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How to Be Happy: 8 Great Tips

Updated on February 20, 2017
Leonard Tillerman profile image

Leonard is a former teacher and school principal who has also been a part-time blogger for the past decade. Writing is his true love.

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Are You Happy?

You have worked very hard to obtain your current position in life. Your business is thriving, you are in great health, and you have the ideal family. Yet every morning, upon awakening, you look at your reflection in the mirror, let out a big sigh, and frown. If everything is seemingly going your way, then why are you frowning? Are you happy? If not, how can you to change how you feel?

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

— Mahatma Gandhi

What Is Happiness?

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." Such consistency and defined purpose could certainly produce feelings of satisfaction, which are associated with well-being.

Now compare his quote with the actual dictionary definition: "Happiness is characterized by well-being and contentment."

There are certainly some similarities between the two. Nevertheless, perhaps the best definition of happiness comes from positive psychology researcher, Sonja Lyobormirsky. She defines happiness as the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one's life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.

Lyobormirsky also points out in her research that 50 percent of happiness is determined by genetics, 10 percent by our position in life, and a whopping 40 percent is dependent upon daily experiences. (1) The ramifications of this research are significant indeed. If 40 percent of our happiness is determined by daily life experiences...then that means we have ample ability to truly be happy in life. It is in our own hands!

Listed below are 8 ways you can actually be happy in life.

How To Be Happy: 8 Great Tips

1. Work-Life Balance

The importance of work life balance to happiness could be a whole book unto itself. It is that big! Ever changing technology means that we are connected to the workplace like never before. Instead of going home after work and rejuvenating, people are spending their time responding to emails, texting, and participating in video conferences. in fact, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. ranks 32nd out of 36 countries when it comes to the average amount of time per day which they spend on personal care and leisure. (2) If people get the feeling that work is never actually complete and we cannot escape it, then they become overwhelmed and eventually burnout. A sense of helplessness has a very strong correlation with feeling unhappy. To counter this issue, individuals should attempt to follow proven time-management tips such as unplugging, scheduling time and avoiding distractions.

2. Stay Positive

It has been scientifically proven that positive thinking improves brain health, which in turn leads to enhanced happiness. Staying positive however is not always as easy as it sounds and requires a deliberate effort. Practicing such methods as surrounding yourself with positive influences, not turning minor issues into major ones, and framing interactions in a positive way, can go a long way towards creating and maintaining a positive outlook.

3. Proper Sleep, Nutrition, and Exercise

Maintaining good health can have a dramatic impact on your happiness factor. In regards to nutrition, the various vitamins, minerals and essential oils in food provide the body with a much needed means of improving happiness and boosting mood. For instance, serotonin, which is known to be responsible for feelings of happiness, can be found in nutritious, protein rich foods such as eggs and salmon. (3) Exercise on the other hand leads to a fit body and overall feeling of well-being. Also, the pain killing endorphins which are released during physical activity promote positive, happy feelings and act as genuine mood boosters. Lastly, the impact that sleep has on our happiness cannot be overlooked. Noted researchers, Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger have found that sleep quality is the most vital factor attributed to influencing mood and is directly related to overall happiness. (4) Considering such a fact, ensuring a proper night's sleep becomes even more significant when it comes to leading a happy life.

4. Relationship Building

Building relationships and being social with others is vital for happiness. In a study conducted by Gillian Sandstrom and Elizabeth Dunn, they found that the quality of interactions and socialization which people had with others was an overwhelming factor in feeling a sense of belonging and happiness. (5) Even more important is the intimacy of those connections. Close relationships create more intense feelings of happiness. Considering these points, it is easy to see how building relationships and being social is vital for humans in a multitude of ways...with happiness being one of them.

5. Mindfulness

Most of us live our lives at a frantic pace. Multitasking is the norm and not the exception. In such a state of perpetual flux, individuals have precious little time to live in the moment. However, this can be countered by following the practice of mindfulness. As defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, mindfulness is "the practice of maintaining a non-judgemental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment to moment basis." Those people who stop the world and practice mindfulness as a regular part of their day, are able to slow the world down and rejuvenate. In fact, mindfulness has been found to contribute significantly to happiness. More control and an increased focus leads to a happier mind!

6. Be Kind To Others

For most people, when you do something nice for someone else you feel good. It makes you happy. However, have you ever wondered why this is the case? In a study published in the Journal Of Social Psychology, researchers found that subjects who performed kind acts for others did indeed exhibit as happier than those who did not. (6) Essentially, acts of kindness stimulate the brain's pleasure areas leaving an overall feeling of happiness. Kindness is the key.

7. Learn To Say No

"Saying yes to happiness means learning to say no to the things and people that stress you out." (Thema Davis) The aforementioned quote by Thema Davis really hits the nail on the head. In life, we cannot simply say yes to everything that is asked of us. If that were the case we would essentially spend our entire lives living for others in a state of perpetual disharmony. Saying "no" to the unrealistic demands of others is not unkind. In fact, it is actually being kind to yourself which can result in a whole new level of happiness. Everything is all about moderation.

8. Do Not Dwell In The Past

it has been scientifically proven that hopelessness creates a general feeling of unhappiness and is actually a symptom of depression. In fact, in a survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics in the U.S. they found that in their sample group, 6.1 % of individuals feel hopeless. (7) This is a significant number and critically important due to the fact that hopelessness is the complete opposite of happiness. What is one of the key reasons that people feel hopeless? This frequently happens because a great number of people dwell on the past. The past cannot be changed as it has come and gone. Those who focus and obsess about the past have setup an intrinsically hopeless situation. Only by living for the moment can people escape the past and take their life back. This will greatly enhance happiness.

Final Thoughts

Make no mistake about it, happiness is critically important to virtually every facet of life. Happy people are healthier, more productive and content. They are also perceived as amiable and positive people who others want to be around. This in turn makes it easier for them to excel in such important life experiences as relationship and team-building. perhaps noted fashion designer, Christian Dior says it best with his quote: "Happiness is the secret to all beauty. There is no beauty without happiness."

That is so very true, indeed!

References

1. "What is Happiness?" Sonja Lyubormirsky. Greater Good. The Science of a Meaningful Life.

2. "Statistical Proof that the U.S. Sucks at Work-Life Balance." Michael Howard. Fatherly. 2015.

3. "Happy Brain, Happy Life." Susan Reynolds. Psychology Today. 2011.

4. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being." Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger. 2006.

5. "Why Other People are the Key to Our Happiness." Art Markman Ph.D. Psychology Today 2014.

6. "Kindness Makes You Happy And Happiness Makes You Kind Alex Dixon. Greater Good In Action. 2011.

7. Sad, Worthless, Hopeless? Edward Shorter Ph.D. Psychology Today.

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    • Leonard Tillerman profile image
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      Leonard Tillerman 7 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      That is very kind of you to say! I am starting to get the hang of it, although it has been a bit of a learning curve.

      Have a great day.

      Leonard

    • SakinaNasir53 profile image

      Sakina Nasir 7 months ago from Kuwait

      Your hub is amazing. Great job and articles of these kinds are surely needed and to be followed in today's time. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips and information. :)