How To Be Happy


HAPPINESS: a mental or emotional state of wellbeing defined by positive or pleasant emotions, ranging from contentment to intense joy. 

I recently read a book titled 'I want to be Happy' and, despite its title, I did not pick it up because I was sad. 

While happiness is obviously a common pursuit, how many people actually achieve happiness? I was truly curious. What made some people happier than others? Was there something we could do to be happier? What defined happiness?

My curiosity was peaked and so I bought the book!

Y'all, it was a fascinating and easy read that I highly recommend!! However, incase you decide not to go pick it up, I will share the top tips and insights gleaned from this book. 

Fun Happiness Facts: 

"Most of us are just about as happy as we make our minds up to be." -William Adams
  1. Switzerland is rated the happiest country, the US takes 15th place and coming in last is Argentina.
  2. Happiness is not an automatic default position, our more natural inclination is towards pessimism. This is because back when our lives were more at risk, our ability to anticipate the worst possible outcome allowed individuals to actually live longer. Now that we are seldom at risk, this natural bend towards negativity can be less helpful when trying to live a happy life. 
  3. The actual process of moving our facial muscles into a smile pose, signals the brain that we're feeling happy and improves our overall mood. The smile you make when not only your mouth is involved but your eyes crinkle too is called the 'Duchenne smile'.
  4. Characteristics of Left-Brain: Logical, Sequential, Objective, Order perception, Works with Information
  5. Characteristics of Right- Brain: Random, Intuitive, Subjective, Spatial perception, Works with Feelings 
  6. In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja concludes that 50% of our happiness level is genetically determined, 10%  is affected by life circumstances and situation, and 40% is subject to how we CHOOSE to be. 
  7. Happiness Hormones: Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin
  8. There is something considered 'The Happiness Gene' called 5-HTT which is responsible for how well nerve cells manage to distribute serotonin, which helps enhance a positive mood. 

Tips on Feeling Happier: 

"Joy does not simply happen to us. You have to choose joy and keep on choosing it."- Henri Nouwen 
  1. Talking a walk in nature or even looking at flowers in your home or office can help lift your mood! 
  2. Challenge your negative thoughts. Is this really true? Reinforce the positive, not the negative. Be specific with what's making you struggle so that it's easier to deal with and process. 
  3. Confide in friends. Even if you do not say much, the physical presence of someone or a simple hug can have an impact. 
  4. Avoid things that trigger feelings of depression, comparison and unrealistic expectations. This might mean limiting social media or certain magazines that don't benefit you in the moment. 
  5. Take time to rest, meditate and practice mindfulness. Learning to control our thought life allows us to better resolve negative thoughts when they arrive.
  6. If you are in a state of stress or anxiety, try a magnesium or vitamin B supplement, drink chamomile tea or add some lavender essential oils to a bath before bed. 
  7. A good night sleep will allow your brain to better deal with emotional challenges that may come up the following day whereas lack a of sleep will elicit the exact opposite response and more likely trigger depression and anxiety. 
  8. Surround yourself with happy people. Research shows that a person's happiness is directly associated with their proximity to happy people, this is called 'emotional contagion'. 
  9. Choose to focus on the good. It is easy to get carried away with the negative and feel as though things are hopeless. Try to focus on the simple, positive things in your life. Writing down three different things you are thankful for each day allows your brain more opportunities to find the good and make that an easier pathway for it to travel to next time. 
  10. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. The act of getting our heart rate elevated releases endorphins, serotonin and balances the sympathetic nervous system with the parasymathetic nervous system. Endorphins make you happy right? (And happy people don't kill their husbands...haha how could I not!) 
  11. Seek Help. If you are processing a situation that seems to be out of your control or is no longer something you feel like you can handle, the best thing you can do is seek out help. This is not a sign of weakness but rather an act of showing yourself that you are worth living the happiest life possible and this might be a necessary step to getting there. 

There are times in each of our lives where happiness seems to be the natural state we function in and other times where it seems to be something that is out of our reach and honestly not seen even in the distance. I want to encourage you that everyone goes through these times and you are not alone. We all experience times of joy and sorrow. Choosing to find happiness even in the bleakest of moments is a skill that can be learned but will not come easily. You have to actively choose to be happy. When the world feels like its crashing down you have to choose to look for the good. When things are not going as planned you have to choose joy. Chase after happiness like your life depends on it....because in some ways it does. Happiness is available to all because it is a mindset. Choose starting now to be happy! Choose starting in this moment to chase after the joy in your life. 

Ps. You can purchase the book HERE