Finding happiness has been a very popular topic throughout the years since many people, including me, have been trying to find or increase happiness in their lives. It is such a popular topic that has been the focus of articles, books, TED Talks, and even Yale University offers a happiness class.
But besides all the discussion, there are still five common questions that come up over, and over again regarding happiness.
Because of that, it would be beneficial to go over those questions first.
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What is happiness?
I feel that the easiest way to define happiness is to talk about what it is not:
Happiness is not a one-size-fits-all solution
There’s not a simple or single answer that fits everybody. Instead, it means something different for each person.
For example, in my case, part of happiness means working from home to spend more time with my kids. While for others, it may involve riding a horse, living in the Caribbean, or starting an online store.
Happiness doesn’t mean impressing others
Even though it is usually tied to big purchases like an expensive car or big events such as getting married, that’s usually where the confusion grows. There’s nothing wrong with buying an expensive car, but if you are only doing it to impress others then that expensive car will not be the solution to finding happiness.
Happiness is not a permanent location or destination
Sometimes, people believe that they will automatically be happy for the rest of their life if they could only achieve a magic thing that they have in mind. Unfortunately, focusing so much on that magic object or event can make you overlook the real happiness that is already happening around you. A simple rule to lead by is to do at least one thing every day that makes you happy.
Happiness doesn’t have a “go big or go home” mentality
That’s another myth. It’s not uncommon to think that happiness can only be achieved by doing something big. Of course, if that’s what you want in life, it will make you happier, too. But, you don’t have to wait until then to see happiness in your life. Look around you for the small things that make you happy, daily. It could be as simple as spending 30 minutes reading a book, watching Netflix, volunteering, working on a hobby, or hugging your kids 😊.
Can happiness be achieved?
That’s an interesting question but the answer depends on how you perceive happiness and what the word “achieved” means to you.
As mentioned earlier, happiness is a continuous process. It’s not something that we can just achieve once and permanently. If you are only looking at it as reaching a milestone such as getting married or winning the lottery, then you will probably feel that it is something hard to achieve.
Something else to consider is what happens after you achieve what you want. For example, think about running a marathon. After completing a 5K, you may decide that running a 10K will actually make you happier. Or, that instead of running another marathon, now you prefer to enroll in a karate class.
It’s okay to keep setting new goals in your life, just don’t forget to be happy for what you have already achieved too.
In other words, no matter what the word happiness means to you, it’s something that you can start working on today. Right now. And, every single day.
What is the formula for happiness?
If you are trying to find a secret recipe, then the answer might be simple: the happiness formula.
As it’s understandable, many people are constantly looking for ways to become happier in life. Because of that, throughout the years, many people have been interested in understanding it more.
And even though there’s no magic solution to find happiness, some people like Mo Gawdat and Deepak Chopra have come up with formulas or equations to help us understand it better.
Of course, each formula is different. Some formulas may take into consideration your expectations, life events, mindset, temporary pleasures, living conditions, purpose in life, or even genetics.
But there are two aspects that these formulas have in common: the search for happiness and the importance given to the person’s actions or decisions. Which take us to the next section…
Is happiness a choice or an emotion?
There has been a continuous debate to determine whether happiness should be considered a choice or an emotion.
Let’s start with happiness as an emotion.
Some people consider that it’s unfair and unrealistic to even think that happiness is a choice. Some of the reasons are that it:
- is based on your state of mind
- doesn’t take into consideration external circumstances which can be too strong and uncontrollable
- is difficult to achieve, people should focus on being positive rather than happy
On the other side are people who support that happiness is a choice. In this case, some of their reasons are that you:
- can control your actions
- make the choice of focusing on the negative or positive things of your life
- choose how to react to your problems
I remember studying Maslow’s theory in most of the human resources trainings and college classes that I attended. Many years ago, Abraham Maslow created a theory called the Hierarchy of Needs which consists of a pyramid with five levels of needs. He explained that once a need is met, the person moves on to the next level.
But, look at the top three levels of Maslow’s hierarchy…
Those top three levels are:
- love (social, sense of belonging)
- self-esteem (achievement)
- self-actualization (reaching full potential)
If you notice, each of those three levels involves an emotion.
So, what do you think, is happiness a choice or an emotion?
Well, I see a combination of both because you need to take action (make choices) in order to achieve what makes you happy (emotion).
I am not saying that it is easy to do. But like Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.
In this case, if we want to see changes (be happier), we need to change how we have been doing things until now, including our habits. And the process of changing habits alone takes time and effort.
Plus, you need to take into consideration the complexity of what you want to achieve.
For example, if you want to achieve financial freedom, depending on your current situation, it may take years to be where you want to be. Even opening a home daycare may take you months since you need to prepare the area in your house, submit all the paperwork, get the permits, take the required training, pass the inspections, etc.
In summary, make the point to take baby steps every day towards your happiness. No matter what you want, there are always small steps where you can start.
How to find happiness within yourself?
After talking about choices and emotions, it is time to talk about how you can find happiness, within yourself.
No matter what you do, you always have to start somewhere. The same applies here. In this case, the best place to start is by searching for that happiness within yourself. Even though, several of the 25 strategies discussed in this article help you with it, here a few suggestions.
5 Quick tips to find happiness within yourself
- Be happy with who you are
I know, we are not perfect, but you have many great and unique qualities. If you are having a hard time identifying them, think of what others like about you. Consider what your family members, friends, co-workers, supervisors, etc. have said. If you can’t think of anything, ask them for some feedback. I am sure that they won’t mind helping you out.
- Always keep in mind that you are the best version of yourself
This is something that I tell my daughters to remember. There’s no one single person in this world that can be YOU better than yourself.
- Take time to focus on those small things that make you smile
Schedule some time every day to do something that you enjoy. You can play with your kids, watch funny videos, do some stress relieving adult coloring books, watch a TV show, do photography, walk in the neighborhood, contact a friend, and so on.
- Work on those things that you would like to improve about yourself
There’s always something about ourselves that we would like to change or improve. Identify the steps needed to make it happen and take action. This will help you be the best version of yourself. Some action steps may be reading books within that niche, taking a class, conducting research, or finding a mentor (we will talk about this shortly).
- Believe in yourself and how you can change your life for the better
Sometimes, we are the toughest critics of ourselves, our lives, and our situations. Here, is when you go back and focus on the previous tips.
When finding happiness within yourself doesn’t work
Sometimes, you feel that you just can’t reach the point where you want to be even after trying hard. In that case, don’t be afraid to seek help from the outside.
First, understand that you are not the only one. Many successful people have sought help too. Just give yourself another chance, and evaluate your options:
- Talk to a good friend or family member
Make sure that it’s not only a friend or family member, but someone who knows you well, that can be honest with you and wants the best for you.
You can look for an experienced coach, trainer, or mentor who can point you in the right direction. That would not only save you headaches but can take you where you want to go faster.
Talking to a professional can help you evaluate your past, understand your current situation, and help you improve your future.
Even though we normally try to avoid going to the doctor or leave it as the last resource, the truth is that a doctor may see something else that you are missing.
In summary, keep an open mind during the process no matter if you are finding happiness within yourself or with the help of others.
The best ways to increase happiness
After having a better understanding of happiness and how to find it, it’s time to share what I consider the 25 best ways to increase happiness in your life.
Happiness: 25 Ways to Be Happier with Your Life
1- Know yourself better
2- Find the right balance in your life
3- Practice self-care
4- Develop a positive mindset
6- Let go of the past
7- Choose the right people in your life
8- Organize your life
9- Feel like a kid again
11- Plan something different
12- Create a bullet journal
13- Get out of your comfort zone
14- Spend quality time with your family and friends
15- Create happy memories
17- Get rid of your limiting beliefs
18- Simplify your life
19- Keep track of your money
20- Manage your time regularly
21- Make every day count
22- Be aware of your thoughts and actions
23- Make a daily routine
25- Visualize your future
Ok, let’s wrap up. Happiness is a combination of things including your well-being and doing what you really want in life.
As I said before, happiness is an ongoing process and it is not a destination or finish line. And, of course, being happy doesn’t mean being immune to illnesses, problems, frustrations, or even failures. It is just facing life with a positive mindset.
There will always be ups and downs in our lives. But, during the not-so-happy-moments:
- focus on the things what you want in life
- evaluate your situation objectively
- adjust your action steps, process, or approach and
- keep moving forward!
It’s your turn to be happier
Here, you learned 25 ways that help increase happiness. Even if you don’t like or agree with every single strategy, you still have plenty of them to choose from.
One more tip: Don’t forget to track your progress every time you try a new strategy. That’s the only way to see the real results at the end of the implementation or trial period. Here is one of my favorite trackers that you can use.
Now, I would like to know which ones were your top three strategies? And, which one will you implement first?