How to Make Happiness a Habit - Simple Tips to Being Happy
Very few of us are taught to make happiness a habit. In fact, the very idea of making it a daily routine is a little strange. But developing a happiness habit is one of the biggest secrets to creating good health and a more satisfying life.
Positive emotions are what help you to find and stay on the path to success – whatever that may look like for you. Obviously, happiness is a feeling that’s right up there near the top of the positive emotions ladder. It’s the juice that you need to help build resilience, develop courage, and firm up your commitment to make meaningful changes happen.
A Tool for Creating Emotional Well-Being
Happiness is one of the emotions that turns on our creative brain. It encourages us to imagine and take risks. Happiness also helps us to identify goals that are in alignment with the type of change we want to make happen.
Having good intentions and making resolutions are all fine and dandy. But do those good intentions and resolutions you’re making light you up? Do they jazz you? Or are you trying to set them in motion because they fit in your comfort zone? Because people on social media advocate them? Because you’ve heard good things from different people about them? Or are those good intentions flowing from your personal north star?
Here’s a simple exercise to help you find out:
- Write each one of your intentions on a single piece of paper
- Place those papers on the floor — make sure there is enough room to keep them a good distance apart
- Slowly walk about the room and notice your feelings as you approach each different intention
- Do you feel lighter in a good way as you approach your proposed new habit? Or heavier? Or blasé? Are you a happier person just thinking about developing that new habit? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment is just waiting for you if you go there? If so, then you know you’ve hit on something you can easily weave into a daily routine that is guaranteed to bring more positive things into your life, increasing your levels of happiness.
Healthy Habits, Bad Habit - They Take the Same Energy
For many of us, the idea of deliberately setting out to make happiness a habit sounds contrived or like a lot of hard work. That said, I would like to point out that sadness and anger and other attitudes that erode your emotional well-being take equal amounts of time and effort to keep them in play. They’re also an excellent way to create mental health issues and other bad things in your life.
Positive emotions are truly a matter of choice. But we have to make it a regular exercise to pay attention to our emotional state and then do the hard work of focusing on positive things instead of bad things. Even if you’re going through a hard time and happiness may seem out of reach now, you can still take steps and do little things over the short term to make a difference.
An Easy Way to Develop a Positive Mindset
For example, here is something to give you hope: If you can find something to be happy about for just 17 seconds a day it will start wiring the happiness habit into your brain. Imagine that! Even in the midst of a hard time, if you can make it a daily habit to set aside just 17 seconds a day to focus on good things—no matter what that might be for you—you will start having a return on your investment within just three weeks.
How? Because happiness floods your body and brain with endorphins—those “feel good” chemicals that are life’s easy way to improved mood and better brain function. By doing little things—like making 17 seconds of positive thoughts and positive emotions a daily habit—you are wiring your body for good health.
Sometimes different things to focus on that can make a big difference are as small as remembering that you are alive. Or that you have a good degree of physical health. Or it’s a sunny day. Or the gas tank in your car is full. If you have a pet, you have instant happiness underfoot at all times, just waiting to happen!
Sometimes just by giving a little something of yourself makes all the difference. How about smiling at someone as you walk past? Or letting someone cut in front of you in traffic? Or holding the door open for someone? Even doing such little things you feel the warmth of that moment of kindness translating into a little sense of happiness.
Another pro tip is to look at any situation, no matter how difficult, and find the good in it. Practice gratitude. Instead of living by the biology of stress, you are consciously creating a pathway to health and success.
Good Things Come From the Right Habits
Before you dismiss all this, let me tell you, from personal experience I know that by applying the lens of happiness—even for just shorts bursts of time—hope is able to stay alive, and possibility can come knocking on your door in surprising ways.
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, my world imploded. I had to make some very conscious decisions about being happy. There were many days that I came home from the hospital too tired to even think straight let alone make happiness a habit or practice gratitude for even the little things. Some days I just wanted to give up.
But I was lucky. I have two warmly affectionate cats. They were always around waiting to give me some love. My daughter made it a point on a daily basis to call with little things to say that uplifted my mood in surprising ways. My two nieces and friends were always around, making themselves available to get me through a bad day.
At first, all of those things and people felt like a nuisance. They felt like a distraction from the present moment—and every present moment I thought I should be dedicating to focusing on the physical health of my mom. Until I figured out, that to help my mom I needed to help myself by uplifting my own emotional wellbeing and physical health as well.
At that point, I finally realized that all of those blessings of people and animals in my life were a great source of happiness and the way I could start to practice gratitude. It was a discipline and a choice, but I could allow myself to build happiness within myself even during these dark circumstances. Especially during those dark circumstances and bad days.
I knew I needed to focus on positive emotions and start making it a habit to find ways to evoke those positive emotions, not only to survive, but to cheerlead my mom and to help her to feel that life was good and filled with possibilities as well.
The Present Moment
It is a great truth that the present moment is a gift—a present just waiting to be delivered to your doorstep. Circumstances can, and will, change your life—sometimes from one heartbeat to the next. But the same is true of the attitude and thoughts you create around those circumstances.
Only if you make it a regular exercise to stay present will you be able to find the space and the opportunities around you to stop worrying and be happy—if only for the short term. How do you do that? Well—again, often it’s about the little things. Sometimes you can find solace and new ways of uplifting yourself by being grateful for what is not happening in your life. You’re not under too much pressure at work. Thank you! You’re not having to worry about money. Thank you! New friends have shown up and you’re no longer as lonely as you were. Thank you!
New Ways to Get Over a Bad Day
You’ve certainly heard about the effectiveness of having an attitude of gratitude. Personally, I like addressing the altitude of the attitude of gratitude. So, what on earth does that even mean? Well, especially when I’m going through a hard time, I make it a daily habit to push the happiness needle. It’s actually become a fun game for me.
At some point during a bad day, usually when everything is hitting the fan, I stop and ask myself, “What has gone right so far today?” Yes, sometimes my inner self asks my questioning self if I’m crazy even bothering to ask the question. Yet, if I stop and get into the present moment and pay attention, I can usually find at least a half a dozen things that have gone right, even in the midst of a disaster.
And then there is the seriously fun process I call micro-treating.
Exercise: How to Micro-Treat Your Way to a Happier Life
- Write down all the little things that make you happy. It could be as simple as petting the cat, eating a piece of chocolate, or stopping at the coffee shop on the way home from work and getting your favorite iced specialty drink.
- Make sure that you sprinkle some of these little things into every single day. At the very least do some on a regular basis. Add them to your calendar if need be.
- Really notice when you are micro-treating yourself and be sure to pat yourself on the back for doing this. You are NOT being self-indulgent! You are taking really good care of yourself by creating a positive mindset this way, and that should make you happy too!
- Sometimes you may want to splurge. If there is a movie that you really want to see or an activity that you really want to do, plan that into your calendar too.
- Congratulations! You are well on your way to teaching yourself that even in the worst circumstances there is happiness you can count on creating for yourself. And remember: If there is an emotional DNA piece in your family (a family pattern) around happiness/unhappiness, your being happy may just be the antidote to the family’s bad habit of unhappiness.
You are far, far bigger than the circumstances of your life. It is time to embrace your happiness and unleash your destiny. You can change your thoughts, change your feelings, change your life, and change the lives of those around you. You can move mountains if you choose. It all starts when you decide to make happiness a habit.
I look forward to showing you how to unleash your fullest potential and discover your superpowers. For more information about my 2024 events click here.