No matter who you are or where you are in the world, it’s human nature to strive to find happiness. Happiness is defined as “a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy,” but for many people, it can often feel out of reach. One of the most common reasons we struggle to find happiness is due to our perception of what it really is. Ultimately, happiness is subjective and it is profoundly different in each individual. For some, intrinsic goals including falling in love, starting a family, or connecting with others in society is the true path to happiness, while others may find extrinsic goals including the pursuit of money, fame, power and beauty as their idea of happiness. However, when you dive deeper into the two, it becomes clear that extrinsic motivations often lead to a happier and fulfilling life, and in order to achieve this, there are actionable changes you can make.
Rather than seeking out happiness as a whole, think about it in small steps which can help you build up to a happier and healthier mental state of being. If you’re looking to feel more positive about your everyday, start by incorporating these practices into your life.
Take control of your time
There is nothing more valuable than time. It’s among the only concepts we cannot purchase, increase, or adapt, but there are ways of managing your time in a healthy and resourceful way. Consider taking 30-minutes to one hour out of your day to partake in activities or ambitions that will increase your sense of contentment. It might be a personal hobby or a project, or unwinding with a book, but these valuable moments will provide you with a sense of purpose and ownership over your life which will, in turn, increase your happiness.
Set goals and work towards them
Find a goal in your life that feels meaningful to you and make baby steps in working towards it. Whether you want to return to education and acquire a new degree, learn to play an instrument, or take your business to the next level, setting your mind to something and integrating it into your routine will give you the accomplishment you desire. When considering what you want to achieve, it’s important to avoid making unrealistic expectations and putting an immense amount of pressure on yourself to do something outside your comfort zone and push your limits. Remember, the goal is to find happiness in your life, and by extending the boundaries of your capabilities, you may be hindering the process instead of helping it.
Seek meaningful connections
Spending time and enhancing connections with family and friends is proven to make you happier. Love, altruism, and happiness are all spread via human connection, and the deeper the connection, the more beneficial they are. Having said that, even casual connections can provide you with satisfaction and create positive effects on your life. For the individuals that you speak to in passing whether it be a co-worker, the barista at your local coffee shop, the postman, or someone else, if you’re presented with the opportunity to ask someone about their day, something poignant, or even a life goal, engage in a conversation and see where it goes. If you’re careful and tread lightly, the more sensitive topics can facilitate closeness which creates an emotional bond. Many studies have found a direct correlation between connection and empathy, so not only do these relationships make you a happier person, they also make you a kinder person too.
Embrace the power of gratitude
With so many ups and downs in life it can be difficult to be thankful, but research has shown that improving your gratitude can significantly increase your happiness. Gratitude has been known to help people feel more positive in general, relish good experiences, improve health, cope well with adversity, and build strong relationships. Other than furthering your fulfillment, it also assists in compartmentalizing situations and enables you to turn obstacles into opportunities. Keeping a gratitude journal or sitting down daily and picturing 5 to 10 things that you are grateful for will allow gratitude to become an integral part of your life.
Often, our inner critic can be incredibly harsh and make you feel as though you’re not good enough, you're not doing enough, and other people around you are more successful, happier, and in a better place. Ultimately, comparison is the thief of joy and the quicker you learn to let it go, the sooner you will be on the path to self-acceptance. When you start accepting and loving who you are, happiness will prevail. Start celebrating your strengths, no matter how big or small, set daily intentions, feed off of the positive people around you, and forgive yourself. These key elements will help you learn to love your imperfections, accept yourself, and be truly happy.
Choosing happiness might seem like an obvious step, but you’d be surprised how much it is overlooked. Rather than focusing on other things that could make you happy, focus on creating happiness as your primary goal. Think about the positive aspects of your life rather than the negatives, choose to surround yourself with loving and supportive people who genuinely make you smile, wake up and pledge to be the best version of yourself and manifest great things, and embrace life for all it is each and every day. Ultimately, you are the only one who can create your happiness.