51 Ways to Be Happier

There are many things you can do to be happier. Some make huge differences in life and others make smaller ones. They all help. On this page I provide links to articles about different things you can do to bring more happiness in your life. Eventually there will be 51 (or more) of them.

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Number 1: Look Inside for Happiness – The most important thing you can do to be happier right now is to learn that happiness is natural to you and is already inside of you waiting to be released. You just have to allow yourself to experience it. Once you know this truth of happiness, and incorporate it into the way you look at life, your level of happiness will increase.

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Number 2: Let Go of Your Rules for Happiness – If a person wins the lottery that person will be happy. The mere idea of winning is enough to make someone happy. The lottery itself does not create this happiness. Instead, the idea of it triggers the chemical reactions in the mind-body that we know as the feelings of happiness. We humans have the power to experience spontaneous happiness — all we need is a trigger. But, why do we need a trigger? Why can’t we just be happy all of the time? The answer is, the mind-body seems to be set up so that you can only be happy when its rules for happiness are met. However, it is possible to ignore these rules. You can let them go, and just be happy.

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Number 3: Don’t Let Pleasure Obscure Happiness – Everyone seems to be in a 24/7 rush for pleasure and distraction. What people really want is to be happy, but they seem to spend most of their time seeking sense pleasures. Perhaps they believe that pleasure leads to happiness. Or, maybe they have all given up on happiness and figure that they might at least find pleasure while they can. The problem is, the headlong race for pleasure can obscure real happiness. If you can just let go of your cravings for pleasurable experiences, you can be happier right now.

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Number 4: Choose Happiness as if Your Life Depends on It – To be happy, you have to choose to be happy, regardless of your life situation. You need to choose happiness as if your life depends on it because, in reality, it does. If your ability to live a more successful, longer and healthier life depends on being happy, then you always need to choose it. Even if your life is not what you want it to be, and it seems irrational to do so, you still have to choose happiness.

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Number 5: Find Happiness Through Meditation – Happiness does not exist in the past and it does not exist in the future. It exists right now. To be happy, you have to be here now to experience it. If your attention is on what happened to you in the past, or what may happen in the future, you will not be in the present – and happiness will elude you. Regular meditation is the most powerful tool we have for keeping attention in the “now.”

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Number 6: Find Happiness Through Selflessness, Charity, Compassion and Forgiveness – Humans are social by nature, and our mind-bodies have evolved in such a way that when we help each other we become happier. It is in our nature to build secure relationships with each other. One of the most important ways of connecting with others, even perfect strangers, is to focus on their needs. As we feel more connected, and as we act in ways that help build and maintain secure relationships, we become happier. The four main ways we focus on the needs of others are by practicing selflessness, charity, compassion and forgiveness.

1-love-hate-workNumber 7: Find Happiness in What You Do – Humans do things. This is an obvious observation, but an important one. We never just sit idle — even when it appears we are doing nothing. We breathe, think, move around, look at things, listen to things, work, play, talk, etc. We are always doing something. The challenge is to find happiness in what you do, no matter what it is.

god-adam-sistine-chapel---learn-to-be-happyNumber 8: The Purpose of Life is to Be Happy – The biggest question we face as humans is, why are we here? What is our purpose? To become a happier person, you should try to answer this question for yourself. I take my cue on this from the Dalai Lama who said, “The purpose of your life is to be happy!” This may sound selfish, unrealistic or even wrong to some people. But I think it is true. The purpose of life is to be happy.

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Number 9: Confronting the Fear of Happiness – Many of us fear being too happy. Some of us fear being happy, period! If you ask yourself why this is, you may say, “I am afraid of being too happy because I don’t want to be disappointed.” I have heard all kinds of answers to this question, but many seem to follow that rationale, including this big one dealing with relationships: “I am afraid he (she) is not the One.” Let me suggest a different reason why people fear happiness, and how you can confront this fear and let more happiness into your life.

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Number 10: The Myth of the “One” – Building a Deep Intimate Relationship – The fantasy about the perfect “One,” waiting for each of us somewhere, makes for good romance novels. But, it is not real. Still, I think that for all of us there exists at last a tiny thought that there is One out there; there is an Ideal person. This idea can come between us and the people we are intimate with. Set against the perfection of the One, everybody falls a little short. However, if you learn to communicate with another person heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul, you can give up the fictional ideal and learn to experience the wonder of the person you are with.

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Number 11: The Loneliness Gene in the Digital Age – We evolved to have secure relationships with others. When these relationships are threatened, we are genetically programmed to feel the pain of loneliness. In the same way that the feelings of hunger or thirst tell us to find food and water, the feeling of loneliness tells us to find people to be with. The types of relationships we are used to today are not the same as when we were evolving, due in part to the qualities of the digital age. Loneliness is on the rise. We need new approaches to overcoming loneliness.

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Number 12: Loneliness and Discomfort, Moving Towards Relationship – Today, many people are alone either by choice or circumstance. Given the way society and culture is today, with people constantly uprooting and moving from one place to another, it would be a lot easier if we could be just as happy alone as with other people. For most of us, though, being alone means being lonely. When we are lonely we often have feelings of discomfort around people we do not know. These feelings make it difficult to connect with others, when connection is the only real cure for loneliness. It may be possible to overcome feelings of discomfort, and improve the ability to reconnect with others through meditation.

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Number 14: Find Compassion Through Nonattachment – To find true happiness you have to learn compassion for others. In his 1996 lecture, Compassion: The Basis for Human Happiness, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “As long as we are human beings, and members of human society, we need human compassion. Without that, you cannot be happy.” To be compassionate you have to stop focusing on your own problems, and allow yourself to shift your focus towards others.

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