1. Just be yourself.
2. Realize that you’re fighting against a world of your own creation.
3. Make sure that there’s congruence between how you spend your day and what matters most to you.
4. Know that your happiness is independent of how much stuff you own.
5. Change yourself instead of expecting the world to change to meet your expectations.
6. Define happiness as peace, tranquility, and serenity.
7. Remember there’s no such thing as the perfect life.
8. Identify the people who are most important to you and look for ways to spend more time with them.
9. Just for today, pretend that you have amnesia about anything that stresses or worries you.
10. Have hope: imagine positive outcomes. Psychologist Mary C. Lamia, PhD, explains that being unrelentingly optimistic about the future helps you to recognize that you’re adaptable and capable, which enables you to reassure yourself that you will get through a tough time.
11. Practice radical acceptance. Radical acceptance is recognizing that you can’t change something that has already happened, and accepting that each moment is as it should be, given what’s happened before. Fighting with what is will only result in frustration and unhappiness.
Here’s a quote from Eckhart Tolle that encapsulates this idea perfectly: “Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
12. Don’t turn small problems into big ones.
13. Stop comparing yourself to others. As Louise Hay once said, “We are meant to be different. When we accept this, there is no competition and no comparison.”
14. Keep reminding yourself that nothing has to happen outside of yourself for you to be happy.
15. When you change your thoughts you literally rewire your brain; start rewiring your brain for happiness.
16. Be very careful of where you choose to place your attention.
17. Whatever thoughts are causing you pain, remember, they’re just thoughts. You can change your thoughts.
18. Choose a positive attitude. The Dalai Lama once said that “The central method for achieving a happier life is to train your mind in a daily practice that weakens negative attitudes and strengthens positive ones.”
19. Initiate a complaint fast—go anywhere from 24 hours to 21 days without complaining.
20. Try turning the stories that you tell yourself about what happens in your life into comedies instead of dramas.
21. Make a list of the things you need in order to be truly happy; make it a really short list. (Here’s an example: Having good health, sufficient money for food and shelter, no debts, loving friends and family, and something meaningful to work toward).
22. Keep a happiness journal in which you write down only the things that make you happy.
23. Every morning plan three things you’ll do on that day: one that gives you pleasure, one that will help put you in the state of flow, and one that will give your life meaning.
24. Schedule short, frequent vacations; studies show that the anticipation leading up to the time off is one of the best parts about taking a vacation.
25. Engage in humility; you can only carry the burden of pride and of having a huge ego for so long before you crack under the pressure of upholding your incredible significance.
26. Dr. Timothy Sharp recommends that you set aside “worry time”. There may be an issue that is bothering you and that you need to sit down and think through. Schedule some time in which you’re going to think about the issue and then put it out of your mind until then.
27. Keep in mind that we tend to overestimate how likely it is that something bad will happen. We also tend to overestimate how bad things will be if something negative does happen.
28. Talk to yourself in the way in which you would talk to someone you really care about and respect.
29. Identify your greatest strengths, and then try to use these strengths in new ways.
30. Keep an “unhappiness log” so that you can keep track of things such as the following:
- Are there specific things or people that trigger emotions in you that are not conducive to happiness?
- Is there someone in particular who is constantly making you angry?
- Are there certain situations in which you become irritable and can easily become upset? For example, if you’re hungry or haven’t had enough sleep.
- Is there a particular situation that creates anxiety or frustration in your life?
The aim of keeping an “unhappiness log” is to identify specific things that trigger anger, frustration, anxiety, and so on in you so that you can plan on how to deal with these situations before they happen.
31. Give in to temptation once in a while: eat that chocolate sundae (with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top), splurge on a day at the spa, or read the mystery novel instead of answering the 100th email.
32. Although it is important to “know thyself”—as Socrates advised—don’t take self-introspection to the level of navel-gazing. That’s just not conducive to happiness. It’s just not. Positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly has this to say on the subject: “the habit of rumination that our narcissistic society encourages actually might make things worse”.
33. In the Mahabharata– one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India –there is a passage which says “That person who lives in their own home, eats and lives simply and has no debt to anyone; they are truly happy in this world”. Simplify!
34. Think of the saying: “It’s not where you stand but the direction in which you face.” If things aren’t going well for you, just think of where you would like to be and start taking baby steps to move in that direction.
36. Release negative feelings and emotions and allow the happiness that lies underneath those feelings to emerge.
37. As Charles Schulz would say, “Happiness is a side dish of French fries” and “Happiness is a warm puppy.”
1. Harvard’s Most Popular Course: Tal Ben-Shahar On How to Be Happier
2. Srikumar Rao On Happiness – Four Exercises That Will Make You Happier
3. 65 Happiness Quotes
4. 75 Simple Pleasures – Enjoy the Little Things
5. Happiness Tips From the Dalai Lama