Ask people what they want most from life and many will simply say happiness. In fact, people seem to be in a constant pursuit of this seemingly elusive emotion. While it’s easy to say “I’ll be happy if or when X happens,” the truth is you don’t have to wait. You can make yourself happy now and live better. A happier and more positive outlook and mindset affects all aspects of your life.
What Is Happiness?
Being happy doesn’t mean walking around with a big smile on your face 24/7. Before being able to make yourself happy, it’s important to understand how happiness works. It’s a common misconception that happiness is a constant state of being. Instead, happiness is considered a fleeting state of being that changes.
It’s also not the same as more extreme positive emotions, such as bliss or joy. Happiness means feeling content and satisfied. However, scientists have struggled to specifically define it beyond that since it’s subjective based on the individual. That’s why it’s also referred to as subjective well-being.
Generally, psychologists break happiness down into three main types:
- The balance between both positive and negative emotions
- How you judge yourself and your life
- Your life’s meaning
These three types show being happy involves a variety of factors, including past experiences, current situations, and even your outlook for the future.
Make Yourself Happy Quickly
As confusing as happiness may be, you definitely know it when you feel it. Just know that it’s okay to not feel perfectly happy all the time. But striving for a more balanced, contentful feeling helps you live a better life. It also helps you deal with stressful situations easier.
While many methods of making yourself happy take time, Psychology Today lists ten scientifically-backed quick tips. These are designed to boost your happiness in just 30 seconds, which is great if you’re feeling a bit bummed or stressed. Some of the tips include:
- Smile – A simple smile actually boosts chemicals in your brain that create feelings of happiness.
- Stop slouching – Sitting up straighter not only helps your back but makes you instantly feel more confident and happy. Getting the right desk chair helps with this.
- Stare at a favorite image – Whether it’s a person, place, or object, staring at the right picture makes you feel better.
- Take a few deep breaths – Deep breathing helps to calm your mind, leading to a more balanced and happy state.
You can even practice happiness exercises to feel better.
One of the easiest ways to make yourself happy is to practice gratitude. When you focus on what you have, it’s harder to focus on what you don’t have. Remember how part of being happy involves finding meaning in your life? Gratitude shows how meaningful and full your life truly is.
In several gratitude studies, the results were all the same. Participants who practiced gratitude, such as keeping a gratitude journal (a great hobby to pick up) or writing letters of appreciation (even if they never sent them), felt significantly better about themselves and exhibited higher happiness scores.
Take a few minutes daily to list a few things you’re grateful for. Keep a journal. Look in the mirror and state what you’re grateful for. Thank people you appreciate. Just be grateful versus focusing on the negative.
Focus on Positive Thinking
This is one of the most difficult strategies but extremely effective once you master it. All those negative thoughts are kind of a survival instinct. Instead of letting them work against you, start turning them into something positive. For instance, you could write down negative thoughts and look at ways to counter them with positive actions so you eliminate the cause of the thought.
Of course, if you’re dealing with self-defeating thoughts, you may not feel great about yourself. This leads to more negative thoughts. This is when you start replacing those with positive ones. Focus on what’s good about yourself and your situation. Start replacing the negative self talk with the positive.
Positive thinking isn’t just ignoring the bad. It’s about choosing to have a positive outlook. Even if things don’t turn out the way you want, you’re still about to see something good and move on easier. Just adopting this strategy helps you live a better, happier, and healthier life.
Do Something for You
It sounds simple, but self-care is important. Take time every day to do something for yourself. This could be a hobby, having a favorite snack, hanging out with your friends, exercising, reading, or anything else that makes you feel happy. Knowing you have this special time for yourself scheduled gives you a more optimistic outlook on the entire day. Plus, it’s a great way to de-stress.
Also, make a point to pursue your passions. This helps you find more meaning in your life, and it’s something you can do for yourself.
Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Sometimes, it takes a stronger approach to make yourself happy. CBT has been proven to help people fight back against a variety of mental health, stress-related, physical problems and other issues. It’s a psychotherapy approach that guides you in better managing negative thinking to improve your quality of life.
While some experts disagree about its effectiveness, others have proven it’s highly effective, especially against mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. If happiness is a constant struggle for you, CBT is worth looking into.
You can make yourself happy. Just be patient with yourself and strive for balance versus being overjoyed. A balanced life is a truly happy one.
Interested in further improving your life? Start by adopting better habits. Find out why habits matter and how you can change them.