to use (or learn) to get you to where you want to be.[30]
    • Begin by imagining yourself in the future, when you have gotten to where you want to be. Pick a few goals and imagine that you have achieved them. Make sure they’re personally meaningful, not external markers of status.
    • Visualize what this future-you is like. Imagine all the details of what success looks like. For example, if your dream has always been to be a musician, what does success look like for you? How much do you work? Who do you work with? What do you create? How do you feel about your work?
    • Write down all the details of this scenario. Then, imagine what characteristics you will need to use to get you there. For example, becoming a successful musician probably requires things like perseverance, creativity, patience, and energy.
    • Consider which of these traits and skills you already have. You may even surprise yourself with what you already know and can do. When you notice traits or skills that need further development, think about ways you can build up those things.
  7. Show yourself self-compassion. Beating yourself up or giving in to negative thoughts can leave you feeling weak and unhappy. Dwelling on negative thoughts or feelings of guilt doesn’t promote improvement; it actually holds you back from growing and learning. Instead, show yourself the same kindness and generosity you should show to a friend.[31]
    • Manage stress by prioritizing and doing what's more important promptly. Practice deep breathing, exercising and getting enough rest. Even a few minutes a day can make a difference. Do more things to protect your health and make goals/choices that lead to success including stronger relationships and better careers. Start your day with positive affirmations, such as “I accept myself today for who I am” or “I am a person worthy of love and respect.”[32]
    • Take short “self-compassion” breaks throughout the day. For example, if you’re really swamped with work you might feel overwhelmed or guilty. Use mindfulness to acknowledge how you’re feeling: “I am feeling stressed right now because I have so much to do.” Next, acknowledge that everyone experiences these feelings from time to time: “I’m not alone in feeling this. It’s a natural feeling.” Finally, give yourself a quick compassion boost, such as saying something positive to yourself: “I am capable of getting this done. I can focus and work hard. I am a valuable person on this team.”[33]
    • Challenge negative thoughts. We’re often our own worst critics. It can be easy to lapse into self-criticism. Instead, challenge negative thoughts when they show up. For example, if you’re on a diet but had some popcorn at the movies, a self-criticizing thought could be “I ate that popcorn. I’m such a failure on this diet.” Challenge this by showing yourself compassion and making a plan for what you’ll do differently: “I ate that popcorn and it wasn’t part of my healthy eating plan. This isn’t a failure, and I am not ‘bad’ for having had a treat. I will be more mindful of what I eat the rest of the day.”[34]
  8. Heal past traumas. If you find yourself consistently feeling down or upset, you might have some underlying issues from your past holding you back in the present. In the United States a report of child abuse is made about every 10 seconds.[35] This is only accounting for reports of abuse. A lot of abuse and other traumatic childhood experiences go unreported to authorities. Trauma from the past or even just painful circumstances such as the death of a loved one or a bad break-up can cause mild to severe depression. If you have tried everything you can think of to make yourself happier, there is a chance you could be dealing with something along these lines.
    • If you have the resources available to you, consider seeking counseling from a licensed professional. The counselor can help you work through the past trauma or painful memories in healthy and safe ways.[36] A counselor can also make referrals for you if you or the counselor feels an anti-depressant medication (for use temporarily or long term depending on your situation) is appropriate for your case. There is nothing wrong with seeking help! If you are feeling really embarrassed or self-conscious about seeing a counselor, you should know they are bound by very strict privacy and confidentiality laws. No one has to know you are receiving therapy except you and your counselor or doctor. Working through past traumas with a counselor may be difficult at the time, but it will greatly increase your quality of life in the long run.
      • Many communities and universities offer therapy through low-cost public clinics. Check in your area to see if this is an option.
    • Common treatments for trauma include cognitive-behavioral therapy, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and pharmacotherapy.[37] These therapies can help you learn new ways of thinking and responding to situations and process your feelings.
    • If you don’t have access to professional counseling services, you could try using self-help books at your local library or talking to someone you trust about your feelings. Religious ministers and support groups are often places to go for free support. Often just the act of talking things out with someone you love and trust and who will support is a healing act in itself.
  9. Contact a hotline. If things get really bad, there are several free, anonymous hotlines you can turn to. If you are at a low place or just don’t know where to turn, these hotlines can help. Often these hotlines will direct you to local mental health resources in your area if you just ask them. If you just need someone to talk to, remember your call is anonymous and free. The person on the other end of the line is there to help if you need it.
    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is: 1-800-273-8255
    • The Crisis Center Hotline is: 775-784-8090 or text ANSWER to 839863.

Living Happily

  1. Own yourself. This means to accept and embrace your habits, your personality, the way you talk/look, your voice — everything that makes you “you.” Remember that you’re a unique person who has value and is worthy of love and respect. Learning to be comfortable with yourself will help you project confidence to others and live a happier life.
    • Don’t apologize for traits that are part of you, like your personality, your voice, or habits. If there are traits you want to change, make sure you’re doing it for you and not because you feel like someone else has told you to. Make your decisions based on your values, not what others have declared you “should” do or be.[38]
    • Love your body. It’s unfortunate that in today’s world, both men and women are bombarded with images of how we’re “supposed” to look, dress, or behave. These stereotypical “ideals” can cause a lot of harm. (Over 91% of women, for example, feel unhappy with how they look.[39]) Practice finding things to love about your body. Put sticky-notes with affirmations such as “You’re beautiful” or “You’re awesome” on your mirrors. Embrace that bodies come in an infinite variety, and yours is unique to you.
    • Make a list of your strengths. Be honest with yourself. Write down everything that you know or are good at, no matter how “minor” it may seem to you. You can scuba-dive? That’s awesome. You can network with others on a team? Sweet! You can make a frozen pizza without burning down the kitchen? You made some good grades. You sing in the bath. That’s good too!
    • Don’t compare yourself negatively with others. Remind yourself of your options by listing and appreciating small, good or great fun moments that occur. Accept simple fun. For example, if you like to play games for a little while on Saturdays, don’t let others tell you that you’re silly or “too old” for things that bring you fun and relaxation. As long as your activities don’t cause you or other people pain or harm, don’t feel guilty about doing things you like — no matter what other people suggest.
  2. Set meaningful goals for yourself. Take a good long look at your life, your values, and the person you want to be. Set goals that are meaningful to you and accord with your core values. Research suggests you’re more likely to achieve these goals and feel happier having done so.[40] Ask yourself some big questions, like “How do I want to grow?” or “What impact do I want to have on the world?”[41]
    • Be realistic. If you’re five feet tall, your chances of stardom as a professional basketball player aren’t great. Making realistic goals doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to what you know or can do now, just that you acknowledge your situation and abilities when you’re making your plans.[41]
    • Keep your goals action-oriented. It’s vital that you set goals that you can achieve. Remember that you can’t control what anyone else does or thinks, only what you do. Don’t set a goal that relies on others’ actions for success.[42]
    • Frame your goals positively. You’re more likely to achieve your goals if they’re framed as something you’re working toward, not something you’re running away from.[43] For example, if you want to exercise more, don’t tell yourself to “Stop sitting around so much.” This kind of goal statement is negative and will make you feel negative. Instead, choose a positive goal that emphasizes action: “Take a 30-minute walk three times a week.”
  3. Choose extra activities that make you feel better. When you have time or make time, do your favorite hobby or go outside for a little time to enjoy fresh air. For example, walk your dog or go jogging or play basketball or golf, bowl or swim. The main thing to do is to choose to relax and also to keep yourself functional.
    • Scientists have tried for years to develop a formula for happiness, and it turns out that being “chronically happy” (that is, feeling that long-term satisfaction and contentment) does have a formula. Scientists estimate that the perfect formula goes something like this: 50% genetic factors (biology, brain chemistry, etc.), 10% circumstantial factors (income, job, living situation), and 40% intentional activity (what you choose to do and think regularly).[44] Choosing activities and experiences that are personally meaningful will really make a difference in your happiness level.
    • The ability to choose is very important for happiness. In one study, participants either chose their own positive activity or had one assigned to them. The participants who chose their own activity and regularly participated in it were happier than participants who weren’t allowed to choose their own. If you feel like your life is restricting your choices, try to find ways to incorporate more freedom in your life.[45]
    • Studies have shown that feeling “awe,” or that feeling of overwhelming positivity when we see a beautiful work of art or visit a natural wonder, promotes happiness and well-being.[46] When you can, indulge in activities that promote that feeling of wonderment and amazement in your own life, such as listening to an incredible piece of music or going on a hike.
  4. Focus on people, positive relationships, not on things. The path to continuing happiness doesn’t lie through an iPhone or a fancy car (like a new toy). In fact, research suggests that people who are focused on material things are often trying to make up for other, unfulfilled needs in their lives.[47] Materialistic people are often less happy with themselves and their lives than people who are less focused on “stuff.”[48] It’s fine to appreciate what you have, but remember that things won’t bring you joy. They may even increase your likelihood of feeling sad or fearful.[49]
    • Of course, you need to make enough money to meet basic needs — food, shelter, and clothing. If you’re living in poverty, you are far more likely to experience sadness and frustration than people who are economically comfortable, largely because of all the stress you’re under.[50] Once you make enough to support basic needs, however, your happiness is not significantly affected by how much money you make, but by your level of optimism.[51]
  5. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Studies show that humans can’t help but fall victim to the hedonic treadmill. We rapidly adjust to change, even positive changes, and treat whatever’s in our lives as the new status quo.[52] That's why it's important to push beyond your comfort zone to fuel personal growth.
    • Research has consistently shown that we’re more productive when we’re just outside our comfort zone.[53] This is called the zone of “optimal anxiety,” and it pushes us to take risks and try harder because we’re unfamiliar with our situation. However, if you go too far outside your comfort zone too fast, your performance will plummet again. Look for a balance of stability and trying new things.[54]
    • Taking risks and stepping outside your comfort zone offers many rewards. One of the most relevant for your happiness is increased resilience, or how you deal with unexpected challenges. By routinely challenging yourself to push past your comfort limits, you develop the adaptability and flexibility to handle change when it arises.[55]
  6. Smile. Science suggests that when you smile, whether you're happy or not, your mood is elevated. This is especially true if all your facial muscles, including the ones around your eyes, get involved.[56] So smile whenever you can! Smiling is like a feedback loop: smiling reinforces happiness, just as happiness causes smiling. People who smile during painful procedures reported less pain than those who kept their facial features neutral.[56]
    • Smiling releases endorphins, which are associated with pain relief, and serotonin, which is associated with happy feelings.
    • Remember that different cultures interpret smiling differently. For example, Russian culture views smiling at strangers in the street as suspicious, while Americans will readily smile at almost anyone.[57] Smile at others, but don’t get offended if they don’t return your gesture — they may just have different traditions than you do.
  7. Follow your intuition. In one study, two groups of people were asked to pick a poster to take home. One group was asked to analyze their decision, weighing pros and cons, and the other group was told to listen to their gut. Two weeks later, the group that followed their gut was happier with their posters than the group that analyzed their decisions.[58] Granted, some of our decisions are more crucial than picking out posters, but often the options we’re agonizing over won’t have a huge effect on our long-term happiness. The stress of weighing all the options endlessly can make us unhappy, though.
    • Intuition can be honed by experience. For example, experienced nurses are often good at identifying symptoms in an individual and using a combination of their medical knowledge and intuition — built up from past experiences — to make the right decisions for their patients.[59] Obviously, if you’re a brand-new nurse, your intuition isn’t going to be as good as someone with more experience. However, if you’re dealing with something that you’re pretty familiar with — or that doesn’t have huge consequences — go with your gut. You’ll be right more often than not.
    • Follow intuition in three domains or areas by using: your experience (heuristics); natural thinking relevantly, and incorporating your feeling, desires and satisfaction into decision-making.[60] “Intuition” includes how your brain automatically stores and processes information relevant to your life and how you handle events.
      • Enjoy learning something on your own using your experiences (heuristics) — and draw on those experiences when making a decision.
      • If you are trying to buy a new car, you already have a set of assumptions (schemas) you are taking with you into the decision-making process (domain) before you set foot at a dealership.
      • You observe others' body language, vocal tone/inflections, moods and emotions (affect) associated with the decision you're attempting, and all contribute to your intuition, making your intuition more reliable than what some skeptics suggest.[61]
    • Start with the small decisions first. Start with small decisions and practice following your gut so that you know exactly what following your intuition feels like. The more you practice this, the more in-tune you will be with that gut instinct.
  8. Treat your body like it deserves to be happy. Your brain isn't the only organ in your body that deserves to be happy. Assure vigorous exercise, a healthy diet, and regular sleep — key factors in growing to be happier and to stay that way. Achieve high levels of life satisfaction, better physical health, for improved longevity.[62]
    • People who are physically active have higher incidences of enthusiasm and excitement.[63][64] Scientists hypothesize that exercise causes the brain to release chemicals called endorphins that elevate our mood.
    • Eat right. Eating healthy foods — fruits and vegetables, lean meats and proteins, whole grains, nuts, and seeds — gives your body and brain the energy it needs to be healthy. Research indicates that unhealthy diets, especially those rich in processed carbohydrates, sugars, and industrial vegetable fats, is responsible for some cell death, brain shrinkage and contributes to certain diseases like depression and dementia.[65]
    • Get enough restful sleep. Study after study confirms it: the more sleep you get, the happier you tend to be.[66] Getting just a single extra hour of sleep per night makes the average person happier than making $60,000 more in annual income, astoundingly enough.[67] Research has also showed that employees who get enough rest are more productive and successful.[68] So if you're middle-aged, shoot to get at least eight hours of sleep per night; the young and elderly should shoot for 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night.[69]

Interacting with Others

  1. Stay close to friends and family. We live in a mobile society, where people follow jobs around the country and sometimes around the world. We do this because we think salary increases make us happier, but in fact, our relationships with friends and family have a far greater impact on happiness. So next time you think about relocating, consider that you'd need a salary increase of over $100,000 USD to compensate for the loss of happiness you'd have from moving away from friends and family.[70]
    • If it isn’t possible to move closer to your loved ones, communicate with them regularly. Technology such as cell phones and Skype make it easy to stay in touch with the people you love even when they’re on the other side of the world.
  2. Be compassionate. Compassion is all about doing something kind for someone in need, or someone less privileged than yourself. A brain-imaging study (where scientists peek into people's brains while they act or think) revealed that people gain as much happiness from watching others give to charity as they do receive money themselves![71] Think of effective ways that you can make your community or the world a better place by being compassionate. Compassion is a key part of sustainable happiness, and it’s also really good for your health.[72]
    • Tutor, volunteer, or get involved in a church group. Countless children are looking for someone to teach them and act as a role model.
    • Make a microloan. A microloan is when you give someone (usually in the developing world) a very small sum of money for an economic project of their own. Many microloans have 95%+ repayment rates.[73]
    • Give a person in need food, clothing or shelter, if it would be safe. It's so basic, we often forget to think about it, yet so easy to do.
    • Increase the happiness of those around you by giving small gifts. This will increase your happiness as well - in fact, the one giving the gift usually feels a larger pulse of dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for feeling happiness) than the person receiving the gift! [74]
    • Try loving-kindness meditation. This type of meditation stems from Buddhist traditions that focus on increasing compassion for others.[75] Studies have shown that this type of meditation can reduce feelings of sadness and depression.[76][5]
  3. Make friends. In a 2010 study published by Harvard researchers in American Sociological Review, people who went to church regularly reported greater life satisfaction than those who didn't. The critical factor was the quality of friendships made in church. Church-goers who lacked close friends there were no happier than people who never went to church. When researchers compared people who had the same number of close friends, those who had close friends from church were more satisfied with their lives. This research shows just how important it is to make friends with similar values and outlooks as you. It doesn’t matter what your interests and beliefs are. Finding something you're deeply passionate about and making friends with those who share similar interests will result in the same intimacy.
    • Be a peacemaker. If your ideas and understandings would continue dissension in a family squabble, or in your group of friends, or at a meeting of an organization such as on the job in a workplace, or in a church group, do something else. Be agreeable as much as it is up to you, applying yourself where you can be happy without unnecessary argument, anger and discord. Don't insist on getting your way/preferences in a personality conflict, on shades of meaning and adversarial issues at the expense of the order and peace of the group and your own happiness.
    • Interact with people who share your interests, and feel happier due to sensations of reward and well-being. This is because during such interactions, serotonin and dopamine — neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of happiness and relaxation — are released into the body. In other words, your body is designed to feel happier when engaged in social interactions.[77]
  4. Have deep, meaningful conversations. A study by a psychologist at the University of Arizona has shown that spending less time participating in small talk, and more time in deep, meaningful conversations can increase happiness. [78] Meaningful conversations move past the surface level of informative “small talk.” These conversations discuss your ideas about love, life, hopes, and dreams.
    • Psychologist Arthur Aron has done a lot of work on how to generate meaningful communication between people. His work recently made a splash with the idea of “36 questions to fall in love.” While this media representation isn’t quite the way the research works, Aron’s questions do ask deep, probing things about the other person, which leads to a stronger feeling of intimacy and connection.[79]
    • Share your happiness with friends. Studies have shown that people who openly share their positive feelings with others have greater social connection than people who don’t share. The next time you experience something wonderful, go start a conversation about it with a friend. It’ll bring you closer together and make you both happier.[80]
  5. Find happiness in the kind of work you do now, even while you are seeking a new career. Many people expect the new job or career to dramatically change their level of happiness. But research makes it clear that your levels of optimism and quality of relationships surpass the satisfaction gained from your job.[81]
    • If you have a positive outlook, you will make the best of any job; and if you have good relationships, you won't depend on your job for a sense of meaning. You'll find meaning in interactions with the people you care about. You'll use your job as a crutch instead of relying on it for meaning.
    • Find your flow at work. Flow is a state of mind where a person is fully absorbed in what they are doing. They have next to no trouble concentrating on the activity because the activity is challenging enough to hold their attention but not so challenging that it exhausts them. This might not be possible for every activity you do, but find ways to make it happen frequently and try out different strategies to make it work. Some people find their flow by using a timer to keep them focused for a set amount of time and others find their flow by setting up the work environment a certain way. Find what works for you. Studies have shown that employees who can find their flow have greater work satisfaction.[82]
    • This is not to say you shouldn't aspire to get a job that will make you happier; many people find that being on the right career path is a key determination in their overall happiness. It just means you should understand that the capacity of your job to make you happy is quite small when compared to your outlook and your relationships.
  6. Forgive. In a study of college students, an attitude of forgiveness contributed to better cardiovascular health. You could say forgiveness literally heals the heart. While it is unknown how forgiveness directly affects your heart, the study suggests that it may lower the perception of stress.[83] Yet despite its many benefits, it’s incredibly hard to do. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to learn forgiveness.[84][85]
    • Remember that forgiveness is something you do for you, not for the other person. Holding on to anger and hate can cause you immense hurt. And forgiveness doesn’t mean denying that the other person did something wrong. For example, consider Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor, who has publicly forgiven the Nazi guard who kept her and many others imprisoned during the Holocaust. She has said, “I forgave the Nazis not because they deserve it but because I deserve it.” She forgave her abusers because she didn’t want to carry the burden of anger with her, but they are still wrong for their actions.[86]
    • Forgiveness also doesn’t mean continuing to put up with mistreatment. You can forgive someone for treating you wrongly and still take steps to make sure they don’t do it again.
    • Think about what you want to forgive. How does that wrong make you feel? You may wish to write down your thoughts and feelings.
    • Reflect on the experience. What could have been done differently? Can you learn from this experience? What would you want from the other person?
    • Write a letter to the people you want to forgive. What did they do that hurt you and why are you forgiving them? What do you want for them now? Where do you stand in the relationship? You don’t even have to mail these letters if you don’t want to; simply writing them can be a way to express your forgiveness to yourself.
    • Remember that forgiveness isn’t conditional. If you make forgiveness contingent on a particular result or action, you could be waiting forever.[87] It can be hard to forgive others because they may never admit or suffer consequences from their wrongdoing. Value forgiveness as a way to let go of something that can hurt you, not as a way to ensure anything happens to the other person.
    • Forgiveness can be a very spiritual experience. Studies show a clear correlation between “state forgiveness” (the act of forgiving something), self-forgiveness, and a sense of sacredness. By practicing forgiveness, you may end up discovering something sacred about yourself or the world around you.[88]


  • Avoid dwelling on negative emotions and practice being positive. If being around someone is making you feel bad, avoid that person if possible.
  • Don't replay bad experiences of your life except to understand the events. Think often about the good ones and the new ones; remember every day is a new chance.
  • Talk about love, dreams or anything that makes you feel happy.
  • Working toward your own personal goals, don't confuse yours goals with ones of parents or friends, but follow your vision. Goals can propel you to move forward instead of procrastinating/wandering. Figure out what will make you feel accomplishment, and make one step at a time to get there.
  • You feel the way you think. A simple way to look at this is the following equation:(activating event) + (beliefs) = (consequence.) A + B = C This means an external triggering event alone will only contribute to making you feel sad, anxious, fearful or any other emotion. Your beliefs also contribute along with the triggering event to how you feel. So changing the way you look at things (such as an attitude) will result in a big change in how you feel in response to situations that trigger negative emotions in you. As a rule of thumb, remember that anything that makes you feel bad for longer than than several minutes is self inflicted. It's your thought process, and not just the actual event that largely makes you feel the way you do (a concept from cognitive behavioral therapy).
  • Don't be ashamed; when and if you fall, get back up and dust yourself off and go again... Remember that most of what you're stressing over now will be irrelevant in a year. And when you had a bad day there is always a new chance to make next time or tomorrow better. When you fall, you may get a scratch or a broken bone but it will heal.
  • Take deep breaths, and smile, even if there is nothing to smile about. Relaxation and meditation or prayer can be very helpful, if you believe in it. To relax, start by flexing your toes, feet and continue up the leg, and up to each area of your entire body, doing tensing up and then relaxing your neck, jaw/mouth, face and finally wiggling your scalp muscles. Even getting a massage is a way of taking just a bit of time out for yourself, as a way to reward yourself for all that you do.
  • Try to love others as you love yourself a little more. Happiness stems from feeling good about the things around you and how they affect you. Look in the mirror, and feel happy that this one who is looking back at you is a survivor.
  • Don't let what people do or say to you affect you negatively. If somebody says something to insult you, do not respond back, as they will tend to bother you more. Avoid such people.
  • Don't ever be bored with who you are. Choose to appreciate your opportunity. Boredom is a personal problem. Be proactive. Take action to improve issues. Always look on the bright side. The past is gone and you can't change it. No one can. Be purposely cheerful and talk positively, then people will enjoy being around you, and you can enjoy their appreciation!
  • Talk it out with someone that you trust, if you are unhappy, even if you don't know why. The exchange of ideas and feelings is healing and usually provides some level of satisfaction or peace.
  • Know your worth. Focus on making the best out of each goal you have. Keep reinventing yourself/never settling back for long, while applying yourself on any goals and opportunities you make.
  • Be content with who you are because nobody's 'the perfect one'. Finding time for you is important. Think about how lucky you are, by expressing gratefulness for anything you have.
  • Happiness/Joy is a choice. It depends on you, whether you would rather sulk in the darkness than appreciate the many little things life has to offer.
    • Know the thing which makes you happy whenever you do it. It may be listening music, painting, writing poetry and do it whenever you are depressed.


  • Don't focus too much on life's occasional happy/unhappy moments, but look toward something everlasting.
  • If you are constantly unhappy or depressed, seek professional help.

Related Articles

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