It’s easy not to be happy. Unhappiness is the norm because happy people are rare and exceptional. At least that’s how it seems. Most people are too stressed, anxious, depressed, or distracted to be happy. They also have plenty of good reasons they shouldn’t be singing and smiling—a scarcity of time, money, and goodwill. But, despite these apparently insurmountable obstacles, it’s still possible to carve out a happy life.
The trick is, you have to make happiness a priority. Don’t rely on fortuitous events or achievements to make you happy. Even when wonderful things happen, your joy will be short-lived. Rather like the afterglow of a delicious meal, the pleasure of good things fades away, too. The secret is to lean into it. Instead of aspiring to live a happy life, try to be a little happier tomorrow than you are today.
Cracking the Happiness Code
The way to be happier is not to snap into a happy mood or smile at everyone you meet all day and wish them success in their endeavors hoping this good cheer will rub off on you.
Yes, if you fake it long enough, you’ll alter your biochemistry and trick your body into secreting more serotonin, dopamine, and other feel-good chemicals, but it takes a tremendous amount of effort. Eventually, you’ll give up on your altruistic intentions. It’s too exhausting to lift up the world with your smile.
Here’s what to do instead: take a few practical steps to create conditions in your life that make you feel happier. Once you’ve figured out how to feel a little happier each day, you’ll build up some positive momentum. On one fine day, you might surprise yourself by feeling ebullient all day long for no good reason.
Here, then, are three ways to become happier:
1. Organize your life
Organizing your life means putting everything in its proper place. Allocating a designated space for everything doesn’t just apply to physical things; you could also use it for more abstract things—like scheduling time and managing finances.
It will also be easier to stay organized by reducing how much stuff you have around you. Donate, give away, or sell things that you don’t need anymore. If there are things that you value but use little then find a storage facility in your city. If you live in San Diego, for example, put your stuff in Price storage units, San Diego, a company that has many affordable storage facilities throughout the city.
2. Eat healthier
If you follow a healthy diet, it will add years to your life and life to your years.
Choose high-fiber starchy carbohydrates over quick-burning carbs. Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water. Consume sufficient macronutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats, and meet your daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
Then, of course, there are foods you should cut down on, specifically foods high in preservatives, artificial ingredients, salt, sugar, and saturated fats.
3. Read books on Positive Psychology
While you may be familiar with popular books on positive thinking, you may not have heard about a new discipline in academic psychology. Started by Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology Martin E.P. Seligman in the Penn Department of Psychology, it is called “Positive Psychology.”
This is the study of human flourishing. Essentially, this new field strives to answer the question philosophers have been posing for centuries — “What is the good life?”
Researchers are concluding that happier people are smarter, healthier, more popular, and more accomplished than grouchy people.
Setting yourself on a mission to be happier is not an easy undertaking. It’s only for the few and the brave. But if you stick with it, you might notice the world has brighter colors and that you light up a room as soon as you walk in.