Are you happy? Do you often wish there are ways to increase happiness? We took the time to list out some ways to find happiness in life for you. But first …
What is happiness? How do YOU define happiness?
It’s hard to give an exact definition of happiness. One person might consider something as happiness which another person might not. It is somewhat relative to one’s own background and experiences. However, as we have found, happiness is often related to something positive.
Here are three definitions of happiness:
“Happiness is the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” – Sonja Lyubomirsky, Author of The How of Happiness
“Happiness has also been said to relate to life satisfaction, appreciation of life, moments of pleasure, but overall it has to do with the positive experience of emotions.” – Rubin Khoddam, Psychology Today
“Happiness is when your life fulfills your needs. Happiness comes when you feel satisfied and fulfilled. Happiness is a feeling of contentment, that life is just as it should be. Perfect happiness, enlightenment, comes when you have all of your needs satisfied.” – Kenneth Benjamin, Happiness International
Thus, happiness, in general, is associated with satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, and having a meaningful life. It doesn’t rely on material things. You may experience some hurdles here and there, but if you still find satisfaction in them, then you’re still happy.
If you want to learn new ways to increase happiness, here’s a list of the best ways to find happiness in life, according to our research.
1. Look at people who have bigger problems than youComparing yourself with others is often deemed as unhealthy. But did you know that this is sometimes beneficial? Comparing your current situation with someone else who has a more terrible situation can actually help you feel happier and more fortunate.
A Huffington Post article aptly puts it as “being thankful for what you don’t have.” Here goes:
“One approach is to turn anything negative you read about into a positive by thinking, ‘How fortunate I am that didn’t happen to me.’ In fact, that’s the kind of approach taken by positive psychologists, who seek to make everyday life more fulfilling.
“While one might certainly feel sympathy and empathy towards those who are suffering, one can also step back from the story to think about how fortunate one is that, “This didn’t happen to me.”
2. Drop unpleasant memories of the past and live in the present
Sometimes we can’t help going back to our past and try to relive those special moments. It’s not totally wrong to revisit the past (it sometimes becomes our source of strength and inspiration), but dwelling on it too much can bring more harm than good.
Depression is one of the harmful effects of dwelling too much on the past. This happens if we keep trying to retrieve a memory that is both distressing and hurtful.
The same way, dwelling too much on “happier days” can create fantasies. These fantasies will prevent us from seeing what’s going on in the present moment.
Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, writes:
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future and not enough presence.”
Another article in Entrepreneur.com says:
“Regardless of our stations in life, we can absolutely benefit from learning how to live in the now and be as present as possible while still having those long-term visions and plans. One of the major causes of unhappiness is to not appreciate what we already have and focus all of our energy and effort toward what we don’t have.”
3. Be part of something bigger
What do you live for? How do you spend your time?
In other words, what is your purpose in life? Are you a part of something bigger than yourself? Knowing YOUR purpose is one of the ways to increase happiness.
What is purpose?
Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has once said in a speech:
“Purpose is that sense that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.”
“People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety, and depression.”
4. Do things for others
Taking good care of yourself is commendable, we know that. But focusing all your attention on yourself may not be the best thing that can bring long-lasting and meaningful happiness.
What can bring long-lasting and meaningful happiness?
Doing things for others. And the greatest thinkers of our time agree that this is one of the ways to increase happiness in life.
Time Magazine presented a scientific evidence which proves that helping others contributes to creating long-lasting happiness. According to the article:
“Giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. Through fMRI technology, we now know that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex.
“Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it’s pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful.”
Isn’t that cool?
5. Take care of your body
“Health is wealth,” — popular adage
Our relationships with other people are important for our happiness, that’s a given. However, most importantly, we should not forget to take care of our physical health.
A Healthy Magazine article explains why we should take care of ourselves if we want to be happier:
“Health and happiness are synonymous. Being in good health is the greatest indicator of people’s spiritual, mental, physical well-being, and happiness.
“Happiness is achievable when people are in good physical health, which is a function of diet and nutrition, sleep, exercise, and general wholesome (stress-free) living.”
6. Be comfortable with who you are
Our downfall is often caused by the negative way we see ourselves. We have this tendency to focus on our flaws. And how it affects us? We don’t have enough confidence in our abilities when we go out into the world.
This is why sometimes people would try to evolve into something they are not … which is not a good way to increase happiness. In fact, it doesn’t bring real happiness at all.
So, rather than turning yourself into a stranger, Action for Happiness recommends some points that you can do to increase your happiness:
“Having constant criticism in our heads about not being good enough is a sure way to be unhappy. This doesn’t mean we should ignore our weaker areas or bad stuff that happens, but it does mean accepting that no-one is perfect, us included. It means putting our imperfections (and things that happen to us) into perspective – seeing them as normal rather than out of the ordinary.
“Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.”
7. Avoid overthinking and social comparison
Max Ehrmann says it perfectly in his poem, “Desiderata”: “If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
At this frenetic time where social media has become a commodity, comparing yourself to others is inevitable. Oftentimes, when we look at what other people post in social media, we feel bad. Why? Because all we can see are their perfect families, perfect jobs, and perfect lives. And as we start looking at our own lives, we feel as though our accomplishments are just mediocre compared to the success other people possess.
However, an article in the How to be Happy Guru advises to stop comparing yourself to others.
“There are always people who have attained more accomplishments, have more money or possessions, or are more physically endowed,” it says. “Competing with such people will leave you wanting in more ways than one. It will also cause you to lose focus on your life’s goals. More importantly, it will serve to fuel your discontentment with what you have and thus lead you to feelings of unhappiness.
8. Learn to forgive
Forgiving someone is one of the hardest things to do … especially if the wound caused by that person is too deep. However, we know that unforgiveness is like a boomerang – everything goes back to us, just like what these two quotes are saying:
Forgiveness is not something we do for other people. We do it for ourselves to get well and move on. —Anonymous
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned. ” -Buddha
Randy Taran, Founder and CEO of Project Happiness wrote in The Huffington Post:
“Have you ever tried to be happy, yet something just irked you under the surface — a feeling that you had not been seen, appreciated, loved? Or even worse, a feeling of betrayal, total loss of trust or even violation? What can be done?
“The way out is forgiveness. Let’s make something clear from the get-go. It’s not about saying that what happened to hurt you was OK — it was not. It’s about adjusting your outlook and the way you deal with a situation so that it does not entrap you, keeping you stuck in anger, sadness or frustration for years to come. Your forgiveness opens the door to your own freedom.”
9. Take a positive approach
Taking a positive approach to any situation makes everything feel less complicated. And this is one of the best ways to increase happiness. Yes, we have the absolute freedom to choose how we approach every situation. However being grateful and patient will have better outcomes compared to being angry and impatient.
Here’s something to ponder from Psychology Today:
“Your thoughts form your character, how you operate in the world, how far you travel mentally, physically, and spiritually. You are what you think you are, and all of your actions proceed from thought. Your inner thoughts will always be reflected in your outer circumstances because self-generated changes in your life are always preceded by changes in the way you think about something.
“As far as your brain, every thought releases brain chemicals. Being focused on negative thoughts effectively saps the brain of its positive forcefulness, slows it down, and can go as far as dimming your brain’s ability to function, even creating depression. On the flip side, thinking positive, happy, hopeful, optimistic, joyful thoughts decreases cortisol and produces serotonin, which creates a sense of well-being. This helps your brain function at peak capacity.”
10. Accept what you cannot change
The reason people fall into depression and anxiety is that they keep trying to control things that are beyond their power to control.
The Serenity Prayer has made it clear that the best we can do is to just accept the things that we cannot change, but that it takes a lot of wisdom to know which are the ones that are out of our control.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Spirituality and personal development blogger, Suzanne Heyn, writes in her post:
“We often see our problems as things that block us from getting what we want. But what if our trials were part of the path and not detours? Things to carve us into the person we’re meant to be to live the life we’re meant to?
“Our lives come with certain constraints, challenges, and lessons. To access our true nature of boundlessness, which comes when we fully merge with the divine, we must first accept our limits. Our limits are the things we cannot change.”
11. Let go of a habit or relationship that no longer serves your best interest
Letting go is one of the most difficult things that you have to do in life. Whether it is a habit, a thing, or a person that you are letting go of, it involves a certain level of emotional struggle.
However, besides struggles and sadness, letting go also leads to something better, perhaps a happier life.
In an article by Dr. Hyder Zahed in Huffington Post, there is a very important lesson to be learned in letting go:
“It is an invitation to relinquish unhealthy attachments to events, ideas, possessions, and minor irritations. No time is better than the present to make a conscious decision to release these negative influences so that, you can enjoy life as it unfolds precious moments each and every day.”
So if you’re sad about letting go of something or someone in your life, always think that it always brings a positive change.
Do You Want to Increase Your Happiness?
Happiness, though it may not be our ultimate goal in life, is something that we can work on. By focusing on increasing happiness in our own life, we are actually benefiting others. Increasing happiness is good for everyone. If more and more people focus on finding true happiness by following any of the ideas we’ve offered here, we can transform this world into a happier place.
If you need help in finding your way to true happiness, we’re here to help you. We have a program called Manufacturing Happiness Class where we teach the best ways to increase happiness in life. If you’re ready find ways to increase happiness, join class, get scheduled now.