Can't Find Happiness? Here Are 5 Steps To Find Your Happiness!

Updated 15 August 2019

hugo huyer author of tracking happiness small

by Hugo: Founder of Tracking Happiness, marathon runner, data junkie and happiness tracker for almost 6 years.

Everybody around you seems to have it all figured out and looks happy. Yet, here are you: feeling unhappy and unable to find a remedy for your current feeling. You can't find happiness, yet you don't know why. If this is you, then you are in the right place.

What to do when you can't find happiness? There's not a single road to happiness. There are many roads to a happy life and some are more suitable for you than others. What has worked for others?

  • Determine and write down why you are not happy
  • Try new things to add adventure to your life
  • Set small goals and try to improve yourself one step at a time
  • Don't give up after a bad day
  • Track your happiness to learn more about it

This article will cover actual methods that others have used to find happiness again. These are not guaranteed methods that you can always apply personally. What I hope to achieve here is to present you multiple perspectives on how others have found happiness again. In the end, you can use these examples to better find your own road to happiness again.

pathway to find happiness header

First things first: Eternal happiness doesn't exist.

The first important thing to realize when talking about happiness is that it's definitely impossible to be happy all the time. Even the happiest person alive has been unhappy at some point. It's therefore good to understand that you are not alone when you can't seem to find happiness. Everybody struggles with this at some point, although some have more difficulties finding happiness again than others.

If you're open to trying new things and willing to think positively about the future, you're able to shorten your road to happiness. I'm hoping the examples in this article can help you find inspiration to start working on improving your situation.

Table of contents

This article is part of a much bigger guide on how to become happy that I'm sure is the biggest freely available guide on the internet right now. Chapter 8 details a lot of actionable steps that you can take today in order to be happier again tomorrow!

Determine why you are not happy

Why am I not happy? Why can't I seem to find happiness?

I want to encourage you to write these questions down somewhere. Grab a piece of paper, put a date on it, and start writing down these questions and then try to answer them as thoroughly as you can. This allows you to move on to the next part of finding happiness again. Here are some great benefits of writing down these questions and answers:

  • Writing down your challenges forces you to confront them.
  • It allows you to better deconstruct the issues without getting your thoughts distracted.
  • Writing something down can prevent it from causing chaos in your head. Think of this as clearing the RAM memory of your computer. If you've written it down, you can safely forget about it and start with an empty slate.
  • It will allow you to look back at your struggles objectively. In a few months time, you can look back at your notepad and see how much you've grown.

It might not be hard to imagine that people often start journaling when they are in a difficult situation. Even though writing down your thoughts might sound silly, it can have a direct effect on your mentality. Do not underestimate the power of writing down your feelings!

journal to find happiness

Try new things

If you're unhappy and can't seem to find your way back to your former self, then you should try something you haven't tried before.

Think about it: whatever you've been doing until now has not resulted in happiness. Despite all the things you tried, you still can't find happiness. Well, then it sounds pretty logical that you need to find something new to break your routinary life, right?

Think outside the box here. What is something that you would like to do but never tried?

I want you to forget about the reasons why you shouldn't do these new things. There are always reasons to not do something. You have to push through this mental obstacle.

Grab a piece of paper and write down things that you would like to try. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Skydiving
  • Taking dancing lessons
  • Telling a person you have feelings for him/her
  • Ask your manager for a different position
  • Lose 20 pounds and get more confident about your appearance
  • Travel to another continent by yourself

A fun example: I signed up for my first marathon ever 3 weeks prior to the start. I was NOT prepared properly, but I still ran the damn race. It was a perfect way for me to add a little adventure in my life when I needed it!

My point is to not think of the obstacles when writing these down. We'll tackle these later.

eindhoven marathon finding happiness
This is me on the last mile of my first marathon. I was physically broken but I was in extacy when I passed the finish line!

Create small goals and improve yourself one small step at a time

So I hope you have written down a number of things you would like to do, without thinking of the many possible obstacles that might keep you from doing these things.

The next step is to re-write these things into smaller steps. Let's take an example:

Say I want to lose 20 pounds and get more confident about my appearance. I have identified this as a reason for my current unhappiness. But this is quite a big and ambitious goal, don't you agree? I can think of dozens of reasons why I might fail at achieving this goal: I'm too busy and undisciplined to maintain a diet, I don't know how to shop for nicer looking clothes, I'd much rather watch Netflix instead, etc, etc.

You can take away these concerns by dividing such a big goal into smaller steps.

Let's keep using the same example. Instead of the big goal of losing 20 pounds and getting confident, I'm going to divide this into bite-sized chunks that are much less intimidating:

  • Walk 30 minutes every day
  • Consume only drinks that contain zero calories (water, black coffee, cola zero, etc)
  • Donate a part of your old clothes to a charity
  • Smile and greet strangers on the street
  • Make the bed every morning
  • Wake up before 08:30 every weekday
  • Dress up every morning just as you would when you're going outside
  • etc

Notice how these goals seem much easier to accomplish? This makes it much easier to build lasting habits that will slowly transform your life in a great way. This will allow you to find your happiness again.

alarm wake up happiness
Waking up early is a simple habit that can allow you to find your happiness again.

Don't give up after a bad day

So you had a bad day last week? Or maybe a terrible week in which you didn't do anything to improve your situation? Who cares!

We are only human, so we're bound to experience a bad day every once in a while. It's important to realize that everybody occasionally experiences a string of bad days in their life. What you need to when this inevitably happens:

  • Don't let such a thing set you back
  • Don't interpret it as a failure
  • Don't let it stop you from trying again tomorrow

You see, eternal happiness does not exist. Sure, we can try to be as happy as possible every day, but we have to accept that unhappiness is something that we have to deal with on occasion.

So what if you screwed up your plan today? Fuck it! Just do your best to get back into shape tomorrow.

Examples of how to find happiness

I'm going to share the stories of people who have made these steps in order to find their happiness again. Sure, a list of things you can try for yourself is nice, but you probably agree with me that actual examples are much more actionable and inspiring. I hope these examples will inspire you to find happiness again.

Justin shares his experience

A little while ago, I got to know Justin. We started talking when he e-mailed me with some questions about Tracking Happiness (this is the website you're on right now!).

As we got to know each other better, he shared how he was able to find happiness again by working (hard) on creating habits and writing down his thoughts and progress.

This is Justin's story.

My life didn’t start off being so focused on myself or self-reflection.

To share a little background, I battled depression for 3 years. I was in a relationship that wasn’t doing either of us any good. We fought constantly and the constant hanging out led to dependence on one another rather than ourselves. Not until October of last year did we finally break up for good.

I am just as guilty of not being the best version of myself for our relationship. I allowed myself to be treated with no respect for my own well being. Without me realizing, I became a member of the large group of people who experience physical and emotional trauma during their relationship. This was easily the worst experience of my life however I’ve come to understand my mindset was completely wrong at the time. I wish her nothing but the best and truly believe at that time in life we weren’t a good fit.

Long story short, we rushed into a relationship without getting to know one another. This was such a simple lesson, however, I wasn’t focusing on my own mental health and let myself slip. I let my weight go, went on autopilot with my family, and made poor decisions that didn’t benefit my well-being.

Finally, in October as I mentioned, a switch flipped.

I had the strength to finally separate myself from the relationship and be alone to grow. Focusing even more on the gym and nutrition helped keep my mind busy. I’ve been single for a few months and using the Happiness Tracker allows me to reflect internally and continue to grow.

I’m a huge believer in making changes in your life for the better. However, they’ve got to be done in a way that promotes long term success and good habits moving forward.

After a month of tracking my happiness, I’ve been able to identify the days which are amazing and any days which would fall under a “bad day” and why that happened.

  • “Did I wake up late for the gym?”
  • “Was I not as energetic during the day due to my diet?”

These are questions I’ll ask myself when I feel a bit down in comparison to a normal basis.

One evening, my friend and I went to McDonald’s and although this doesn’t fit with my typical nutrition, I was having a great time going out with my friend. The following day, however, I felt very tired and my stomach was bloated for most of the day.

By reflecting and entering how I felt in the morning, I was able to identify eating at McDonald’s as the leading factor. This allows you to see the decisions and how the consequences play out the following day. I’m all for having a good time and enjoying yourself, but you’ve got to understand the trade-off by doing so.

My body had adapted to consuming less processed food. These are small choices I’ve got to be aware of on a consistent basis so I can have a realistic and healthy relationship when it comes to food. I’m not sure if I would have been able to identify how I was feeling without Hugo’s tracker.

If you're interested, you can find his full story here, which he kindly shared on the Happy Blog.

Justin Tracking Happiness

Sanjay shares his experience

Here's another actual example of how a friend of mine found happiness again. I got to know Sanjay as he started to track his happiness, in addition to writing down his thoughts and journaling. He found happiness once he ended a toxic relationship, which he only realized was the culprit once he wrote down exactly what he was unhappy about.

Here's the story of how Sanjay was able to find happiness again:

Around the time I started tracking my happiness, I was trapped in a toxic relationship. I didn't realise it at the time though, so I kept trying my best to fix things, not realising that my girlfriend didn't want our relationship to improve.

Looking back, there were many warning signs: The verbal abuse, the deception, irresponsibility and lack of mutual respect. I ignored many of these signs because I really wanted the relationship to work.

During this time, I became extremely unhappy and my happiness data indicated that I was at an all time low. Even though it was clearly this relationship that was causing most of it, I couldn't bring myself to leave.

Eventually, I reached my breaking point and left her for good. I had also been living in an extremely pessimistic environment up until then, and I left that too. My happiness levels started shooting upwards and began to stabilise.

Looking back on my journal from that period, it astounds me that I allowed myself to stay in that situation for so long. I could see from the way I was writing about my experiences at the time that I was completely blind to the real issues in my life and wasn't thinking rationally.

Again, here is Sanjay's full story if you want to read more about this example of finding happiness again.

What these examples both have in common is that Sanjay and Justin both found their happiness again after tracking their happiness every day.

Tracking my happiness in order to find happiness

I've been tracking my happiness for over 5 years now. What does this mean? It means I spend 2 minutes every day to reflect on my day:

  • How happy was I on a scale from 1 to 10?
  • What factors had a significant effect on my happiness?
  • I clear my head by jotting down all my thoughts in my happiness journal.

This daily habit allowed Sanjay and Justin to find their happiness again. And it's allowed me to constantly learn from my own happiness. By looking back at my happiness journal, I can learn everything there is to learn about my own happiness. This is how I purposefully try to steer my life in the best direction possible. And I believe you can do the same!

You can be happier. Discover how with my free template!

  • Track your happiness every day
  • Learn more about what makes you happy
  • Receive my custom template for free

Closing words

So are you having problems finding your happiness? Here's what I want you to try:

  • Determine and write down why you are not happy
  • Try new things to add adventure to your life
  • Set small goals and try to improve yourself one step at a time
  • Don't give up after a bad day
  • Track your happiness to learn more about it

This has helped me - and many others - to find happiness again. And I believe you can do the same.

I hope this short article has been either inspiring or informative. If you have something different to add - like your own experience or anecdotes - then I would LOVE to hear it in the comments below!

Who runs Tracking Happiness?

My name is Hugo, and I'm from the Netherlands. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering, a passion for data and statistical analysis and am an expert in happiness.

I've tracked my happiness every day for 5 years in a row. And I'm now using my knowledge to inspire you to prioritize your happiness. You see, I'm a strong believer in what gets measured gets managed. I want to show you what I - and many others - have learned while tracking our happiness.

My Happiness Essays have reached thousands of people around the world and have been shared in many places.

With my data, I have inspired hundreds of others to also track their happiness. And I'm hoping this number will only grow more!

Hugo Tracking Happiness Snapshot

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