Happiness is defined as “a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? So what makes happiness so hard to attain?
One of the common reasons we find it so difficult to find happiness is due to our perception of what it really is. Our ability to be happy depends on how we define it.
For many, happiness is defined by what has been achieved, what has been accomplished, or material things we have obtained.
While these things can contribute to the feeling of being happy, do they really bring us true happiness?
So what is happiness? Where does it come from? How do we achieve it?
- Live Our “Best Life.”For starters we can begin by living what I like to call our “best life.” This consists of being the best version of ourselves we can be. It involves self-acceptance and no longer comparing ourselves to others. Living our best life also includes no longer using things to measure our happiness, but focusing on the feeling. Practicing mindfulness can also help us achieve happiness. In doing this we can fully experience the moment and learn to engage with each moment on its terms, taking things as they come. When we are able to accept things for what they are, we can be happier.
- Practice daily gratitude.Gratitude determines our attitude. As we practice gratitude, it eventually becomes second nature. We become able to find the beauty in small things and appreciate all life has to offer.
- Learn the art of letting go.When we learn to let go, we find the path to freedom. By learning to let go, we are no longer held captive by our past or lingering negative emotions.
These are other things we can do to get ourselves in a feel-good mood.
- Smile.Everyone knows a smile is contagious. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, force a smile and keep smiling. If you don’t give into that feeling of wanting to smile, you will eventually get the giggles from looking so silly.
- Smell something that makes you happy.The sense of smell is very powerful and can trigger several moods and reactions. Why not smell your way to happiness? Sniff your favorite flower, inhale your favorite fragrance, or indulge in the aromas of your favorite food. When I’m feeling down, I tend to smell lavender. I not only enjoy the smell, but it also has some calming and relaxing properties.
- Do something good for someone else.If you can’t put a smile on your face, put a smile on someone else’s. Doing a good deed will often result in that good, bubbly feeling of joy. When you’ve made someone’s day, how can you avoid a smile?
- Do something you enjoy that you haven’t done in a while.Remember that feeling of complete happiness when the wind blows in your face as you swing on a swing, or when you play a good game of baseball, or make a nice batch of cookies? Well, get up and get moving! There is no pick-me-up like doing something pleasurable you haven’t done in a while. Think back to little things that have made you happy and explore those again.
- Laugh, laugh, laugh.Just as a smile is contagious, so is laughter. Watch a funny movie or reminisce about something funny and just laugh. If you can’t think of anything to laugh at, just start laughing and keep thinking. You’re bound to eventually think of something funny or continue laughing at yourself.
These are a few suggestions, but happiness is unique and so is your path. Find what makes you happy today and live life to the fullest. Edith Wharton was quoted saying “if only we’d stop trying to be happy, we’d have a pretty good time.”
Stop trying to be happy or thinking about being happy and challenge yourself to do what makes you happy. Find what makes you happy today and live life to the fullest.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jul 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
White, D. (2013). How Do You Find Happiness?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/10/how-do-you-find-your-happiness/