10 Tips for Leading a Happier Life

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.

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  • http://upfromsplat.com Ande Waggener

    I recently read an article about neuropathways that confirms what you say here: “People are meant to be happy.” Brain studies show that is the case. We literally get off track–we create paths in our brains that bypass the happy channels. But the brain is malleable and we can get back on track. Your suggestions are good ways to do that. Sometimes something I need to do is just stop and breathe and be aware of something that pleases me, like watching my dog or watching the rain. Sometimes, it’s the slowing down that allows the happiness a way to come in. :)

  • http://www.2achieveyourgoals.com Dia

    Hi Joe,

    I agree with you that happiness is an internal emotion. If we are not happy internally, then we won’t be really happy. Being in gratitude and thankful really helps. It gives us peace of mind. Thanks for sharing

  • Joe – shakeoffthegrind

    Ande,

    Thanks for the comment and adding to the post! Every experience we had and are having right now is stimulating new connections and activity in our brain. It really is amazing that our entire life is encapsulated in the 3 pound mass in our head. This makes a strong case to seek out more enjoyable and uplifting experiences, and to really be conscientious about what we think and the perspectives we hold. Our brain is being shaped by all of this!

  • Joe – shakeoffthegrind

    Dia,

    Yes, I believe happiness really comes from within. This is a positive things, as it means we can control how we feel and be in touch with our true self despite difficulties in life that may bring us down otherwise. True happiness from the inside is a much stronger foundation than relying on any external person, place, or thing for our happiness. Thanks for commenting!

  • http://twitter.com/thebridgemaker Alex Blackwell

    Thanks for a “do-able” and inspirational list Joe.

    Alex

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  • http://www.workhappynow.com Karl Staib

    This is a solid list. Of course my favorite is, Seek work and leisure activities that engage your skills. Too often we push our superpowers aside because we feel it’s easier that way. We are hear to do great work and change the world.

  • Sibyl-alternaview

    Joe: Great post and great list. I think what stood out the most for me was the insight that you get to choose happiness. It really is a mindset and not a destination and I think once we realize that, it is much easier to work toward having that mindset. I thought the list was really great and helpful. I think all the points you shared are so important and can really point us in the direction of finding our own happiness.

  • Joe – shakeoffthegrind

    Hey Alex,

    Thanks for stopping by! I hope the list offered something valuable for your and others. Happiness certainly is do-able if we’re willing to take steps and make changes to make it happen.

  • Joe – shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Karl,

    Thanks so much for commenting! I think engaging in life is one of the most helpful ways to be happy. Unfortunately, this is something that people tend to do when feeling down. We must seek out what we enjoy and do what we feel good about. Even on the job we can find something to feel good about.

  • Joe – shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Sibyl,

    Thanks a lot, I appreciate your input! Yes, happiness is a mindset and not a destination. This concept of finding happiness from the inside-out must be realized in order for this mindset to take effect. Once we know we have the capacity to change our beliefs and how we feel we can begin down the path to true happiness.

  • Bretton

    Life is a roller coaster and is going to have its ups and downs. The downs are to remind us that we have something to look forward to and the ups are there to remind us that life isn’t so bad. It is important to act happy even if you are not. No one really wants hear others problems it dampers a relationship and can sometimes base that relationship on only talking about negative things. If you show that you are unhappy then people will tend to stay away from you because you are a debbie downer. People just have to remember to take things serious but not too serious.

  • LWanre

    I am amazed to see a new generation defining itself by something so much more fulfilling than money and material things. I see a sea of “old souls” in young minds and hearts. Kudos to you for figuring out in your 27 years here on mother earth what it has taken me twice as long to finally get to.

  • Joe – shakeoffthegrind

    Bretton,

    You’re the man! Thanks for the comment! This is all great wisdom and insight and really offers a wonderful philosophy to approach life. We do have to accept suffering and learn that we can work through it and do our best to push forward. We can put a smile on our face and do our best to be optimistic and hopeful and encouraging to others. I also agree that life is serious but never so serious that happiness alludes us. Thanks again!

  • Joe – shakeoffthegrind

    Thank you so much for commenting! Your perspective offers some great insight and inspiration. Many of the things mentioned in this post are certainly easier said than done. Though, I believe they are worth pursuing as happiness really must be found on the inside. We call all do our part to add joy, peace, and love to the world, this can be on any level of scale. The hope is that each person reflects this to others and influences them to do the same.

  • http://mindadventure.com/2010/11/i-asked-and-life-answered/ Rob

    Hi Joe,
    Indeed I am by far the happiest when I am pursuing my “magnificent obsession” of writing or speaking in front of an audience. When I am absorbed in that “beingness”, every point of view, every opinion, every aspiration and every vision aligns with my highest purpose. When I am fully expressing myself I am fully participating in life… and that I believe is happiness.

  • Joe – shakeoffthegrind

    Rob,

    Thanks for sharing this and adding your wonderful point of view. I totally agree with you. I am certainly happy when I feel connected to my purpose and and following a passionate and creative pursuit. For myself, this purpose is related to inspiring and empowering others, and when I am doing this I truly gain a sense of happiness. This is important insight for the many people who aren’t connected with a greater purpose and neglect to pursue their life’s calling, what ever that may be. If we have meaning and purpose behind our everyday life, this will certainly aid in happiness.

  • Tessmarshall

    Hi Joe,
    A couple of things I’ve learned to do that effects my happiness:
    I list in my journal 10 things I’m grateful for, 10 things that went right in the last 24 hrs, 10 things I got right in the last 24 hrs, what my intention is for the day and how hubs has helped me in the last 24 hrs. If my ego or lower self is going to keep track of stuff I keep it busy with the good stuff. Thanks for the link love;)

  • Joe – shakeoffthegrind

    Tess,

    Thanks for stopping by and providing your input. Your suggestions would really provide a valuable perspective shift for anyone trying to find more happiness. I really like the idea of writing out 10 things that went right in the last 24 hours. That would really offer a way to change how you look at each day. It’s so important to focus on those positive aspects and the exercises you use would be vitally important. Thanks!

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  • http://www.poweredbyintuition.com Angela Artemis

    Joe,
    This is a great post. I especially love your advise to remember the past is the past and to keep a gratitude journal. Have a fabulous weekend~!

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  • miriamkubicek

    This is a wonderful list, Joe. I’d add to #10 to enhance our spiritual self through meditation. We can literally grow more happy-making gray matter!

  • shakeoffthegrind

    Hi, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your advice! I think meditation is a wonderful addition and certainly a practice that can keep us emotionally healthy in dealing with stress and cultivating a more peaceful state of mind.

  • Dan

    Very inspiring article. I believe the key for
    happiness is to understand that it has to come from within, so that your
    happiness does not depend on exterior events. Love and happiness!

    Dan

    http://www.wonderfulsoul.com/

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  • Waiwa Wong

    “Realize that enduring happiness doesn’t come from success or wealth”

    I like this point, happy should come from inside of our heart, we can choose to be happy no matter how the situation is, it is a mindset condition. Money can buy many things, and make us feel happy in a short time, but can’t be the enduring happiness.

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