Want to know how to be happy? There are tons of things that you can do to help be happy, such as moving to a location you love, having a great community, creating experiences instead of material things. All of these things can help you be happier. But if you really want to know how to be happy, it starts with a few key concepts that you change in yourself.
1. Stop being a people pleaser
We all have a desire to be liked by the people we love, the people in our lives, and even complete strangers. The reason? It feels nice to be liked. Being liked gives us a sense of self-worth. But therein lies the problem.
When you get your sense of self-satisfaction from others, it is unreliable. Relationships are ever-changing. Someone who was a big part of your life last year may not even speak to you anymore. If you are reliant on others’ approval for your happiness, you are not truly happy. When you believe in yourself, you won’t feel the need to work for others’ approval constantly.
And if you are the type who sacrifices for others constantly, and never get what you want in return, this effect can be even more catastrophic. This is why it is important to put yourself first. Be kind, and be a giving human being yes. But do not try to please everyone all the time. That is a recipe for disaster.
2. Focus on the positive
It is truly shocking how simply focusing on positive things in your life, instead of negative things can affect your happiness. Essentially you are in charge of how each and every day goes in your life.
Bad things will happen, and sometimes they will outweigh the good things. That is inevitable in life. But let’s talk about everyday occurrences. You had a rough commute. Six people cut you off on the way to work. This sends you into work in a bad mood. Then work is terrible.
Have you ever noticed that the worst days you have started off bad, and continue to get worse? It’s not a coincidence. It’s because you are focusing on the negative things that happened early in the day, and continue to focus on, even expect more bad things to happen. You are simply realizing a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Instead of focusing on the six bad drivers, focus on the thousands of good drivers around you, or focus on the fact that you are alive, own a car, and can pay your bills. This is a very effective tool while learning how to be happy.
3. Get rid of your “pride”
Don’t get me started on pride. Pride is tricky because there are 2 common definitions of pride. 1. Inordinate self-esteem. 2. reasonable or justifiable self-respect. It is more common than we think of pride as the first definition.
We become proud of things that we don’t or can’t control, just to make ourselves think higher of ourselves. We often are proud of the situation we were born in, whether it was good or bad. Some are proud of race, religion, economic status (born into) etc…
But these are things that you do not control. They make no better or worse than any other human on the planet. This type of pride will give you an inflated sense of self-worth, which is not the same as happiness. It is fake.
If you want to know how to be happy, look at the second definition of pride. This definition allows you to be proud of accomplishments, and things that you can control. It’s a small feeling, and it’s not a constant state of being, but it is an incredibly powerful feeling.
4. Stop comparing yourself
Comparison is one of the best lessons is how NOT to be happy. If you are constantly wishing you have what others have, you are constantly getting down on yourself for not having enough.
Other people have the same struggles you do. The life you see on their Instagram or Facebook pages are only a part of their story. We tend not to share the bad stuff on social media. If you’re comparing the negative parts of your life with the positive parts of everyone else’s, of course, their life is going to be “better” than yours.
What is better on the pathway to happiness is to turn comparison into admiration. Admiration is a way to give others credit, learn from them, and improve yourself. Rather than a way to put yourself down because someone else has something good.
5. Give others second chances
This was a lesson that I had to learn quite a few times in my life. When I was a young adult, I did not deal well with flaky friends. It was an automatic “I’m mad at you for canceling our plans.” Which eventually led to toxic friendships and then no friendship at all.
It wasn’t until I moved from my home town, and had to make friends for real, that I learned to stop being so rigid, and give second chances. I was in control of who I could be friends with. One of my dearest friends today, is a bit a flake.
I’m okay with it, I still always invite him to come along. And what I have received from the relationship is much more impactful to my happiness than a few canceled hangs.
Giving him a second, third, and simply showing understanding and acceptance for him despite his flakiness, has been among the best decisions I’ve made in my life. People make mistakes. Let them learn, and accept them for who they are. That is how to be happy in a nutshell.
6. Stop with the pessimism
There are some terrible things that happen in world. I don’t think the most optimistic human on Earth can argue with that. Yes, there is war, famine, climate disasters, and things frankly look rather bleak.
Like you, I’ve been in the never ending heartbreak of bad news cycles, and just constant hurting because bad things happen to others. But you can’t fix any of the world’s problems with pessimism.
So here’s what you can do. You can realize the world has problems, and you can do what you can to help. Whether its using less plastic, or flying to another country to help those that are less fortunate than you, do it with a smile. Happiness breeds more happiness.
Your life doesn’t have to suck because others are suffering. You don’t have to feel guilty for that. Be optimistic, and do what you can to make the world a better place.
7. Kill negative self-talk
The way you talk to yourself is incredibly important for your level of happiness. I know first hand, believe me. As a young professional musician, I went through all the struggles with negative self-talk.
My self-worth was directly tied to how good I was at my instrument. Which in turn- how well I improved or played was directly related to the way I spoke to myself during performances and practice sessions.
Let’s just say, if I had spoken to any other human being the way I spoke to myself, I would officially be the world’s biggest asshole. No question about that.
I wasn’t happy, so much so that I ended up leaving a career in music, and learning how to talk to myself the way I talk to others. Kindly and with support. Tell yourself you are awesome, and it will be true.
8. Be kind to others
Even when I was not so nice to myself, I was always able to take solace in knowing that I was kind to others. That’s what kept me from being completely miserable.
When you are rude to others, you don’t get any satisfaction. You’re mind tricks you into thinking that the other person deserved it, but you are not actually feeling joy. You are simply just trying to justify your actions. I’ve been there, done it.
We all make mistakes, and we certainly come across people that don’t care for. That’s okay. You don’t have to like everyone. But striving to be kind to everyone even people you don’t care for, will help you feel at peace with yourself.
9. Be grateful
One of my favorite phrases recently, has been gratitude changes attitude. It really could not be more true. This concept is the embodiment on how to focus on positive thoughts.
Allowing yourself to be grateful for what you have, what you’ve learned, and for your experiences allows your mind to focus on positive thoughts.
Even when something goes horribly wrong in your life, you are learning. You can choose to 1. be miserable because something didn’t go your way, or 2. be grateful that something didn’t go your way. “Why would I be grateful for something bad” you ask?
Lessons. When things go poorly, you are having a learning experience. You are growing. That is what there is to be grateful for. It’s tough to see while you are going through it, but when you find the gratitude, you will find the growth.
10. Hold yourself accountable
Taking responsibility for your mistakes is incredibly freeing. Learning to admit fault to yourself and others lifts a burden off of your shoulders. Out egos don’t really let ourselves believe that this is true. But it is.
When you did something wrong, made a mistake, you know it, whether you have admitted it to yourself or not. That becomes a huge burden to bear. And when you are bearing a burden of guilt (subconscious or otherwise), your happiness levels decline.
Admit to yourself, your loved ones, and even your peers when you make a mistake. You will be surprised that not many will judge you, and they will respect you more for owning up to it. And most importantly, you will respect yourself more.