Happiness is an elusive concept. We all want to be happy, but what does “happy” really mean? How do we create joy in our lives? We all have different notions of what happiness is and how we can achieve it. That’s because we don’t know where to start or what will be effective in making us happy.
We tend to look outward for happiness, such as by seeking wealth or prestige, getting married, having children, moving to a new home, changing jobs—or even changing our appearance. But often these changes fail to produce the happiness we expected.
Because of this wide range of views on what brings happiness, many people are unhappy with their lives and don’t know why. They feel confused about what they want or need to be happy, so they try out different things until something seems to work—and then they cling to that, even if it’s not quite right for them.
People think that happiness is something outside of us, but it begins inside—with our thoughts and feelings about life. It takes time to change the way you think and develop new attitudes. But changing your thinking can lead to major changes in your life, for the better. You can develop happiness by focusing on your goals, practicing gratitude for what you already have, building connections with other people, and finding meaning in life. Furthermore, here are some of the how of happiness that you might consider:
Tip #1: Find Your Path to Happiness
Being happy does not mean that everything is perfect all the time. Sometimes you’ll be frustrated or even miserable about certain things—but it’s how you deal with the difficulty that counts. If you take a positive approach and search for the silver lining, you can still be happy even in tough times.
Building happiness is like starting a fire. You need the right fuel to get it going—and then tending it carefully. In other words, adding more fuel doesn’t do much good if you haven’t started the fire yet.
The first step to the how of happiness is to identify what gets in the way of your finding happiness and making changes where you can. Then, find a new path that works for you and start following it. Sometimes we’re not sure about our goals—and that’s okay. If all you need is a little change today, then focus on that. If you want a completely new life, that’s okay too—but take it one step at a time. Remember: The first step is the most difficult one to make.
Tip #2: Learn What Brings Happiness
People often think of happiness as going from one pleasurable experience to another. But real happiness doesn’t come from living superficially; it comes from achieving meaningful goals.
It’s up to you to decide what brings happiness and joy into your life. Maybe you want a better job, but maybe it’s something else: learning a musical instrument, spending more time with loved ones, or taking part in volunteer activities. Do what feels right for you; it may be different than what you think will bring happiness.
After you identify what will give you joy, focus on that. Don’t let anything stand in your way—especially other people’s expectations of who they think you should be. If your family thinks that having lots of money is the key to happiness, it doesn’t mean you have to conform to their ideas.
Tip #3: Set Goals That Bring Happiness
People who set personal goals tend to be happier than people who don’t. Setting goals can also give you a sense of control over your life and increase self-esteem.
This how of happiness can give you a new sense of direction and purpose.
So think about what brings you happiness and set goals for achieving it, including both long-term and short-term goals. If your goal is to become happier, focus on small changes at first—such as going for a walk every day or spending a few minutes each night before bed to think about what you’re grateful for.
Once you’ve made progress, reflect back on your journey and admire all that you’ve done to get yourself there. This is a moment of happiness in itself.
Tip #4: Focus on Your Goals and Priorities
Even though you’re reaching for happiness, sometimes life gets in the way and it’s hard to stay on track. You may find yourself spending too much time doing things that aren’t that important to you anymore—and they don’t make you happy either.
When this happens, stop and think: What do I want out of my life? What are my real priorities? Then, put them first. If you’re spending time with people who aren’t supportive of your goals or that you don’t even like, spend less time with them—and spend more time doing things that bring you happiness.
Tip #5: Show Gratitude for What You Have
When we focus on what’s wrong in our lives, we can easily overlook the many blessings that are still there. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are. If you’re feeling down about your life, start reminding yourself of all the good things you have—and take a moment to really notice them.
Remember that happiness doesn’t come from your job, or your family, or anyone else. It comes from the connections you make with others—and within yourself. We all need support and encouragement—and we can find it in the people around us, as well as through personal reflection and self-understanding. With these tips or the how of happiness, you can build happiness from the inside out.