How To Be Happy
10 Top Tips
I’ve realised that happiness isn’t a target, as such, and it isn’t a place you aim to reach – it’s a way of life that can be lived with just a few minor changes in thinking.
By consciously choosing to be happier, you will be – even if the external circumstances of your life don’t change too dramatically. You can choose to look at yourself in a different way – and in the meantime be more fulfilled, more excited about life and get firmly on the path to success. It really is all in your head!
The following ten tips show how I went from being depressed and miserable to fulfilled and happy in the space of a few brilliant months. I’ve really thought long and hard about this article, and made sure that it contains almost everything I did to change my life around. If you’re interested in understanding how to be happy and want to enjoy life more, I’m sure that by applying the same strategies as me you will see some equally powerful results.
How to be Happy 1 – Make a Plan
If you’re like most people, you want to know how to be happy, but you won’t have a clearly defined plan for your life. Despite this, you’ll suffer through self-induced periods of distress and misery because you are not yet living the life that you want.
It’s funny that, isn’t it? Whilst you have no idea what you want, you’re sure of what you don’t want... And it’s usually what you have already.
Setting goals helps with this strange little Catch 22, and will help you understand how to be happy.
By taking the time to make a plan for your life, you will be happier and have more energy almost immediately. Humans are goal-seeking beings and need compelling targets to keep us focussed and energised – for without them, we tend to turn on ourselves and use our infinite power and capability for analysis inappropriately – and often manage to convince ourselves that our lives are crap and meaningless.
When we do have goals set, however, and we know where we are heading – the fun starts. There are few things more rewarding than knowing exactly what you want to achieve with your life, and setting out a plan to go and get it.
Having a plan lets you know that you’re on the right path, and provides you with milestones to meet along the way. A plan provides you with a higher purpose – a Raison d'être – that spreads into every area of your life and drives you to achieve more and be happy doing it.
Making a plan is paramount. If you don’t have one yet, make one – it’s an incredibly fun and rewarding exercise to take part in. To be blunt, your life purpose is unlikely to fall from the sky or hit you like a thunderbolt – so do yourself a huge favour and take the time and effort to understand yourself better now.
If you want to know how to be happy and haven't set goals yet, you can find out more and set clear and compelling goals here, with my three articles
Why Is Goal Setting Important?,
Personal Values Development
Goal Setting Activity.
How to be Happy 2 – Do What You Love
Life is too short to do anything but what you love. If you’re in a job that you hate – or merely tolerate – you are wasting your time and energy. This is not going to show you how to be happy.
Society tells us that our objective in life is to take a “good” job with a prestigious company, work tirelessly 50+ hours a week without exception, treat ourselves to 2 weeks off once a year to go on holiday... and in the meantime hope and pray that our employers will take it upon themselves to provide us with enough cash to do all the things we want – and, of course, not sack us when things inevitably get a bit tight. At 65, we can quit this joyous existence to survive off a meagre pension and then spend the remainder of our golden years struggling to maintain this mediocre standard of living.
What a load of nonsense.
It’s almost impossible to live a life of happiness like this. Instead, work out what your passion is and do that for a career. Simply find a way to monetise what you love doing. This may not be easy, but if you decide to do it, and you have a true desire, there will be a way. Listen to your gut and follow your dreams... It is far more rewarding that living the “corporate dream” for someone else – just so you can pay your bills and put a roof over your head.
If you can’t yet do what you love full time, find out a way to do it part time. Work out how you can do it for free – right now. Ask yourself – “How can I make £1 doing what I love?” If you learn how to make £1 doing what you love, you’ll be able to make £10... £100.... £10,000... and so on.
Having the courage to do what you love is not only a sure-fire way to make more money (you tend to be better at things you love, and hence can charge more for the service) – but it is the only way to be truly happy on a day-to-day basis. If you’re spending 50 hours a week doing something, it makes sense that it be something that thrills, excites and drives you.
Take the plunge and do what you love – and sod what anyone else says to you – they only wish that they had the courage to have a go themselves.
How to be Happy 3 – Put Things In Perspective
When I decided to quit my well-paid job and start up this site, I was terrified. What if I failed? What if I didn’t make any money? What if my friends laughed at me and said ‘I told you so’? What if I couldn’t pay my bills and had to get another job?
I got through this indecision and fear by putting things in perspective - in a “what’s the worst that could happen?” manner.
I took a pen and wrote down a “worst case scenario” for what my life would look like if I tried to achieve my goals - and failed. I tried to make this as terrifying and detailed as possible – as I really wanted to know - and feel - every aspect of what failure would look like, to make an informed decision on how to proceed.
When I finished, and looked over my list, I burst out laughing. Apart from a few minor, self-indulgent emotions like “embarrassment” and “feel let down”, there was nothing of any substance on it.
I was putting off living the life of my dreams because of some ill-defined fear that I wouldn’t succeed. It goes without saying, of course, that you are unlikely to succeed if you don’t try in the first place!
I’ve known how to be happy and confident ever since this day. If you take the time to really explore your “enemy” – which is what you will end up with in a worst-case scenario if you go after your dreams and fail – you’ll find out that your opponent is a mere phantom.
Do this yourself – really explore the truly worst case scenario of what will happen if you fail on your path to reaching your dreams. I think you’ll find that there is very little to be scared of – and much to motivate you to take that big step and start living the life you choose.
Get your fears out in the open – and with a little perspective, you’ll see that the potential for success far outweighs the possibility of failure.
How to be Happy 4 – Celebrate Your Successes
One of the key attributes of the unhappy person is a reluctance to praise himself for anything worthwhile he achieves. Whatever the endeavour, he will find a way to shrug off encouragement – instead, attributing the success to a combination of luck, circumstance, and other external resources.
Does this sound like you? It was certainly me a few months back. I’d never take the time to enjoy my successes – no matter how frequent they came. I’d always shrug off my wins – believing that my “modesty” was more endearing than actually accepting any praise and enjoying the results of my efforts.
This was a big mistake. If you want to know how to be happy, you must learn how to appreciate and enjoy your own successes, and you must praise yourself for your hard work and commitment. Success really does breed success – so take the time to enjoy your own positive results, and you’ll be happier for it.
I devised a good little reward scheme to help with this, and it’s simple as you like. I set myself mini goals with mini rewards now and stick to them.
For small goals I’ll treat myself to something small but enjoyable like a midweek cinema trip, or a new book or DVD. For medium goals, I’ll organise a relaxed weekend or a dinner at a nice restaurant. If it’s a big goal that I’ve reached, I might treat myself to a nice holiday or something suitably indulgent to celebrate. Hardly rocket science, ay?!
The key here is to really enjoy your treats as a direct result of your own success. By combining a celebration with something you would enjoy doing anyway, you create a rich sensory environment of happiness and achievement – which not only makes you happier, but propels you to achieve more success in the future too.
Work out your own little reward scheme – and you’ll feel happier and focus on your successes more. It’s not about the prize – it’s about taking the time to recognise your success and enjoy the treat as a personal “thank you” for your own hard work. Try it and see how good it feels – it’s a great way to affirm your success and be more happy.
How to be Happy 5 – Stop Worrying About Money
Worrying about cashflow is one of the most widespread concerns about. Until a short time ago, I was certainly guilty of spending lots of time worrying about money – and very little time on actually trying to make more. When I learnt how to be happy, I quickly dropped all my concerns about cash.
I had finally realised that money is an energy like everything else. If you worry about money and think of it as “bad”, you’ll not get to see much of it - as you'll inadvertently drive it away.
If, however, you start to realise that you can begin to attract money into your life by providing value to other people, your brain will start to kick into gear and provide you with opportunities to grow your own bank balance.
Alas - it’s not all positively thinking. The best way to stop worrying about money is by having some. Equally, the best way to get more money is by having some. As such, you need to get some cash to begin with!
Paying Yourself First is by far the most effective way to get a store of cash in a relatively short time. On pay-day, merely set aside 10-20% (pre-tax if possible) and put it away – anywhere! I use a high interest savings account for the moment, but you can put it anywhere you like – as long as you move it from your regular bank account and keep it somewhere safe.
I also carry a nice chunk of cash with me – as it’s a great way to convince your subconscious that you possess money in abundance. The more you see yourself with lots of cash, the less likely you are to worry about money.
If you can stop worrying about money, you will be happier and feel a lot more positive about your life. For more detail on this and further tips on getting over money worries, take a look at my article