How can I be happy?

Ways that may help you become happier

MOST OF US SPEND MOST OF OUR LIVES IN A STATE OF MILD UNHAPPINESS.

Occasionally something really good or bad happens to lift or lower our happiness level, but when we return to “normal” we remain mildly unhappy. Fortunately, there are a few tips you can learn to help you reach a happiness level higher than “normal unhappiness.” Here are 7 of them.

1. Smile

Smiling makes you feel happierThere is no doubt that smiling can make people feel happier. Numerous studies have shown that whether we look at the faces of smiling people, or start to smile ourselves, it's enough to improve the disposition of most of us.

In one study, researchers got participants to look at humorous cartoons. Some participants were prevented from smiling by holding an object in their teeth, and others were allowed to smile. The smilers rated the cartoons as much funnier than the non-smilers.

People who have gone for job interviews have reported that smiling for several minutes before the interview put them in a better frame of mind, whether they actually got the job or not.

Smiling is associated with happiness. So to improve your happiness level and to influence people around you for the better — smile!

2. Say something nice about someone

It's always nice when people show genuine appreciation of something we have done. When we put in extra effort to get work finished on time, prepare a special meal, or do something that helps or pleases someone else, it's great if the other person acknowleges our effort.

It works in reverse too. If you say something nice in appreciation of someone else's efforts it will help both of you.

Do you like the painting on the wall of your doctor's office? Say so. Like your friend's taste in furniture? Say so. Appreciate good service at the restaurant? Say so.

Compliments should definitely not be overdone, but a few sincere, low-key compliments scattered through your day can work wonders to make your day happier.

[Note: Overdoing compliments may be taken as insincere flattery, so don't overdo it! And many women are wary about complimenting men in case it is taken as showing unintended romantic interest. But genuinely saying something nice about someone — either to them personally or to someone who will tell them — is likely to make everyone's day happier.]

3. Do something nice for someone

It used to be a mystery to me how the lady who volunteered her time to deliver meals on wheels to elderly people was happier than my boss who was making several thousand dollars a week.

And why did some dead-end troublemaking juvenile delinquents suddenly become nicer people when a TV program convinced them to help dish out food to homeless people for a charity?

I have since found out that it's because doing things for people who need your help lifts up most people more than financial rewards.

Volunteer your services for a charity. Help run something at your church. Offer help at a local community group. Help deliver groceries for the elderly or incapacitated people in your area. Help out at schools, hospitals, anywhere there is a need. We often take too much for granted. Doing something nice for someone who needs help will take your mind off your own troubles and help your spirits soar!

4. Thank God for as many things as you can think of

You may have just lost a family member to cancer. You may have lost your job. You may be unhealthy, in financial trouble, or just plain unhappy. Rotten things happen, and yes, they can be extremely hard to deal with.

Even so, find time occasionally to do nothing but thank God for things. Thank Him for what you have, or have had. Family, friends, memories, church, talents, interests, clothes, food, rain, sunshine, somewhere to sleep, whatever. If you have only one blanket to sleep under and one bean to eat, thank God for that!

At first, some people find this difficult, but once you start you will be amazed at how many things you can thank God your Creator for. This is a sure-fire way to reduce cynicism and help you think positive.

5. Become an anti-complainer

One of the easiest roles in the world is to be a critic. The government wastes money, the local authorities make things hard for us, public transportation is inadequate, the roads are not repaired quickly, criminals get away with lenient sentences, the dog next door barks too loud, the coffee is cold, the ice-cream is melting, the weather is too hot, or too cold, or too rainy, or too dry.

Try to spend a day as an anti-complainer. Whenever you are tempted to complain about something during the day, stop yourself, and think about whether your complaining is necessary. Avoid it whenever possible.

6. Spend time with someone happy

People who have a positive attitude to life seem to exude natural happiness. If you spend time with one or more of these people you will find that their happiness will rub off on you.

Who is the happiest person you are likely to meet today? Who is the happiest person you know? Find those people and spend time with them. Hang around people who laugh easily, or who have a constant smile, or who have a positive attitude toward life.

Joy is infectious, so being around joyful people will raise your own happiness level.

7. Do unto others

The Bible has some effective advice for being happy.

The book of Nehemiah says “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). People who put their trust in the Lord God have been able to endure great trials while still keeping joy in their heart. But make sure first that you truly know the Lord.

The Golden Rule, found in the Bible (Matthew 7:12) and in many other writings, essentially says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It means that if something would make you happy if someone did it for you, then do it for someone else and make them happy as well.

Read some of the Psalms and Proverbs in the Bible. When you find a verse that helps you personally, memorize it.

Have a wonderfully happy day!


Photo by Vit Hassan is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License.

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