Believe in Yourself
Finding true happiness requires taking a good hard look at yourself. The goal is to identify any off-the-wall beliefs about your self-worth and adjust them. When you're at ease with yourself and open to others, friendships seem to blossom naturally. Just acknowledging secret self-doubts may help you develop enough humor and compassion toward yourself to reach out to others, who, underneath, are probably just like you, sometimes unsure and shy.
Hang Out with Happy FriendsHaving someone in your immediate social circle who is upbeat ups your chances of happiness by 15%. Why? It seems happy people have the power to spread their feel-good vibes far and wide the same way a ripple spreads through a pond. Not only do immediate friends matter, but friends of friends, too. So make plans to have lunch with a friend or go for a walk together. It could have far-reaching benefits for your mental health.
Make Time for PlaySwap your endless to-do list for some spontaneous playtime. It packs big benefits for your health, mood, mind, job, and even your relationships. When you're floating free, happy, and totally absorbed, you're taking a mini vacation from deadlines, bills, and your crazy-busy schedule. Anything counts, from enjoying a silly moment with your spouse to hosting an impromptu gathering, to cooking up a new recipe in the kitchen.
Squash NegativityIs your inner voice quick to snap out things like, "How could you forget that, you idiot?" Sometimes the noise inside our own heads is our biggest stressor. When negative thoughts crop up, imagine a stop sign in your head, and tell yourself, "Stop!" To turn things around, trade in put-downs for positive thoughts and affirmations. For example, when you feel tired during a workout, think, "I am strong" or when you start work on a difficult task, think, "I can accomplish anything." Empower yourself to think positive.
Connect with OthersMake every effort to talk -- really talk -- to people you care about. If they're far away, stay in touch through e-mail, phone calls, video chat, and, when you can, face-to-face visits; you'll all benefit by connecting. Get physical, too; hugs stimulate oxytocin, the "cuddle hormone," spreading a feel-good boost. Lovemaking does, too, in steady relationships (those couples report the highest happiness levels). Plus, connecting with others may keep you healthier by providing a coping mechanism for stress.
Keep a Gratitude JournalSimply writing down what you're thankful for makes you healthier, happier and more optimistic. Feeling thankful comes, in part, from counting your blessings each day. If you're not sure how to journal, start by answering: What three things am I thankful for? You might find that journaling gives you a better, happier outlook for each day because you're looking for moments to include in your journal each night.
Lend a Helping HandVolunteering at a nearby school or retirement residence, running to the pharmacy for a sick friend, or lending emotional support to a loved one can give your happiness quotient a big boost. How? Giving back and bonding with others inspires gratitude for what life has given you, and can help you define your purpose in life. The secret to being happy may be realizing that true happiness isn't about being high on life all the time, but slowing down enough to share your natural gifts with others
Meditate or PrayFor some, being spiritual means going to church. For others, it means finding a quiet place to meditate and think about life. No matter how you do it or what you call it, meditation and prayer can help slow breathing and brain activity, and reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Plus, when you do pray or meditate, you're more likely to be filled with peace, joy, and other positive emotions that can also lead to positive physiological responses throughout your body.
Be RealisticBeing happy means facing the fact that life sometimes stinks and that there will definitely be times when you’ll be unhappy. This doesn't mean you have to lower your expectations. Instead, align them with reality by expecting to face challenges. A little unhappiness here and there forces you to work through problems and think about what gives you happiness so you can set new directions that may change your life.