Happiness is what most of us seek. It’s what motivates us to make many of the choices that we make, all with the end goal of hopefully being happier.
But here’s the problem: focusing on the end goal steals our joy from the present because we think when this particular event happens, then I’ll be happy.
And you might — for a short while.
But then you will move on to the next thing that has to happen before you get to feel joy and contentment.
This elusive cycle continues while your quest for happiness is dependent on the attainment of future goals, which may never happen.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with setting goals and striving to be better and do better. Just don’t allow your happiness to be determined by this.
You can start to feel more joy and life-satisfaction by making a few small changes that begin with fostering a positive mindset.
Here are seven things you can do to become a happier person today.
1. Intend to Be Happy
“Happiness is a journey, not a destination; happiness is to be found along the way, not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over, and it’s too late. The time for happiness is today, not tomorrow.”
— Paul H Dunn.
The first step to becoming happier is simpler than you might think.
All it entails is the desire to be happy.
Once you acknowledge that this is what you seek, it’s just a matter of developing the attitude and mindset that will allow you to experience more joy in your life.
The intention to be happy is a crucial first step in your quest for happiness because it encourages you to think about what makes life rewarding for you, individually.
It’s about looking at all those small things that give you pleasure and increase your life satisfaction each day.
2. Be Thankful for What You Have
Ample scientific studies show that those who practice gratitude regularly generally report higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.
Gratitude helps us to let go of self-limiting emotions like fear, sadness, and shame in exchange for more positive emotions like joy, contentment, and optimism.
Author of “Thanks: How the Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” Dr. Emmons found that being thankful for what you have can increase your happiness by 25 percent.
His in-depth study included thousands of participants from every corner of the world. Thus, Emmon’s conclusion can be applied globally.
To benefit from practicing gratitude, just set aside five minutes in the morning and list five things you are grateful for in your life.
While doing this activity, focus on the positive emotions associated with your list.
Try this for at least four weeks as it usually takes time to feel the full benefits from this activity.
3. Develop Good Habits
In the wise words of Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do…” By this logic, we can set about changing our habits to become the person we want to be.
And we don’t have to change everything at once, that would most likely be too big of an ask.
Start by making one small change for a week where, for instance, you make a conscious choice to intend to be happy.
While doing this, keep a journal and write down the things that brought you joy then review how you’re getting on each week.
The following week, you could set aside five minutes each morning to write a gratitude list and integrate this practice with the first, so that you do not become overwhelmed.
Starting small is good. The most important part is sticking with any new activity that benefits you.
4. Silence Your Inner Critic
Many people spend every waking hour thinking about one thing or another.
Typically much of this thinking is centered around events from the past and imagining future scenarios.
The problem with this style of thinking is that it is often negative.
Do you tend to dwell on positive past experiences or those where you feel you fell short?
Do you spend more time thinking about what you’d like your life to look like in the future, or what you don’t want to happen?
If you answered the latter, then your happiness goal is being compromised by your thoughts.
But you can change this.
Start by paying more attention to your thoughts.
Listen to them as if you are an outside observer.
What do you notice?
Every time you berate yourself for not being enough or worthy, pause for a moment to see if there is any truth to it.
You will often find that there is no basis for these negative perceptions, and you are far better than you realized.
What’s more, you will train your mind to be objective about what it’s observing and feel more peace as you go about your day.
5. Connect with Others
Author of “ The Pursuit of Happiness,” David Myers discusses what makes us happy and what doesn’t.
He says that some of the things that people often associate with happiness like status, career success, and high earnings are, in fact, the very things that do not increase your happiness.
His research shows that nurturing positive relationships and having a sense of belonging gives people more life satisfaction.
So, if you want to increase your happiness be sure to invest more of your time into relationships with the people that matter to you most.
6. Engage in Meaningful Activities
Psychologists have long recognized the importance of engaging in meaningful activities.
It’s good for our wellbeing, overall health, and it makes us happier.
Meaningful pursuits can be something as simple as reading a good book or listening to your favorite music.
Or it could be playing a game of cards with friends, for instance, or meeting them for lunch.
Some other significant examples of meaningful acts could include visiting an isolated relative or helping someone in need.
Psychologists note that doing something that benefits others cultivates authentic happiness and brings about a higher level of life satisfaction.
7. Try New Things
Author and behavioral investigator, Vanessa Van Edwards recommend ‘happiness experiments’ as a way of bringing more joy to your mornings.
She encourages happiness pursuers to write a bucket list as this will give you an idea of the activities that appeal to you.
Then all you have to do is choose something that is on your list.
Trying something new should fill you with a little bit of excitement.
But if you don’t have a bucket list and aren’t sure where to start with this one, Vanessa suggests that you try something you’ve always wanted to do.
She also asks people to think about who they want to spend time with when doing a new activity or otherwise.
Participants who took part in these experiments found that when they were specific about what they wanted to do, they felt much happier compared to those who were vague.
So, to get the most out of these ‘happiness experiments’ be as detailed as you can, and have fun with it.
“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy…” — Ralph Marston
Happiness comes from within.
If you choose to be happy from this point onwards you will lay the foundations for living a satisfying life.
You can then build on these foundations by actively pursuing activities that you enjoy, and give your life purpose and meaning.