Alex O'Brien

Mind

How to become the happiest person you know

How to become the happiest person you know

Happiness is a state of doing, not a state of being. You can’t expect happiness to just happen – you need to actively work towards creating your own happiness. Here are six ways to become the happiest person you know.

Do things you love

Fill your time with things that make you happy. Everyone has responsibilities that can’t be avoided (like work or chores) but outside of those find things that lift your spirits and practice them as much as you can. It could be spending time with your family, walking with your dog, playing guitar, baking – anything that brings a smile to your face.

Give back

It was Aung San Suu Kyi who said “if you feel helpless, help someone”. The same theory applies to happiness – helping others has been proven to make people feel happier. This doesn’t have to be financial help. Spending time on others has a greater impact on our happiness than spending money on them. Volunteer with a charity, work with a local sports club or just help out someone you know. In the process you’ll be changing two lives.

Be grateful

A recent study found that one of the primary sources of unhappiness is unfulfilled expectations. So, instead of focusing on what you don’t have, be grateful for what you do have. Try keeping a gratitude journal of everything you are thankful for every day. They don’t have to be big – even writing down just one small thing each day can increase your happiness. Plus it’s been shown to boost other aspects, like energy and optimism.

Get outside

There’s not much that fresh air and sunshine can’t cure. Studies have found that being outside for as little as 20 minutes per day can boost not only your mood, but also sharpen your memory and broaden your thinking. People consistently report feeling happier when they are outside in a natural environment as opposed to an indoor, urban environment. So take a walk, eat your lunch in the park or head to the beach at every opportunity. Extra points if you want to exercise outside – it’s proven to increase happiness too.

Don’t take responsibility

One of life’s most difficult lessons is accepting that we are not responsible for the happiness of others. Thinking you can make someone else happy is an unwinnable game. While you can be a good friend and help them in any way you can, ultimately they must choose to be happy for themselves. Once you have freed yourself from this responsibility, your own happiness will soar.

Meditate

Meditation has become hugely popular in recent years, but studies as far back as the 1960s have shown that it makes people happier. And there’s science to back it up. Each person’s brain has a natural “set point” for both good and bad emotions. Even if your happiness point is naturally low, consistent meditation can raise your natural happiness set point. It will also alleviate depression, anxiety and obsessive thinking, leading to a happier you all round.

Bonus round!

Did you know that people get happier as they get older? Studies have shown that once people pass middle age they naturally develop a more positive outlook and feel happier. Great news!

Related links:

Key to success is failing first

10 signs you’re too self-critical

Why we should let go of the pursuit of perfect