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How to Be Happy

How to be HappyHappiness is a tough one.

We spend a lot of our time and billions of dollars trying to obtain happiness. Inevitably, though, we find ourselves back in the grind: dreading going to work, dreading doing the myriad errands and responsibilities it takes to live as a human being in this multifaceted world.

The thing about happiness, though, is it’s not supposed to be constant.

Happiness is like a chocolate bar where you break small pieces off every now and again as a kind of vacation from the real world.

Happiness comes sparingly at the small moments of joy.

A better overarching goal for our lives would be contentment — being pretty much OK with however things are going and learning to catch our happiness when it comes. A lot of people struggle with even that. If it’s not worries about health and family, it’s worries about money.

Finding relative contentment takes work. It takes hope for the future, goals and the quiet fortitude of working toward those goals. It also takes acceptance of your current situation — being OK with how things are going at the present moment.

One of the major keys to being content with your current situation is saying “I accept things as they are, and I’m OK with it.”

Say you’re worried about not advancing at work. In this situation, it’s good to take a moment and say to yourself, “I’m OK with not being CEO. I’m OK with being a cog or a worker bee for now.” It takes some pressure off if you learn to accept that things aren’t perfect for now.

If you have goals, if you have the things you aspire for in life, it gives you a sense of purpose. After all, there’s plenty of time to get there.

Happiness is not something that you can sustain. Contentment is. After all, we’re all aware of the constantly bubbly girl at work who seems like she’s not the brightest crayon in the box.

Maybe it’s true that ignorance is bliss. Besides, it must take a good deal of work to portray that constant happiness to the world. Doesn’t she have moments where she doubts the entirety of existence? Doesn’t she have nights where all she can do is splay out on the couch and cry? What I’m saying is that nobody anywhere is constantly happy, no matter how much they try to project that.

The key is and always has been is to be content with how things are going and work toward your goals. We all know this, we just seem to forget it from time to time.

For now, just enjoy the happiness when it comes. It doesn’t matter whether it’s waking up and watching the sunrise with your coffee in the morning, belting out your favorite song in the car or enjoying that square of chocolate and a glass of wine after a long day at work. It’s these little escapes that make us happy.

A constant chase of happiness would probably make you a fat alcoholic with drug problems.

Certainly maintaining those escapes for longer than you should is unhealthy. Add to that, it would take a good deal of work and I can almost guarantee that even happiness would get old after a while. When that happens, what else is there to chase?

How to Be Happy

Michael Hedrick

Mike Hedrick is a writer and photographer in Boulder, CO. He has lived with schizophrenia for many years and his work has been published in Salon, Scientific American and The New York Times. His book is available here You can follow his blog on living with schizophrenia here

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2018). How to Be Happy. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 1 Oct 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.