How to Be Happy

How to be happy always, is a challenge for each individual. They must be willing to find the inner strength and inspiration that is required to accomplish this from within.

We all want happiness, but how do we find it?

Life is full of perceptions of events that we assign either a positive or negative meaning– yet what occurs is always neutral. It’s a matter of what meaning we assign to what we experience in life.

Because our ability to feel more positive and happy begins in the way we think, the key is finding that space inside of us that is willing to change how we perceive and process our experiences to become more positive.

“If you want to be sad, no one in the world can make you happy. But if you make up your mind to be happy, no one and nothing on earth can take that happiness from you.” – Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi.

One thing that we can do immediately to change our perceptions and experience is to practice cultivating more positive emotions like calmness, happiness, and kindness. Not only will you start to feel more positive more often, but you will also begin to rewire the neural pathways in your brain that are in charge of emotional reactions and perceptions to situations– such that they will more naturally connect more easily to the pathways that exhibit positive emotions.

Thus, as you face more and more complicated and difficult life situations it will be easier to remain patient, calm, and centered in the midst of these moments. You will be more easily able to return to a feeling of kindness or joy after experiencing hardships.

Practice cultivating more positive experiences. This includes practicing being kinder and more loving to yourself and to others. (You can read more about sending others positive, healing energy in the Practicing Forgiveness article.)

This also means learning to be more compassionate and changing the way you treat yourself and others.  It is important to make sure that we observe our thoughts and watch out for moments in which we need to switch them from going in a negative or critical direction, and use our will power to push them in a positive, more compassionate and loving direction.

The field of psychology has also proven that one of the keys to happiness is feeling more grateful for what you have.

You may want to begin practicing being grateful throughout your day, or keeping a journal where you write a few things every few days that you are thankful for.

Another good practice is to observe your behaviors so that you can see what triggers unhappy moments. This makes it easier to then avoid the things that cause them. For example  if you notice that you start to feel anxious or more easily frustrated when you drink too much coffee, then you can practice reducing the amount (or cutting it out altogether) that you drink and see whether you begin to feel more calm and patient when others begin to frustrate you, making it more easy to control your reactive process.

If you find that when you allow yourself to get too hungry, that you binge at the next meal, and after you feel guilty and sad, then try to always keep a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or baggie of nuts in your purse or at your desk, so you have something to reach for if you are going to need it.

If you know that you have a stressful meeting the next day, give yourself time before to do an activity that will help you to feel more calm, like taking a quick walk outside the office or watching a quick video that makes you laugh.

If you know that you always come home from work stressed and wound up and then it causes fights with your loved ones, before you come home take some “me” time and go for a short run or walk or go to a yoga class before you get home so you have time to unwind. Basically, think of the different ways that you can avoid those triggers that make you feel unhappy or disharmonious with your environment. Think about how you can change your behavior from the inside out, by learning how to meditate.

You must also practice balance: proper diet, proper exercise, stress reduction and relaxation activities, work life, family life, and helping others.

“Happiness lies in making others happy, in forsaking self-interest to bring joy to others.” — Paramhansa Yogananda

When you serve others, you forget your own problems and feel really good about yourself because you took the time to help another person or people feel good. What an amazing practice we can all do! No matter what our background or experience, we can always take the time to smile at someone to make them feel good. Feel how other’s happiness is part of your joy too!

But of course, the most important key to happiness is realizing that it comes from within us.

This takes time and personal experience to realize– no person or book or movie can make you believe it– you just have to have the experience on your own. But when you finally do, the deeper understanding of this concept “joy is within you” just naturally comes. We all know that we can have momentary joy from finally getting the job we always wanted, or getting that gift we keep asking for, etc., but we also all realize on some deeper level that this will always be a temporary sort of happiness.

It’s why the studies on happiness have found that if you ask anyone how much money they need to finally feel happy– no matter what income bracket they are in– they always think just earning 10% more income will do the trick (they will finally then be happy). Or the study on lottery winners, how the first year after they won the jackpot their happiness level rose, but then it fell back to the normal level they had before they won the money.

The real trick is doing a daily practice (maybe of yoga and meditation, being creative, going in nature, whatever it is that helps you) to quiet your mind so you can feel inner peace. This feeling can then open you up to the inner joy that is awaiting quietly inside of you. This is a universal experience each individual has access too, and it is that divinity that connects us all.

If we can each make contact with that divinity, that sense of calmness, of compassion, of love, of joy– then we can each truly understand how to be happy all ways.

Further Reading:

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