“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”– Babe Ruth.
Happiness looks different for different people, and many people spend most of their lives trying to figure out how to be happy. However, contentment or happiness has to come from within, and once you establish that, you can make every situation a lot better!
How To Be Happy Tips
Meditation, exercise, sunshine, sleep, and whole foods are essential for your health. If you want to lead a happy life, it is crucial to take these tips seriously, not overlook them, and slowly implement them into your daily routine.
Guided meditation is beneficial because it can help you focus on the present, drown out the noise from your to-do list, or think about what your boss said about you today. Meditation is a simple way to bring your mind to the present and fill your thoughts with optimism.
Abraham Maslow studied people that he called “self-actualizing people.” They found happiness within themselves and on their terms rather than societal standards for satisfaction. He also says we follow a hierarchy of needs that becomes our source of motivation, and we do not reach self-actualization if we are lacking in specific categories. (Corey, 2021)
Solution-focused brief therapy says that we can resolve challenges in life, but we sometimes forget how competent we are and that we can resolve conflict within us. Meditation is helpful because it can remind you to choose to be happy and resolve conflicts you face, even if they seem overwhelming. Focus on what is working for you and focus on doing more of that.
Mindfulness meditation is a way of looking at what is going on in the present and not judging it but just observing it.
Building up your confidence through meditation, positive affirmations, and therapy can do wonders for your ability to conquer challenges you may have been putting off.
Exercise is a natural antidepressant, and specific exercises like yoga work as a natural muscle relaxer to release tension and stress. Not to mention exercise increases circulation, which gives you energy and helps you detox. It also increases the production of feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.
Create an epic playlist and challenge yourself with small challenges if you find exercising challenging. For example, try a short HIIT workout walking on the treadmill for two minutes and jogging for one minute. HIIT will get your heart rate up and help you get an exercise high if you do it for an extended period. For example, research shows adults who completed 3 minutes of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for 12 weeks increased their dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine.
Exercise releases endorphins, lower blood pressure, and can increase long-term health benefits.
Sunshine and fresh air are beneficial because of the vitamin D and energy you receive from the sun. Depressed patients who received greater sunlight exposure had lower levels of cognitive impairment. Sunlight also affects your circadian rhythm, and it tells your body when to produce melatonin to help you fall asleep. Higher levels of serotonin are correlated with higher melatonin production naturally.
Getting more than eight hours of sleep per night can decrease your risk for heart attack, coronary heart disease, stroke, depression, and asthma. (CDC, 2017) Sleep disturbances are common attributes of anxiety and depressive disorders. Insomnia increases the trajectory of depression, and over 90% of individuals with depression have sleep quality complaints. (Franzen & Buysse, 2008)
Improve your sleep quality by going to bed in a relaxed, comfortable environment and keeping electronics, especially ones with screens, away for at least 30 minutes before bed. Blue light can keep you awake at night and tell your body to suppress melatonin production.
Listening to a meditation, rain sounds, or some sort of noise to distract you from your racing thoughts is helpful to put you to sleep faster. Meditation is beneficial again by using mindful meditation to turn on the sleep switch and quiet your to-do list.
Self-care is a critical aspect of making yourself happy. I would say this is one of the most important things you can do on your journey to becoming happy. We often have a hard time being happy and showing compassion for others because we do not display it towards ourselves.
You may not think that you are constantly beating yourself up with your negative self-doubt or how you talk about yourself, but you genuinely are.
Positive affirmations are just a simple way to remind yourself of your worth by describing all of the small efforts you put in daily. For example, “I can do hard things” is one of my favorites because we may shy away from doing certain things that seem too challenging. However, by doing this, we never know what would happen if we tried those things. The more we accomplish by pushing ourselves and giving ourselves credit for our more minor accomplishments, the more confidence we will have.
Making breaks an essential part of your day is very helpful as well. You realize that breaks are just as important as working to create growth in your life. When you take conscious breaks, you are filling your cup back up so you can be more effective when you are working or completing tasks on your list. You may also find that the challenges you face seem like a simple problem that needs your attention instead of catastrophizing.
Positive psychology encourages us to see that people are good at heart but are negatively influenced. Happiness is a choice; you can either watch the news and think that everything is terrible or look outside and see kindness amongst your neighbors, people getting promotions at work, and individuals receiving second chances in life.
Perspective is worth a lot, and our personalities are changeable. They are essentially the opinions we have formed about specific thoughts based on our upbringing, the information around us, and experiences. Therefore, worrying is essentially a way to rob yourself of the present joy and focus on what could happen even though it has not happened yet.
We teach children that they need to be grateful at a young age, but adults forget how to do this in their own lives.
A simple way to do this is to start a gratitude journal and write down all of the small things you are thankful for. Over time, you may notice more minor details such as “I’m grateful for my favorite food” or “I am grateful for peace, joy, and new opportunities every day.”
They are blessings we must learn to be grateful for to fill our minds with more positive thoughts to balance the negativity the news, social media, and even those around us may be sharing.
Spend time cherishing the good things in your life that add to your success, convenience, joy, or peace.
Following this will help your esteem by seeing all that you have in life and what you have accomplished or are doing. Finding joy in the simple things and the more critical things will seem an even more tremendous blessing than you could imagine.
Understand Cognitive Distortions
Cognitive distortions are a part of cognitive behavioral therapy as unhelpful ways of thinking cloud how we see the world.
A few examples of these negative thoughts include personalization, where we assume that if someone rejects us, it is because we are lacking or they don’t like us. Also, making the situation about a lack of within ourselves when the individual may have felt intimidated or something entirely different from what you expected.
Overgeneralization is holding all or nothing beliefs about something based on one event. For example, “My boyfriend never does anything nice for me,” which could be he doesn’t take me out on dates as often as I like.
When we convince ourselves of these unhelpful, exaggerated beliefs, we tell ourselves that everything is that bad. But, in reality, we are making some of these concerns more exaggerated and putting them in an unhelpful representation.
REBT has similar beliefs, such as we need to eliminate these beliefs that cause self-defeat. These beliefs include that “I need to be loved by and gain the approval of others,” “everyone has to treat me fairly and kindly,” and “my living conditions must be gratifying and provide me with everything I want in life.”
Letting go of these beliefs can be very freeing and help prevent you from continuing to be emotionally disturbed.
Work with a licensed psychologist or therapist to identify some negative beliefs you may not even be aware of.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Alcohol and other substances may help you feel that dopamine that you want short-term, but they can increase your symptoms of anxiety and depression. Alcohol can contribute to poor gut health, and your gut produces 90% of your serotonin (your happy neurotransmitter).
Researchers found that individuals who struggle with alcohol dependence have an increased risk for gut permeability. (Fu et al., 2021) Essentially, that means that you do not absorb a good portion of the nutrients from your food; this can lead to nutrient deficiencies and other health problems.
Many individuals are looking for happiness in substances, and unfortunately, that is only a short-term relief with many side effects.
Diet plays a significant role in the makeup of your gut bacteria. There is the gut-brain axis, and it is a part of the enteric nervous system. A Western diet of highly processed foods, sugar, and inflammatory oils can deplete levels of healthy bacteria called probiotics.
Fiber, particularly prebiotic fibers, help feed probiotics to help them survive, increase immunity and support the gut-brain axis.
A diet rich in whole foods, antioxidant-rich, and micronutrient-dense choices is critical. They feed your good gut bacteria, fight off oxidative stress that can cause brain inflammation, and minimize your deficiencies.
Eating a balanced diet is essential, which means knowing when to enjoy the comfort foods and treats.
Happy people support their mental health, learn to be grateful for the small things in life, and do not place their emotional wellbeing on others. Only we can control how we feel about something; other people can not cry or make us angry (within reason).
Research shows that intrinsic motivation, believing that we have the power within ourselves to take control of our health, finances, mindset, etc., is way more powerful than extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation, for example, is working out because you want to look suitable for other people.
That may help you for a short period, but you will have a greater success rate if you are intrinsically motivated to work out because it makes your mental health better or feels better in your clothes.
You have choices all day long, and you can choose to flood your mind with positive thoughts or negative ones. Our minds are naturally biased toward negative thoughts, so it takes extra effort at first, but once you begin this journey, you will find that you can feel good.
It is okay to have negative emotions but do your best not to let them control you and make you feel miserable.
An affirmation that can be helpful is telling yourself, “the more I let it go, the better I will feel.” Knowing that sometimes it is better to be wrong and happy than to be correct and fight with someone or be miserable fighting to be correct.
Avoid Social Media
It may be fun, but when it becomes your source of serotonin and dopamine, and you keep coming back to it, you are getting false happiness signals.
Stop comparing yourself to others because you are giving yourself an unrealistic expectation. Let others’ success motivate you, but not a bar set for you. Set your bar based on your goals and your previous success.
Social media is proven repeatedly to be fake, and keep in mind that not everyone is going to like you or be happy with you, and that is okay as long as you want you.
If you like to follow close friends online to have that social connection with them, then use it sparingly.
Do Something Fun
Adults forget to laugh and have fun. We admire children for their innocence and ability to enjoy life no matter what they do. However, we think that maturity and aging mean that we should not have fun.
Doing “fun things” is critical for being happier and finding happiness.
If you struggle with coming up with fun things to do, write a list of things you would spend your time doing if you did not have any responsibilities. Then integrate that list into your routine, figure out how you will play a basketball game, sing, dance with some friends, and fuel that desire to have fun.
How To Be Happy in a Relationship
There are many different aspects to a relationship that can make you happy. If you are not married and are not satisfied, try spending time away from the person you are in a relationship with and see if you feel any better if you find that you are not happy and the only thing that has changed is your new relationship. Make sure you work on yourself during that time, go to bed at an optimal time, exercise, and eat nutrient-dense meals every day.
If you feel like your dissatisfaction does not go away, you may want to seek counseling to see if there are personal issues that you could improve. Also, learning how to communicate better in your relationship is helpful.
If you want to have a happy marriage and relationship, you have to be with someone that respects your wants and needs, is willing to communicate those effectively with you, and they have similar morals and core beliefs. Liking the same thing is not nearly as important as having something in common because you can make new memories, share your favorite movies and music, and create common ground.
Another thing is that you have to work through your baggage so that you do not carry it into your relationship or marriage. This could be insecurities you have from a previous partner cheating on you, and you make your current partner feel like you do not trust them. Although it may be tough to regain trust after being cheated on, if you want to have a healthy relationship, that is something you need to overcome those feelings.
Learning how to display empathy even if you do not understand or you don’t think their feelings are valid. Suppose your partner struggles with a mental disorder such as anxiety or depression, learn how to support them. In that case, 1 in 5 adults has a mental illness, only the individuals who get a diagnosis. (NAMI, 2022)
How To Be Happy Being Single
People sometimes overlook the blessings of singleness, such as total freedom without having to answer to anyone or be on someone else’s schedule. Also, it gives you more time to work on making yourself truly happy. Society tells us that we will be more comfortable if we just have that relationship, car, job, or home that makes us appear like we are doing great.
However, a happy person is content with their progress, gives themselves credit for where they are, and works on finding joy in the journey.
This information may not seem helpful if you are longing for a relationship; however, work on any personal baggage you may have. Then, when you attract someone into your life, you both are better equipped to have a healthy relationship.
As mentioned above, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that we need to check certain boxes to achieve happiness and fulfillment. Having great friends in your life, helping others, and working on understanding what makes you happy that has nothing to do with other people are critical to being happy when you are single.
How To Be Happy at Work
Utilizing the tips above on being happy can apply in every situation; however, practicing affirmations about your job can be helpful. For example, when you think, “I hate this job and my boss,” try to flip that and say, “I may not be happy with my current job, but it gives me opportunities to do the things I enjoy, and my boss is an individual who deals with their problems.”
It is challenging at first, but I promise that as you increase these comments and understand cognitive distortions, that may lead you to think that your job is worse than it truly is.
If you are discontent with your job, make a goal to change careers or companies or even work for yourself.
Start by writing out a plan of your career goal in life and what steps you need to take to get there. Then, when you are working in a position that you enjoy or find fulfilling, it will be less stressful for you. Also, if you find that the job you are working in just does not serve you and your family, it is okay to want to do something different and pursue it.
As intimidating as this decision is, write a list of the pros and cons and the absolute worst thing that could happen if you quit your job and if you stayed, and could you live with yourself if you made either choice.
Whatever you do on your journey to feel happier, make sure you take baby steps. If you try to do everything at once, you will become overwhelmed and feel like giving up. Instead, spend 20 minutes per day making plans for how you will pursue things that make you happy.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, May 2). CDC – data and statistics – sleep and sleep disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html
Corey, G. (2021). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Cengage.
Franzen, P. L., & Buysse, D. J. (2008). Sleep disturbances and depression: risk relationships for subsequent depression and therapeutic implications. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 10(4), 473–481. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2008.10.4/plfranzen
Fu, X., Chen, T., Cai, J., Liu, B., Zeng, Y., & Zhang, X. (2021). The Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis, a Potential Therapeutic Target for Substance-Related Disorders. Frontiers in microbiology, 12, 738401. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2021.738401
Mental health by the numbers. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.nami.org/mhstats
Megan is the owner and founder of Holistic Momma. Her background is in the natural health industry, and her education is in psychology and a current degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She writes about natural ways to cope with your mental health and how moms can communicate with and take care of their children in a loving and effective manner.