How To Be Happy: 4 Ways To Choose Happiness Everyday
Do you feel stuck in a rut right now, do you ever wonder how to be happy? Are you restless, dissatisfied, and uninspired?
Perhaps you feel like everyone else is happier and more successful than you are, and that nothing ever really goes quite right for you.
Maybe your days are predictable and sedentary, and you feel little sense of achievement or well-being. You might well look at your situation and think “How could I be happy?”.
However, the truth is that happiness is a choice – and it's one you can choose to make today.
But what does it mean to say that we can simply choose how to be happy? In this article, we'll explore the answer to that question. Part of the answer will involve offering you four concrete actions that you can take right away if you want to choose happiness.
We'll walk you through the fine details of each of these techniques, and show you how to apply them to your life.
Is Happiness A Feeling Or A Choice?
In truth, happiness is both a feeling and a choice.
It starts by saying these three little words to yourself: “I choose happiness.” By deciding to be happy in this way, you embark on a journey that almost immediately transforms your feelings.
Let's take a closer look at the sense in which happiness is a feeling and the sense in which it is a choice.
This will set the stage for making the kinds of changes that promote long-term happiness.
When people think about their happiness, they often do so in a helpless sort of a way.
Perhaps you've caught yourself doing this – thinking about how you're unlucky, or how you don't have any power. In truth, you have a lot more control over your well-being than you realize.
You can start to see this more clearly once you begin to explore the reasons why happiness exists in your life in the first place. Take a moment to do that now.
What did you come up with? Perhaps you thought about your low self-confidence or low self-esteem. Maybe you noted your lack of self-care. The way you don't take the proper time to address your needs or pursue your passion.
You might have thought about self-destructive happiness, like procrastination and negative obsession, or maybe your focus went to the sources of negativity in your life – people who bring you down.
While it's entirely understandable that any one of these things might undermine your happiness, notice that all of these factors can be controlled and influenced by you. If you choose to work on your own happiness, you have a whole lot of power to create a better life.
Happiness Is A Choice – You Have A Choice
Choosing to be happy really involves two substantive components. The first is looking at the contributors to your unhappiness, as described above, and making changes to your life that help to address those sources of dissatisfaction.
With all that said, it ultimately isn’t your surroundings or your context that play a role in whether you’re happy. Rather, happiness comes from within, so the second component of choosing to be happy involves an adjustment in perspective.
What do we mean by an adjustment in perspective? The thought here is that you can make an active choice to focus on things that bring you pleasure.
In other words, you can shift from a perspective of lack to one of abundance. For example, you can deliberately take time to tune into reasons to feel grateful, to feel inspired, and to feel connected to those around you.
Some of the techniques we'll explore focus on helping you to make this shift. After all, it isn't easy, especially if you're used to talking to yourself in a highly critical way.
4 Steps You Should Take To Be Happy
You now know that choosing how to be happy has two parts – making changes to your external circumstances, and making changes to your inner life so that your feelings shift toward the positive.
With that in mind, let's now turn to four concrete steps that you can take in order to become happier. As you work through these steps, you'll begin to take control and transform your life.
How To Be Happy Step 1: Take Control Of Your Life
Step 1 of learning how to be happy is simply just taking control of your life.
We've all felt out of control sometimes – like it's other people, and perhaps just plain bad luck, that determines whether we do well in life. Of course, there will always be things in life that we can't control.
However, one of the most important keys to choosing happiness is taking personal responsibility for your circumstances.
There is so much that you can control, and realizing this can be freeing rather than frightening.
Acknowledge that it's up to you to create a happy and healthy life you desire – and that the only limit to your success is the one you place on yourself.
Simply changing your mindset and viewing yourself as being in the driver's seat of your own life can go a long way towards helping you become happier.
However, it's also worth looking at a couple of specific techniques that can assist you in taking control.
Rewrite Your Story
Rewriting your story is a technique that helps you view yourself and your life's narrative in an entirely new light.
You start by asking yourself a simple question: right now, are you happy and satisfied? Try to answer this for every area of your life. Think about your career, your relationships, your health and fitness, your hobbies, your mental health, and so on.
If the answer is “no” in any particular area, ask yourself the next question: why? It can help to note down the answers here. For example, perhaps you're not happy in your career because you don't feel challenged and stimulated.
The next step is to write about how you'd like things to be. Describe your future career in as much detail as you can, with an emphasis on all the things that make you happy, and why they make you happy.
Finally, looking at all these aspects of your rewritten story ask yourself: what do I need to do to make this story into my reality? Make a list of action points that reflect the movement towards what you've described in your narrative.
Create A Daily Routine
Now that you've literally rewritten how you see your story progressing in all key areas that contribute to your happiness, use that inspiration (and your associated action points) to begin crafting a new daily routine for yourself.
Start getting specific – how many times a day or week do you see the ideal version of you doing particular things that contribute to your future?
How does the person you envisioned in your narrative spend their average day?
Try to craft a schedule that reflects the answers to these questions, from when you wake to when you go to bed. A morning routine is especially important, as it sets the tone for the day to come.
Make sure that every scheduled activity contributes to one of your life goals, but don't forget that some contributions can focus on peacefulness and self-care.
For example, one of your goals should be good mental health – and that means deliberately scheduling downtime for activities like yoga, meditation, reading, and creative hobbies.
It's also wise to schedule in periods of “free time” where you let your mood and current needs determine what fits in that day's schedule.
How To Be Happy Step 2: Think Positive – Conquer Your Negative Thoughts
The second step of learning how to be happy is that happiness focuses on transforming your default emotional state. It's an incredible essay for our minds to be dominated by negative thinking – for us to constantly moan about the things that don't go right and to focus on the things we want but don't have.
An example to think of when learning how to be happy is that often you declare someday a “bad day” simply because one negative thing happened that day.
Similarly, we often talk to ourselves in cruel and highly critical ways, focusing on our negative traits at the exclusion of rewarding ourselves for the positive.
It's important to work to change this mindset if you want to choose happiness. As well as making your day-to-day well-being better, adopting a positive mindset can help you to manifest the things you want in life.
As the Law of Attraction teaches us like attracts like – so, the happier you are, the more happiness you'll bring into your life.
Challenge Your Inner Critic
To begin discovering how to be happy you must think positively and conquer your negative thoughts, first, you have to battle your inner critic. This is the voice in your head that tells you that you're not good enough – that you'll never make it, that no one takes you seriously.
This voice remembers every time someone talked down to you, and every time you felt humiliated. Negative thinking affects us all, but you can weaponize yourself against it.
One of the most effective methods is based on Socratic questioning – the philosophical method of challenging and adapting unreasonable thoughts.
For example, suppose you start with the thought “I'll never get a job I love.” Ask yourself the following questions:
What is the evidence for this belief?
How might I be misinterpreting what's going on?
Would a good friend view my situation?
How would I view this current situation if it happened to a different person?
As you go through these sorts of questions, the original negative thought loses its power – it is exposed to the irrational, self-undermining belief it is.
At the end of the exercise, try to come up with a replacement belief. For example: “I've had success in my life, and I have talents. This is just a bump in the road.”
Practice Self Compassion
Another useful technique for transforming positive thoughts is to practice self-compassion – treating yourself as you would a friend or loved one, offering non-judgemental kindness. For example, if you have a setback, you might start to spiral into negative thinking.
But if you pause and practice self-compassion, you'll recall that everyone has experiences like this – and that it doesn't undermine your value to face challenges.
Loving-kindness meditations are a wonderful exercise for developing self-compassion. To begin, find a comfortable and quiet space where you can meditate undisturbed.
Breathe slowly and deeply, inhaling to a count of 5 and exhaling to a count of 7. Let yourself notice the source of your negativity and stress, and view it without criticism. Then, say an affirming statement out loud. An example might be “This is a transient moment of negativity.
This is a human experience, and it will pass. I offer myself love and kindness, and I move through my negativity.”
How To Be Happy Step 3: Start Feeling Connected To Life
Step 3 of learning how to be happy is to start feeling more connected can do wonders for your overall happiness levels. You have a say in how connected you are to the world around you.
In particular, when you start making more frequent connections and work on making those connections deeper, you'll begin to feel more like you belong.
As much as you might pride yourself on your individuality and independence, we all want to feel a sense that we have a place in the world.
Without that connection, it's easy to become unhappy and directionless.
For example, you might have lots of superficial relationships and be relatively popular, but unless you feel like some people truly know you, it's hard to feel like you connect.
Let's look at three ways you can effectively promote this type of meaningful connection.
The moment you start spending more time deliberately helping others, the more connected you feel to the world at large. Through compassionate gestures toward others, we find purpose and meaning.
Plus, Happiness is contagious, and when you help others you'll find it makes both yourself and those other people feel happier.
There are lots of simple and powerful ways that you can help others. Some focus on those who are struggling – for example, you might volunteer hours at a helpline, serve food at a soup kitchen, or pick up shifts at a thrift store that raises money for charity.
Think about the causes that are closest to your heart, and do some research into how you might best contribute to those specific causes.
However, helping closer to home also builds connections and promotes happiness. Think of people you know who could use a helping hand – perhaps older relatives who have awkward chores to do, or friends with a young baby who could use a night to themselves.
Gratitude also builds a connection and makes us happier. We're often pretty good at feeling grateful during life's big moments – like births, weddings, graduations, and promotions.
However, in our daily lives, it's easy to let gratitude slide and to fail to notice all the little things that make life special.
The most effective and well-tested method for cultivating gratitude involves keeping a gratitude journal. In this journal, note down 5-10 things that inspire gratitude each day.
Focus not only on huge changes but on the small details of life that move you. And when you need a lift or need to be reminded of all the good in the world, pick up your gratitude journal and reconnect with all there is to be thankful for in your life.
Mindful walks also help you to appreciate what you have. Just spending half an hour in nature, noticing its impact on all your senses, can help to revitalize the kind of wonder you felt when you were a child.
Catalog the different scents, feel the breeze on your skin, and notice all the wonderful colors you see in nature.
Finally, to refer back to the contrast between superficial and emotionally intimate relationships, you need to allow yourself to vulnerable if you're going to truly connect in the kinds of ways that promote long-term happiness.
This doesn't mean you have to air your every struggle for all to see. it's healthy and important to have boundaries and to be careful what you share.
The important lesson here is to find someone – or, ideally, more than one person – with whom you feel safe enough to be vulnerable.
What does being vulnerable mean? It means allowing yourself to be seen on the deepest level, letting someone in to see your anxieties, your inconsistencies, and the parts of you that feel unfinished. It's about dropping your guard and forgetting about any attempt to create a polished image.
While this can seem scary when you're not used to it, this kind of intimacy is enormously gratifying. Only when you are seen and known in this deeper, more risky way can you really feel fully accepted for who you are.
And by choosing to embrace the possibility of that kind of unconditional love and acceptance, you also choose happiness.
How To Be Happy Step 4: Take care of yourself
Finally the last step of learning how to be happy, it's important to consider the link between happiness and taking good care of yourself.
Learning how to be happy means respecting your body and mind.
You must do what you need to in order to preserve (and improve) their health.
Sometimes, we get so swept up in the business of our day to day lives that we forget to notice how our bodies and mind are really doing.
We push ourselves with a lack of sleep, eat on the run, and sacrifice the things we love so that we can make money or chase status.
However, if we do this, we can't actually enjoy our achievements when we attain them!
Think about it: when was the last time you devote any significant amount of time to just relax?
Related article: What Is Sacrifice And What Does It Mean?
Here are three significant ways in which you can promote your own happiness by taking good care of yourself.
Exercise can seem like a chore, but if you find the right kind of exercise then it doesn't have to be. Whether you like running on the treadmill to your favorite songs, going to dance class, or swimming laps in the pool while everyone else is asleep, there will be some kind of physical workout that boosts your health while also being genuinely enjoyable.
One of the main reasons why exercise is so important for your mood is that it produces endorphins – chemicals that make you feel energized and upbeat.
In addition, deliberate exercise counteracts the kind of sedentary life you might be stuck in during the working day.
Consider how much better you feel when you've deliberately added movement into your day – this will help you understand why exercise is so valuable.
Try to make sure that you do both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. So, spend some of your time getting your heart rate and metabolism up, and spend other parts of your workout focusing on creating stronger muscles.
As well as boosting your mood, exercise creates a robust and healthy body that can improve your self-confidence.
Eat Happy Food
When looking at how to be happy you might not know that exercise isn't the only activity that can produce ‘happy hormones'.
This is also true of food, provided you're eating the right things!
Here are some of the main ingredients that can enhance your happiness by naturally boosting your endorphins:
- Animal proteins (e.g., chicken, beef)
- Ginseng (which you can brew into a tasty tea)
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark chocolate
In addition, remember to strike a good balance between eating healthily and punishing yourself. In other words, don't eat fries with every meal, but don't deny yourself the foods you like.
Don't forget that feeding your body properly is also a way of taking care of yourself. Doing this in a healthy, regular way helps to inculcate subconscious beliefs that you are valuable and worthy of love.
And when you treat yourself that way, it's easier to expect the same sort of treatment from others – the treatment you deserve.
Practice Self-Care Every Day
Once again, with a busy life, it can be tough to make room for the kind of self-care that keeps a person happy and balanced.
However, even if you have a highly scheduled day, challenge yourself to always find space for some self-care practices.
It can help to build these into a routine, perhaps first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Don't feel like a self-care session needs to last for hours or be elaborate in order to be worth something.
Even 15 minutes of meditation, or half an hour in a hot bath can do you a world of good.
Remember, too, that self-care can look like anything. It just needs to relax you, make you feel peaceful, and tune you into a sense of happiness. For some people, it might be the activities above, which are typical examples of self-care.
But for others, it might be playing online games, doing Sudoku puzzles, or engaging the mind in some other way. Anything goes as long as you feel refreshed and content after it is complete.
Are You Ready To Choose Happiness?
At this point, you now have learned how to be happy and should have a deeper understanding of how happiness is a choice. How you can change your circumstances, and even your own feelings, in order to live a more peaceful, rewarding life.
If you're ready to choose happiness for yourself, it's vital that you set clear intentions and then act on them. One way to do this more effectively is to use the Law of Attraction to manifest your goals.
Building on the core truth that like attracts like, the Law of Attraction teaches us how to align our thoughts, feelings, and energy with the things we want.
Our free toolkit will get you started, teaching you all the basic techniques that you need in order to transform your life into what you've always wanted.