Happiness is the greatest aspiration in life, but achieving it can sometimes seem a struggle. In this article we uncover 20 secrets to being happy, as compiled by ‘The Happiness Institute’.
Dr Timothy Sharp from ‘The Happiness Institute’ suggests that happiness is achievable by each and every one of us, and that all it takes is learning to master a basic set of disciplines, with practice. By following these 21 tips you will soon learn that happiness has more to do with your state of mind than your circumstances, so it’s never too late to start enjoying life.
Make happiness a priority. If happiness is not at the top of your list then other things will take precedence. If other things take precedence, they may well interfere with your efforts to feel good.
Make plans to be happy. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Just like in any other life domain, the successful pursuit of happiness requires planning.
Set happy goals. Following on from Tip 2, planning requires effective goal setting. And don’t forget to make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed).
Do things that make you happy. Although this sounds obvious, many people simply forget to do things from which they gain pleasure. And do them as often as possible.
Set yourself tasks from which you’ll gain satisfaction. As well as pleasure and enjoyment, satisfaction is also an important part of happiness. So make sure that when you’re planning your tasks and activities you include things that might not be fun, but from which you’ll gain a sense of achievement.
Play and have fun. Don’t take life too seriously. Although we all have responsibilities there’s no reason why we can’t approach much of our lives in a playful manner. In fact, those who do so will undoubtedly be happier.
Identify where your strengths lie. Know where your faults and weaknesses are to avoid problems. Know where your strengths lie to be really happy and to succeed in life.
Utilise your strengths. Although we all can and should endeavour to improve in areas in which we’re weak there’s just as much, if not more, to be gained from focusing on the maximal utilisation of your strengths (including all your positive qualities and attributes).
Be curious. Constantly search for new ways to be happy. Keep a look out for new ways to approach life and to have fun.
Be grateful and appreciate what you have. We all have many choices in life, one of which is whether to focus on all the things we don’t have (of which there might be many), or to focus on all the things we do have. There’s no doubt, that gratitude and appreciation will significantly increase your chances of experiencing happiness.
Learn to like and ideally to love yourself. We must love before we can be loved. To love others and to be loved by others is a key component of happiness.
Invest time and energy in to your key relationships. Happy people spend more time working on and in their relationships. Happy people tend to be more supportive of other people in their life. Happy people are more generous and altruistic
Socialise and interact with others as much as possible. Happy people have both more and better quality relationships. So as well as working to improve the quality of your relationships (as noted in Tip 12) it’s also worthwhile working to improve the number of your relationships.
Weed out unhelpful thoughts. The Dalai Lama has been quoted saying that “The central method for achieving a happier life is to train your mind in a daily practice that weakens negative attitudes and strengthens positive ones.” Learn first to identify your thoughts and then begin to challenge those that are negative and unhelpful.
Plant happier, optimistic thoughts. As noted in Tip 14, there are two parts to developing helpful, optimistic thinking. The first is to weed out unhelpful negative thoughts and the second is to plant more positive, optimistic ones. This is essentially a skill, and like any other skill becomes easier and more effective with practice.
Live a healthy life. Eat well and keep active. Exercise regularly. Although not impossible, it’s difficult to be happy if you’re constantly sick and not very healthy.
Ensure you gain adequate sleep and rest. Consistent with Tip 16, it’s difficult to be happy if you’re constantly tired and struggling to find enough energy to get through the day. To assist with this, regularly practice relaxation and/or meditation strategies.
Manage your time and priorities. Happy people tend to believe they’re more in control of their lives. In doing so, they’re more likely to take an active approach to solving problems. If something’s not quite right in your life, do something. And further, make sure that what you’re doing is important. Put first things first.
Control what you can control. Accept what you can’t control. And learn to be wise enough to know the difference.
Live in the present moment. The author, Henry Miller once said “Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognise it as such.” The only moment in which we can truly be happy is the present moment. The only moment over which we have control is the present moment. So be happy now! Because if not now, then when?
Tip 21 – an EXTRA tip to make you happy!
Make happiness an integral part of your life. Develop happiness routines and make them a part of your every day living. Remind yourself however you can to do what you need to do and reward yourself as often as possible for doing what you’ve done.
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