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How to Be Happier

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Don't Worry Be Happy

While many people are happy with life in general, others are discontent and no matter what happens, happiness is a temporary state or nonexistent. Happiness and unhappiness are among everyone, whether rich, poor, male, female, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, social status, etc. Perhaps one of the biggest questions many people have is what makes people happy or unhappy?

Many people may point to external events beyond their control as the chief cause of their state of happiness or lack thereof. Some people remain happy in spite of having little. They remain happy even when negative things happen in life, while other people are very unhappy despite a life of luxury and living in an otherwise harmonious family relationship/setting.

There are many suggestions that people can follow who are unhappy and would prefer to be happy. Perhaps not all suggestions will apply to everyone but the individual may feel free to choose which suggestions he or she would like to follow and see if their overall mental health improves. The primary idea that people who set forth on this quest for happiness should keep in mind is that they have the power to make certain changes in their lives and that they are ultimately responsible for their state of mind. Following are ten suggestions that may help people who are struggling in their pursuit of happiness.


When people carry a grudge or harbor bitterness against someone who they believed has caused them some sort of harm, they are only contributing towards their own unhappiness. The individual who they may hold in contempt in many instances has no idea that they have a problem with him or her. By totally forgiving someone who has caused them harm, they are freeing themselves from negative thinking that only causes their own unhappiness.

When people offer forgiveness, it sometimes restores a broken relationship and in many situations makes the relationship stronger than before the transgression. Some people may not wish to restore a relationship for a variety of reasons, such as safety concerns. However, it is still important to forgive the person even if the forgiveness exists within one’s own thinking and feelings. This situation especially applies to forgiving someone who has died. The main purpose of forgiveness is to clear the thoughts and emotions of the person who is granting the forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a Spiritual principle that most religions teach, if not directly through verbal instruction then written somewhere in their holy book i.e. the Bible, Koran, etc. If anyone is part of an organization, religious or otherwise, that does not encourage forgiveness it may be time to reconsider any further association with that organization. Forgiveness is not a natural attribute for most people so churches and other religious organizations will do a great service to their attendees and members by instructing them in the art of forgiving.

Express and Show Gratitude

It is true that some people do not have as much as others and some people may have more and bigger problems. However, finding things to be grateful for goes a long way towards changing one’s perception regarding happiness. Many people have found that by expressing gratitude for even little things results in their obtaining more than what they previously had.

Another aspect to expressing gratitude is that changes take place in the individual’s thinking process. Positive thinking results in a more positive outlook on life and one’s state of happiness. The old proverb states that how a man thinks, he is. As a reminder of gratitude, one can obtain some sort of symbol that he or she identifies with being grateful. Carrying the token on one’s person or within reach is a great way to build a habit of gratitude.

be positive

Consider How and Where You Use Your Free Time

Frequenting bars and establishments that serve alcohol can put a strain on your budget and many people that are regular customers are practicing alcoholics. Not very many people who spend a lot of time at such places show any productive results. A night out away from home is relaxing and fun but people who drink too much and then drive a vehicle run the risk of becoming involved in an accident or a possible arrest for driving under the influence.

If you are a moderate drinker, meaning only having one or two beverages with alcohol in a day, consider going to other functions, such as the library, an art show, a museum, etc. After attending such an event, stop on the way home to purchase your favorite beverage on the way home. The cost of two drinks served probably easily covers the cost of a six-pack and there will be more leftover for another evening.

Assess your regular activities throughout the week. Many people find that they can keep better track of how they spend their time by keeping a journal. When people get into a routine where all they do is one thing, such as watch television every night of the week, it is easy to see how they can find their life a boring existence, which can cause an individual to become unhappy. It is easy to change a routine once people become aware of how they actually spend all of their time.

Make and Keep Realistic Goals

When making goals, it is best to keep the goals simple and within reasonable reach without overextending one’s self. If a goal is too unreasonable, the individual is likely to discard it and abandon the idea of goal-setting altogether. It is also important not to make the goals too easy, or the individual is likely to feel like he or she did not really make any type of achievement. It is likely when first setting goals and working towards accomplishing them, the individual may have to adjust the level of difficulty in order to keep it at a level that is challenging without being too overwhelming.

By setting and meeting goals, an individual will have a guided plan to improve their life that has measurable benchmarks. Meeting these goals will greatly enhance one’s self image, a contributor towards a happy state of mind. Even if one does not meet a specific goal, it does not necessarily mean failure. It is important to understand that falling short of a goal is better than not having tried or not doing anything in the first place. One can learn to accept failure as a learning tool in order to understand more about the way an individual approaches and works towards meeting a goal.

Become a Volunteer

When people make changes to their schedule, it might be easier to make a budget of their time similar to how they budget their income. Setting aside an hour or two every week can really make a difference in the life of another. Venues such as Big Brother Big Sister or an adult literacy program will not only improve the living quality of another but it will greatly enhance the volunteer’s self-worth and happiness. Most volunteer programs have very little in the way of requirements and they usually provide any training if needed.

While doing volunteer work is a great opportunity for people to enhance their lives, it is equally important not to overdo or overextend their selves. People can experience burnout by doing too much because other people ask or allow them. Therefore, it is imperative to understand their limitations and to tell others politely but firmly: no. In addition, by limiting the amount of volunteer time, the quality of the time spent is optimal.

Examine Your Lifestyle

Many people are addicted to many different substances and/or habits. Besides drugs and alcohol, it is easy to become addicted to food, gambling, sex and several other habits that are destructive when one over-uses or abuses said substances or activities. Such addictions generally create a lot of unhappiness for the abuser and those among his or her circle of friends and family members.

Two men by the names of Bill Wilson and Dr Bob Smith founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1934. The 12-step program has helped hundreds of thousands of alcoholics live a life of sobriety, and has been the instrument for turning their lives around and finding true happiness. Several different organizations have evolved from AA to form support groups for various other people with different addictions.

Various members in these support groups use the 12-step program in other aspects in their lives to affect change. In addition, many churches are implementing the program in their venues as a way to help their attendees and members to establish growth and maturity. Sponsors, which are members who have worked the entire program, assist new members of the fellowship with understanding and performing the 12 steps. There is little in the way of governorship in any of the programs with individual groups autonomously making decisions within the fellowship through a group consciousness.

Finally, the important thing about a 12-step program is that it focuses on retraining the way that people think and live. Most successful people in a program learn to tap into a higher power. There are no rules concerning the higher power other than it is greater than the individual who is seeking it. It is important to understand that these programs are spiritual in nature but not religious and they do not have an affiliation with any outside group or organization.

Clean House

Pick one room a month in your home or apartment and do a thorough cleaning. The focus should be on de-cluttering, making your living quarters less stressful and a more relaxing environment. People usually feel better in a clean environment and performing the cleaning themselves has a tendency towards making them feel better about themselves. Doing a little extra around the home is a great way to unwind and relieve stress as housekeeping has a tendency to take one’s mind off their other problems.

When de-cluttering a home, many people become concerned with how to dispose of the items that they no longer want or need. Having a garage sale can consume a whole weekend that sometimes ends with little financial reward and boxes of unsold items. People may wish to save themselves the trouble by taking their items to a local auction or even donating at the local thrift store.

Seek Professional Help

Many people who are on a quest for happiness conduct a lot of research on the Internet and/or they purchase books and various forms of recorded media. Despite the hours of reading, listening to CDs and/or watching DVDs they still come up short on the happiness scale. People in this situation can continue to search on their own or they may decide to find professional help in the form of counseling.

Counselors help people by listening to them express their problems and helping them sort out their thoughts and feelings in order to find a solution to their problem(s). Counselors can also determine if a client needs the services of other professionals, including medical doctors. An individual may have a chemical imbalance and may need to take medicine to alleviate specific conditions.

Some people may express concern over the cost of a professional counselor. However, some agencies offer their services on a sliding pay scale or allow their clients a payment plan. In addition, some agencies do not charge for their services. Many churches and other religious organizations also offer counseling services for their parishioners. Even if free or low-cost counseling services do not appeal to an individual or are unavailable, it is still in the individual’s best interest to take care of their problem constructively at a cost rather than do nothing and taking the chance that their condition may worsen.

Take Responsibility for Your Happiness

Many people place the blame or fault of their unhappiness on other people, places or things. Taking responsibility for one’s own happiness starts with understanding that there are certain things that people have no control over including these same people, places and things. It is also important to understand that people, places and things should have no control on anyone’s state of well-being and/or happiness.

Authors Wayne W. Dyer and Jack Canfield share the same story in their books, “You’ll See It When You Believe It” and “The Success Principles” respectively. It is about a man who comes upon another man one evening who is kneeling on the sidewalk. When asked what he is doing, the kneeling man informs him that he has lost his keys and is looking for them. The first man decides to help the kneeling man find his keys. After spending an hour looking and not finding the keys, the first man enquires if the other man is sure that this is where he lost them. The man informed him that he had in fact lost them in front of his own house but that the light was better where they were looking now.

The point is people who are looking for their source of happiness from other people, people who move from one location to the next and/or people who think that world events have to change in order for them to become happy are people who are looking in the wrong place(s). While some changes are necessary in order to get away from abusive situations, individual happiness begins within each person’s own perception. Expecting other people to make one happy is an unrealistic goal.

Some sources claim that people need a minimum income level to meet all of their needs so that lack is not a contributor towards unhappiness. However, many people who live at or below the poverty level that are happy despite being able to meet their own basic needs. On the other end, there are also affluent people with no need of any material goods who are very unhappy.

The Serenity Prayer is a universal appeal for people to accept the things that one cannot change, the courage to change the things that one can and the wisdom to know the difference. The biggest problem several people have is not accepting other people or things. If an individual cannot or will not learn to accept things that they cannot change then they are doomed to a life of discontent.

Many people are unwilling to make changes in their lives that will make a significant difference in their day-to-day existence. Albert Einstein noted this in his famous quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results.” In addition, there are people who attempt to change things that they have no control over or have no business in interfering. Everyone needs to assess whether there are he or she can make, are willing to make the changes or accept each situation for what it is.

Never Give Up

It is important to understand that for many people, having a difficult area in life may be a life-long challenge and that many situations do not have an easy solution. Many successful people experience numerous failures along their road to success. The point is they never gave up on whatever goal they had in order to get where they finally arrived. Some successful people have had to modify their original goal(s) more than one time. They did not let failures and setbacks stop them from the pursuit of their dream(s).

Another aspect of successful people is that they plan their work and then work their plan. They did not allow other things or the opinions of other people interfere with their vision. If one does not understand anything else concerning the goal of obtaining happiness, it should be that happiness along with success is a matter of perception most of the time. One should accept limited success as just a small step of many that he or she may need to take in order to reach his or her goal.

Everyone has the capacity to experience happiness although some may have to work a little harder for it. One can rest assured that the only time he or she truly fails is by giving up and stopping before the miracle happens. If one does not achieve results by trying something one way then it is time to try another until one achieves their desired results.

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This page was last modified on 3 August 2013, at 17:35.
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