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Pat on the back: You’re looking to be happy again — a good sign that you want to help yourself. (Some folks would rather stew in their own juices, soaking in life’s angst.)
While you’re longing for change, you can’t help looking back on your past, comparing it favorably with present-day reality.
Maybe it was when you were a child, and everything was new.
Maybe it was when you first fell in love, or married, or had children, or graduated from college, or got your new job.
Or maybe it is a moment: the birth of your child, the afternoon you first made love, an evening with friends that changed your life.
And yet somehow these past moments don’t make you happy now. If they do, to some extent, they don’t seem to make you as happy now as they did then.
You can feel them slipping away as though they’re receding into another dimension — not even another place, but another universe entirely.
Now it’s time to realize you’ve wallowed in enough pain; stop torturing yourself with memories of how happy you used to be.
This is especially sage advice because there’s no reason you can’t be happy again, or at least less unhappy than you are now.
While I’ve already written about living a happier life, the subject is worth exploring again, considering the mounting problems we face today. This includes Covid, war, rising crime, bitter divisiveness in our country, etc.
Here are 21 quick ways to change your mood and disposition. Find out how you can be happy again.
1) Realize You Deserve to be Happy Again
Our society sometimes makes it seem like happiness is something that we just have and then keep for the rest of our lives.
This is simply not true. Happiness is a skill you can develop, and you need to work at your happiness daily, especially if you're feeling unhappy.
The first step in developing this skill is to realize that you deserve to be happy.
You are an important person in the world, and you deserve to be happy just as much as anyone else does.
If you have trouble believing this, think about how important you are to your friends, family members, co-workers, pets, or anyone else who matters to you.
When you believe you merit happiness, it becomes less difficult to feel this emotion.
2) Understand that Happiness is a Choice
"The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts." - Marcus Aurelius
Happiness is not as elusive as we think it is. We can choose to be happy right now, even if our circumstances are less than perfect.
That’s because happiness comes from within, regardless of our external circumstances. It’s not about the things we have or don’t have; it’s about how we think about the things we have or don’t have.
If you’re waiting for happiness to surface again, through external events, you may be in for a long wait. If you’re seeking happiness within, however, you will find it.
You’ll find it in the thoughts you choose to focus on and the attitude you choose to adopt.
3) Let Go of Perfectionism and Unrealistic Expectations
We often put pressure on ourselves when it comes to work, family and social circles.
Expecting perfection from yourself or others is a surefire way to feel miserable because no one is perfect!
Instead of being self-critical and judgmental, practice being kinder to yourself and others.
Let go of that “inner critic.”
Everything doesn’t have to be perfect for you to be happy again.
If you’re constantly striving for some level of perfection that doesn’t exist in reality, you’ll never find happiness — or at least not for very long.
4) Stop Comparing Yourself to Reinvigorate Happiness
"Happiness grows at our own firesides, and is not to be picked in strangers' gardens." - Douglas Jerrold
It’s easy to compare yourself with others — your friends, your family, your peers — and assume they’re doing better than you or living a happier life.
But we all face our own challenges in life, and anyone who seems to lead an ideal existence probably has their own struggles going on behind closed doors.
The only person you should truly compare yourself with is who you were yesterday... and whether you're making progress every day in your life.
Here are a few steps you can take to help you stop comparing yourself to others:
A. Set your standards for yourself. Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself.
B. Be who you are and don’t be someone else. You are born into this world as an original. Why die like a copy? There's no need to worry what other people think of you.
C. Stop looking at what other people have and start being grateful for what you have.
D. Love your flaws and accept them as part of your uniqueness in this world.
E. Always remember that success is relative; one person’s success can be another person’s failure, and vice versa. Let go of materialism as a definition of a successful life.
5) Release Old Grudges and Resentments
Holding on to negative feelings about other people makes you feel even worse about yourself and your life.
It adds more suffering to your life, which is exactly what you don’t need if you want to be happy again.
Being angry at someone for not being who you want them to be prevents you from seeing them clearly for who they are and how they treat you now — which is what really matters.
Happy people do not hold on to hurtful grudges. They save energy for something that really matters: Creating the best version of themselves and living life to the fullest.
6) Embrace Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation is a simple, effective way to feel happier now. And for the happiest people, it turns out that it’s also a contributing factor to lifelong fulfillment.
Meditation can foment feelings of happiness. How?
Through the practice of non-judgmental awareness, we can pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without reacting to them.
We can train our minds to focus on what’s good in our lives and let go of worries and stress.
This is self-care that can benefit both our mental health and overall well-being.
It’s easy to get caught up in a host of distractions that take us away from being fully present in the moment.
But when we pay attention to how we feel both mentally and physically, we can gain insight into ourselves, which can help us become happy again.
So try this simple tip: Next time you find yourself feeling sad or worried about something, stop for a moment and focus on your breath (try counting as you breathe in and out).
Then bring your mind back to the present by focusing on one thing around you — it could be anything from the color of your coffee cup to the shape of a leaf outside your window.
7) Laugh and Smile More
And even if nothing seems funny at all, forcing a smile can trick your brain into thinking you’re happy, which can help put you in a better mood.
Plus, smiling makes others happier, too!
Instead of waiting to be happy again with the accompanying laughter and smiles, find ways to laugh and smile first to become happier.
8) Break the Habit of Thinking Negative Thoughts
Our thoughts are incredibly powerful. They can determine how we feel about ourselves and our lives.
If you routinely think negative thoughts, you’ll be used to feeling miserable and depressed.
But if you attempt to stop those negative thoughts in their tracks and choose positive ones instead, you’ll become happier.
When was the last time you really listened to yourself think? The thoughts that run on repeat in your head can be very telling how you view yourself and your life.
Do you often think things like, “I can’t do this,” “I’m not good enough,” or “Maybe someday I will be happy again when __________ happens”?
This stream of negativity is likely keeping you from feeling joy in the present moment because you are too preoccupied with fears about the future or dwelling on failures of the past.
The next time you catch yourself thinking negatively, pause and take a deep breath before letting another thought enter your mind.
Then consciously remind yourself of one thing you are grateful for in your life.
9) Search and Spend Time with Happy, Upbeat People
Happiness is contagious. It’s one of the most well-researched principles in positive psychology, and it’s hard to argue with.
We know that we’re influenced by our peers’ behaviors and emotions, but new research is showing that we’re even more influenced by their happiness; a 2009 study found that happiness spreads among clusters of friends like a virus or epidemic, and the effect lasts for up to a year.
If you’re feeling down, start seeking the company of happier people — they’ll lift your spirits and offer a fresh perspective on whatever is making you feel blue.
You’ll also probably pick up some new tips on how to be happier yourself!
10) Immerse Yourself in Nature
We live in an increasingly stressful world. Jobs are demanding, with varying hours and more and more work to get done.
The average worker spends more time at their desk than ever before. It’s no surprise that people are feeling the pressure.
So how can we stop the cycle of stress? How can we change our habits to ensure that we have time for ourselves? We need a break from the daily grind to be happy again.
Treat yourself to the beauty of nature.
Studies find that people who spend time in nature are more joyful, enthusiastic and energetic than their counterparts who remain indoors.
Nature is proven to be a great antidepressant. Walk in the woods, sit on a park bench or lie on the grass, and enjoy the moment. Leave your phone at home if you can!
11) Go on an Adventure
If you’re feeling bored or stuck in a rut with life, do something spontaneous to get out of your comfort zone by going on an adventure!
The new experiences will give you something to be excited about as well as help you meet new people and see unknown places.
Again, an adventure may mean to go past your comfort zone, which can produce feelings of anxiety. However, in the long run, it will be worth it.
The point is to have fun, but also to learn something new about yourself and your limits. You might even make some friends along the way!
Give yourself a special gift: Go for a hike. Visit a national park or nature reserve. Go camping.
Go on a road trip to get away from it all. Visit a nearby city or town you’ve always wanted to explore, or search for one you’ve never heard of before and ask around for suggestions on what to do there.
You can also become happy again by taking up a new hobby (or an old one).
There are plenty of things you can do by yourself that are still fun. Join a club, take a class, or just try new things when you get the chance.
12) Stop Stress in its Tracks
When you’re feeling uptight, stop what you’re doing. Pick up a book, listen to music, play video games, or engage in any respite to regain your composure and sense of peace and happiness.
You don’t have to remain in a miserable state. Force yourself to change your state of mind by altering thoughts and activities.
Simultaneously, avoid activities that seem to arouse feelings of unhappiness.
For instance, while I want to be aware about what is going on in the world around me, my decision to watch much less news has been a mood elevator.
Think about your unhappiness triggers to figure out how to be happy again.
13) Do Something Nice for Someone Else
Doing something nice for someone else can help improve your sense of happiness, even if you don’t know the person you are helping.
This is because acts of kindness release feel-good chemicals like serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine into your brain.
So, decide to lend a helping hand, perform a random act of kindness, and/or volunteer. Research shows that when you help others, it makes you feel good about yourself.
You will feel happier by giving back to your community.
14) Sleep More
If you’re feeling uptight and anxious while awake, sleeping can be a great, healthy escape until you’re ready to face a new day with positive expectation.
There’s a powerful link between sleep and happiness.
It’s well established that sleep deprivation can lead to depression, but new research suggests that sleep-deprived people may actually become less happy because of the condition.
Conversely, when you’re well rested, you think more clearly and feel less stressed.
You also have more energy throughout the day and actually feel healthier physically.
It’s much easier for your body to fight off illness when it has had proper rest; it’s also easier for your mind to find happiness again when it has been suitably recharged.
15) Accept that Things Don't Always go as Planned
One way to be happy is to create goals, make plans and pursue them.
If you do this kind of thing, you should be able to accomplish a lot in life.
But sometimes things don’t work out as planned and if you are not careful, it could make you unhappy.
However, it is unnecessary that everything should go as planned and that any deviation from the plans means failure.
If you can manage your expectations appropriately, then any deviation from the plan shouldn’t translate into unhappiness.
For example, you may have written a book and expected that it would be a best seller. But after the book was published and sold it wasn’t able to attract much attention and so didn’t sell very well.
If you had high expectations (which is likely true) then there is every possibility that you might feel unhappy.
But if you felt satisfaction just writing the book itself, this may be enough reason for happiness.
It may also be a way to override perceptions of failure resulting from low book sales.
16) Accept it's Natural to Feel Negative Emotions
Recognize that it is natural to be sad, nervous, or overwhelmed at times. This is just a truism of life — part of being human.
A person’s moods ebb and flow like the tides. Sometimes we are sad, sometimes we are happy. It is important to recognize that these feelings come and go.
See unhappiness as a work in progress.
It may take time for you to learn how to be happy again. And being down doesn’t mean that this stage will never end.
Think about what makes you unhappy and try to avoid those situations or identify ways of coping with them more effectively.
Also, see unhappiness as an opportunity for learning.
If you dig below the surface, you may find a reason for your unhappiness that can become obvious only when you’re in the depths of despair.
17) Focus on the Positive Side of Things
There are always two sides in every situation, and focusing on the positive side will help make you happier.
Look at each situation through a positivity lens and ask yourself, what’s good about it? What can I learn from this? How can I benefit from this? What good will come out of this?
You might not always find something positive, but if you keep looking for it long enough, you’ll be surprised at how easy it actually is to see the silver lining in almost any situation and even find gratitude for things that once seemed like problems or obstacles.
Although you cannot control the circumstances that come your way, you can take control of how you respond to them.
"Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them." - Steve Maraboli
You can choose not to be affected by the things that happen to you and instead focus on how you can transform these situations into something positive.
18) Express this Gratitude
Our experiences are filtered by our own beliefs, expectations, and preconceived notions.
So changing your perspective can make a big difference in your happiness. If you feel unhappy, express gratitude for your blessings.
Start with: “I am grateful for ___ (fill in the blank). Then, list things that come to mind.
Consider keeping a gratitude journal where you describe positive and happy events every day.
You can also carry a notepad and write any good things that happen to you during the day, especially if they help change your mood for the better.
Gratitude is the antidote to fear, anxiety, and envy, and a counterweight to depression. Appreciate what you have and not focus on what you lack.
19) Find Purpose and Meaning in Life
We all want to feel like we have fulfilled our purpose, whether it’s through helping others, becoming a parent, or finding financial security.
But what is purpose?
Purpose can be defined as an intention that motivates you to do something.
It is what drives you to achieve goals, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and literally get up in the morning.
It is what gives your life meaning and makes you feel like your time on Earth isn’t just one big coincidence. Purpose makes us feel like we belong here.
Finding meaning in life has an enormous impact on our overall level of happiness and satisfaction with life — it even has physical implications for our health and longevity, regardless of age or gender.
Those who live a purpose-filled life feel a deep sense of meaning and direction consistently, which leads them to achieve more meaningful goals.
These individuals are also more likely to develop positive relationships.
Prominent social psychologist, Dr. Roy F. Baumeister, writes about meaning and how it can shape our lives.
Baumeister argues that finding meaning in life can boost health and happiness more than anything else — even more than pleasure.
Baumeister offers a formula for finding meaning that includes five elements: belonging, understanding, making a difference, transcendence and storytelling.
The first three elements can help people find purpose through experiences such as family, religion and work; the last two are more abstract concepts that people can use to help make sense of their lives.
For instance, think about how hardship shapes your life and provides hidden dividends.
20) Stop Defining Yourself Based on Superficialities
It’s common to lose track of what really matters in life. The grind and hustle of everyday survival can drag you down, causing you to lose sight of your priorities.
This is especially true if you’re focused on superficial things like how much money you have, the grandeur of your home, the sticker price of your car, how good you look, etc.
However, it’s important to remember that none of these things make us truly happy.
To be happy again, base your self-worth on more enduring qualities that really matter -- like relationships with family and friends, or the satisfaction you get from helping others.
21) Only Spend Time and Energy with Things You Can Control
When you try to fix things you can't control, it makes you feel helpless. This can lead to depression and other negative thoughts which can be hard to break out of once they set in.
Instead of feeling frustrated about the things you don't have the power to fix, spend time and energy with the things that are within your control.
The truth is that there are many things in life that are beyond our control, no matter how hard we try to change them. For example, we can’t change other people’s behavior, no matter how much we want to.
It's a recipe for disaster if we ruminate over events and circumstances beyond our influence.
The "Serenity Prayer" is applicable here if you want to be happy again.
The Commonality of These “Be Happy Again” Strategies
I’ve just listed and described 21 ways to be happy again. But these tips share one common theme: the pursuit to live a more holistic, balanced life through thoughts and actions.
I’ve highlighted these holistic measures, that over time, can restore a happy life:
- Change your perspective on life.
- Learn from your mistakes and move on.
- Take care of your physical and mental health.
- Connect with others and build meaningful relationships.
- Set goals and create a sense of purpose for yourself.
- Cope with difficult emotions like stress and anger in positive ways.
It’s all about cultivating a more holistic lifestyle.
Holistic living is a lifestyle that aims to live life in harmony with the natural world. It’s about more than just being eco-friendly — it’s about cultivating inner peace, health and happiness.
Many of us are so wrapped up in our daily routines that we forget to look after ourselves. We don’t eat the right foods; we neglect exercise, and we feel disconnected from other people and from nature.
But making a few minor changes can really make a difference to how you feel. If you want to be healthier and happier, why not take your first steps on the road to a more holistic lifestyle?
What does holistic mean?
The word “holistic” comes from the Greek word “holos”, which means “whole” or “complete”. So when we talk about holistic living, what we mean is living an integrated life where all aspects of your health are interconnected.
You can think of it as a kind of mind-body-spirit approach to wellness, ultimately increasing your happiness quotient.
Happiness is a choice. It doesn’t come from external things like people, money, or accolades.
Those can help you feel happy, but only if you’ve chosen to be happy in the first place.
Happiness comes from within.
Happiness is an emotion. Emotions are fleeting and moods change.
Sometimes happiness will elude you and sometimes it will overtake you until you feel you’re on top of the world.
You don’t have to work so hard to enjoy life when you’re happy — it just comes naturally.
Happiness is a by-product of making others happy. If you want people to be nicer to you and do nice things for you, then be nicer to them and do nice things for them first.
When you give with a zero expectation of receiving anything in return, that’s when good things come into your life.
Happiness is a skill that takes practice and effort to build up.
You have to learn how to get out of your own way and think positively before happiness can happen regularly.
You can do this by eliminating toxic relationships and not sweating the small stuff.
Happiness is possible because of all the wonderful little things in life that we often take for granted:
- The sun rising each morning and setting each night.
- The smile on your child’s face when they see you.
- The smell of baking bread or chocolate chip cookies.
- Children laughing and playing together.
- Watching sunsets with someone special.
- Getting a handwritten letter from a friend in the mail.
- Sitting on the beach, listening to the waves crash against the shore,
Now it’s time for you to think of things that make you happy again and smile.
The very act of smiling is enough to trigger your brain into releasing endorphins, which can lift your mood, reduce stress, and improve your day.
May you find the happiness within and become happy again,
Being happy again
Time will heal all wounds
and the past will be forgotten
When the night is darkest,
there is no hope,
but it is then that the sun rises.
The answer to how to be happy again starts with you.