Isn’t it about time you were happy again?
You’ve been asking the same thing for a while.
But something has been standing in your way.
You just can’t seem to find your way back to happiness.
Now, it’s true that no one can be happy all the time. That’s just unrealistic.
What you can aim for is a life that contains regular happy moments amongst the more mundane and even downbeat times.
How do you do this?
1. Ask When You Stopped Being Happy
If you want to be happy again, it suggests that you were happy at some point in the past.
The first step to finding that happiness again is to ask when and why you stopped feeling happy.
Was it a particular event that jolted your mind out of a relatively upbeat mindset?
Did you experience a loss of some sort?
The death of a loved one, a breakup, finding yourself out of work – these are just some of the things that can steal happiness away and make it hard to find again.
In many such circumstances, you’ll have to properly grieve the loss.
There is no time limit on this. It might take weeks. It might take months. It might even take years before you can regularly experience those happy moments once more.
Chances are you will work your way through various stages of grief until you have reached a point where the loss no longer dominates your thinking.
Even then it might not totally disappear. But it will fall into the background and allow you to focus on the positive times.
On the other hand, have you found that your level of happiness has been on the slide for some time?
Were you once a happy individual who spent many moments enjoying their life and the people and things in it?
Do you now struggle to experience these feelings?
Can you identify a time when you first noticed yourself becoming less happy?
Sometimes it’s the repetition and drudgery of day-to-day life that wears you down.
Time moves forwards, but nothing seems to change and you become less content with how your life is.
Maybe the aging process brings your ultimate end into focus and you find yourself longing for more.
Whatever the cause, if you can figure out when you started to lose your happiness, it can help you discover the right ways to get it back again.
2. Don’t Chase Happiness Too Hard
In order to be happy again, it’s vital that you don’t make it your only meaningful goal.
Whilst there are things you can do to create more moments of happiness, you cannot and will not always succeed.
If you focus too much on happiness as an outcome, you will often find it harder to achieve that outcome.
Happiness erupts spontaneously when the conditions are right.
If you try to force it, you’ll be too caught up in your mind. And whilst your thoughts can help encourage the right conditions for happiness, they are just as likely to prevent it from happening.
Sometimes the very act of striving to be happy is what stands in the way of happiness.
3. Understand What Happiness Feels Like To You Now
One of the reasons why it might seem as though you are not as happy as you once were is because the feeling of happiness is not constant throughout life.
Happiness is made up of many distinct emotions and the ingredients of yours might change as you get older.
If you don’t know what your current recipe for happiness is, you might not do the things that make you happy.
And if you don’t equate those individual emotions as being a part of your overall happiness, you won’t think of yourself as being happy.
For example, when you are young, the excitement and stimulation provided by new experiences can show itself as happiness both at the time and when you think back on it later.
As you grow older, you might begin to appreciate the sharing of tradition with those who are important to you.
That’s not to say that new things can’t make you happy in your later years or that you can’t enjoy tradition when you are younger, but the way you feel about things often changes throughout life.
So in order to be happy again, you must first figure out what happiness means to you now and what it feels like.
Is your happiness closer to contentment and satisfaction?
Does appreciation of what you have in your life make you happy?
Are you happiest when you have clarity around where your life is going?
Determine the recipe for your happiness and you will be better equipped to fill your life with the right ingredients.
4. Ask What Makes You Happy Now
As we just alluded to, what once made you happy might no longer leave you feeling the same way.
You have to identify what things you currently enjoy and what you might potentially enjoy given the opportunity.
You can’t assume that these things will be the same things you used to enjoy.
One good way to identify what you do and do not enjoy right now is to spend 5 minutes at the end of each day thinking about what you’ve done during that day.
For each thing that you’ve done, ask yourself whether you’d want to do it again tomorrow.
If you would, it’s something that has provided at least some level of happiness.
If you would not, perhaps you can avoid doing this thing again in future.
This can involve asking whether you would wish to spend time with a person again tomorrow having seen them today.
If, after spending time with someone, you feel drained or sad or angry or some other negative emotion, you should ask whether this person is someone you need to see so often or at all.
The beauty of this end of day assessment is that you can try new things and then decide how much you’d like to do them again.
Perhaps you wouldn’t want to do something again the very next day, but you can honestly say that you’d like to experience it at certain intervals.
For example, going to a concert may be enjoyable and leave you feeling happy, but it may also involve some level of tiredness, stress, or anxiety from leaving your comfort zone.
So you may arrange to go to one every few months, but you wouldn’t want to do it more often than that.
This can help in two ways. Firstly, you can be more choosy about which concerts you go to. Secondly, you can decide when to say no to invitations from other people.
So not only is it about working out what makes you happy, but also what combination of things and at what intervals you would most enjoy doing them.
Over time, you will discover what matters most to you and learn to prioritize those things to maximize your happiness.
You may discover a passion along the way that you would be happy to do every single day.
You may not.
You may just find a way to fill your life with the right balance of things to bring about the emotions that make up your happiness at the present time.
5. Ask What Is Preventing Your Happiness
Just as there are things that make you feel happy, there are things that stand in the way of your happiness.
This can be a mindset, and we’ll talk more about some of these below.
It might be a situation that you find yourself in.
It might be a person in your life.
It might be an event from your past.
Self-assessment can once again be used to identify those things that are preventing you from being happy again.
One technique you can use is to watch your thoughts.
Though it’s not a hard rule, thoughts that return again and again are often those relating to events that are troubling us.
We tend to experience happiness in the present moment and while we may think back with fondness at a later date, the memories don’t live at the forefront of our minds.
Similarly, we might think a great deal when trying to plan something or solve a problem, but these thoughts don’t stick around when the thing has been planned or the problem has been solved.
Perversely, it’s the negative thoughts that we tend to dwell on the most.
So by watching your thoughts, you will be able to pinpoint the situations that are bringing you down and standing in the way of your happiness.
Journaling can be very helpful in this regard. It provides a record of what you’ve done, what you’ve thought, and how you’ve felt that can be looked at over time to discover patterns.
If you notice that a particular thing is causing you unhappiness on a regular basis, perhaps there is a way to resolve it.
6. Understand That Hardship Is A Part Of Life
As much as you may try to rid your life of all those things that prevent your happiness, it’s better to accept that life will suck at times.
Hardship and adversity come to us all at various points in our lives.
Whilst we may struggle to be happy during these times, we cannot entirely avoid them.
In terms of being happy again, it’s sometimes a case of riding out the storm and doing whatever is in your power to bring it to an end.
Often, by accepting that life has taken a turn for the worst and not living in denial, we hasten the return to normality.
As much as we may wish them away at the time, these moments of hardship often shape our character and make us into more resilient people.
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- What Is Self-Concept And How Does It Influence Your Life?
7. Always Take Care Of Yourself
If your body, mind, and soul are not properly nourished and cared for, you won’t be as happy as you can be…
…no matter what positive events occur in your life.
An effective self-care regime also makes it easier to endure the hard times.
When you feel healthy, you are able to extract every last drop of goodness and happiness out of a situation.
Self-care involves anything that improves the state of your body, mind, and soul.
Some of the top priorities should be good sleep, regular exercise, and a diet that is high in nutritious foods.
We all know that. It’s just common sense.
But you also take care of yourself by limiting your use of social media, engaging in a creative pastime, and sitting in a peaceful corner of nature.
Even something as small as maintaining good posture whilst sitting will benefit you by reducing the risk of aches and pains in the neck and back.
To be happy again, you must look after yourself.
Take every opportunity to think about how you could make changes – big and small – to improve your general well-being.
8. Take Control Of Your Brain Chemistry
Your happiness is not just a mental concept. It is a physical change in your brain too.
Dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are all chemicals that can be released by the brain in response to a situation.
They have various roles, but each can play a part in creating a positive mood in a person.
If you learn which activities can cause a release of these chemicals, you can influence how you feel.
9. Let Go Of Control
One obstacle to happiness is the need to control every detail of your life.
Yes, you need to take responsibility for your actions, but you also need to understand that many things are out of your hands.
By holding on to the idea of control, you give yourself a reason to be unhappy when things don’t pan out exactly how you intended.
You blame yourself when things go wrong and you overlook all that went right.
If you could only accept that you guide the outcome, but cannot dictate it, you will be better placed to celebrate all the positive things that happen.
You will find happiness again where now you only find disappointment.
Your mind can be positive or it can be negative. It’s hard to experience both feelings at the same time.
Seeking full control leads to a negative outlook. Relaxing into how things turn out encourages a more positive outlook.
10. Let Go Of Perfection
There is no perfect moment in which to be happy.
This relates back to the need for control because perfectionism is merely taking control to its absolute limits.
Perfection is unattainable.
No person, no event, no thing is ever perfect.
If you expect perfection, you simply don’t allow yourself to be happy when something good – even something very good – occurs.
Imagine that. A positive outcome and you still can’t be fully happy.
There’s always that nagging doubt that you didn’t achieve the ideal outcome you wished for.
So if you want to be able to rejoice in a job well done, you need to overcome your perfectionist tendencies.
Be okay with good. Be okay with satisfactory. After all, the word satisfactory implies that you could experience satisfaction, which is often a part of happiness.
11. Find Your Flow
One of the biggest signs that you are enjoying yourself is that time fades away and you are not aware of how fast or slow it is passing.
This is what happens when you enter a flow state – a condition in which you are fully engaged in something.
This could occur while playing a musical instrument, engaging in a sport, reading a book, or speaking with friends.
It can even happen in a work situation if you get so immersed in the task at hand that you find time flying by.
If we jump back to earlier on in the article where we discussed what happiness actually feels like, you’ll now understand that it doesn’t necessarily need to be a state of euphoria.
Happiness can be the fulfillment felt from a job well done.
It can be losing yourself in an activity that doesn’t necessarily invoke constant joy.
It can be the realization after the fact that your troubles had melted away as you participated in a social occasion with others.
Reaching a point where your mind is wholly occupied with the here and now of life opens a doorway to happiness and contentment.
12. Reach Out And Touch Others
Another potential obstacle to feeling happy again is the belief that you are not an important part of society.
And hopelessness is not compatible with happiness.
To combat this, you must reach out and touch the lives of other people.
By helping others in any way you can, you prove your worth and show that your contribution matters.
Being there to support people – those already in your life or complete strangers – helps provide a sense of purpose.
If your happiness is held back because you perceive a lack of meaning in your life, helping people could be an effective solution.
13. Practice Mindfulness
Being mindful means observing the present moment in a non-judgmental way.
It is the act of being aware of all five senses rather than ignoring them in favor of the thoughts in your mind.
Mindfulness doesn’t guarantee happiness. Sometimes you will have to endure those hardships we spoke of earlier and being fully aware of them doesn’t mean you are happy despite them.
But being mindful at other times can open your eyes to the good things that are happening around you.
There is some evidence that, practiced over time, mindfulness – often in the form of meditation – can improve the long term well-being of a person.
It can help to raise your baseline level of happiness.
14. Set A Goal, But Focus On Your Progress
Having something to work toward is a smart way to see a more positive future.
This optimism affects your mood in the present.
So by setting a goal, you can give yourself a happiness boost.
But to get the real benefits of a goal, you should focus on the progress you are making toward it, not the end result itself.
This idea – dubbed the progress principle – states that people experience greater well-being when they are taking meaningful steps toward an outcome that is important to them.
This could be in your work (indeed, this idea was pioneered in the world of managerial best practices), your personal life, your relationships, or something else entirely.
Every tiny step, every little win provides a sense of satisfaction and keeps us motivated to finish the task at hand.
And, remember, that happiness is not a single feeling – it’s made up of a number of emotions that might vary between people and over time.
Satisfaction and the feeling of being motivated may be a part of the happiness puzzle for you.
15. Empower Yourself By Being Proactive
Believing that you have some say over your feelings can give you a positive experience.
Yes, we must accept where our control has its limits, but we must also remind ourselves that we are not helpless creatures who simply take what is given.
Empower yourself. Take action. Don’t wait for good things to happen, but do something to create them.
Be proactive and follow some of the advice in this article, for starters.
You can be happy again.
It might not happen overnight, but it will happen sooner than you think if you commit yourself to understanding your happiness and doing the things that lead to it.