- What is happiness?
- Should you be happy all the time?
- What makes people unhappy?
- How to be happy when depressed?
- Measuring Happiness
- Changing Your Mindset
- Happy with what you have
- Things You Need To Give Up To Be Happy
This guide will cover and answer all questions you have about happiness.
Because of the length of the article, we have separated it into sections which you can navigate with the links above.
Now, let’s get started!
While happiness seems to be a natural state of being for some people, to others it remains elusive. Happiness isn’t something that is easy to define, and what makes another person happy, may not work for you.
Happy people are also more productive at work and in their personal lives. They also have better relationships. In fact, as John Lennon once said when asked what his goal in life was, he simply stated, “to be happy.” Like John, we should all aspire to be happy.
What is happiness?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines happiness as “a state of well-being and contentment.” Some other words that are often used to describe happiness are joy and gratitude. What it boils down to, is that happiness is determined by your level of satisfaction with your life.
Happy people feel that their lives are meaningful. Happy people also have meaningful relationships with others. To gain a better understanding of happiness, it is sometimes easier to look at what happiness is not.
Happiness is not the same thing as pleasure
Happiness is more hard-wired into your state of being than pleasure. For example, that hot fudge, triple chocolate sundae may bring you pleasure, but after you’ve eaten it, the pleasure is gone. Many people try to be happy by doing things that give them pleasure, such as food, shopping, sex, drugs or alcohol. While these things are pleasurable, once the high is gone, the sadness returns, often with greater intensity than before.
Happiness is not determined by wealth
Certainly, we all need enough money to meet our needs. Any shortage of funds required to live a comfortable life can contribute to a pervasive state of sadness.
However, once we have enough money, more and more money does not bring increased happiness. In other words, being wealthy in and of itself does not make a person happy. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that it’s the exact opposite and that it’s not wealth that brings happiness but happiness that brings wealth.
Happiness is not the same thing as being healthy
While it’s true that sickness can be a source of unhappiness, the link between the two isn’t so straightforward. As long as medical conditions do not greatly affect daily functioning, many serious medical conditions don’t negatively impact our happiness. However, some less serious health problems, such as arthritis or urinary incontinence that do impact daily functioning, have a greater impact on happiness.
Like wealth, health is linked to positive emotions. Happy people tend to be healthy, just as happy people tend to be wealthy. Since a state of joy or happiness is a large contributing factor to our health and our wealth, we can say with great confidence that everyone should aspire to be happy.
In this article, we will delve deeper into this elusive topic and pin down some key concepts that make it easier to bring happiness into our everyday lives.
Should you be happy all the time?
The short answer is no.
Despite what your Facebook and Instagram may be telling you, it’s impossible to be happy all the time. Rather than being happy all the time, happy people often describe themselves as content. When something bad happens, it’s appropriate and perfectly healthy to feel sad. Sadness helps us to cope when tragic things happen to us.
In fact, trying to sustain life in which you are happy all the time isn’t psychologically healthy, and can cause you to be unhappy.
It is natural for some people to exist a little higher on the happiness scale. In fact, there may be genetic reasons why some people are naturally happier than others. However, your happiness is not completely determined by this “happy gene.”
People who lack the happy gene can still be happy by living meaningful lives with good relationships. Other things that are helpful are meditation and exercise. So, contentment is the goal.
If you are not feeling at least a mediocre level of happiness most of the time, then there may be a deeper problem. If your bouts of sadness, anxiousness, or feelings of emptiness last for more than a few days, you may actually be suffering from depression. Such depressed feelings are signs that you should seek professional help.
What Makes People Unhappy?
According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a Psychology Today, University of California researcher, about 40 % of our capacity for happiness is within our control. Chronically unhappy people tend to have unhealthy habits. Most of these habits rest in the way we think. Here are some common habits in the thinking processes of unhappy people.
They Believe That Life is Hard
Happy people tend to bounce back after hard times, take responsibility for problems and work proactively to get themselves back on track. Whereas unhappy people often see themselves as victims and complain when problems arise. Unhappy people often stay stuck in a “look what happened to me” mindset.
They Believe That People cannot be Trusted
Unhappy people do not trust strangers and assume that most people cannot be trusted. The attitude of distrust makes it difficult for them to find and make friends.
They are Worrying about the Future
Unhappy people often dwell on all the things that could go wrong rather than thinking about all the ways they can make their lives better.
They are Comparing Themselves to Others
Unhappy people are more likely to fall victim to the “compare and despair” trap.
They want to be in Total Control of Everything
Trying to micro-manage your life can cause unhappiness.
Some people tend to fret over every decision, whether it be big or small. Questioning our own decisions leads to stress and unhappiness and causes an inability to commit fully to any choices they make.
In an upcoming discussion, we will talk about how to change your mindset and banish negative thoughts. However, in addition to negative, unhealthy thoughts, there are other things that make people unhappy. Other sources of unhappiness can stem from the environment or other choices we make in our daily lives. The good news is that these things are also things that you can control.
Too Much Social Media
Spending too much time on social media is linked to feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. This sadness is at least partially due to the fact that so many people on social media look attractive and happy, causing us to fall victim to the “compare and despair” syndrome. However, feelings of inadequacy also cause an inability to be honest about our insecurities, feelings, and beliefs, making it harder for us to relate to one another.
Junk food laden diets are linked with depression.
Lack of Exercise
Spending too much time sitting is also linked to depression and those who sit too much in addition to not exercising have triple the risk of developing symptoms of depression.
Too Much Money
You’ve heard it many times that “money can’t buy happiness.” If you’re fortunate enough to have wealth, you may have already realized that buying all your heart’s desires doesn’t lead to lasting happiness.
In fact beyond a certain threshold, more money is often linked to higher rates of depression. This is probably why many wealthy people often choose to be philanthropists, making large donations to causes devoted to helping others.
Helping others brings them joy as opposed to simply having more money for themselves.
Too Many Choices
With so many choices to make about everything from the brand of coffee to the car we buy, many of us are paralyzed by all the options and constantly wondering if we are making the best choices.
Living in High Altitudes
Did you know that people living in high altitudes have higher rates of depression and suicide? In fact, a region in the eight intermountain states of the American west is referred to as “the suicide belt.” This higher rate of depression has been attributed to the thin air present at higher elevations. Also, females, both in rats and humans are more prone to developing depression at high altitudes than their male counterparts.
How to be Happy When You’re Depressed.
Living with depression isn’t easy. It drains your energy, hope and drive and makes it harder for you to engage in the things that will help you recover. Although you can’t simply will yourself to be happy, there are many ways you can cope with depression. Each small step, such as taking a short walk or calling a loved one, is taking you that much closer to feeling better. Here are some simple things you can start doing now.
Get Some Sunshine Each Day
Do you ever get the winter blues? For some people, the reduced sunlight in winter causes a form of seasonal depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The serotonin levels in your body have a positive connection with mood. The higher the serotonin level, the better your mood. Sunlight has been shown to boost levels of serotonin. Try to get at least 15 minutes per day. Basically, you need to get outside more. Here are some suggestions:
- Take a Walk on Your Lunch Break
- Exercise Outside – Do an outside activity that you enjoy such as hiking or playing a sport.
- Increase your Exposure to Natural Light – At home or the office, open the shades and try to sit near a window
- Light Therapy Box – If you live in an area with little sunshine, try light therapy.
Maintain Connections to Other People
If you are depressed, you may want to isolate yourself. You may feel tired, ashamed, or guilty about neglecting your relationships. However, you need to stay connected to other people and take part in social activities because this will improve your mood and outlook on life. Friends and loved ones care about you and want to help. Here are some suggestions on how to reach out and connect with others:
- Contact people who make you feel safe and cared for. This could be a parent, a close friend or another relative.
- Make it a Priority to Meet Face to Face. – Phone calls, texting, and social media can’t replace quality time spent together. The simple act of talking to someone face-to-face can make a huge difference in your outlook.
- Attend Social Activities – Although it may be difficult, being around other people will help relieve your depression.
- Provide Support to others – Research shows that whenever a person gives support to someone who needs it, they receive more happiness than if they themselves had received the support. So look for opportunities to volunteer, or help out a friend in need.
- Adopt a Pet – Of course, nothing can replace human companionship. However, pets can also help you feel less isolated. They have a way of making their owners feel needed, which is good for lifting the mood.
- Joining a Support Group can also help you with feelings of isolation. You will be with others who understand what you are experiencing and you will be able to support one another.
Do Things to Relax and Energize Yourself
When depressed, you may find that you have to push yourself to do things. You need to do things even when you don’t want to because it will help you recover. You may not feel better immediately but the more you push yourself to get back out in the world, the more energetic you’ll become. Here are some suggestions:
- Take up a hobby that you once enjoyed.
- Explore your creative side through music, art or writing.
- Go on an outing with friends.
- Go for a walk in nature.
If you are suffering from depression, most likely, the last thing that you want to do is exercise. It’s proven that exercise helps relieve depression symptoms. In addition, continuing with an exercise program after recovery will help prevent a relapse.
To get the maximum benefit, you need at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. In the beginning, 30 minutes may seem impossible, but it’s perfectly fine to start small. You can also spread multiple 5-10 minute sessions throughout the day. A simple 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.
Eat a Healthy Diet
There’s a lot of evidence that our diet plays a large role in our moods. Nutrition is at the heart of both a healthy mind and a healthy body. For someone who experiences depression, it’s best to avoid foods that adversely affect the mood. Substances that negatively affect the brain are caffeine, alcohol, trans-fats and any food with high levels of chemical preservatives.
Choose whole natural foods whenever possible and avoid fast food. This is an important topic that will be discussed in greater detail in Part 5 of this article, there we’ll talk about foods that make you happy and foods that make you sad. For now, here are a few quick tips on how to eat to improve symptoms of depression:
- Don’t Skip Meals – Skipping meals leads to a drop in blood sugar which can cause you to feel irritable and tired? Apparently, this is so common that we’ve created a new word for it, hangry, describing a person who is angry because of hunger.
- Eat Less Sugar and Refined Carbs – These comfort foods can make you feel good in the short term but leave you feeling tired and bad-tempered later. Such foods are not good for the mood because they cause a spike in your blood sugar followed by the inevitable crash.
- Eat more Leafy Greens, Chicken, Beans, Eggs and Citrus Fruits – These foods contain B Vitamins which are connected to mood. A deficiency in B vitamins can trigger depression.
- Fish Oil – Add some Omega-3 rich fish to your diet, such as salmon, herring or tuna. Omega-3 has a strong link to mood. If fish isn’t your thing, it may be a good idea to take a good fish oil supplement.
Challenge Your Negative Thinking
Many of the keys to happiness lay within our minds. Due to the strong mind-mood connection, this topic will be discussed in greater detail in the upcoming section on “Changing Your Mind-Set.” In that section, we’ll get down to business with methods to banish negative thoughts. After which, we will replace them with positive thoughts. Changing your thinking will improve your outlook, confidence, and wellbeing.
Do you consider yourself to be happy? Do you think that you are happier or less happy than most people? Happiness isn’t an easy thing to measure as it means something different for each person. In this section, we will examine a subjective way of measuring happiness and attempt to establish an idea of our own level of happiness.
Subjective Measure of Happiness – http://www.cnbc.pt/jpmatos/26.%20lyubomirsky.pdf
The Lyubomirsky & Lepper paper linked above makes this sound a lot more complicated than it actually is. Follow this simple process. First, answer each of the four questions by circling the point on the scale that you feel best describes you.
|Not very happy||Very Happy|
|In general, I consider myself to be:|
|Not very happy||Very Happy|
|Compared with most of my peers, I consider myself to be:|
|Not at all||Very Much|
|I enjoy life regardless of what is happening. Does this describe you?|
|Not at all||Very Much|
In order to score yourself, you must first reverse code the fourth score. So on number 4, if you gave yourself a 2, then your score would be 6, or if you scored yourself a 6, then your score would change to 2.
Next, calculate the mean of the scores. For example, I scored a 5, 6, 6, and 2 on the four questions. My scores after reversing the fourth question, are 5, 6, 6, and 6.
Add the scores together. 5+6+6+6=23
Find the mean. 23÷4=5.7
My happiness level is 5.7 on a scale of 1 to 7.
What does this mean?
A higher score simply means that you are a naturally happy person and lower scores, of course, would mean that you are naturally less happy. However, there is no need to despair if you are hanging on at the lower end of the spectrum. There are many lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your wellbeing and sense of joy. For the remainder of this article, we’ll discuss many things that you can do to feel happier.
Changing Your Mindset
Our thoughts produce strong emotions that can make us miserable. Did you know that the human brain is wired to notice the negative more than the positive?
We have developed this sort of thinking for self-preservation purposes. As hunter-gatherers, human beings have had to scan for threats for thousands of years. Unfortunately, this constant scanning for threats can cause a negative feedback loop that does not reflect reality. Fortunately, we can break out of this negative feedback loop and rewire our brains to think more positively, leading to greater happiness and contentment.
In this section, we’ll look at ways to break free of negative thoughts and build a positive outlook to help foster peace of mind and happiness.
The Rubber Band Method
Negative thinking has become so natural, that we don’t realize when we’re doing it. The goal of this method is to create awareness around the negative thoughts, interrupt the behavior, and then switch gears.
- Find a rubber band and place it around your wrist. This is to serve as a reminder to notice your thoughts. For the next few days practice noticing your thoughts. Learn to recognize when you are worrying, feeling anxious, or sad.
Over the next few days do not worry too much about trying to change them. Simply noticing these thoughts, however, may be enough to make some of them go away.
- Now that you have practiced noticing your negative thoughts, you’re ready to start taking action. You should still be using the rubber band. Now whenever you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, give the rubber band a snap. This creates physical stimuli to interrupt the mental loop feedback. Take a few seconds to identify and label the thoughts. You should think of them as separate from you as a person. Recognize them as random thoughts instead of as reality.
- You’ve noticed the negative thought, identified and separated it from yourself, now it is time to switch gears. A good way to do this is to rephrase the thought to disprove or make it positive. So for example, if you are thinking “I can’t-do anything right.” You may rephrase it to “I did a great job fixing dinner last night.”
Be diligent with this exercise and practice it over and over. Soon positive thinking will begin to feel more and more natural to you as you retrain your brain.
Note: meditation provides great benefits but only with the right guidance. There are negatives for everything.
The practice of meditation may be thousands of years old, but the research into its health benefits is fairly new. According to a research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2014, meditation was found to be helpful to people with depression, anxiety, and pain. In fact, in those suffering from depression, meditation was about as effective as an antidepressant.
If you have never practiced meditation, it may take a little while to get the hang of it, but the rewards are worth it. There are many excellent meditation resources online, and you can likely find meditation classes offered in your community.
A Simple Meditation for Beginners
- Sit or lie comfortably. You may want to use a cushion or a chair.
- Close your eyes.
- Breath in and out naturally
- Now, focus your attention on your breath and how your body moves with it. Don’t try to control your breath or its intensity, just focus on how your body moves as you breathe in and out. If your mind wanders, return it back to focusing on your breath.
You will need to continue this meditation practice for two or three minutes. As your focus increases, extend the amount of time in meditation. About 30 minutes is a good goal.
Give Gratitude Daily
When we have a lot of negative thinking, it’s difficult to see the things in our lives that are truly wonderful. It may be helpful for you to keep a gratitude journal to jot down the things that you’re grateful for each day.
The best time to write is just before you go to bed. Try to think of three good things that happened during the day. Think about what made them good and write down a few of those thoughts. The act of writing it down will help to reinforce the thinking. As you write, focus on the feeling of gratitude and let it flood your mind. If you do this exercise each day, you will keep gratitude in your life.
People who are grateful feel happier.
Simplify your Life
It’s difficult to remain positive when you are feeling overwhelmed. Living a modern, fast-paced word often makes us feel like there’s just not enough hours in a day. In the old days, frugal simplicity was a necessity. But in this age of industrial capitalism and our consumer society, all that has changed. With our existing system of continuous growth, people are encouraged to buy more and more stuff. We are often suffering from a disconnection between our values and our modern culture. Perhaps the key to your happiness lies in living a more simple life.
As we simplify our lives, removing unessential stuff and obligations, we become more in touch with the core of who we really are. As you begin to declutter your life, you will soon realize who and what is important to you.
There are many ways we can simplify things but here is a list of ideas to help get you started.
- Don’t spend money on things you don’t need.
- Avoid debt whenever possible.
- Get rid of things you don’t use or need. Have a garage or yard sale.
- Ride a bike whenever possible instead of taking the car.
- Prepare meals a week ahead.
- Clean out your closets and keep only the clothes you wear.
Do Random Acts of Kindness
We touched on this topic briefly in a discussion on how to be happy when depressed. But since it works for everyone, it is worthwhile to go into this topic a bit further. Have you heard the expression “helper’s high?”
The act of helping someone causes our brains to release feel-good chemicals. This is a powerful thing which we can do to make ourselves feel happier. Here are a few of the benefits of giving to charity or helping others.
- Makes you feel good, “helper’s high.”
- Improves your self-esteem
- Helps you feel more optimistic
- Helps you to feel more empowered
- Helping or volunteering can make you feel part of a community.
- It will help you appreciate and be more thankful for what you have.
It is better to give than receive. In fact, scientific research is providing data to support the evidence that giving leads to personal growth and happiness. Through the study of fMRI scans, it has been shown that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are activated by food and sex.
Being Happy With What You Have
Sometimes people become so focused on a goal that they forget to be grateful for where they are now and be thankful for what they have accomplished already. In our ambition, we should not be dissatisfied with what we have now. This does not mean that you should not be passionate about your goals, it simply means that you should not be miserable with the things you already have. It is possible to be both satisfied and ambitious.
The most important step to take in learning to be happy with what you have is to stop comparing yourself to others. Many people base their level of satisfaction on how successful or attractive they are compared to others.
Every day we are bombarded with social media, magazines, and television shows that can make us feel miserable because we don’t have this or look like that. Many people believe that if they could just get that dream job or lose those 20 pounds that then they can finally be happy. Unfortunately, we often get so wrapped up in these things that we are not enjoying the life we have now.
Here are some tips on how to shut off these comparisons. You may also want to try some of the exercises, such as mediation and the rubber band technique for negative thoughts, discussed earlier.
- Turn off the Television or Social Media. You can turn off the source of many of these negative thoughts with the press of a button.
- Explore your talents. Do you have a craft or hobby you enjoy or perhaps you can write or make music? Engaging with something you’re good at will help rebuild your self-esteem.
- Work on your inner self. Go inward to discover who you really are. A good way to do this is to spend some quiet time each day meditating on discovering who you are.
What are your core beliefs? What do you want to accomplish above all else? What are the things you are thankful for? Take some time to get comfortable in your own skin and time building your inner strength. This will help you find peace and contentment with what you have now.
Things You Need To Give Up To Be Happy
– Contributing author Stefica Miller
Some things are better forgotten than remembered, just like it’s better to hold on to some and let go of others. Below is a list of ten things that could make your life much easier and increase the peacefulness and joyfulness of your life.
Let Go of Your Close-mindedness
I understand that some habits are difficult to get rid of, but these same habits could be leading you to your own demise. So, stop doing the same old routine and being afraid to try new things. Open your mind and heart to the idea of trying new activities and meeting new people. Once you do so, the possibilities are endless.
Let Go of Blaming Others
It’s easy to blame others when things start going wrong. It’s also easy to not take responsibility for your actions. These two are a deadly combination that have the potential of ruining your life. It’s time to start letting go of the want and need of placing blame on others, especially when it’s something you were a part of and could’ve helped prevented from occurring
Let Go of Putting Your Self Down
Stop putting yourself down. Let go of those negative thoughts about yourself. Instead, start filling yourself up with positivity. You can start by writing down ten things you love about yourself. Yes, you can get that raise. Yes, you are gorgeous from the inside out.
Let Go of Nagging
I realize that it’s human nature to complain, but you can always change the course of nature. Nagging isn’t something you have to do, yet it always feels like nagging is a way to solve the issue. It’s not. Let that be a thing of the past and start focusing on ways to help better your future, instead of worsening it.
Let Go of Always Being in Control
I get it; the constant need to be in control drives most of us. We need to have things done our way or no way, but that’s not always the right way. It’s time to take a back seat and let someone else take the wheel. Who knows, you might end up in a destination you never thought possible and have an amazing time. The only way to really find out is to let go and give it a chance.
Let Go of Being a Critic
It’s fair to say we all have our flaws. Whether you’re chewing with your mouth open or always being late, we all have something we’re not proud of. And that’s okay because no one was born perfect. Yet, it seems to be that we amplify the flaws of others.
When it comes to ourselves, we try to make excuses for why we are the way we are. But when it comes to others, we’re quick to judge and often have negative assumptions.
It’s time to bring the judgment and negativity to a halt. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, and frankly, unless they want you to, it’s not your business to know either. Everyone leads different lives and in this day and age, being compassionate and understanding can go a long way.
Let Go of Impressing Others
Over time, we stop being ourselves and start morphing into someone else. And in a society filled with the constant need to impress others, it’s easy to lose ourselves and who we once we were.
There’s a constant pressure exerted to have the nicest house, or the nicest car, or the nicest clothes. And so, we go on to try and impress others.
The only person you need to be impressing is yourself. If you keep on concentrating on what the world wants from you, it’ll drain your happiness. You’ll never be happy. Focus on impressing yourself by reaching your goal, which will help everything fall into place.
Let Go of Your Fears
This is one of those things that’s easier said than done. It’s hard to stop being afraid, especially when you’ve been afraid for a long period of time. It’s hard to let go of your fears, which can bind your very core. I know it’ll take some time before your fears are even slightly gone, but I do know that taking it step by step will help greatly.
Try something that you’re afraid of every once in a while. Just don’t exempt yourself from trying new things because it involves something you fear. Many times, it’s best to conquer them head on, but there’s nothing wrong with going at a slow and gentle pace to help eradicate your fears.
Let Go of the Past
It’s easy to let our minds drift off to think about the should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve. It’s more harmful than beneficial to think about the past. It’s time to let go, which I know won’t be easy.
Letting go is a step by step process, it’s not something that occurs overnight. There’s no fairy that’s going to come and take away your sorrow nor is a shooting star you can wish upon.
There is, however, the guidance and moral support of those around you. Surrounding yourself with positive family and friends could help transition you into a better future, one that will not focus so much on the past.
Remember, the past is set in stone but the future isn’t. Life is what you make of it and you’ll never be able to move forward if you’re stuck looking behind you.
How to be Happy Alone
Everyone at one time or another has found themselves living alone. Time alone can be challenging, whether you’re single and moving out to your own place for the first time or are struggling to make it alone after a breakup. Also, the lack of a stable social environment can be difficult too. If you are having trouble feeling happy on your own, here are some ideas to help you.
Accept and Embrace You Aloneness
It is okay to be alone. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not unlikeable or unlovable. Relationships aren’t going to be the center of your world for now, and that is okay.
Get to know yourself
The most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself. Spend some time making an effort to get to know yourself. What do you think is most important in life? What’s next for you? What do you need? Once you know yourself well enough to answer these questions, you can begin to encourage yourself to go after your new goals.
Explore your passions
When we’re in a relationship with another person, we tend to enjoy the things they like. For example, if your partner enjoyed camping you may find that you become more interested in camping. However, now that you are alone, if you want to binge watch “Game of Thrones,” you can do it. Time to yourself creates an opportunity to explore your passions as you may not have done in the past.
Plan dates with you
Plan events to attend and add your favorite activities to your regular routine. Give yourself something to look forward to.
How to be Happy with Friends
Many people these days take friends for granted. As we go about our busy lives, raising families and work, friends are often neglected and fall by the wayside.
In a study conducted in 1985, most people surveyed indicated that they had three close friends. The study was conducted again in 2004 and the most common number listed was zero. This is a very unhealthy trend because we need friends in order to live happy, healthy lives. In fact, researchers at Harvard University are saying that not having friendships can be as hazardous to your health as smoking.
Friendship is important to our health and happiness; we should not neglect our friends. We should continue to make time for them in our lives. Here are some suggestions on how to find and keep friends.
Practice real communication with your friend
Good communication is of utmost importance to happy friendships. This involves listening as well as speaking. We should always think before we speak and be sensitive to our friend’s feelings and problems. Always try to be empathic and kind to your friends. You cannot expect to agree with your friends on everything, but you should always respect their points of view.
Listen and pick up the unspoken meaning behind what your friends may be saying. Try to listen without thinking about how you are going to respond, which can cause you to lose focus on what your friend is saying.
Make your friends feel happy
Be positive and happy around your friends, as the saying goes “happiness is contagious.” Your friends will remember how you make them feel. If they feel happy around you, they will enjoy your company.
Set aside time for your friends
We need to spend time with a friend in order to keep a friendship alive. Of course, we all have a few friends that we are closer to and spend more time with while others we may not see as often. This is natural and healthy. It is the close friends that you should not push aside and neglect.
How to be happy in a relationship
The health of your relationship with your partner can be a source of great happiness or great sadness. Even in this day and age, it’s still possible to have a long, happy relationship, even if you feel like the love has faded. With this in mind, we’ll explore some of the characteristics of happy couples.
Happy couples are in love
Think about the marriage vows “love, honor and cherish.” ‘To love’ is a verb, an action word. We must show our love through actions such as physical contact, spending quality time together, doing things for each other, etc. When we honor the one we love, we’re showing respect for them. ‘To cherish’ means to show your partner how much you value them and let them know that they’re special to you.
Happy couples are best friends
There’s a positive correlation between happiness and couples who say that their partner is their best friend. Researchers hypothesize that being able to talk about and share life’s difficulties is an important factor to finding contentment and happiness in a relationship. Therefore, in order to have the best relationship, you should be able to both “love” and “like” your significant other.
Happy couples trust each other
Some will argue that trust is more important than love in a relationship. The point here is, that love is built on trust, and we can only love someone we already trust. Trust allows a couple to have the freedom and security to experience the full potential of their relationship. Without trust, a relationship is plagued with fear and insecurity.
Keep in mind that it is very difficult to earn trust back once it is broken. Therefore, it is very important to protect yourself and your partner from the pain of broken trust. One way to keep trust with your partner is to be accountable to each other. A completely transparent marriage is a good way to keep both people in check. Both the husband and wife should have access to all information such as email accounts and financial information.
Happy couples are honest with each other
Some people get caught up in keeping secrets from their partner, and before long, they’re in over their heads. Most of the time your partner will forgive you and will help you work through situations that come up. Don’t block yourself off in guilt, shame or insecurity. Be honest and open about what’s happening, and your partner will help you get through it.
Happy couples are intimate
Although it involves sex, intimacy is not the same thing as sex. The need for intimacy is based on a deep biological need. For example, babies need to be held and touched. They cannot grow and fail to thrive if they do not have a physical and emotional closeness to another human being.
This need for human connection remains throughout our lives. Researchers are beginning to discover the correlation between lack of intimacy and depression in women to problems associated with their marriages.
Happy couples respect each other
Mutual respect between you and your partner is absolutely necessary if your relationship is to work. You must understand that your partner isn’t you. He or she isn’t a reflection of you. Your partner isn’t your toy, your pet or your product. You have to understand that your partner is a unique individual. As a couple, you have to learn how to combine both of your needs to achieve agreed upon goals. You cannot control your partner and change him or her to what you desire.
Ways to Become Happy Again
So you have suffered a setback; perhaps you’re recovering from a separation, divorce or the loss of a loved one. You may be thinking, “How can I ever be happy again?” As impossible as it may seem, you can pull yourself back up after this loss, you must get back on track to feeling balanced, courageous and happy again. Unless you do, you risk sinking into depression. Keep reading for some thoughts on how to be happy again
Allow yourself to feel the pain
Allow yourself time to grieve and feel the pain but do not allow yourself to identify with the pain. Do not become one with the pain and sadness you are experiencing. Your life is not over. This is just something bad that has happened to you along the way. This pain is just a feeling; allow the pain to be there and to teach you what it needs to, but it is not who you are. You are much bigger than your sadness. It is only a small thing compared to you.
You are not depressed
Do not call yourself depressed or tell others that you are depressed. This goes back to the first thing we talked about, not identifying with the sadness. It is normal to be sad and hurt, but if you start saying you are depressed, you are becoming the sadness. If you continue to say you are depressed, the sadness will unpack its things and make itself at home.
It will be hard, but you need to continue to do the things you did when you felt happy. Continue to exercise, go out with friends, and continue to do your hobbies. Yes, it may seem impossible sometimes, but it is absolutely necessary in order to shake off the sadness. Don’t allow your mind to take over and continue to loop the pain back over and over. If you can continue to engage in things you enjoyed in the past, the sadness will start to fade.
Focus on the present
Whenever you find yourself ruminating on the sadness or pain, bring yourself back to the present. Go back to the rubber band technique we discussed earlier or meditate on the breath. Breath in and count “one” breathe out and count “two.” Do this for a minute or two and if your mind starts to wander, bring it back to your breath. Once you’ve completed the breathing exercise, redirect your attention to something else.
It may sound counterintuitive right now, but you have good things in your life for which you should be grateful. Take a little time at the end of the day to jot down the things in your life for which you are thankful. Try to think of at least three good things that happened to you each day. Soon you’ll begin to see that even though bad things happen, good things are there too. Remember that our minds are wired through evolution to notice the negatives. Sometimes we have to work a bit harder to see the good things, but they are present.
For more ideas on how to shake off feelings of sadness, check under the section on how to feel happy when you’re depressed. But remember that you’re not depressed, you’re just seeking more ideas on how to shake off your sadness more quickly.
How to be Happy at Work
No doubt you’ve received all kinds of advice on how to be more productive at work. But it’s just as important to feel content and personally happy. While some of our sense of well-being is tied to how productive we feel we are, there are many other ways we can bring happiness to the workplace. In fact, we need to make it our intention to be happy at work and to put forth some effort on our part. In this section, we’ll explore some of the ways we can be happier at work.
Start each day by doing something that makes you feel good
How we feel in the morning affects how we feel at work for the entire day.
In a study where researchers analyzed the moods and the performance of customer service representatives, those who were in a good mood in the morning were more productive during the day. This resulted in more positive interactions with customers. With this in mind, make it a point to do things each morning that make you feel good. One example may be to savor your morning coffee or tea. Another may be to get some fresh air by going for a brisk walk in the morning.
Make fewer decisions
Decision fatigue is a real thing, and each decision you make drains your mental resources. But how can you make fewer decisions? One way is to have some parts of your day on autopilot. For example, have the same thing for breakfast or lunch each day for a week, then the next week switch. This is why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day so that he wouldn’t waste mental resources trying to decide what to wear.
Ask yourself if you really need to weigh in on every decision. Will it have a high impact or do you have strong feelings about it? If it’s a no in both cases, maybe you don’t need to weigh in on the decision
Help out a Coworker
As we discussed earlier, helping others makes you feel happier so it should go without saying that helping others at work makes you feel happier at work.
Helping your co-workers creates a virtuous cycle. According to a study, happier workers help coworkers 33% more than those who aren’t happy. This doesn’t mean that you have to do something heroic. Bring them a drink or ask if they can use some help on a project. You may even want to put a reminder on your calendar until it becomes a habit.
Acknowledge the progress you make
Even on a really bad day, if you can acknowledge a few things that you have accomplished, you will feel better. In The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, the authors analyzed motivation in the workplace. They discovered that one of the most influential factors of a positive employee morale was feeling like you are making meaningful progress.
Each day when you make up your to-do list, rather than just listing your one big project or two, be sure to include some small things that are important but easy to complete. This way you can always point to some things that you have completed. If all your work has to be on the big project, break it down into smaller accomplishments, steps or phases.
Express your gratitude at the end of each day
We have mentioned this one before, but it is such an important part of our lives. Happy people are grateful people. Think of a few things you appreciate about your day and jot them down in your gratitude journal. It is a good idea to keep it by your bed and make it a nightly habit.
Many studies show that when we are expressing our gratitude regularly, we feel more optimistic and happier about our lives. You may even choose to have a separate gratitude journal for work. Before leaving for home each day, take a few moments and write about the good things that happened.
In addition to this, if you’re able to discuss the positive things with a friend or spouse, it reinforces the good feelings. In fact, there is research in support of this statement.
How to be Happy as an Entrepreneur
As entrepreneurs, there’s no reason why the ideas in the previous section, “how to be happy at work” won’t work just as well for your situation. However, being an entrepreneur does come with its own set of challenges and opportunities for finding happiness.
Entrepreneurs cultivate discipline and have come to understand delayed gratification. However, what happens in the meantime, while you’re waiting for success? Or to say it more accurately, what happens in the meantime while you’re working hard for success?
As you are striving for something larger, you may feel special but alone in your sense of purpose. With your focus so hard toward the future, it can sometimes be difficult to enjoy the life you have in the present.
While being an entrepreneur can be fulfilling, there is also a possibility for disillusionment. The challenges can wear you down over time. The stress could compromise your relationships, home life, and happiness. However, it is possible to be happy as an entrepreneur, especially if you remind yourself why you started the journey in the first place. Make a list of reasons, if you have not already done so, and keep it where you can see them on a daily basis. In addition, here are a few other suggestions.
Create your perfect workplace
Since you are the boss, you make the rules and set the work hours. You should arrange the office in such a way that makes you feel happy. Experiment with different work arrangements until you find one that you really like.
Do not forget to take breaks
Working for yourself is different than working for someone else. Entrepreneurs tend to be more driven and actually work more hours per day than traditional employees. In fact, many entrepreneurs are so driven to attain their goals that they never want to stop working. Whether it’s only a ten-minute break every couple of hours or a long vacation, you’ll be happier and healthier if you take a break.
The family is important
Remember to put your family first. They are the main reason you’re working so hard. They love you unconditionally and were there for you from the beginning. Time is a precious and you don’t want to spend so much time working that you forget about your family. Do whatever it takes to spend quality time with your family.
Hire people you can count on
As the owner, you’ll be making all the decisions, but your employees will be doing the work. Be sure you hire people you can trust to do good work and are also pleasant to be around. If you have pleasant, hardworking employees, you’ll be a lot less stressed.
Unfortunately, failure is a part of doing business. Remember that each failure, whether big or small, carries a lesson. Learn from it, accept it and move on. Don’t dwell on your failures. To be happy as an entrepreneur, you must learn to accept failure.
Sometimes you need to say no
You need to learn to say no when a client asks for something that is impossible. Likewise, if an employee asks for a raise don’t say yes out of fear of losing him. Think carefully about each decision and how it will affect you and your business.
How do you measure the success of your business? Many entrepreneurs will say that they measure their businesses’ success, not in dollars but by how happy or satisfied they are with their lives. Remember when we said that “money can’t buy happiness?” That saying goes for everyone, including entrepreneurs.
How Exercise Affects happiness
Regular exercise is good for you and is one of the most effective ways to improve your mood. Exercise can have a profound positive effect on depression and anxiety. It can also relieve stress, improve your memory and help you sleep better.
The great thing about exercise is that you don’t have to be a fanatic about it to experience the benefits. It doesn’t matter if you are old or young, fit or unfit, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.
Exercise can help with depression and anxiety
As mentioned earlier, studies show that exercising can be just as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression. The great thing about exercise is that unlike medications, there are no bad side effects. The studies also show that maintaining a regular exercise routine can help prevent a relapse into depression.
Exercise promotes feelings of calm and well-being. You’ve probably heard the expression “runner’s high.” Runner’s high is caused when exercise releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel good. If you are trying to break the cycle of negative thinking, exercise is also a great distraction and can help you break free of the cycle of negative thinking.
Other Benefits of Exercise
- Improves concentration. The endorphins that make you feel good also improve your ability to concentrate.
- Improves self-esteem. Exercise improves your sense of self-worth and makes you feel strong. You’ll feel better about your appearance and will have a sense of accomplishment.
- Improves sleep. Regular exercise helps regulate your sleep patterns.
- Improves energy. Exercising several times a week improves your energy level.
- Improves resilience. Exercise helps us cope with problems in a healthy way instead of turning to alcohol, or drugs. Exercise also boosts the immune system.
How to start exercising when you feel depressed.
When we are suffering from depression, anxious or stressed, it can be more difficult to get moving. We know that exercise will make us feel better, but sadness has stolen all our energy and motivation that we need to exercise. In this situation, it is best to start small. Try to go for a short walk or dancing to some music for 10-15 minutes. As you begin to move and start to feel better, you may feel energetic enough to walk farther or to begin jogging.
Foods that Make You Happy
Did you know that there are foods you can eat that will help boost your mood? Be sure to include a healthy portion of these foods to your diet daily.
Fatty Fish such as Salmon or Tuna – Fatty fish is a good source of Omega3s which is a key nutrient linked to brain chemicals which affect mood. Omega-3s increase the levels of both dopamine and serotonin in our brains. Increased levels of serotonin protect against depression, aggression, and suicidal tendencies. Dopamine is a chemical that the brain releases in response to pleasurable experiences such as sex.
Whole Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (including citrus fruits and beans)
Fresh fruits, vegetables, and beans are high in antioxidants and other vital nutrients such as folate which are associated with a lower risk of depression.
Like fatty fish, eggs can be a good source of Omega-3s. Eggs also contain B-vitamins such as folate that are linked to mood.
Dark Chocolate – at least 70% Cacao
In a study by researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland, it was discovered that eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate per day for two weeks reduced stress hormones such as cortisol. Dark chocolate also contains flavonoids which have many other health benefits.
If you need an afternoon pick-me-up, you may want to reach for the teapot. Black, oolong, or green tea provides a more alert state of mind due to the synergistic qualities of the caffeine and the Theatine in the tea. Also, just like chocolate, tea also contains healthy flavonoids.
Whole Grain Bread and Cereals
A lot of people may tell you that in order to lose weight you must cut your carbs. However, an extremely low carbohydrate diet is linked to symptoms of depression. Low carb diets reduce the levels of the feel-good chemicals, serotonin, and dopamine in the brain. Make sure you’re eating adequate amounts of whole grain bread and cereals in order to keep your feel-good chemicals high.
Foods that Make You Sad
Just as there are foods you can eat that will make you feel happy, there are also foods you can eat that will make you feel sad. Be sure to avoid the foods on the following list as much as possible.
High sugar and simple carbohydrates
Included in this group are sodas, cakes, white bread, candies and anything with high fructose corn syrup. These foods and drinks cause a spike in blood sugar, followed by a rapid drop soon after. This can cause you to feel tired, and cranky after eating high sugar foods. If there is only one group of foods on this list that you avoid, this is the one to pick. Overconsumption of sugar can cause many adverse conditions including:
- Spike in Blood Sugar – Your blood sugar quickly rises and then drops, leaving you feeling, tired and moody.
- Intense Cravings for Even More Sugar – Sugar causes a surge in the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain and over activates your body’s reward system.
- Depression and Anxiety – Constantly over activating the brain’s reward system can deplete the supply of the feel-good chemicals, serotonin, and dopamine.
- Impairment of Memory and Learning – In a 2012 study on rats, it was found that a high-fructose diet caused insulin resistance. In addition to controlling blood sugar levels, insulin is also important in the brain because it strengthens the synaptic connections between brain cells. Stronger synaptic connections allow for better communication between the cells allowing you to have a better memory. With lower insulin in the brain, cognition can be impaired.
- Risk Factor for Age-related Dementia – A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that higher glucose level is a risk factor for dementia, even in those without diabetes. Some researchers have even referred to Alzheimer’s disease like Type 3 diabetes.
Diet sodas cause glucose intolerance according to a study published in Journal Nature, in 2014. This happens when the artificial sweetener in the sodas alters the gut microbiota. If you are craving a fizzy drink, try the fermented drink, kombucha. It will help to satisfy the craving for a carbonated drink and also has probiotics which help to balance the digestive system.
Foods with Nitrates
Nitrates can cause tension and migraine headaches. Foods that contain nitrates are cold cuts, hot dogs, bologna, etc. Many companies are now making nitrate free alternatives so be sure to check the labels. Another good reason to stay away from nitrates is the fact that they have been linked with cancer.
Foods with MSG
Consuming MSG can cause brain fog, moodiness, fatigue, and anxiety. MSG is used to enhance flavor and extend the shelf life of many processed foods. Check labels and look for foods that state they are organic or MSG free. The FDA does not require that MSG is listed as an ingredient. For this reason, you should prepare your own meals as often as you can.
Vegetable Shorting and Margarine
Both vegetable shortening and margarine contain trans-fats which are very difficult for our bodies to digest. These substances increase cholesterol levels in a bad way and cause moodiness.
The caffeine in coffee is a risk factor for depression if it is consumed in excess of 400 milligrams per day. If you drink a lot of coffee, quitting can cause you to be moody and causes headaches. For this reason, you may want to taper it off rather than stopping cold turkey. Coffee isn’t necessarily a bad thing though and may have a positive link to depression when you drink it in moderation. One 8 ounce cup of coffee has about 95 milligrams of caffeine.
Drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis lowers the levels of serotonin in the brain. Having a drink or two with dinner is probably okay. However, you should be careful not to consume too much alcohol as it can lead to symptoms of depression.
French Fries and Potato Chips
Potatoes are a high starch food which causes the blood sugar to rise. This is even worse when you deep fry them in hydrogenated oils and cover them with salt. Since fried potatoes are linked in a recent study with an increased mortality rate, then certainly we should avoid these things whenever possible.
Canned and Processed Foods
Canned foods contain BPA (Bisphenol-A) which can leach from the plastic lining from the can into the food you eat. BPA has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and male sexual dysfunction. A good rule of thumb is to avoid boxes and cans whenever possible. Opt for fresh, natural whole foods that you prepare yourself.