“Hug harder. Laugh louder. Smile bigger. Love longer.” ~Unknown
Did you ever have it all mixed up?
Happiness, I mean. I once thought that a university degree and good grades would make me happy. I thought that traveling the world would leave me feeling fulfilled. I thought that moving abroad and getting that top-notch job would make me satisfied and content.
They all did, but only for a while. They always came with an expiration date.
Finally, I had to stop and ask myself, “If I’m not able to be truly happy now, will I ever be?” If I couldn’t appreciate everything I already had in my life, would more really be the answer?
Then I thought, “If happiness is what I want, why not take a shortcut and go there directly?”
So, I did. I stopped putting it on hold. I stopped allowing external circumstances to dictate how I felt. And I stopped relying on illusionary destinations of promised happiness and bliss.
What I realized is that happiness doesn’t happen by chance–it happens by choice. It’s a skill that anyone can develop with the right habits.
19 Happiness Habits That Could Change Your Life
1. Appreciate more.
This morning I woke up feeling appreciative of my bed, my incredible friends, and my mom for being the rock in my life. Appreciation feeds happiness. It highlights and gives value to what matters in our life. And the more you appreciate, the more you’ll find things to be appreciative of.
When waking up and going to sleep, remind yourself of three things you currently appreciate in your life.
2. Energize yourself every morning.
Mornings set the tone for the rest of the day. A good morning routine leaves you feeling centered, energized, and ready to take on the world.
Meditate, do yoga, write a list of everything you love, watch inspirational YouTube videos, or listen to your favorite song before leaving the house. Simply, set yourself up for a great day!
3. Practice acceptance.
Things don’t always go as planned. I used to get frustrated when plans changed or when the bus arrived late. But resisting never changed anything; instead, it just sent me into a downward spiral. When I started accepting whatever happened, I relieved myself from unnecessary suffering.
Start practicing acceptance. Adjust to the new situation, without fueling it with negative emotions.
4. Live in the present.
This is where it all happens, the present moment. It’s the only place where you can experience happiness (or anything else for that matter). It’s the only place worth being. It might sound obvious, but realizing this was life changing for me. In the present I think better, feel better, and act better.
Whenever you enter a new place, use your five senses—sound, sight, touch, smell and taste—to find more nowness.
5. Listen attentively.
Listen with focus and compassion. Give people the gift of your full attention. This is a powerful source of happiness, as it creates strong bonds between people and places you in the now.
Whether it’s your colleague, partner, or a complete stranger on the street, decide to be more present in all your conversations.
6. Save money to invest in memories.
Material things might satisfy us short term, but experiences are what makes us happy long term. For the past year I’ve barely bought anything new. Instead, I’ve used that money to travel. Just thinking about the beach parties in the Caribbean, those sunny days in Central Park, and that festival in Ibiza puts a ridiculously big smile on my face.
Buy only things you need or fall head-over-heels in love with. Then, use that extra money for experiences that will make you go “Aaah,” “Ohhh,” and “Wow” when you think back of them.
7. Make new friends.
Many of us stop making friends after the age of twenty. Make new friends and you’ll grow as a person, be exposed to new experiences, and have a rich social life.
Have a friendly conversation with a stranger and maybe you make a new friend. Maybe it’s for five minutes, or maybe it’s for a lifetime.
8. Dream big.
Dreams are good; they propel us forward. They enliven our heart, awaken our mind, and give us reasons for living. Allow yourself to dream big and trust that it can become a reality for you.
Dedicate at least five minutes every day to be swept into your dream life. Make it as real as possible: visualize and create the feelings of being, doing and having all that you want.
9. Take steps toward your dream.
Now, does your present look like the future you’re dreaming of? If not, put more time and energy on what you want to see grow.
Take small steps every day to elevate you toward what you want. Tiny steps all add up.
10. Develop a mindset of abundance, not scarcity.
How we experience the world depends solely on our perception of it. When you live in lack, you protect and hoard. When you give away, you signal that you have more than enough for yourself.
Don’t feel like you get enough love? Give love to someone else. Don’t feel like you make enough money? Give money to someone else in need.
11. Take time to re-charge.
Even though we live in a society that fosters us to do more, be more, give more, and have more, we need time to re-charge. We need to fuel ourselves with energy. Take short breaks, and why not a power nap?
What doesn’t get planned usually doesn’t get done, so make sure to plan for downtime.
12. Make time to play.
Living isn’t a duty. You didn’t come here to fix something that’s broken or to complete a to-do list. You came for the fun of it, for the exhilaration and magic of being alive.
Set aside at least fifteen minutes every day for fun-time and make that time non-negotiable.
13. Be around happy people.
Attitudes are contagious. If someone’s smiling at you, you’ll probably smile. If someone is rude, then you’ll probably be rude back. Only hang out with people whose attitude you want to catch.
14. Move slowly.
Lao Tzu said, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Faster doesn’t mean better. Busier doesn’t mean exceeding. Don’t rush through life.
Slow down. Put your heart and energy into what you’re doing and focus on that (and only that).
15. Actively soothe yourself.
What matters isn't what happens in our lives, but how we choose to deal with it. To make better decisions, we need to become our own lifeguard and sooth ourselves from negative thoughts.
When I feel bad I usually go running, meditate, or write a list of everything I love about my life. Practice different techniques until you find some that work for you.
16. Let go.
Letting go isn’t always easy, but it’s the only way new and better things can come along. When we let go of something, we come to a peace of mind. The struggle is over and new ideas and perspectives can begin to open up.
Practice letting go of what doesn’t serve you, such as complaining, comparing yourself to others, negativity, and mistakes from the past or worries about the future.
17. Forgive often.
Maybe someone was late, maybe someone was rude, or maybe someone forgot to call you back. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse behavior; it frees you from it. It releases resentment and other negative emotions tied to a person or a situation.
Make a habit of forgiving people, even for the smallest of things.
18. Attend to the real world.
Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are constantly screaming for our attention to the world of social media. The digital world is supposed to be a complement to our real life, not the other way around.
So, take time to be present where you physically are (the Facebook status update can wait).
19. Care for yourself.
Our body, mind, and soul are connected. Make a change in one of them and you change the state of all three. Isn’t that nice to know?
Do something every day to improve your overall state of well-being, such as preparing a good meal, exercising, or watching a good movie. And know that caring for yourself is caring for the world.
Claim Your Happiness Once And For All
Not being in charge of your happiness is frustrating. Relying on external events and circumstances to be in a certain way in order to feel good is a recipe for misery. Because, when life doesn’t go as planned or things fall apart, so does our happiness.
Happiness isn’t about having all the pieces in place. It isn’t about having a problem-free life or reaching a certain goal or objective. Instead, it’s about being able to enjoy where you are, no matter what.
Don’t leave your happiness to chance. Choose to claim it. Live the life you deserve to live.
Woman enjoying coffee image via Shutterstock