How To Be Happy
Apparently, knowing and practicing how to be happy is one of the most desired life goals. And why wouldn’t it be?! We all want to experience happiness but when that isn’t happening, the question of how to be happy is certainly worth thinking about.
Of course, it can be difficult to harness the emotion of happiness when circumstances and events often conspire to move us into a mood of something less than happiness, but, that doesn’t detract from the overarching need to feel happy and thereby feel we’re living a worthwhile life.
It’s important to remember and acknowledge that happiness is an emotion and is therefore transient. It will come and go much like other emotions. You won’t always be angry, frustrated or sad. Similarly, as much as we’d like to hold on to these feelings, we won’t always be happy, contented or joyful either.
But, in a world where it’s normal for the news to be anything from annoying to downright terrifying, and where daily circumstances and events in our lives can drive us to distraction, it’s important to recognise our ability to capture and build on our happiness to counteract the tirade of daily negativity that comes our way.
So how can we be happy? What are a handful of tools and techniques we can use when we want to turn the tide of negative feelings to something a bit lighter? Here are a few tips to try, but don’t be fooled by their simplicity. You’ll already know from experience that you feel happiest in the moments when you’re absorbed in a favourite activity which has (temporarily) pushed your worries aside.
Appeal to Your Preferred Sense
We all have a preferred sense and knowing this can help us achieve a lighter mood much quicker than if we try all the alternatives first!
See, smell, touch, taste, hear.
Each of our senses provides sensory stimulation which can be pleasant or unpleasant. Obviously in an effort to make yourself happier, choose a pleasant experience, one that you know you will enjoy.
~ Watch a film, look at old photos, watch the sun rise or set.
~ Spray your favourite perfume, burn a candle or add essential oils to a hot bath.
~ Cuddle a loved one, get a massage, stroke your pet.
~ Enjoy some chocolate, cook a favourite meal and really savour it.
~ Listen to some uplifting music, chat to a friend (a happy one!), listen to the birds chirping.
Which sense has the ability to break through your low mood the soonest? Think carefully of examples where you’ve really been drawn into the sensory experience and try that one first, choosing an activity that you enjoy.
Related Post: 5 Tips for Creating a Sense of Wellbeing
The Role Of Calm & Appreciation
In other words, can gratitude and meditation (or mindfulness) help us feel happier?
Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword at the moment, and with good reason. Our lives tend to move at a very fast pace and we’re often inundated with things do to, to worry about and to remember. It’s no wonder that we become overwhelmed.
Learning to slow and calm these thoughts and ‘be’ in the moment, even for just a few minutes gives us a chance to think more rationally, and in those rational moments, we can sometimes find answers to the questions that have been bugging us.
Similarly, gratitude allows us to slow our thinking and then direct it to look for positive things in our days. This process will allow us to objectively spot and appreciate the things that make us happy.
Using these two techniques gives us insights into what actually make us happy. That may sound a bit strange as we all think we know what makes us happy, but, if you were actually pressed to come up with five things that could make you feel happier in the next half an hour, could you pinpoint them?
Using gratitude allows you to do this easily and quickly. For example…
~ I enjoyed a great cup of coffee and half an hour alone with my magazine;
~ I enjoyed sitting outside listening to the birds singing/children playing;
~ I enjoyed nattering on the phone to my friend.
These are the ‘simple pleasures’ and they are how happy days happen. Yes, a couple of weeks on a tropical beach is appealing, as is a lottery win, but if you don’t know what to put into this free time, then you won’t feel any happier in the long term.
The Dark Side
I know it seems counterintuitive, but addressing the negative emotions you may be feeling can open a door to future happiness.
Emotions like overwhelm often lead to feelings of sadness and anxiety and whilst it would be easy to pop a pill (I’m not against this, by the way) to ease the uncomfortable feelings, a more sustainable result will be achieved by spending time working out what causes the overwhelm in the first place and then addressing this.
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, take a notepad and write down all the things that are vying for your attention (this in itself can be a cathartic exercise).
Next, get rid of all the things that really don’t need your attention or can be delayed to another time. Now, ask yourself what must you do and what could someone else do? The aim is to reduce the list to something manageable for a set timeframe.
Once you’ve been through this exercise, remember to do it regularly and then allocate your tasks in strict time blocks (day, week, month etc). Anything that falls outside these parameters can move to a separate list.
This exercise should help to lift your mood, not necessarily to happiness immediately, but away from overwhelm in the first instance.
Related Post: 5 Tips to Help You Cope When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
Feelings of frustration can arise either when we’re frustrated with ourselves, with others or with our circumstances. Of these three, there’s only one frustration we can directly influence, and that’s our own. As far as others and circumstances are concerned, our best strategy would be to leave well alone and let the situation play out as it will.
Related Post: How to Deal with Frustration and Negativity
As far as personal frustrations are concerned, understanding our reasons for feeling frustrated can lead us to resolving the issues. There’s a very good chance you already know the reason for your frustrations, but where it might not be clear, ask yourself probing questions, such as when exactly did this mood start, who was present, what was I doing/thinking?
Quite often frustration will arise as a result of something we’ve done and are unhappy about or something we haven’t done that we want to do! If it’s the former, then look for where you can makes amends (an apology, maybe?), do it and then let it go.
The latter however can be a challenge but offers great potential for improving our happiness! If there’s something you want to do, but for whatever reason are holding yourself back, now is the time to discover the means to propel yourself forward.
Related Post: Challenge Yourself and Get 5 Great Results!
Learning how to be happy is knowing how and when to release the negative whilst simultaneously adding more of the good things into our lives. Learn to release control, drama and negativity and let yourself receive contentment and happiness. Notice the small things that add to your joy on a daily basis, go after your goals and dreams and take pleasure in the journey. As Abraham Lincoln said,
You are as happy as you choose to be
Choose wisely 🙂 .