Make Happiness for Yourself Instead of Searching for it
It used to be considered that a person was either just ‘a happy person’ or they weren’t. Or that they should be happy if they had all the trappings of success.
Or that it was unbelievable how another person could possibly be happy if they had been through immense tragedy or born into poverty.
Much like the concept of a fixed mindset, happiness was believed to be fixed in a person’s life. And that there wasn’t much you could do about it.
Which is kind of a defeatist attitude.
Then there’s the notion that things will bring greater happiness.
More money, more social status, more beauty. More friends, more likes, more attention.
But, that doesn’t bring lasting happiness either.
However, increasing studies in the field of positive psychology has led researchers to believe that approximately 40% of our happiness is within our direct control.
Not our genetics. Not our bank balance, health or social status.
But the thoughts, beliefs and things that we do – day in and day out.
And that’s a game changer.
“Why worry about things you can’t control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?” Unknown
It’s the area that researchers believe is the most promising way to improve happiness, because it shows longer term increases in happiness and it’s solely in the control of the individual.
So, if our day to day activities account for 40% of our happiness, then what should you be doing?
Create Your Own Happiness
Obviously, happiness is very subjective.
What makes you happy, may be my idea of hell.
And vice versa.
That’s why it’s so important to trust yourself and learn what works for you. Here are just some great ideas to intentionally create your own happiness, they’re surprisingly small but powerful acts:
1. Practice Gratitude
Getting into a regular gratitude practice helps to boost joy and positivity, therefore increasing happiness that lasts.
A simple way is to write down 3 things you’re grateful for each morning and night – or even start with once a day.
The trick is to make it a simple process that fits in with your life and not a chore or another task on your to-do list.
It really can be simple, and the benefits are well worth it.
Related: How To Practice Gratitude – 11 Simple Ideas
2. Challenge Your Beliefs and Thoughts
We have thousands of thoughts each day. Should you be filtering them a bit better?
Are there some thoughts and beliefs about yourself and the world that aren’t really doing you any favours?
Become aware of the repetitive thoughts that you have and think about ways you can challenge them in order to boost your happiness.
3. Watch Your Words
Following on from filtering your thoughts, it’s also helpful to check the words that you always use.
Are they positive, uplifting and encouraging or are they negative, limiting and a little ho-hum?
I always find that when I get stressed or overwhelmed, I tend to use ‘I don’t have time to do….’. But of course, it’s coming from a place of overwhelm. I know as soon as I start saying this, I need to slow down and be more mindful.
What words do you use often and are they working for you or hindering your happiness?
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.” Gandhi
4. Create a Morning Routine
You don’t have to be a morning person, because it’s not for everyone.
But no matter when you start your day, creating a positive morning routine is a great way to get your day started off well.
It doesn’t have to last an hour long, or be a convoluted checklist of tasks, but consider some essential things that give you a great start to the day.
Do you feel better leaving the house if your kitchen is tidy? Or if you’ve done some exercise? Or that aren’t rushed, running late or stressed?
Work out what your non-negotiables are for a great start to the day, and then make sure you are intentionally doing them each morning.
Find an activity that you enjoy doing so that it doesn’t feel like a chore, and then make it a regular habit.
Too often we think of exercise as something we need to do for appearance, but exercise is actually great for mental health and happiness, with it providing a short boost and also long-term benefits.
Even committing to a 20 minute walk each day will be great for boosting your happiness.
6. Write Down Your Achievements
We can all be guilty of focusing more on what we still want to accomplish.
But it’s important to also consider how far you’ve come and what you’ve accomplished so far in life. Because it’s so easy to forget, instead focusing on more, more, more.
Take a few minutes to write a list of your accomplishments, here a few lists to try:
- Things I’m glad I’ve done…
- I Have Achieved….
- Places I’ve Been…
- Goals I’ve Accomplished…
7. Try Something New
A break in routine is great for spicing up life.
There’s probably a new hobby or interest that you’ve always wanted to try, but for whatever reason, you haven’t yet.
So, google your local ‘rock-climbing / running / knitting / writing/ calligraphy… (you get the idea) club’ and get started.
You may love it, or it might not live up to your hopes, but at least you will have tried.
8. Set Up Your Day for Success
Sometimes the to-do list can seem endless and impossible.
But not everything is urgent or needs doing today. First thing in the morning (or even better the night before) have a think about what you need to do in order to make today a success.
Instead of being overwhelmed, unmotivated or procrastinate about what you think you need to do, it’s quite likely that you will feel accomplished if you get 5 things completed today. So, do these first.
If you do more than that, great, but if not, at least you’ve completed the most important things and you will feel more accomplished, more motivated and of course happier!
9. Get Yourself A Happiness Song
You might already have one, but if not, think about a song that makes you happy as soon as it comes on.
It might remind you of a holiday, a celebration with loved ones or it might be an inspiring or motivational song to you.
Music has an amazing ability to alter our moods, so play your happy song. Play it often and loud.
I’ve ceased toddler tantrums in their tracks, by playing my youngest’s happy song (Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo) and my daughter’s happy song:
10. Practice Self-Love
The concept of taking care of yourself is not selfish or egotistical.
It’s important to our happiness and mindset in life and we are better partners, parents, friends, etc when we take care of ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally.
11. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Easier said than done right?
If you’re prone to being a worry-wart then this one is for you.
Worrying affects our happiness enormously because it can rob us of feelings of joy, causes stress and anxiety.
Try and think about worry in simple terms: Can you do something about this thing that you’re worrying about? If so, then do it. The action will occupy you and remove the worry. If you have no control over it, then it’s beyond you and not worth worrying about.
Another great tactic I sometimes use, is to write my worries down in a private journal. There’s something about seeing it in writing that makes my mind realise that, most often, they are out of my control and therefore not worth the unnecessary worry.
12. Stay Connected in Real Life
These days, it can be easy to think we are staying connected to friends and family because we ‘know’ what they’ve been up to via Facebook.
But you only see a small sliver of what’s going on and there is no comparison to picking up the phone or catching up face to face.
Human connection is important for our happiness and it’s a primary human need.
Despite everything that might be going on around you, stay connected to those important to you.
Check out this beautiful short video:
13. Set Goals – But Be Sure To Make Progress On Them
Setting goals for yourself is great for creating growth and momentum in life.
But just setting goals alone will not provide long term happiness.
You actually need to make progress on them. It’s not necessarily the achievement of the goal, but it’s thought that the journey and making progress towards a goal that brings confidence and happiness.
Making sure that you get enough quality sleep is important for your happiness. Because, let’s face it, lack of sleep does not make you happy. It makes you the complete opposite!
Not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep each night – some need less and some need more, but be sure to work out your optimal sleep needs and make it a habit.
It does wonders for your health and happiness.
15. Check your environment
Our physical environments can cause stress and overwhelm. Which doesn’t make for a happy person.
Is your work environment unorganized, messy and chaotic? Is your home full of clutter and unnecessary paperwork, piles of things and overflowing drawers?
Don’t underestimate the damage that clutter is doing to your happiness.
16. Do You Love Your Job?
Now, it’s not always practical or financially suitable to quit your job and move to the beach. And for whatever reasons, we don’t always love our job 100% of the time.
But we do spend a great deal of our time working and it’s important to either:
- Mostly enjoy your job,
- Change your perspective of it or
- Seek alternatives
Because while its not the be-all and end-all of your happiness, it can certainly affect it.
Meditation is not a new thing. It’s just that in this age of overload, we need to consciously make the time to meditate.
There are numerous studies on the link between meditation and happiness, but it’s something that you need to try yourself.
You might find quiet time alone each day to reflect or enjoy the little moments.
You may need to set aside time to intentionally meditate.
If it’s new to you, check out the free app Insight and give it a try in as little as 5 minutes a day.
18. Maintain Perspective
Things can and do go wrong in life. It’s a given. They key is to look at the big picture and consider the situation from multiple angles.
It’s not always possible in every situation but try to look for the opportunity in every difficulty.
And try and think if this ‘event’ that’s bringing down your happiness will matter in 5 years’ time or not.
19. Random Acts of Kindness
Fact: random acts of kindness do more for you than the person you are doing it for.
There’s no denying that the world needs more of these acts of kindness, but they will also bring you immense happiness for having done them.
In fact, a Japanese study examined the relationship between kindness and happiness, by using study groups that conducted acts of kindness and groups that also recorded the acts that they did. They found the following findings:
“Kind people experience more happiness and have happier memories…Simply by counting acts of kindness for one week, people appear to have become happier and more grateful… Thus, our results suggest that happy people are more kind in the first place and that they can become even happier, kinder and more grateful following a simple intervention.”
So, what can you do for someone else today, that will make their day?
20. What are your happiness fixes?
Lastly, this is a personal one but it’s important to grasp your understanding of it.
You can largely create your own happiness by engaging in intentional activities that are suitable to you.
It’s not a one-size fits all approach.
Make a quick list of 5 things that make YOU happy.
Do it now, without thinking too much, because whether consciously or subconsciously, you know your own happiness fixes. Make a note of them and use them often to boost your happiness!