Everyone wants to be happy.
We’ve all experienced it at different points in our lives. And the feeling is so good that it’s probably the one thing everyone can agree they want to have in life.
Plus, happiness makes us healthier, lets us live longer, and be more productive.
So how can you be happier? In life, love, relationships and even work.
We’ve dug into tons of research studies to help you find the answer.
Table of Contents
119 Proven Ways to Be Happier
How to Be Happier with Yourself
1. Learn to Let Go of Your Fears
Fear not only causes stress and anxiety, it often prevents us from doing things that we’ve always wanted to. Whether it’s fear of failure, being rejected or humiliated, our insecurities keep us from being happy.
What’s interesting about this primal emotion is that our fear of the unknown makes us feel worse than knowing that the outcome isn’t a good one.
Science offers evidence that our minds tend to go on overdrive when we’re uncertain of something. It makes us imagine all sorts of scenarios causing us stress. As such, not knowing the result of something worries us more than when we know the result is bad.
Our Fears Affect Our Lives
Being afraid of something or someone affects our lives, relationships and how we behave.
A study by Spanish psychologists found that fear of losing one’s job affects not only how the individuals performed at work and how committed they were to their jobs, it also caused them to be less satisfied with their personal and family lives.
The study, which followed over 300 employees in various fields, also noticed that blue collar workers were most affected by job uncertainty compared to white collar and professionals.
Fear also extends into our relationships, as we sometimes settle for someone for fear of being alone.
Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the 2013 study discovered that settling for a lesser relationship is something many men and women do due to fear of ending up alone.
Also, and a good portion (37%) of young and middle aged individuals (18 to 59 years of age) had some fear of being alone, or being left without any companion.
2. Think Positive
Positive thinking helps you feel optimistic about the future and yourself.
It has also been shown to make you happier.
Being an optimist likewise helps you live longer. It reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 50% according to a study by Harvard’s School of Public Health.
Considering that the American Heart Association lists these conditions as the leading cause of death accounting for over 17 million each year, it’s definitely worth trying to be more positive.
Shawn Achor, one of the leading researchers on happiness, mentions in a TED talk that knowing about all the external forces in the world that cause you stress, success, affect your economic well-being and relationships will only predict 10% of your long term happiness.
The bigger chunk of 90% depends on how your mind processes and perceives the world.
In short, it’s all about attitude.
Numerous studies also point out the benefits of being optimistic, including its ability to increase your resiliency, undo lingering negative emotions, let you think with an open mind and bring about improved well-being.
3. Take Good Care of Yourself
Being healthy is essential for being happy.
As a volunteer in our local hospital, I occasionally do rounds in the chemotherapy and dialysis sections. Rarely, do I see a smile or someone happy there.
It’s unfortunate, but I can’t blame them. I’ve seen the toll illness takes on our bodies and minds.
Scientific evidence likewise offers the same conclusion.
Research by the University of Nebraska Medical Center shows that in nearly 10,000 survey respondents over a 3 year period, those who had better health and didn’t have long term conditions were happier than those who didn’t.
Health also trumps the effects of income on happiness according to a study presented in the journal Health Economics. Good health was considered vital for a positive life and satisfaction.
When it came to which health conditions were most problematic, the data suggested anxiety and pain affects us more than one-time physical problems. In part, because we find a way to adjust to the one-time problems.
4. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
For many of us, we are our own worst critics.
We expect a lot from ourselves. And when we fall short of expectations we take it hard on ourselves.
Give yourself a break.
Remember, you’re human. And we all make mistakes.
More importantly, learn from our shortcomings and get back up and try again.
Self-criticism not only makes us feel bad about ourselves, it also increases our levels of stress. For some this can lead to depression or worse.
According to a research piece printed in the academic journal Suicide and Life – Threatening Behavior, being self-critical was associated with suicidal behavior.
Analysis of data gathered from interviewing 64 individuals who had attempted suicide revealed that those who were critical about themselves exhibited more motivation to escape whatever stressor they were experiencing. In this case by trying to kill themselves. These individuals also went to greater lengths to do so.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology meanwhile, notes that practicing self-compassion, which is showing yourself some kindness and understanding during times of failure or inadequacy, helps reduce the effects of self-criticism and depression.
5. Don’t Dwell on the Past
Quoting Master Oogway from the first Kung Fu Panda film, “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. ”
|Don’t let your past define you.
Your past is just that, make your experiences in the present count.
We like to dwell on what we could have or should have been or done, as well as missed opportunities. But unless you have a time machine, doing so not only brings you down but also adds to stress, as you feel more of your inadequacies.
Research presented in the journal Emotion shows that dwelling is linked to unhappiness. It also notes that individuals who are more sensitive when things don’t go their way are more likely to dwell.
Dwelling had lingering negative effects on upcoming important tasks as well.
“yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. ”
It was shown to interfere with the participants’ thinking and mindset. This affected both work and performance. Doing so also made them unhappy compared to their peers.