So You Want to Feel Happy?

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Many people see being happy as their main aim in life. Ask them what they truly want and they’ll probably reply, ‘to feel happy’. However, I see happiness as a by-product in life, generated by activities and experiences, like a walk in nature, sitting people-watching in the mall, enjoying someone’s company, having a particularly satisfying or successful day. Few of us set off in the morning with happiness as our main aim for the day.

When you want to feel happy it starts by appreciating the small things in life. We will often find that those things hold the key to real happiness. A child’s laughter or them running over to us with the gift of a crumpled pine cone, a crisp autumnal day, a warm shower, listening to music; all those things which are so easy to take for granted can bring happiness and contentment when we stop and appreciate them.

Be sure to acknowledge your successes, no matter how small or unimportant you may think they are to others. They’re a testament to your efforts and as such deserve recognition and acknowledgement. If you’re working with a to-do list be sure to acknowledge all the additional things you do that are not on your list. Give yourself credit for those extras too.

A sense of achievement often comes when we’ve applied ourselves, worked hard and done our best. Even if something doesn’t work out as well as we’d hoped that sense of accomplishment can bring its own reward, having tried, pushed ourselves and given it our best shot. We should smile and give ourselves a pat on the back for having had a go, and as such feel happy and proud of ourselves.

A positive attitude is an important element of being happy, where we appreciate what we have and are grateful for it. There is so much in life to be grateful for but we can often lose sight of the good fortune we have, especially if we’re tempted to compare our lives to other people’s in an unfavourable way. Remember that many people would feel blessed to be in our shoes.

Balance in life is also important. Constant partying and fun might seem like the dream, but if we ate cake all the time we’d end up bored, fat and not enjoying cake as much! Find a balance between work, responsibilities and ‘me time’. Making an effort first often makes the reward of fun afterwards more meaningful and enjoyable.

Belonging, where we can be ourselves, perhaps as part of a group, makes a difference to our happiness levels. Knowing that we’re accepted as we are, that we don’t have to dress up, continually make an effort or pretend to be something we’re not can really allow us to relax and feel happy. Being judged, watched or permanently under scrutiny is a familiar part of many people’s everyday lives, so having places which are free from that burden is a big relief.

Being involved in charitable works and good acts can make us feel happy, having donated our time, skills or done something selfless. Doing good and helping others can bring a real sense of positivity into our lives, and it’s often about the act itself, rather than any recognition we may receive.

Our comfort zone can be a happy place for a time, but it’s important to leave it occasionally and explore further afield. Remember to accept opportunities and challenges that come your way, be prepared to scare yourself a little on a reasonably regular basis and avoid becoming too complacent, settled or comfortable.

Co-operating on a joint project or venture can bring much happiness and satisfaction into life. Think of a group of people tending a garden, volunteering or even sharing a commitment to exercise regularly or learn a new skill. It can be easier and more sustainable when we’re working together, urging each other on, joking as we appreciate how much we’ve achieved.

Afterwards there’s often a strong sense of camaraderie, of being part of a winning team, laughing at the failures, retelling anecdotes and in-jokes from the miscellany of adventures along the way, feeling happy at having been a part of the experience.

Whilst feeling happy may not be something we can necessarily choose for ourselves there are certainly many ways we can support ourselves and so become more comfortable and contented. It’s often then that we smile and realise how happy we’re feeling.