18 Ways to Start Feeling Happy

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    Do you feel like you have to earn your happiness? When you set your career or personal goals, are you chasing success or are you looking for a way to start feeling happy?

    One of the most damaging things we can do is think of happiness as something we’re working toward. No matter where you are in your journey, there are ways to focus on feeling happy. You just have to know where to start.

    “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

    I should know. A few years ago, I was miserable. Everyone around me looked like they were feeling happy, and I felt like I was just going through the motions. And then, when I reached my big goal, the one that defined my career success, I didn’t feel the happiness I expected to.

    I realized that happiness was a choice I needed to be making instead of a state of mind. That’s why I put together this list. These are things you can do to start feeling happy regardless of your life circumstances.

    Feeling Happy

    18 Ways to Start Feeling Happy

    1. Get Busy

    2. Try to Smile More Often

    3. Watch a Funny Movie

    4. Expand Your Mind and Thoughts Beyond Your Problems

    5. Read Inspiring Quotes

    6. Exercise Your Body

    7. Eat a Good Meal

    8. Buy Yourself a Present

    9. Learn to Focus and Control Your Mind

    10. Get Outside

    11. Say "Thank You"

    12. Learn Something New

    13. Let It Go

    14. Text a Friend

    15. Make Plans

    16. Help Someone

    17. Stop Comparing Yourself

    18. Smile

    #1 Get Busy

    The first step to feeling happy is to get busy.

    That doesn’t mean stuffing your schedule so full that you can’t think. If you have to be busy enough to avoid your thoughts, that’s a sign that something’s wrong with your mindset.

    But when we don’t have a lot going on, it’s hard to experience feeling happy because we don’t have a lot of stimuli. We start to feel like we’re stagnating.

    Look at your professional life, social life, hobbies, and interests. Are any of these lacking? Don’t neglect these essential components of a healthy life.

    #2 Try to Smile More Often

    Feeling happy often comes from the inside. If you’re unhappy, it can be exhausting to smile and put up a “brave face” for other people.

    So don’t do it for other people. Do it for yourself. Smiling is good for you. Even if you don’t mean it, the action helps release brain chemicals that start you on the path to feeling happy.

    #3 Watch a Funny Movie

    One quick fix for feeling happy is to watch a funny movie or TV show. How long has it been since you relaxed with anything lighthearted? If you’re stressed about life, a funny movie might be just what you need to lift your spirits.

    Maybe you don’t feel like watching something new. That’s okay! Rewatching a nostalgic movie or favorite TV show is another great means of feeling happy.

    #4 Expand Your Mind and Thoughts Beyond Your Problems

    Another thing that we’re prone to as flawed human beings is to be obsessed with our problems. Our thoughts are constantly zeroed in on the negative things happening in our lives.

    So move beyond your problems. When you catch yourself fixating on negative situations, try having a broader perspective.

    One example would be to consider other people in a situation and how to help them. Another example would be to look up heartwarming news stories to remember that good things are happening every day.

    #5 Read Inspiring Quotes

    It can be tough to start feeling happy if you feel depressed or uninspired. One helpful tool is to read inspiring quotes.

    Different quotes will resonate with different people. Don’t settle for extremely generic quotes. Instead, read through different quotes until you find some that resonate with you.

    Good quotes will get you in touch with your inner feelings and remind you of what matters to you.

    #6 Exercise Your Body

    Exercise is often the first thing doctors and self-help experts alike suggest when you’re carving a path to feeling happy – to the point that it can be annoying!

    But there’s a good reason for the suggestion. Exercise releases endorphins, improves your metabolism, and makes it easier to sleep.

    Many people have a much lower level of physical activity than their body is built for. It’s not your fault. Cars, public transit, television, and desk jobs are all relatively recent inventions.

    Workouts don’t have to be intensive. Just try something to get your body moving.

    #7 Eat a Good Meal

    Another important means of self-care on the road to feeling happy is to eat a good meal. Maybe you look up a guide to nutritionally balanced recipes, or maybe you just trust in your cravings. Either helps.

    Calories are essential to your energy and brain function. If you’re not eating enough, of course you won’t be feeling happy!

    Balanced nutrition is also vital. If you don’t have the right mix of nutrients, your entire body will suffer.

    Plus, good food has a positive effect on mood.

    #8 Buy Yourself a Present

    Okay, to be clear, shopping won’t bring you complete happiness. You don’t want to find yourself spending money on a lot of junk because it gives you fleeting pleasure.

    But you deserve to have nice things in your life. So one thing you can do is buy yourself a present.

    This doesn’t have to be extravagant. If you’re on a budget, it shouldn’t be. But maybe you want some new art supplies or a more comfortable cushion for the couch. Whatever you’ve been eyeing, consider: Why do you deny it? Will your quality of life be better if you get it?

    #9 Learn to Focus and Control Your Mind

    One popular technique is mindfulness. This is a way of becoming aware of the current moment by noticing details around you. It helps to keep you present in your day-to-day life, and it can be a great mechanism to snap you out of unwanted thoughts.

    We waste a lot of our days thinking and obsessing and problem-solving. How much time do we take to slow down and be present?

    When you find your mind fixating on a problem or negative feeling, learn to recognize when it isn’t helpful. Practice saying, “This thought isn’t helpful, so I’m going to focus on something else now.”

    #10 Get Outside

    An easy thing to forget about feeling happy is that you need environmental stimulation. That means you need a change of scene every so often. If you’re just going between home and the workplace, of course you’ll get tired.

    Have adventures!

    Being outside in nature is also important. For city dwellers, try taking a walk. Getting out in the fresh air and the sunshine is vital to your mental health.

    In fact, people need sunlight to thrive. They also need to feel like they’re in touch with the world around them.

    #11 Say "Thank You"

    Saying “thank you” out loud is just one part of this. The bigger principle is that you should practice being grateful for the good things in your life.

    It’s easy to take things for granted. But no matter how stressed you are, you can probably think of five things to be thankful for. Maybe they’re as simple as having shelter or a friend who loves you or a TV show that makes you laugh.

    Practice showing gratefulness, too. When you show the people in your life that you appreciate them, they end up feeling more positively toward you in turn.

    #12 Learn Something New

    One easy thing you can do is learn something new. How much of your unhappiness is from boredom?

    Humans are wired to be creative. We love to make beautiful art, solve problems, and connect with each other. We love to innovate and think.

    Your brain is a muscle. Rather than letting it atrophy, try stretching it.

    There are tons of free tutorials all over the internet for nearly any skill you can think of. And it’s never too late to start learning something new. Even if you’re not an expert right away, it helps to do something creative with your hands.

    #13 Let It Go

    Do you think about an argument you had, a comment that bothered you, a mistake you made, or an opportunity you missed? Are you living in a negative moment instead of moving forward?

    One of the hardest things you can do is let it go.

    Sometimes you won’t be able to address or resolve something. Sometimes you’ll end up feeling bad or uncomfortable for weeks afterward. But stewing at the moment doesn’t solve your problems. It just wastes your energy.

    Instead of focusing on past moments, try putting your energy into things you can change in the present.

    #14 Text a Friend

    Sometimes when we get busy with our jobs or home lives, our outside social lives suffer. When was the last time you talked to your friends?

    One thing you can do when you feel down is text a friend. With some friends, you might want to tell them you’re not feeling great. With others, maybe you just start a conversation about a shared interest that lifts your spirits.

    Talking to your friends helps you feel connected, reminds you that you aren’t alone, and helps you get excited about the future. Whether you make plans to see them or just have a short text conversation, it’s a great avenue when you’re sad.

    #15 Make Plans

    And on that note, make plans!

    Another big mistake people make is to let their lives stagnate. We get into a routine that’s easy to upkeep. Then when we settle into it, we feel trapped by the predictability of life.

    So make plans. That gives you something to look forward to in the future. Maybe you want to visit a new restaurant or park around town, or you want to see your friends, or you’re making time for a self-care day.

    Whatever plans you make, they should help you feel motivated and excited about the future.

    #16 Help Someone

    Humans are social creatures. We’re hardwired to help each other and lift each other up. We’re not meant to isolate ourselves or struggle alone.

    One great thing you can do for your mental health is to help someone. This helps you feel like you serve a purpose and like you’ve done some good. It also feels great to make other people happy.

    There are endless ways to help people. Maybe you’ll volunteer at your local soup kitchen. Or maybe you’ll look for something more lowkey, like helping a friend clean their house.

    Look for opportunities to help and take them.

    #17 Stop Comparing Yourself

    Your journey is just that: personal. You’re not competing against anybody. All you need to do is try to be better than you were yesterday, and you’re already winning the game of life.

    It’s easy to compare yourself to people who seem more successful, more talented, more experienced, or more put-together. But that’ll just discourage you.

    Life isn’t a race. Just because someone else is where you want to be doesn’t mean you’ll never get there. Do things for yourself, not for the approval of other people.

    If learning a new skill or trying to succeed in your field or singing karaoke makes you happy, who cares if other people do it “better”?

    #18 Smile

    This isn’t about trying to smile more. This is about finding things that make you smile, no matter what.

    Maybe you feel good walking in nature. Maybe you like interacting with kids, or you’re a fan of funny cat videos.

    Find that thing that makes you smile even when you’re in a terrible mood. When you know what that is, you can turn to it when you need something to help you feel happier.

    In Conclusion

    Too many of us spend all our time waiting for happiness to come to us.

    We think that if we just accomplish our goals or get the right weather or get validation from people, we’ll be happy.

    • But in truth, happiness is a choice we're all capable of making every day.

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