First things first: allow me to apologise for the click-baity title.
Eternal happiness doesn't exist. Even the happiest person in the world has lived through a "bad day". There's no way someone can experience nothing but happy days.
But that's not the end of the world!
You see, our lives are all similar to roller coasters in a way. We must enjoy a dip every now and then in order to fully appreciate the highs. As Bob Ross once put it, you have to have a little darkness in your life in order to see the light.
So if you are currently unhappy, this article is for you.
Why external happiness doesn't exist
Eternal happiness doesn't exist in real life; whenever we experience a positive change in our lives (e.g. getting married, getting a raise), we quickly become so used to the changes that we no longer derive pleasure from it. This is something called the hedonic treadmill.
One way to circumvent this limitation is to seek out new positive experiences, whether it's learning a new skill or joining a new club. Step outside your comfort zone every once in a while. This can simply mean the smallest thing. Why not cycle a different route to work today? Why not sign up for a 10K race?
Doing stuff that you've never done before is one way of becoming happier every day.
How happiness is not the end-goal
Wait... Isn't the whole purpose of this website to convince the world that happiness is the most important thing in the world?
Yes! But it shouldn't be regarded as a goal that you can reach and then be done with it.
No, focus on the process instead, not just the end result.
You have probably heard the well-known cliche: focus on the journey, not the destination.
But it is true, guys.
how to keep yourself happy all the time
So how does everybody remain happy? Well, there are a lot of different methods people use to remain happy, and I will try to list the best and most effective here.
But first a fair warning. This list should be approached with an open mind. Some of these methods are rather unique, and might not ring a bell for you. If that's the case, then just skip ahead to the next one! I'm sure you'll find a method to be happier on this list! 🙂
Never go on autopilot in public!
It's easy to operate on autopilot when getting lunch, or checking out at the store, or parking in a parking garage, or driving down a city street.
What do all those things have in common? In each case, you're interacting with at least one fellow human being! Smile at the person who takes your order at Starbucks, ask your waiter/waitress how their day is going, ask the parking lot attendant if he's doing OK today, let someone turn in front of you, or cross in front of you.
In today's world, we're all extremely preoccupied with our own lives. It breaks the cycle of monotony and sadness if you personalise your experience a little bit. A simple smile can really go a long way!
Simple things like these do take effort though, which is why it's so important to not live your life on auto-pilot. Be aware of the things you do and the people you interact with!
Sometimes you don't have control over how things go in your life, but you can control your reaction to them.
Self-awareness is something you can use to better control your reactions to certain events in your life. I've written an entire article about self-awareness on the Happy Blog.
Anyway, it's important to learn to break down what is causing your emotions, why you feel that way, does it make sense to feel this way? And what can you do to make you feel better?
Asshole cuts you off in traffic? Just keep singing to the radio instead of yelling some obscenity that he won't hear anyway. A coworker calls off and you get mandatory assigned overtime? Think of what you'll spend the extra money on instead of complaining to your supervisor.
Just keep in mind: you can control how you react to events in life.
Stop giving a shit
I've always liked this quote, attributed to Mark Twain, "I'm an old man and have faced many troubles in life...most of which have never actually happened". Worrying about what might or might not be is usually a worthless exercise. Don't waste your time thinking about problems that might not even happen.
There are so many things people get preoccupied with that just make a person less happy no matter what. Worrying too much about what others think of you, for example, is basically searching for unhappiness.
For starters, don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Just stop giving a shit about what people think. And stop living to impress.
A good way to start doing this is to delete social media. Facebook is only a highlight reel of someone's life, not a general overview. If you are someone that feels the need to match everyone's expectations, then it is likely that social media doesn't have a positive influence on your life AT ALL.
Don't allow yourself to be influenced by other people's Facebook feeds. Simple stop giving a shit about them.
Pretty soon you'll realise that most of the things you used to give a fuck about are totally inconsequential.
And that's a good situation to be in because then it's easier for you to become happier!
Prioritise your sleep!
Sleep is a sometimes much-overlooked factor in our happiness.
What's worse, some people actively look down on people who require more sleep than others. "What, you need 8+ hours of sleep a day? What a crybaby".
That's a very bad train of thought. Sleep is crucial in your journey to happiness. If you know that you need 8+ hours of sleep a day, please do not feel bad if you go to bed a little earlier!
Go to bed at a reasonable hour. If you don't fall asleep, then just listen to music or podcasts. Don't stress about it. It is not a condition of going to bed that you must sleep but you should have the time to rest. Close your eyes and let your brain rest for a little while.
You know, just because you feel sad today, doesn't mean you will feel sad tomorrow.
That's why people advise others to "sleep on it" sometimes. Having such deep rest takes a lot off the plate and resets some things, especially mood.
A stable circadian rhythm (i.e. when your body is used to going to sleep and waking up) is what keeps the mood at bay.
That's what I've noticed in my own pursuits of happiness. If I'm sleep deprived, there's a much bigger chance that I will become unhappy.
Live in the moment
This one might sound a little cliche to you, but hear me out.
Worrying about the future or feeling bad about the past are things that usually don't have a positive influence on our happiness. The solution? Live in the moment.
If you find yourself worrying about things that have already happened, then try to drop it. Occupy your mind with things that are currently happening to you.
This may not be for you, but it works for a lot of people! Some silly examples might include:
Imagine that I'm having a cup of tea. Instead of worrying about a couple of deadlines at work, I decide to live in the moment. I start to think about the tea that I'm drinking. I am amazed that hot water and dried plant leaves can produce such a delicious beverage. The leaves came from a farm that deliberately turns dirt and sunlight into the tea plant so that humans can enjoy it. It's like I'm literally tasting the energy of the sun in my cup. And this thought brings a smile to my face.
Or think about a scenario where I'm sitting on the beach, watching the waves. Instead of contemplating my past decisions and feeling bad for myself, I try to snap out of it. If I try to actively live in the moment for a while. I might just focus on the incoming waves. I am amazed that the energy that produced the waves built up over thousands of miles from a constant wind that is the result of moving air masses on the other side of the planet. In a way, I'm seeing the fingerprint of a particular swell that happened near Antarctica months ago, and I'm just now fascinated by it. You see how this works?
The thing is, living in the moment has been proven to be an effective way of becoming happier.
If you're ever stressed or angry, take it out by running a mile. If running's not for you, then go for a walk or look up some home exercises on YouTube. You might have heard it before, but exercising really does do wonders for your mental well-being.
You'll almost forget why you were stressed in the first place, and the post-exercise rest is oh-so-satisfying.
Also, when you do exercise, don't have a negative mindset because you can't keep up at the beginning or you don't feel as strong. Seriously, take it one day at a time. A lot of people feel bad and look down on themselves because they can't perform the way others do and it makes them throw in the towel.
When you're just starting out with this exercising thing, then it's important that you change your mindset! You need to approach exercise as a learning experience, and it will change the entire game. For example, don't feel bad if you can only do 10 push-ups on your knees. You're a beginner and in no-time, it'll get better.
Sometimes, you will need a little reminder of the things that already do make you happy. It's important to be grateful for all these things. And you should try to consciously exercise this gratitude.
Remember, there is always a person out there that is happier with less. Why? Because they have a better mindset and are more confident. Learn to love the things you have, and don't focus your energy on the things you hate.
What works for a lot of people is keeping track of a gratitude journal. Studies have shown that people who record things they're grateful for on a regular basis become happier.
It works like this: At the end of each day, simply write down three things you are grateful for and provide a short explanation as to why each occurred. Your gratitude journal doesn’t have to be deep. What you are thankful for can be as simple as "good food” or "the new Game of Thrones episode” or "that funny joke I heard today". What you are grateful for will differ from everyone else. And that's only a good thing!
Over time, that gratitude will help you become more aware of the things you should be happy about! And that's how exercising gratitude can help you become a happier person! It allows you to look past the negatives and appreciate the good things more, no matter how small they seem to be.
Spend time with the people you love
This one is pretty straightforward. Try to spend time with the people you love, as this will almost always have a positive influence on your happiness.
But possibly even more important is this: stop spending time with people that do NOT have a positive influence on your happiness. Do you have that one friend who ever replies to your messages? Or that one friend who is really self-centered but you still hang out with "because you go waaaay back"?
If that's the case, then you should really reconsider if your time isn't better spent with people who actually DO care about you!
Stop feeling sorry for yourself!
Self-pity is the most toxic and addictive substance for humans. It's so easy to find comfort in our own unhappiness, despite wanting things to be better. It's what we know and we're comfortable with. You feel sorry because bad shit is happening to you, and because of this self-pitying you are actively keeping yourself from taking steps to improve your situation.
Stop looking at the world from a victims perspective! Sitting around and waiting for someone to rescue you from your unhappiness is only going to prolong it. No-one is going to do this for you.
You have to take charge of your own journey to happiness. The fact that you are here right now - reading this article - makes me think you are willing to take action!
When reading this, you might think to yourself:
"That's nice and all, but I'm having trouble finding the motivation to do all these things! I know I want to become happier, but I don't have the energy to force myself to it".
In that case, definitely continue reading!
How to keep yourself happy and motivated
If you can't find the motivation to do something about your situation, it is highly likely that you are paralyzed by your own mindset.
You might think that it takes a LOT of work to actually go do the stuff that you think you need to do in order to be happy. But that's a mistake.
The truth is, Rome wasn't built in a single day. Every single building in Rome was built brick. by. brick.
It's all about the small steps here.
If you feel unmotivated to work on your own situation, try to focus on one small step towards your goals at the time.
For example, if your daily goal is to get out and run 15 minutes, then try to divide that goal into smaller, more achievable sub-goals.
- Set your alarm relatively early
- Have a decent and solid breakfast
- Plan your running route
- Get dressed
- Get outside and run
- Finish 15 minutes of running
You see how these goals all look way more achievable?
By completing small tasks like these you will stay motivated because it is unlikely that you will fail at all of them! You might not have finished your 15 minutes of running, but at least you woke up early and got outside. You still succeeded in a lot of sub-goals!
And this not only works for running. You should really try to divide every goal into smaller sub-goals, in order to NOT lose motivation whenever you fail one of the big goals.
It's important to not want to do TOO much, as then these unfinished tasks will only stare into your eyes. This will cause you to actually lose motivation. Keep your goals small and achievable!
Over time, these small goals will turn into a routine. Before you know it, you will be waking up early to head outside for a jog like it's part of your usual day. These small victories can have a huge effect on your feeling of happiness.
And I've used running as a primary example here, but I can think of a LOT of other small victories that are just as good. Think about brushing and flossing your teeth, taking a shower, walking around the park, calling your family members, eating a healthy meal instead of a fat snack, cleaning the living room. It's important to recognize that these goals do not always have to be huge. Small victories add up over time, and will slowly turn into routines!
How to be happy with yourself
As you're reading this article, you might have noticed how friends and family can all have a positive influence on your happiness. Well, what if you simply don't have that big of a social circle?
Then you have to learn how to be happy without friends. Rest assured, there are many ways you can be happy by yourself.
In fact, I'm quite an introvert myself. I do have a group of close friends that I love to spend time with, but at the end of the week, I REALLY need my alone time. Personally, I just love to play some music, go out on a long-distance run or play a good game of Battlefield 1.
There are literally hundreds of things you can do in order to be happy by yourself, without relying on others. Think about learning an instrument, playing a great game, start exercising, read a fascinating book or learn how to solve a Rubik's cube!
The list of things you can do without needing anybody else is virtually endless. Some people might argue that they do not have any hobbies. Well, then get off your ass and find them!
And always remember, nobody was born as an expert in something. Lionel Messi wasn't destined to become a great footballer. No, he just found something that he REALLY liked and practiced a lot. I don't believe in talent, and neither should you.
I believe in passion. Once you find something that you are passionate about - or at least passionate about learning it - then you will grow better at it over time. And that's how you turn something into a lifelong hobby.
You have to keep an open mind though. Just keep looking for that future hobby of yours and don't beat yourself up if you're not an instant pro.
We are already quite deep into this article about how to be happy every day, while I haven't even discussed the best method for becoming happier. You see, appreciating things and being positive are tremendously important, but the quickest and surest way to happiness is to stop focusing on yourself and do something positive and helpful for another person, and then do that again and again. Even if you never get thanked or appreciated, the gift of happiness is still yours.
How to be happy for others (and with others)
Arguably the best method of being happy every day is to be happy for others. Or in other words, try to make someone else happy and be happy with (and for) them!
This may sound vague and silly. Let me explain!
Whenever you do something nice for another person - be it a friend, relative or a total stranger - then you will have a positive influence on their daily happiness. If you're anything but a psychopath, then this act of kindness will likely also bring a smile to your face. Knowing that you've just made someone's day better will create a feeling of happiness within yourself as well!
Try thinking about all the stress the people around you have to deal with on a daily basis. Everybody has their reasons to be unhappy. The key is to not let it get to you! Be happy, watch other people be happy despite the bullshit they face, and let their happiness bring a smile to YOUR face!
This is one of the principles of Buddhism and mindfulness as well. There is a saying that explains it very well: "If you shine a light for somebody else, it will also brighten your own path". So if you perform a good deed for somebody else, the happiness that you will create for someone else will likely radiate back to yourself.
Random acts of kindness don't have to be big. Not at all. A simple smile to a total stranger can actually go a long way. I try to smile at almost everyone. A lot of people forget how a simple gesture can mean a lot to someone and can help turn their day around. It makes some people really happy, or at least forget about the troubles they are facing. Some people might find it weird sometimes, but it really makes me happy to make other people smile.
How to let yourself be happy
Some people that want to be happy but haven't found the motivation yet to do something about it are in a downward spiral. They feel unhappy because they are not doing anything about their own situation, but in the meantime, that unhappiness is causing this lack of motivation. You see how this works?
It is important to break this negative spiral!
If you experience a bad day where you don't feel motivated to do anything productive, you shouldn't feel bad about yourself! Just own it. "Yeah, today I did nothing but binge-watch Netflix, but fuck it, it is what it is and I at least enjoyed it". There is a time for everything, so that includes wasting time.
I have thought about it a lot of times, and wasting time should not feel bad as long as you at least enjoyed that time. At the very least, that "wasted time" managed to keep your thoughts in a happy place instead of thinking about your misfortunes.
You have to allow yourself to be happy. Do not beat yourself up over a single "failure". We are not robots. We are entitled to occasionally give into our weaknesses. We all do it. And we shouldn't feel bad because we do.
With that said, it is important to limit your time on distractions that do not make you better in the long run. And please notice how I say "in the long run". It's okay to binge-watch series or play games the entire day, but just remember that tomorrow's a new day. Create a new set of - small and achievable - goals that you want to achieve the next day and do your best to reach those. It's perfectly fine to drop the ball every once in a while, but try to limit it to a single day if you do!
How to be happy with your body
It could be that - for whatever reason - you are not happy with your own body.
Then by now, you should already have an idea how you can turn this around. You can actually use a lot of the previously mentioned methods to help you improve your image of yourself.
Fro example, stop giving a shit of what other people think of you! Also, stop comparing yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others is one of the worst possible ways to waste your energy. Everybody has parts of their body that they do not like. So as much as you're comparing yourself to somebody else, that other person is likely comparing his or herself to yet another person. There is simply no benefit to this game of comparison, so it's just best if you stay out of it!
As previously discussed, it's also important to be grateful for the things that you have. Always remind yourself of the things that you have going for yourself. Remember, there is always a person out there that is happier with less. Why? Because they have a better mindset and are more confident. Learn to love the things you have, and don't focus your energy on the things you hate.
And finally, be self-compassionate. This isn't just "loving yourself", but also accepting your flaws without judging yourself. Stop yourself from being self-critical and focus your energy on self-acceptance and self-kindness instead.
How to fake being happy?
This one is quite controversial, but asked quite a lot. When talking about happiness, can you "fake it 'til you make it"?
I believe you can, although the answer is quite a bit more sophisticated than this simple question.
Some studies show that wearing a smile can actually release a chemical in your brains that provides you with a feeling of happiness. Even if the smile was not meant. So in a way, you can fool yourself into becoming more happy.
But I believe that there are better ways to become happy. Instead of just faking a smile, why not actively change your mindset and think about stuff you are happy about or grateful for?
You can use all the methods discussed in this article to try it out. Sure, you can fake a smile without giving it a second thought. But I believe it's much more effective to be grateful, or to provide the people around you with happiness by cracking a joke, or to go for a nice long walk outside.
Don't you need money to be happy?
One question that also gets on a lot of people's minds is whether or not you need money to be happy.
The answer is - again - a lot more sophisticated than the actual question itself.
If you do not have any money to spend and are up to your neck in debt, then yes. Money will probably improve your life situation thus your happiness. In this situation, spending money does correlate to happiness, but this correlation does not necessarily imply causation.
However, if you are already living an average lifestyle with all your basic necessities taken care of, then it's really questionable whether or not spending more money will make you happier.
I personally believe money does only make you happier when you spend it on experiences and things you enjoy doing. I've analysed 3 years of my personal data to come to that conclusion.
The effect of spending money on our happiness is almost always indirect anyway. You see, spending money is likely a proxy for increased happiness. You’re probably not happier when you spend more money, strictly speaking, but when circumstantial and behavioural antecedents align such that you feel secure about spending more money. If you can afford to spend money, then you're bound to be happier either way, whether you actually spend it or not.
I would love to hear your opinion about this subject in the comments below!
Keep track of your happiness!
My final method for an eternal happy life (even though it doesn't exist) is this:
Track your happiness every single day, and determine exactly what makes YOU happy.
You are reading this article here on trackinghappiness.com, so I assume you are at least familiar with the concept of tracking your happiness. If not, then I would like to invite you to start tracking for yourself. Find out exactly what causes you happiness and then act on it!
Get access to all my templates & stay up to date!
- I'll send you a periodic update.
- I try my best not to annoy you
- I will NEVER share your e-mail
And with that said, I want to conclude this list of methods covering how to be happy every day. I believe these methods can help you become happier every day, and I hope this has somehow inspired you to get to it!
As always, if you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments below, and I'll be happy to answer you!
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 your 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!