“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”
– Margaret Lee Runbeck
Do you wake up in the morning feeling positive about life?
Most of the health advice we receive encourages us to eat healthily, be physically active and avoid bad habits like smoking. But it may be time to add “be happy” to the list of standard health recommendations.
An overwhelming amount of scientific studies have found that optimistic people who enjoy life have stronger immune systems, lower stress levels, less pain and even a longer life expectancy than unhappy people.
You might be wondering how you can start to feel happier when you’re struggling with daily hassles and life’s difficulties.
Being happy doesn’t mean you have to be cheerful and smiling all the time. Happiness is an overall satisfaction with your life, as well as the sum of the fleeting feelings you experience every day.
Research by Barbara Fredrickson shows that, in order to flourish, we should have three positive emotions for every negative one. To feel happier, we shouldn’t focus on avoiding bad moments, but on finding ways to increase the positivity in our lives.
So what can you do to cultivate more positive emotions like joy, love and gratitude? What small change can you make that will have a profound impact on your daily happiness?
Six experts on emotional wellbeing share their best tips on how to be happy.
Marc and Angel
Popular bloggers and authors of “1,000+ Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently”
What’s the most important thing that happy people do differently?
Focusing on what do you have, instead of worrying about what you don’t have, is one of the greatest keys to happiness. When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of joy every day. And that’s without having to go out and buy or acquire anything new. It makes sense. You will have a hard time ever being happy if you aren’t thankful for what you already have.
Author or the international bestseller “The World Book of Happiness”
What is the most surprising or interesting fact you’ve learned about happiness from 100 experts in positive psychology?
Well-being depends on external conditions (the country, the region, the family you are born in – it’s a mixture of nature and nurture) and on our internal strengths and resources. Most important is not “pleasure” but “satisfaction”: about the quality of your relationships, your work, your health, your resources and your personal freedom. Summarizing it in two words, the heart of happiness is “other people”. It is not about you, it is about “the others”. It’s not about things, it is about persons. And you are always someone’s “other” as well.
Most surprising is that the answer is not complex nor unexpected. We know what to do but we don’t do what we know.
What is a quick and simple way for people to boost their happiness?
There is no short way, nor is there “one” way. Everyone has to find his own way. But what really helps? Become an optimist. Optimists live longer, are healthier and more successful in sports, studies, business and friendship. Optimists are open people, they connect with others, live an active life, take notice of the world, keep learning and are able to give and to forgive. That makes them happy and the others around: feeling good while doing good.
Founder of Tiny Buddha – Author of “Tiny Wisdom, On Happiness: Simple Tips for Creating Joy”
What is the simplest way to cultivate more positive emotions, like joy, love and gratitude?
Meditation is one simple way, as this allows us to clear the mental clutter that leads to stress and fear, and create space in our heads and hearts for joy, love, and gratitude. As the Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”
What easy things can someone do to build a happier life when they’re struggling with life’s difficulties?
One thing that helps me when I’m struggling is to focus on the little things and to take it one day, even one moment at a time. In the beginning of last year, I went through a particularly challenging period. My tax liability was greater than I’d anticipated, and it drained my savings account. A month later, I had my first major surgery, which further burdened me financially. A month after that, a burglar robbed my house and stole everything of significant financial value that I owned. The following month, my grandmother passed away.
I felt overwhelming emotions, and there wasn’t any one easy solution to make them all go away. I eventually realized I couldn’t experience happiness if I kept scheming to stop feeling so much pain, because that was going to take time. I could, however, create pockets of peace and joy even while going through my emotional process. I could take a bath, take a walk, see a movie, or call the people I love.
That, I believe, is the key to happiness—knowing we won’t always feel happy, but doing our best to create joy in as many moments as we can.
Founder of The Start of Happiness
Which one small change can people make that will have a profound impact on their daily happiness?
Smile! Smiling is such a simple thing to do yet we often forget that it can have a profound impact on our daily happiness. Research has shown that smiling releases serotonin – a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
When you think about it, it’s like a circle of happiness. When you smile it makes you feel happy and when you’re happy you smile more! The other great thing with smiling is that it actually makes other people feel great. So while you’re lifting your own mood, you’re also changing the world around you. Now that is a powerful thing!
Personal development blogger at The Positivity Blog
What’s the most important thing that happy people do differently?
I’d say that one of the most important thing happy people do differently is to keep an optimistic attitude. Because pessimism can really limit your life and bring it to a standstill. It can make it feel like it is no point in trying because it won’t make a difference or you’ll just fail. It can create ceilings and walls made out of glass where there really are none. A more optimistic way of thinking can on the other hand open your life up.
Two of my favorite habits for becoming more optimistic are:
- Ask yourself optimistic questions. When you’re in what seems like a negative situation then make something better out of it by asking yourself questions that promote optimism and helps you to find solutions. Questions like: What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation? And what is the opportunity within this situation?
- Start your day off on the right foot. The influences in your life can make a huge difference. So choose to spend your breakfast time with an optimistic influence like for example a book, a blog or your mom. Or talk to someone early in the day that most often supports and cheers you up like a co-worker or a friend in school.
Coach and founder of JoCasey.com, Emotionally Resilience for the Real World
What’s a simple yet powerful way to boost your happiness every day?
Most of us have been unconsciously trained by work/family/school to focus on our mistakes in order to correct them, but this can lead to a cycle of negative thinking and being very hard on ourselves. Instead, the end of each day – (just before bed is good,) reflect on your day and make a mental note of which things went well. Pay particular attention to things you felt you handled well or demonstrated a good choice in. Then reflect on one thing that didn’t go so well and what you could do differently next time to improve it. By spending time reflecting on successes, strengths and things we would do differently next time, we shift our focus and tune in the more positive aspects of our lives and retrain our brains to notice them instead of just the bad stuff.”
Which practical step(s) can someone take to start thinking more positively?
Worrying is mental rehearsal for failure – but all worrying does is rehearse things that haven’t happened yet and may never happen. Instead of imagining all of the things that could go wrong, try considering what it would be like if they went well – or even not disastrously! Worrying doesn’t protect us from bad things happening but it makes things that are only potentials real in our heads. Try shifting your focus to the potential of good happening instead and you’ll notice an instant ability to see the possibilities in situations and in life.
What do you do to feel happy even when you’re dealing with everyday problems? I’d love to hear your happiness tips in the comments!