How To Be Happy: The Biggest (Free) Guide To Happiness

Updated 11 October 2019

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

Have you ever noticed how nobody in school teaches you how to be happy?

We spend so many years of our lives learning how to be a functioning cog in society, but no-one teaches you what you need to be happy. Even worse, a lot of people show you how they live a perfectly happy life and try to convince you that you're an idiot if you don't follow along. This is becoming a bigger and bigger issue every day, especially with the constant influence of social media.

What nobody tells you, however, is that your happiness "formula" is just as unique as you are.

I'm not here to tell you how to be happy. Instead, I'm here to show you everything you need to know to determine what makes you happy yourself! Because no one is able to tell you how to live a happy life.

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Introduction

How to be happy? It's probably the most frequently asked question in life. We all want to be happy, above everything else, right?

  • Who cares about money when you're not happy?
  • Who cares about friends when you're not happy with who you are?
  • Who cares about good health if your lonely and depressed?

Before getting started on this enormous topic, it's a good idea to set things straight.

This huge guide is a result of >6 years of experience in tracking, analyzing, studying and talking happiness. This covers everything you need to know to FULLY understand and improve your OWN happiness.

It contains actual examples of other people's happiness, actionable results based on studies and surveys, and helpful tips about how to be in control of your own happiness.

You won't find bullshit advice like "just be happy" in this guide (more on that later).

This is by far the biggest and most in-depth resource out there. Therefore, I've made it a priority to add structure to this guide. Here's how I've broken down this guide.

Contents

1. Defining happiness

What makes your happiness unique and how can you define it.

2. Focus on a happy mind

Positivity, self-awareness and confidence are keys to a happy life.

3. Develop happy relationships

Spend time with people that make you happy.

4. Journal your way to happiness

Journaling allows you to learn from and understand 100% of your happiness.

5. Nurture a happy body

Why you need to be fit, well-rested and relaxed in order to be happy.

6. Intellectual happiness

You are happier when you have a purpose and a passion.

7. Internal happiness

More often than not, happiness comes from within.

8. Actionable tips to be happier now

Advanced and actionable tips you can do right now to be happier tomorrow.

9. A plan for those unhappy days

Nobody is happy 100% of the time. Here's how to tackle those unhappy days.

10. Tracking happiness

What gets measured gets managed. The same goes for happiness.

11. Case studies

Actual case studies of others who have followed this guide on how to be happy.

How To Be Happy - The Biggest (Free) Course

If you're short on time, I can send you this entire guide straight to your inbox in bite-sized emails. What does this mean?

  • You'll receive one chapter every 3 days in your e-mail.
  • Totally free - no strings attached
  • Receive my custom Tracking Happiness template for free
  • I'll send you the most important updates regarding Tracking Happiness

Chapter 1: Defining happiness

What makes your happiness unique and how you can define it.

If I asked you and your neighbor to define happiness right now, the two answers would probably be wildly different.

Why is that? What is happiness really? Is it a feeling, a state of mind or just an emotion?

What initially looks like a very simple question turns out to be one of the hardest questions out there.

How can happiness be defined?

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Eternal happiness doesn't exist

First things first: It's impossible to be happy all the time.

Even the happiest person alive has been unhappy at some point. Sadness is a vital emotion that we can't turn off. Even if we could, we shouldn't want to. We experience sadness in our lives in order to better appreciate and be grateful for the happy times in our lives. It's therefore good to understand that this guide is not about how to be happy for the rest of your life. It's about how to be happy as often as possible.

I don't believe we can all be eternally happy, but I do believe we can purposefully steer our lives in the happiest direction as possible. That's what this guide is about.

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Can Happiness Exist Without Sadness? [Answer + Examples]

Happiness and sadness are opposites that are constantly evolving in our lives. Even though happiness is usually considered to be the more important emotion, sadness is a vital emotion that we shouldn’t turn off. This article covers if happiness can exist without sadness, with actual examples and analogies.

How to define what happiness means to you

Here's how happiness is defined according to Google:

Happiness is the state of being happy

Is this the answer you need? I'm going to assume that it's not.

If I asked you and your neighbor to define happiness right now, the two answers would probably be wildly different. Why is that? What is happiness really? Is it a feeling, a state of mind or just an emotion? What initially looks like a very simple question turns out to be one of the hardest questions out there. How can happiness be defined?

What I want you to realize is that your personal definition of happiness is unique. What makes you happy doesn't necessarily make another person happy. In fact, your definition of happiness even changes over time. There is no universally agreed-upon definition of happiness.

You have to define your own definition. What makes you happy is as unique as yourself.

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How Can Happiness Be Defined?

Here’s something different: Can happiness be defined? This seemingly easy question has a pretty complicated question: yes and no. The truth is that there is no universally agreed upon definition of happiness. Happiness changes from person to person and from moment to moment. But you can definitely find your own definition of happiness, and I want to help you find it!

Be aware of the difference between long-term and short-term happiness

This is a big one.

A lot of people spend their lives not knowing what the difference is between long-term happiness and short-term happiness.

I want you to picture some scenarios.

  • Picture a life in which you spent your youth partying, doing whatever you want to do, using drugs and living life as is, without planning for a better future. Sure, you feel pretty happy when doing these things, but you can probably see how this lifestyle will eventually catch up with you, right?

You might have guessed it, but this scenario is focused exclusively on short-term happiness. It's a fact that pursuing nothing but short-term happiness does not lead to a sustainable happy life.

Now picture the following scenario:

  • You're in your early twenties and want to become the next Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. You have great ambitions and are incredibly disciplined and inspired to become everything that you think you can become. You spend an incredible amount of time working on your projects, and you even make sacrifices just for the sake of your goals. You don't have time for sleep, social activities or relationships. Hell, even your health starts to decline. It doesn't matter though, because you eventually want to reach your goals, and then you'll be happy, right?

This is another extreme example of happiness. You can probably see how this person is very likely unhappy. He is spending the best years of his life making sacrifices in anticipation of what he eventually wants to become. For a lot of people, this sounds like a logical decision. But to me, this sounds like a huge mistake. You might feel satisfied with the progress you're making, but are you truly happy? If you were to get in a fatal car crash tomorrow, would you have any regrets?

Happiness now vs. happiness later

The thing is, these extreme examples are not something that you should want. You can only lead a truly happy life when you actively pursue both short-term and long-term happiness.

It's important to find out what your perfect balance is.

I'm not here to tell you that you should focus 50% of your attention on short-term happiness and the other 50% on long-term happiness. No. I'm here to tell you that you should be aware of your own happiness. Every single person on this planet has a different definition of happiness. You need to find out what happiness means to you, and how you want to pursue it.

They say happiness is a journey and not a destination. I think happiness can - and should - be both.

Why does happiness not last forever?

The hedonic treadmill...

If this term is new for you, here's what it comes down to:

Imagine something that you would really like to do right now.

What did you think of? Taking a long warm bath? Drinking wine with your friends? Going to an amusement park?

Wouldn't it be great if you could do that right now? That would definitely have a positive influence on your happiness, right?

Now think about doing that exact thing every day, for the rest of your life, until the day you die.

Do you think you'd still be happy from doing that same thing after the 10th time? Or the 100th time? Or the 1000th time?

The answer is probably no. Even though this example is extreme, the theory of diminishing returns applies here. When repeated, the effect of the same event on your happiness will diminish to zero. That's because the norms of what defines your happiness are constantly adapting. Your happiness equation transforms with your changing life, whether it's for better or worse.

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How Long Can Happiness Last?

What sounds like a very simple and straightforward question, is actually really fun and interesting to answer! How long can happiness last? I have researched my happiness journal in order to find a data-driven answer to this question!

Focus on the 5 pillars of happiness

There are a lot of factors that can change your happiness every day. In fact, the list of happiness factors is endless, as happiness is as unique as we are ourselves. However, there are 5 factors that are fundamentally and universally the most important factors of happiness. These are called the pillars of happiness.

So what are these pillars of happiness? Here are the 5 pillars of happiness that you need in your life if you want to be happy:

  1. Confidence and self-love
  2. Meaning and purpose
  3. Positivity and optimism
  4. Physical and mental health
  5. Freedom and independence
my personal pillar of happiness

he best way to explain why the pillars of happiness are so important is to use an analogy.

Imagine that you're back in Ancient Rome and want to build the highest tower in your village. You've decided that you'll first build a platform that's supported by pillars, upon which you'll continue to build extra layers in order to reach great heights. Since we're still in Ancient Rome, and reinforced concrete wasn't yet invented, your layers will be stacked up like a pyramid to be structurally balanced. It's clear now that you need a big foundation if you want to reach great heights.

Now think of this same analogy, but replace the following things:

  • The structural pillars are now your 5 fundamental factors of happiness.
  • The various layers that you plan to build upon your foundation are regular happiness factors (if you're not sure what happiness factors are, here's a good start).
  • Your happiness is represented by the height of your construction.

By following this analogy, you'll notice that you won't be able to reach great heights (happiness) without building a foundation (pillars of happiness) that's big enough.

What I'm trying to explain here with this silly analogy, is that sustainable happiness is best possible if you have all 5 pillars of happiness in your life.

So if you've diagnosed that your life is missing one or two of these pillars, then I hope you know what to do now. Instead of focussing on stacking regular blocks of happiness on your limited foundation, it's much better to focus on building the missing pillars! Don't focus on short-term happiness if you have no shot at long-term happiness yet. Even though building the missing pillars of happiness might be a lot harder than other factors of your life, it will definitely pay off in the end.

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Pillars Of Happiness

I’ve discussed a lot of happiness factors on Tracking Happiness so far, but have not yet covered the 5 pillars of happiness. These are fundamental happiness factors that are crucial if you want to build long-term happiness. This article covers everything you need to know about these pillars.

Chapter 2: Focus on your mind

Positivity, self-awareness and confidence are keys to a happy life.

Happiness starts in your mind. If we master our own emotions, then we are much more likely to be in control of our own happiness.

You see, it turns out happiness is not just a result of the things that happen around you. In fact, happiness is much more dependent on your own mindset. Positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky went as far as to say that happiness is determined as follows:

  • 50% determined by genetics
  • 10% determined by external factors
  • 40% determined by your state of mind.

This is why focusing on the mind is the 2nd chapter in this guide about how to be happy. If your mind is in a healthy place, you are able to influence a huge part of your feeling of happiness. Even better, a healthy mind is able to understand 100% of our happiness, even when we can't control every aspect of it.

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Develop your self-awareness!

In a world that is full of external factors which we cannot control, it is becoming more and more important to at least control ourselves. Self-awareness is something you might have heard a couple of times, and rightfully so. You see, despite the extremely dynamic world we live in nowadays, there is still a lot that we actually can control. What we can control is how we deal with these external factors.

Why is self-awareness so important? It allows us to improve the quality of our lives just by being aware of how external factors influence us. We can't control 100% of our lives, but we can often control how we react to the stuff we can't control. That is the key to self-awareness and why it is so important.

Someone who is not self-aware encounters obstacles, sometimes the same ones repeatedly, and doesn't understand why. Someone who is self-aware examines themselves honestly to get to the root of their problems. Maybe people don't like to talk to you. A person that isn't self-aware would just get frustrated or accept it, or maybe not even notice people are annoyed by them. A self-aware person examines their reality, maybe admits they ramble too much, don't listen enough, aren't engaging or being present.

The difference between these people is that one has the ability to diagnose the underlying issue. And with that comes the power to fix the true cause of the issue.

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Examples Of Why Self-Awareness Is Important

In a world that is full of external factors which we cannot control, it is becoming more and more important to at least control ourselves. We can improve the quality of our lives just by being aware of how these external factors influence us. And that is the key to self-awareness and why it is so important.

Focus on emotional self-awareness

What is emotional self-awareness? It’s the ability to recognize and understand our own emotions. People with this skill can identify small differences in their emotions and are aware of how their emotions impact their behavior, performance, and decisions.

Nearly eight decades ago, US President Franklin Roosevelt stated that people are “prisoners of their own minds” and have the power to “become free” at any time. This issue is bigger than ever when rage, frustrations, and rants are a major part of our everyday lives.

The truth is, you need to be aware of your emotions if you want to fully understand your happiness. This won't mean you get to control 100% of your happiness, but you'll at least get to control that 40% of your happiness that is determined by your state of mind.

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Examples of Emotional Self Awareness And Why You Need It

It sometimes seems hard to keep a level head in the chaotic and stressful world we live in today. A skill that we should all learn to develop is called emotional self-awareness. This article is about how you can train this skill for yourself. It contains a lot of actionable examples of how emotional self-awareness can be recognized, trained and optimized!

Embrace a positive mindset

Some people find it really frustrating when they hear: "just choose to be a little more positive!" A lot of people think that positivity is 100% a function of your own mindset. They think that we have the ability to choose to be positive from the inside anytime we want.

That's not true. If you found out your partner was killed in a highway crash right now, would you be able to achieve a positive mindset at the snap of a finger? Of course not!

That said, people aren't born a pessimist.

We all know that one person who always seems to have a positive mindset? That person who always reacts with bright humor, optimism, and a positive mental attitude? You can be that person.

If you embrace positivity instead of negativity, you can learn how to better influence that 40% of your happiness that's actually within your control.

Don't allow yourself to be bothered by minor inconveniences

if you're a pessimist, you will often allow yourself to be bothered by things that shouldn't really bother you. Here's a quote I always love to think of:

A pessimist sees the negatives or the difficulty in every opportunity whereas an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

— Winston Churchill

A pessimist will focus on the negative aspect of things, which results in a higher likelihood of being bothered by stuff. Don't believe me? This was actually studied in the Journal of Research in Personality. The study found that pessimism and stress are highly correlated with each other.

The truth is, whether you allow yourself to be bothered by something is often a choice. Even though make this choice unconsciously, that doesn't mean you can't influence this process.

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How To Not Let Things Bother You (With Examples)

We are not robots. That’s a good thing because that makes every single engagement we have with anybody beautifully unique. However, it also means that we are sometimes bothered by things that shouldn’t really bother us at all. This article is about how to not let things bother you.

Focus on your self-esteem and don't give a sh*t about stuff that doesn't matter anyway

I think we've all heard the following quote in some form or shape:

Love yourself first

What does this mean? It means that we have to accept ourselves for who we are before we can expect to truly be happy with ourselves.

Self-esteem and confidence are fundamental factors of happiness. It's impossible to not encounter obstacles in our lives at all. Everybody encounters sadness every once in a while. We need to be able to deal with this as confidently as we can.

For example, since we're constantly bombarded with messed up social media posts and click-bait marketing, it's important to not let these stupid things influence our lives. We need to be confident while dealing with bullshit that we may or may not be able to control anyway.

Research has shown that self-esteem can definitely be trained. Different forms of therapy, like art therapy, solution-focused brief therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy have been found to be successful in raising self-esteem in different age groups. But what if you favor a more DIY approach? Things that you can try without having to make an appointment or spending a lot of money. Can you still train your self-esteem without the help of a professional?

The answer is a resounding yes! (As long as you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort, of course.)

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7 Activities That Will Boost Your Self-Esteem (With Examples)

Low self-esteem can often seem impossible to overcome because someone with low self-esteem doesn’t believe that they can do it. Luckily, there are some simple but effective ways of boosting self-esteem. This post covers 7 self-esteem activities that will help you get there!

Don't fall victim to materialism

Following the principle of the hedonic treadmill, we now know that humans are quick to adapt emotionally to new circumstances.

This is both good and bad.

  • It's good because we can better deal with negative events in our life this way.
  • It's bad because we quickly adapt to that $5,000 purchase and consider it the "new normal"

Being aware of the negative side effects of this sort of adaptation is crucial. If you're not aware of it, you will likely fall victim of materialism. Here's an example:

Think of a big salary bump. You receive a raise of 50%! Congratulations, you now have money to spend on all kinds of things that make you and your family happy! Will that happiness sustain into the future? Unfortunately not. Instead of appreciating the luxury of your raise, you will grow accustomed to this extra money and will slowly take it for granted.

This hedonic adaptation fuels a vicious cycle that a lot of people fall victim of:

  • We buy something impulsively
  • We experience a "dopamine fix" during which we are briefly happier
  • That short-term happiness starts to stagnate and then declines again
  • This decline in happiness fuels our deprivation and anxiety for more materialistic purchases
  • Rinse and repeat

Do you see how this cycle can quickly spiral out of control?

In the end, it's up to you to decide how much possessions you need and want, and at what are you happy with what you already have.

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Examples Of Materialism And How It’s Keeping You From Being Happier

You may be a victim of materialism without knowing it. This article contains actual examples of materialism and how others have countered it! It contains causes, remedies, and cures for this sneaky bad habit. In the end, I want to show you real examples of how you can be happier without feeding your materialistic needs.

Chapter 3: Develop happy relationships

Spend time with people that make you happy.

I consider myself to be an introvert.

There's only a finite amount of energy that I can get from socially interacting with others. Extraverts generally tend to extract much more energy from being social when compared to me.

But I am still the happiest on days that I spend with friends, family and my girlfriend. It's why I usually see an increase in happiness during the Christmas period. My birthday is also a great example of this. Being around others generally has a positive influence on our happiness. The truth is, good relationships are a great way to be happier.

That's why developing good relationships is the 3rd chapter in this how to be happy guide. This chapter focuses on good relationships and how they can help you to become happier.

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Surround yourself with happy people

In a world filled with negativity, it is obviously quite common for someone to be surrounded by negativity. In fact, spending time with negative people who continually see the bad in every situation is the quickest way to become a negative pessimist too.

There’s this old saying:

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

I couldn’t agree more. If you hang out with pessimists, it’s likely you’ll slowly turn into one yourself.

It luckily works the other way around too. Surround yourself with positivity, and you'll slowly embrace that mindset yourself as well!

My actionable advice to you?

  • Spend time with people you love in a setting that you enjoy. From my personal experience, spending time with people I love has a huge influence on my happiness. Whether I'm with my girlfriend, family or close friends, I almost always notice that I'm happier after spending time with these people.
  • If you're anything like me, you don't want to meet up with your friends in a club (I absolutely hate clubs). If a quiet night playing board games together sounds more fun to you, make sure you meet up with others under these conditions. Don't associate and mix up good things (your relationships with the people you love) with potentially bad things (like spending time at a club).
  • Unfriend people who add nothing but negativity to your life! Pay attention to only the people who mean something to you and have a positive influence on your happiness! If you're currently not happy, you have to distance yourself from people who don't add something to your life. You can decide who you spend time with, so choose the people who will actually add positivity to your life!
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How Much Do Friends Make You Happier? (As Per Science)

How much do friends make you happier? This article delves into the many studies about friends vs. happiness. It’s clear that friendships have the capability to make you happier – but how and by how much? Here are your answers.

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How To Rekindle A Friendship (And Become Happier In The Process)

Humans are social beings, and friendships are a critical part of our happiness. Although the relationships in our life may seem constant, our social circles are always changing and evolving. In this article, I’ll look at the importance of friendships and why they sometimes fall apart, and introduce you to some tips on how to rekindle a friendship.

Spend more time with your close friends

As Chris McCandless - from Into the Wild - said prior to passing away:

Happiness is only real when shared.

While the exact influence of spending time with others varies per person and per day, it is commonly known that you need some form of social interaction once in a while to be happy.

I consider myself to be an introvert, meaning that spending time with others may actually cost me energy. You can lock me in a room for a full day and I might actually want to stay there longer. What I'm trying to say is that I don't mind being alone every once in a while.

That said, spending time with people I love has a huge influence on my happiness. Whether I'm with my girlfriend, family or close friends, I almost always notice that I'm happier after spending time with these people.

The truth is, you have to get out there and be amongst others if you want to find sustainable happiness. Even if you don't feel like being around others, you should really try to meet up. You'll likely find out that you enjoyed it afterward.

However, it's important to spend time with these people in a setting that you enjoy. If you're anything like me, you don't want to meet up with your friends in a club (I absolutely hate clubs). If a quiet night playing board games together sounds more fun to you, make sure you meet up with others under these conditions. Don't associate and mix up good things (your relationships with the people you love) with potentially bad things (like spending time at a club).

Find that special person

Do you believe in a soulmate? That one person who will make you the happiest person in the world?

I don't. But still, my relationship with my girlfriend is probably the best thing I have in my life. We started dating back in February 2013, and are currently going strong for more than years. We've also moved into an apartment together right at the start of 2018. My relationship is as solid as it's ever been. We've endured much more challenging times during our 6 years together, notably caused by all the long-distance periods that we've survived.

The thing is, spending time with the person I love is an almost sure-fire way for me to be happy. We don't always agree with each other, and can sometimes really get on the other's nerve, but I consider that to be normal in any kind of relationship. We love each other, and at the end of the day, that allows us to easily forget about these small annoyances.

All in all, I can easily say that my girlfriend is the biggest source of my happiness these days! I feel lucky to have my girlfriend in my life. 🙂

(I'm not just saying all these things because my girlfriend might be reading this and will get pissed if I don't. I promise! Heeeeeeelp meeeee)

Don't forget about your family

If you're anything like me, then you'll often think that you're not spending enough time on family. How can we keep up with so many people while maintaining our busy lives? I find it extremely difficult to make time for my family, without sacrificing sleep, work, relaxation, hobbies, exercising and friends.

However, if you're anything like me, then you'll also really enjoy the time spent with your family. Why? Because these people have a special place in your heart. You've grown up with these people and therefore feel a connection with them. The truth is, I love spending time with my family, mainly my parents, brother, and sister.

  • Like that time my brother, sister and I ran a marathon together.
  • Or the many dinners at my parents home with the family.
  • Or when my father takes me and my brother to Austria for a couple of days of hiking in the mountains.
  • But also the birthdays of my grandparents.
  • Or the chaotic Christmas dinners with the entire family.

Hell, I'm not even a parent yet. So you can only imagine how much more important my family will become once my girlfriend and I try to expand our small family. Funnily enough, I found out I'm going to be an uncle in 7 months (at the end of 2019)! I'm at an age now where the family will likely become even more important, so it's going to be very interesting to see this develop!

The point is, if you are in good contact with your family, then spending time with these people will undoubtedly have a positive influence on your happiness! We are all living busy lives, sure, but it's important to spend a part of our limited time with the people that are most important to us.

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How To Forgive Someone Who Hurt You Emotionally (5 Actionable Steps)

Forgiveness is good for your mental health because it’s all about being kind towards yourself. You probably try to minimize other stressors in your life, so why would you hang onto something as stressful as unforgiveness? Unfortunately, forgiveness isn’t always easy to achieve, but with a little work, time and some help from the methods outlined in this article, you can learn to let go of the anger and move on to happier things.

Smile to a stranger

It's the small stuff in life that can sometimes make you the happiest. When I went running this week, a total stranger complimented me on my stride and technique. I found this odd since I've never had any training and I sometimes feel quite clunky. However, this random comment made me very happy.

Comments like these can be more impactful than you might think. A simple smile or compliment to a stranger can go a really long way.

On your pathway to happiness, you will probably encounter a lot of people that are dealing with similar issues like you. I want you to consider the possibility of being a source of happiness for these people. Yes, even though you might not feel happy right now, that doesn't mean that you can't be a source of happiness for somebody else! You see, humans tend to move in groups. We tend to unknowingly copy the behavior of others, and as some of you might know: emotions can be contagious!

If your partner or close friend is sad or angry then there is a possibility that you will feel that emotion as well.

The same works for happiness.

Your happiness can actually radiate to other people. Your smile has the power to bring a smile to someone else's face! How can you put this to practice?

  • Smile to a stranger.
  • Try to laugh when you're around others (not in an awkward way!). Laughter is one of the best remedies for sadness.
  • Do something nice for somebody else, a random act of kindness.
  • Open the door for someone with a smile.
  • Make a compliment to somebody else and notice how it affects their happiness (like that stranger that complimented my running form!)
  • Etc

Why would you want to focus on the happiness of others while you're the one who's struggling to be happy?

It's easy: spreading happiness will make you happy as well. Teach by doing, and you'll learn something for yourself as well.

Happiness is truly a subjective feeling that has a lot of myths, biases and different strong opinions. People say it can't be measured, it's a waste of time to pursue it and that happiness is not really measurable at all. I've further detailed my definition of happiness in a separate essay.

Despite all this, there is one interesting aspect of happiness that most people agree on, and that's:

When you are trying to make others happier, you will paradoxically find happiness yourself.

If you're just not that social, there are still plenty of ways to be happy

Can you be happy without a relationship or friends?

The simple answer is yes.

It's true that friends, social relationships or a partner are a really good way to add happiness to your life. But it's not a guarantee. If you're missing the basic fundamentals of happiness, like self-esteem, confidence, and independence, then having friends won't magically solve your problems.

It's important to understand that your relationships with others do not determine who you are from the inside. Instead, it's your personality, confidence, and purpose in life that determines who you are.

Other people do not influence who you are.

I consider myself to be a happy person (more on that later). I have a small number of hobbies that really make me happy. At the moment, these things are:

  • Running long-distances
  • Playing guitar (and occasionally singing, although I don't brag about my singing voice which is probably for the better)
  • Going on long walks when the weather is nice
  • Skateboarding (I picked this hobby up very recently)
  • Playing videogames (currently Battlefield 5)
  • Watching series (I'm currently rewatching The Office)

Notice how these are all things I can do perfectly on my own.

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Can You Be Happy Without A Relationship Or Friends?

If you are currently unhappy, then having friends or a relationship will not fix your unhappiness. That’s what I set out to find in this article. Yes, you can be happy alone. Having friends or a relationship will not magically fix your fundamental issues. Here’s why.

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What Makes Introverts Happy (How To, Tips & Examples)

A common misconception about introverts is that we’re shy and don’t want to be around others. I’ve contacted 8 others and asked them a very simple question: “what makes you happy?”. These are real-life examples of what makes introverts happy.

Chapter 4: Journal your way to happiness

Journaling allows you to learn from and understand 100% of your happiness.

Journaling, gratitude, mindfulness, and introspection.

What do all these things have in common?

They are all significantly correlated to happiness. Now, what does this have to do with journaling? It's easy: journaling - no matter in what form - helps you achieve these things.

There is plenty of scientific research on the benefits of journaling. But that's not what I want to focus on in this chapter. I want to focus on the simple fact that journaling is fun.

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The first step: start journaling!

Have you ever heard the following phrase?

"The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now."

Even though you much rather had started twenty years ago, that shouldn't stop you from starting right now.

The same goes for journaling. Everybody started the same way: writing down that first word on a piece of paper. Even the people who are now known to be the greatest diarists around started the same way, by writing something along the lines of "dear diary..."

My first written words in my journal were:

This is my first ever page.

How creative...

My point is, journaling is one of the most powerful tools to being grateful, mindful, self-aware, introspective and therefore being happy. If you're not sure how to even start, here's my advice:

  • Buy a nice little notebook
  • Find a great pen
  • Sit down with a cup of coffee
  • Write the following words: "Dear diary, today this happened:"

And go from there.

when and how to start journaling
How To Start Journaling? [With Actual Stories Of Others]

You have probably read about the many positive aspects of keeping a journal. If you still haven’t started journaling yet, then look no further. This article covers exactly when and how you should start journaling. I’ve included actual stories of when and how different people started their diaries, and while at it, I’ve gone ahead and added my personal story as well!

Embrace gratitude

Gratitude is strongly correlated to positive emotions and good experiences, and the reason why is very simple to explain.

A study on gratitude was conducted in 2003 by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough. The study found that people who are actively reminded of things to be grateful for are 10% happier than those who aren't.

This might not sound like a lot at first, but when talking about happiness, mood and subjective well-being, this is a very significant result. See, things like happiness and mood are extremely hard to measure and define. The measurement of subjective things like these is distorted in a lot of ways, like biases, different measuring scales, and wrong interpretations to name a few. The researchers have done a great job to eliminate as much of the distortion as possible, and a 10% increase in happiness as a result of practicing gratitude is a huge observation.

So if you want to be happier, it's a great idea to start adding gratitude to your journal (more on that later!)

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How Does Gratitude Make Us Happier? (With Actual Examples)

Being grateful is scientifically correlated to a higher feeling of happiness. This article shows how being grateful for something can directly have a positive influence on your happiness. So even when you are not completely in control of all your emotions all the time, showing gratitude can at least help you steer your happiness in the best direction possible. That’s the most important takeaway here.

Keep track of your memories

I was shocked that only a small number of people knows of this journaling method.

It all started a couple of years ago. When I was 20 years old, I slowly grew obsessed with memorizing my own memories. Simply put, I wanted to make sure I never lost any of my memories ever again. What kind of memories?

  • Memories of how my granddad used to take me trainspotting
  • Memories of how I once peed in the classroom in kindergarten without anyone noticing
  • Memories of my first pet

You get the point. These are all good memories that I'm extremely grateful for, and I don't ever want to forget them.

That's why I started to keep track of my memories in a dedicated memory journal.

It's amazing how much happiness can come from re-reading memories of your past. That's why I was so shocked that no-one else seems to be doing this.

This is simply a great journaling method for those who want to be happier.

Remembering memories, Filling in the blanks timeline of my life
Remembering Memories: A Guide To Memorising Your Life

Have you ever wondered what is the oldest memory of your life? This article will be about one of my personal biggest fears: to lose memories of what my life is. I want to show you exactly what I’m doing to not let this happen and I want to inspire you to think about your own memories for a moment.

Find the journaling method that you love

There are over a thousand different journaling methods out there.

It's safe to assume that you won't enjoy every method. In fact, you'll need to find the journaling method that you love.

As much as no one is able to tell you how to live a happy life, no one will be able to determine what journaling method will make you the happiest. I personally made the switch from pen and paper to a digital journal format a couple of years ago. Even now, I tweak my journal every couple of months!

If you at least just start journaling, you will quickly be able to find out what helps you the most on your pathway to happiness.

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The Best Leather Journals For Your Specific Needs (2019)

I’m reviewing leather journals for a change! I started my journaling career in a journal, and always thought leather journals were a form of art. Nothing beats a leather-bound journal full of pages filled to the brim with amazing stories, memories, and drawings. That’s why I have handpicked the best genuine leather-bound journals for your specific needs! If you’re going to start journaling, you better get yourself a great leather journal!

Study and learn from your journal on how to be happier!

Here's something not a lot of people do:

Learn from your journal and find out how you can be happier.

At the start of this guide, I talked about how no-one can tell you how to live a happy life. Not your parents, not your friends, not me, and especially not your colleagues.

Only you can learn how to be happy yourself. See where I'm going here? If you've been journaling for some time already, you have an immense amount of knowledge sitting right underneath your nose.

Your journal is able to teach you:

  • How to be happy on crappy Mondays.
  • How to deal with that annoying colleague (we all have one).
  • How to not be bothered by your busy commute.
  • How much your friends improve your happiness.
  • That you're not as happy when you feel hungover.
  • Etc.
  • Etc.

You get the point, right?

By journaling, you're basically recording daily case studies (or experiments) on how your life is influenced by everything. You can learn from these daily experiments!

So take out your journal and read it through whenever you're feeling like it. You'll be surprised about how much you can learn from yourself.

Don't forget to live life outside of your journal

Journaling is great. I think this chapter has made that very clear. But - like everything - it's possible to overdo it.

One of my favorite writers - David Sedaris - has worded it beautifully:

That's the thing with a diary, though. In order to record your life, you sort of need to live it. Not at your desk, but beyond it. Out in the world where it's so beautiful and complex and painful that sometimes you just need to sit down and write about it.

David Sedaris, Theft By Finding

What this means is that journaling is a beautiful way to record and learn from your life. But in order to be able to journal, you need to live your life first.

I was surprised when I found out, but there are some people who let journaling control their lives. I don't want you to go down that route!

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Can Journaling Be Harmful?

There are some scenarios in which journaling can be harmful. In this article, I’ve done my best to explain the ways in which journaling can have a negative effect on your happiness. Don’t worry though, these scenarios are easily avoidable. In fact, I truly believe journaling is one of the best ways to help you build a happier and better life.

Chapter 5: Nurture a happy body

Why you need to be fit, well-rested and relaxed in order to be happy.

Good health is one of the most important factors for happiness.

A lot of people will say that nothing is worth a damn without good physical and mental health. This is further supported by raw data. Year after year, the World Happiness Report shows us that a long and healthy life is highly correlated with the Happiness Index.

And it's exactly the same for me personally. It's rather straightforward. A lot of my worst days happened on days where I was in bad health. Challenging my body has always had a great positive effect on my happiness.

For those reasons, keeping your body and mind healthy and fit is chapter 5 in this how to be happy guide.

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Exercising makes you happy!

If you wanna know how to be happy, you have simply got to try exercising more. I can safely say that exercising is one of my biggest happiness factors. In fact, running has made me extremely happy the last couple of years.

The truth is, finding a form of exercising that I like (running) has transformed my life. It has helped me cope with stress, anxiety and boredom more often than I can remember. It is both an outlet and a source of fulfillment for me, and I can't imagine my life without it.

And I'm not even that good of a runner! I'd call myself a passionate hobbyist. I don't really care about racing and being the fastest, because I'm obviously not able to compete on that level. I mean, I have a friend who runs 15K in under an hour and I still find it hard to believe that such speeds are possible. I run purely because it allows me to do one of the following:

  • Feel good about myself
  • Challenge my body
  • Meditate
  • To blow off steam when stressed
  • To burn calories (I would probably be obese if I didn't run, considering the amount of food I consume)

So whenever I have a busy day at work, I go for a run afterwards and feel great. Feeling bored? I go for a run and feel energized again! Feeling energized and want to feel good about myself? I go for a run! Simply put, running always has a positive effect on my happiness.

What's funny about exercising though, is that you might not always enjoy it whilst doing it. In fact, some of my most miserable moments ever where during a very tough exercise. I've finished 5 marathons now, and the process of running them has always been the same. The last 5-10K's of the race are probably the most miserable moments of my entire life. Yes, it's that bad.

Don't believe me? Here's a couple of pictures from when I felt miserable during my long races.

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From left to right: My first 10 mile race (2013), my first marathon (2015), my third marathon (2016) and my 5th marathon (2019)

You can probably see how much I hated running on these pictures. My 5th marathon was by far the hardest. Yet, I'm still planning to sign up for my 6th marathon soon.

Another example: I sometimes get caught in terrible weather on my runs, which ruins the entire experience for me. As a result, I start screaming and cursing towards the sky, as if the weather is the sole cause of all my sadness. The truth is, I'm not always looking forward to my runs. In fact, I sometimes really HATE running. I'm sure everybody can relate here.

But the funny thing about exercising is that it almost never ceases to improve your happiness after having done it.

  • Even though the last part of a marathon is f*cking terrible, I still experience extreme happiness after having crossed the finish line (this goes for any race).
  • Even though you may feel too tired to hit the gym after a busy day at work, you will still feel better afterward.
  • Even when you want to stay at home and watch Netflix, you will still feel better after having exercised. Even if only for 15 minutes!

The thing is, exercising makes me feel awesome. I hope you understand how much it can potentially infuence your life.

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Running Increases My Happiness – Data-driven Happiness Essay

This is the post I’ve been wanting to write ever since I started this website. My biggest passion is running. I love it and know that it heavily improves my happiness. In this post, I set out to find out how much exactly. This data-driven essay answers how much running really influences my happiness.

Good sleep is critical!

Now, this step might seem silly to you. How is sleep going to help me get out of this rut?

It turns out that sleep plays a gigantic role in our happiness. Even though you may not feel tired after sleeping only 5 hours for three nights in a row, you’ll be surprised by the potentially lasting effects of this sleep deprivation.

The USA is one of the most developed countries in the world. A worrying trend that developed countries are showing is that the workforce is becoming more and more sleep deprived. Phrases like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” and “work hard, play hard” are becoming more regular every day.

Anecdotally, sometimes when I mention I try to sleep 8 hours a day, I sometimes get strange looks from my colleagues. Like I’m some sort of loser that doesn’t know how to live life to the fullest.

“Sleep is for the weak!”

This kind of thinking is extremely flawed, and one of the reasons why chronic depression is on the rise. It shouldn’t surprise you now that depression rates are the highest in developed countries like the USA.

I’ve personally analyzed 1,000 days of my happiness and sleep habits over the last 3 years. I tracked my sleep every night and rated my feeling of happiness on a scale from 1 to 10. What I found out was very interesting:

  • I am constantly experiencing a social jet lag
  • I sleep much less than average on weekdays and have to make it up on the weekend days
  • I have only been truly unhappy on days where I was heavily sleep deprived

These were the biggest lessons I learned after analyzing my sleep and happiness.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your feeling of unhappiness is a result of bad sleep habits, but if there’s one thing that most people seem to neglect, then that’s sleep. Don’t make that same mistake.

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Happy Mornings – Research On Personal Happiness And Waking Up

As a follow-up to my first sleep study, I have analyzed 1,272 nights of sleep and happiness tracking data in order to find out if waking up early has any influence on my happiness! This study includes my entire set of data, from my wacky sleep rhythm to my alarm clock times. I embark on a journey to find out if waking up early is beneficial for my happiness.

Step 11: Avoid stress at all costs

"Here I am again... It's 03:30 and I can't sleep. I tried for a long time, with music, without music, tried a lot of exercises but nothing worked. I even got white flashes in front of my eyes again. So fucking weird. Got out at 01:45 to go for a walk again. I ended walking for 6 km and now that I'm back it's 03:30. And I'm still afraid to go back to bed, so I'm going to try and make use of my time. Tomorrow is going to be hell. January is turning out to be pretty awful already. What the fuck man. I feel pretty desperate... It's 04:00 now, gonna try to sleep again."

What you just read was an excerpt from my journal. I wrote this at the start of 2019, which was a very stressful time for me. My work was extremely busy, I worked late every day and was constantly rushing to make my deadlines. It was a very stressful time.

As a result, my mind was constantly struggling to find peace. This resulted in quite a lot of sleepless nights, which were really terrible for my mental outlook. Even though my alarm rang at 06:00 every morning, I still couldn't sleep. It's not that I wasn't tired - I was extremely tired - I just couldn't get the thoughts in my mind to calm down.

It was a vicious circle which I didn't manage to break:

  1. I knew I need my sleep, so I go to bed early and try to do everything right
  2. I can't sleep because I can't get the thoughts in my head to stop rushing around
  3. Now I'm stressed out because I know how much I need my sleep
  4. The stress in my head only increases
  5. Repeat this loop for a couple of times, and WHOOPS it's already 03:30...

Ever since this period, I made it a priority to avoid stressful periods like these. You see, I don't need to be constantly productive, on the road, or running around in order to be happy. In fact, I am happiest when I can just relax, play my guitar, spend good times with my girlfriend and go for a run once in a while. These are the things that make me happy. Feeling stressed isn't one of them.

If you've ever experienced a stressful period as I did before, then you might already know how much stress can affect your happiness. That's why I included this step as part of this how to be happy guide. If you want to find long-term happiness, you shouldn't accept stressful periods. So if you're currently in a job that stresses you out, try to find something less stressful. Money is not the key to happiness (more about that later)!

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What I’ve Learned From My Burnout Journal (2019)

At the end of 2018, I entered a chaotic period that lasted until January 2019. During this period, I noticed some clear symptoms of burnout. This post is about what I’ve learned from journaling throughout this burnout period.

Chapter 6: Intellectual happiness

You are happier when you have a purpose and a passion.

If you're anything like me, you spend about 40% of your life on your job (including commuting, getting ready and other stuff).

It's only logical that you try your best to make that time as pleasant as possible, right? It's therefore increasingly more important that your occupation is something that is pleasant and endurable.

Most people are not as lucky though. A survey by Mental Health America with over 17,000 respondents shows that only 21% of people in the US feel like they are paid enough at work. In fact, a lot of people simply hate Mondays, just for the simple fact that it's the start of a new workweek. If this is you, then it's very important that you find some kind of intellectual satisfaction from other sources. Something that actually gives you satisfaction and that you can be proud of.

In short: something that makes you want to wake up in the morning! That's what chapter 6 of this how to be happy guide is about.

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Discover your purpose in life in order to be happy!

Having a purpose in life is one of the fundamental factors of happiness. Without it, you'll live your life less focused, less efficient and you'll often feel restless and stressed because you don't feel aligned with the things you do. This article is about different purposes in life, with actual examples and how you can define your purpose in life.

What are some examples of a purpose in life? There are a lot of commonly known purposes in life, like:

  • Providing for your family
  • Living a successful life
  • Making positive connections with others and enjoying those around you
  • Traveling the world
  • Fighting the declining condition of our planet
  • Etc

But what is YOUR purpose? You can't just copy & paste one of these purposes and call it a day. You have to find your own purpose in life.

My purpose in life is to live a long and happy life.

Sounds cheesy and anti-climatic? Maybe, but here's the thing:

Everything that I do is a result of my purpose in life. There are a lot of other things that I feel are part of my purpose in life, like:

  • Making others happy
  • Making the world a better place
  • Spending as much time as possible with the people I love
  • Challenging myself intellectually and physically

But I only truly care about these things because they will eventually result in my main purpose, and that is to live a long and happy life.

Having a purpose in life is not just linked to a happier life

Having a purpose in life is not only a pillar of happiness. It's also correlated to a number of other factors, that are in turn correlated to happiness again.

For example, having a purposeful life is correlated to a healthier life.

The most prominent and well-referenced study that I stumbled upon is very interesting. This study was conducted by Randy Cohen, Chirag Bavishi, and Alan Rozanski and was published at the end of 2015. As part of the study, over 136,000 people were evaluated and followed for about 7 years. The average age at the start of the study was 67 years old, and as the people in this subject passed away or faced health issues, the researchers found out an interesting piece of data.

The analysis showed a lower risk of death for participants with a high sense of purpose in life. After adjusting for other factors, mortality was about one-fifth lower for participants reporting a strong sense of purpose.

There are many more reasons to find your purpose in life, but I don't think you need more convincing! 😉

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Why Is It Important To Have A Purpose In Life? (Research + Examples)

Having a purpose in life correlates to a LOT of important factors of happiness, like health, longevity, motivation, and fulfillment. That’s why it’s so important to have a purpose in your life. This article shows you the studies on this subject and helps you find your own purpose.

Do more of the things you are passionate about

What are you passionate about? If you're like the majority of all Americans, you are not passionate about your work.

If I were to answer this question as best as I can, I would give you the following answers. I'm passionate about:

  • Spending quality time with my girlfriend, friends, and family
  • Challenging myself physically
  • Playing music
  • Developing Tracking Happiness (the website you are currently on!)

What would your answers be? I want you to consider this question for a moment. Okay, what did you come up with?

Want to know the easiest way how to be happy? Find the things that you're passionate about and just. do. these. things. more. often.

Sorry for the weird interpunction, but I want to make clear how simple the road towards happiness can be sometimes. For example, I know how much I love to run so I try to do it as often as possible. If you love to paint, why limit yourself to painting just once a week? If you love to go to the movies, why only go twice a month? If you love skiing, why are you not considering a move to Colorado?

Seriously, the answer to happiness doesn't always have to be a difficult answer. If you already know what you enjoy doing, why can't you simply do these things more often? What's keeping you from doing the things you're passionate about more often? Can you try to steer your life in a way that allows you to do more fun things?

In the end, you can only steer your life in the direction you want it to go yourself. Nobody will make these decisions for you. If you want something, you have to consciously work towards it.

Try new things on a frequent basis in order to be happier

You can be happier.

That might be a bold assumption, but it makes sense to me as you are currently reading the biggest guide about how to be happy.

A big piece of advice that a lot of people are not willing to take seriously is to try something you've never done before. I find this mind-boggling. How can you expect a change in your happiness by not changing any of the things that you do?

Think about it: whatever you've been doing until now has not resulted in you becoming any happier. Despite all the things you tried, you still don't know how to be happy. 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 TOTALLY UNPREPARED (even in full caps, this is still an understatement), but I still finished the damn race. It was a perfect way for me to add a little adventure in my life when I needed it! Running this marathon - something I had never done before - made me extremely happy.

Except for maybe the last 2 miles, as you can see on this picture of my physically broken body.

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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!

Work towards freedom and independence

I believe one of the fundamental factors of happiness is the ability to make your own choices with a certain degree of independence.

What do I mean by that? We all need to be in control of where our lives are going. More specifically, we need to be able to make decisions without being constrained by factors that we can't control. For example, if my manager at the office is suddenly replaced by an absolute psychopath, I want to have the ability to walk away from it. Sure, we all need a paycheck to live our lives, I get that. But if you're currently living paycheck to paycheck, you don't have the ability to walk away from your job if the hypothetical shit starts hitting the fan.

Even if you truly love your job (more on that later), then you should still have some sort of financial cushion that will keep you afloat when things go bad. This is generally referred to as FU money. Now, I'm not saying that you should save every penny you can and live on a diet of rice and beans without ever taking a day off.

I want you to find a balance between saving for your freedom and living life now. Don't overdo it.

Having even a little bit of FU money places you well above the average. If it wasn't clear by now already, I'll say it again: it's not so much about the money, but much rather the ability to make your own decisions and a degree of independence. Having the ability to say no to certain things - like being forced to do something you don't like - is worth so much, you can't put a price on that.

Make a fair trade between your time and your income

I personally don't love my job, and I'm okay with that.

Why? Because I also don't hate it. In fact, I feel like a valued employee and get to work on projects that I kinda like.

Would I do it for free, though? Hell no.

The truth is that in order to be more free and independent, we have to get money into our wallets. For 99% of us, this is conveniently done by trading our time and effort for a monthly paycheck. It's important to think about this trade for a moment. Do you feel like you're being fairly rewarded for your time and effort?

Personally, I feel like I'm rewarded quite fairly. Yes, I work hard and yes, I sometimes get too stressed due to my work, but overall I feel happy to sacrifice these things for my monthly paycheck. Because that paycheck allows me to do the things that I love, save for the future and generally enjoy life without any worries.

What matters most here is how you feel about your job? If you think you're unfairly rewarded for your time and effort or you simply hate your job, then you could probably be happier by looking for something else. Of course, this is easier said than done. However, if you want to know how to be happier, then your job is obviously a part of your life that you can't ignore.

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Am I Happy At Work? [analyzing my entire career from day 0]

From the day I started working, I have always wondered if I really enjoyed my job. After analysing my happiness throughout my entire career, I have finally found the answer to these questions. Join me on this happy journey that starts on day 0 of my career, and find out how you too can find out if your work makes you happy!

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Does Salary Justify Your Happiness Sacrifice At Work? [+Survey Results]

After publishing my in-depth analysis of happiness at work, I turned to Reddit for more opinions on this interesting topic. The reaction I got was insane. I didn’t originally plan this post, but it now includes all of the reactions I received on Reddit. It shows how the community of Reddit feels towards their jobs, and if they need to sacrifice a lot of happiness for it. The article ends with a call to action, to inspire others to think about this interesting question as well to continue the discussions!

Get out of your comfort zone and travel the world

When I first moved out to a foreign country – away from the safe boundaries of my quiet life – that’s when I found out who I truly am. This probably sounds cliche and cheesy, but stepping out of my comfort zone allowed me to develop in a way that I still feel very grateful for to this day. Without my usual support network, I was forced to make every decision myself. This opened my eyes as to what I was capable of and what I had to do in order to steer my life in the best direction possible.

It was a slow but fascinating process. It all started with a general dislike of what was expected of me, and therefore an urge to take control of my own life.

When I was completely detached from my comfort zone – on the other side of the world – that’s when I really found answers to a couple of big questions:

  • What I truly value in life
  • Who I really am
  • What I want out of life
  • What I DON’T want out of life

These things have nothing to do with what others think of me. That’s because I was completely free from any external factors that had previously influenced these answers. It’s usually when we find ourselves completely alone – without being able to fall back to a safe haven – that we truly develop as a person. It’s really simple when you think about it.

You only know who you are, what you’re capable of and what you want out of life when you’re seriously tested. A lot of us (me including) spent their entire youth just going with the flow. We don’t question the choices that we make or the ones that are made for us. We simply nod and move in whatever direction our teachers, parents, and friends want us to go.

As a result, almost everybody will reach a phase (usually in their twenties) where you need to make your own choices. You’re alone now, without a support net, and nobody is going to decide your next step for you. I actually think the harder this reality hits, the better we come out of it. It’s like testing a beam for its maximum load. We can only know what we’re capable of when we are tested to our full capacity.

That’s why I recommend everybody to step outside their comfort zone for a sustained time, without the opportunity to re-enter it when you want to “call it quits”. As cheesy as it sounds, this experience has resulted in the biggest amount of personal development that I’ve gone through in my life so far. As a result, I now know how to be happier in my everyday life.

This is why I urge you to get out of your comfort zone and travel the world on your own. Don't think about all the reasons why you shouldn't go. Think of the one reason why you SHOULD go instead.

Find your personal "Why?"

What is your "Why" in life?

This question is very common but makes you think about what you truly want out of life. How do you find out what your "Why" in life is? By asking as many questions as possible:

  • Why do I do this?
  • Why do I value this over that?
  • Why am I not happy when X happens?
  • Why am I stressed now?
  • Why?

If you keep asking these questions, it's likely that you'll eventually circle back to the same answer. That answer is almost always your "Why" in life. That's the reason why you want to move forward in life. That's what makes you unhappy if your current situation doesn't align with your "Why".

I believe every single person has a deep motivation that fuels their life in the grand scheme of things. Some people just don't know what this "Why" is yet. If you keep questioning why you do the things you do, you will eventually find your own personal "Why" in life.

My personal "Why"?

To be worth everything that has been given to me, and to have as much of a positive influence on the world as possible.

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What Is Your Why? (Examples And How To Find Yours)

Every single person has a deep motivation that fuels their life in the grand scheme of things. This article shows you how you can find your personal “Why”. I’ve included actionable tips and different examples of others. I’ll also show you how I defined my own “Why” statement 5 years ago.

Chapter 7: Internal happiness

More often than not, happiness comes from within.

If you're anything like me, you'll find it really frustrating when someone says: "just choose to be happy".

A lot of people preach that happiness is 100% a function of your own mindset. That's not true. It's not like you can stand in front of a mirror and repeat "I'm happy" thirty-five times and then POOF you're happy. It doesn't work like that.

Remember what roughly determines your happiness?

  • 50% is determined by genetics
  • 10% is determined by external factors
  • 40% is determined by your own outlook

The biggest chunk of our happiness is out of our control. But still, more often than not, happiness comes from within ourselves. This chapter is the part of our happiness that is determined by our own outlook, or our own choices.

Chapter 7 internal happiness header

Recognize when you CAN choose to be happy!

Imagine this:

You are in a hurry after a long day at work. You need to get back home as soon as possible because you need to do groceries, cook dinner and head out to meet your friends.

But traffic is extremely busy so you end up stuck in front of a red light.

Bummer, right?!

I'm sure you've all experienced a situation like this before. It might sound silly, but this is a very clear example of how happiness can be a choice. Let me explain.

There are a couple of things you can do here:

  1. You can be mad at this #*#@%^@ traffic light and be pissed off. This traffic light is ruining your plans!
  2. You can accept the fact that this traffic light is the way it is and decide to not let it influence your happiness.

It's probably the easiest for you to go with option 1. It's the path of the least resistance, as you'll be placing the blame on something else. You're the victim here, right?! This traffic light is ruining your planning, and as a result, you're going to be late for your friends and that will only further ruin your night.

Sounds familiar? It's okay. We've all been there. As you may already know, your mental outlook on this situation is something that you can control.

Our happiness is influenced by an endless list of factors. Some of these factors are controllable (like hobbies, your work, or your fitness). However, most of these factors are out of our control. They are external happiness factors that we don't get to influence. The busy traffic is a perfect example of an external factor.

We cannot control the traffic. But we can control how we react to it. And that's why it's a perfect example of how happiness can be a choice. We get to choose how we react to events, and by choosing a happy outlook, we can vastly improve our happiness when dealing with these situations.

self awareness example red light

So instead of becoming frustrated by this busy traffic, why don't you try to focus on things that actually make you happy?

  • Put on some good music and just sing along.
  • Give your friends a call and talk about your plans for the evening.
  • Send a nice message to someone you love.
  • Just close your eyes and take a deep breath. Allow your mind to rest easy, instead of being focused on the busy traffic around you.

If you do any of these things, you're effectively influencing the 40% of your happiness that you can control. While that might not sound like a big deal, it can make a world of difference on your mental health.

If you are aware of these opportunities - where you get to decide how you react to external factors - that's when you can actively make happiness a choice.

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How Happiness Is A Choice (With Real-Life Examples)

They say happiness is determined for 40% by our personal outlook. This article is about how we can control that 40%. I want to show you examples of how happiness can be a choice, that may help you to recognize these situations in your own life!

Realize that you deserve to be happy!

Some people feel like they don’t deserve a "happy ever after".

Instead, they’ll settle for a “can’t complain” kind of life and think, “I’m not happy, but I’m okay. That’s fine, right?” Feeling undeserving - or even guilty - can get in the way of living your best life.

You need to get rid of these deconstructive feelings. Why? Because the world would simply be a better place if you'd be the happiest version of yourself.

Need more convincing? Research has shown that happy people are healthier and more productive, achieving more. If you don’t believe that you deserve happiness, then think of it this way: a happier you can be more helpful to others and give back more to the community. You deserve to be happy because your happiness will help others.

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Do I Deserve To Be Happy? (Here’s Why You Do & How To Achieve It)

“…and they lived happily ever after.” For many people, this isn’t just a familiar ending to their favorite fairy tale, but rather a life goal. But some people feel that they don’t deserve a happy ever after. In this article, I’ll try to show you why you deserve to be happy.

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Does Everyone Deserve To Be Happy? Actually, No (Unfortunately)

Unfortunately, some people’s happiness depends on the unhappiness of others. Therefore, I can’t say that I believe that everybody deserves to be happy. Even though the world would probably be a better place if everybody would be happy. This article explores the difficult answers to this question.

Chapter 8: Actionable tips to be happier now

Advanced and actionable tips you can use right now to be happier tomorrow.

This guide is already littered with real tips on how to be happier.

But there are some specific tips that deserve an extra mention. Most of the existing guides on how to be happy are rather thin and uninspiring. Example: a lot of guides tell you to start meditating if you want to be happier. But where do you start? What actions should you take next?

The tips in this chapter - and the other tips in this guide - will give you a toolbox of tips, with actionable ways to implement them straight away. As this guide grows and gets updated, so will this chapter.

Not every tip will be suitable for you, but if you can find 2 or 3 small changes to make to your life, you'll be surprised at how much influence they can have over time!

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Tip 1: Write down why you want to be happier

Grab a piece of paper, put a date on it, and start writing down whatever is on your mind. This especially helps if you are currently feeling stressed or anxious. Here are some great benefits of writing:

  • Writing down your thoughts forces you to actually confront them.
  • It allows you to better deconstruct what you're missing 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 allows 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!

Tip 2: Create small goals that you can actually reach

Change happens one step at a time. You cannot change your life overnight, which is something that might be difficult to accept. If you determined 6 issues that you want to change in your life, then you would be smart to only focus on 1 at a time.

Why?

Because you have to build habits. There's a chance that the things you want to change have been a part of your life for a long time already. Therefore, it will be difficult to change these things. You have to consider these changes to be long processes that require constant effort. Improving your life is similar to a marathon and not a sprint. You can't work on all these issues today and expect to be happy again tomorrow. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.

Let's say you want to start living healthier. This is, of course, a very big and noble goal, but it's much better if you could narrow it down into smaller sub-goals. Try to figure out smaller, more specific goals, like:

  • Stop eating junk food on weekdays
  • Spend 30 minutes exercising twice a week
  • Wake up before 08:00 5 days a week
  • Go to bed before midnight
  • Take 5,000 steps per day

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. And it doesn't happen overnight. These goals can be narrowed down even further. An example:

Want to spend 30 minutes exercising twice a week? Start out with exercising for just 10 minutes tonight. Then, in 2 days, try to exercise 20 minutes. Next week, try to exercise 30 minutes, etcetera. Building habits isn’t about reaching your end goal immediately, it is about engraining doing that one thing you want to achieve every day.

Tip 3: Try to make others happy

Your happiness can actually radiate to other people. Your smile has the power to bring a smile to someone else's face! How can you put this to practice?

  • Smile to a stranger
  • Try to laugh when you're around others (not in an awkward way!). Laughter is one of the best remedies for sadness.
  • Do something nice for somebody else, a random act of kindness
  • Make a compliment to somebody else and notice how it affects their happiness
  • Etc
  • Etc

Why would you want to focus on the happiness of others while you're trying to be happier yourself?

It's easy: Spreading happiness will make you happy as well. Teach by doing, and you'll learn something for yourself as well.

Happiness is truly a subjective feeling that has a lot of myths, biases and different strong opinions. People say it can't be measured, it's a waste of time to pursue it and that happiness is not really measurable at all.

Despite all this, there is one interesting aspect of happiness that most people agree on, and that's:

When you are trying to make others happier, you will paradoxically find happiness yourself.

Tip 4: Exercise, even if it's just a 15-minute walk outside

Even if you’re not big on running, you should still be getting regular exercise. Not only is it good for your mental health in general, research has shown that people engaged in physical exercise also have higher self-esteem. Find an activity that works for you and get physical! From running to rowing, dancing to duathlon, fencing to football and everything in between, the opportunities are endless.

Tip 5: Waste less of your time on TV or social media

When was the last time you actually felt more positive after having consumed pointless media from Facebook or the TV?

I'll give you a moment to think about it.

....

Still nothing?

Surprise: while reality TV, soaps and social media can be great for just passing the time, they are absolutely terrible for achieving sustainable happiness!

Why? Because these types of media usually match one of the following criteria:

  • It's mindless and unproductive.
  • The media is really just an ad that's disguised as something "organic".
  • It's filled with people who are desperate for attention, and whoever screams the loudest generally end up on television.
  • More often than you'd think, the content that you're consuming is just dead wrong.

This is more than enough reason for me to limit my time spent on these platforms. If you're looking to achieve a more outlook in life, I'd suggest you do the same.

Tip 6: Get off social media

If your Facebook and Instagram feeds are anything to go by, your friends are constantly on vacation, eating healthy, getting married, getting promotions and generally living a better life than you are.

Deep down you know that you’re not getting the full picture, but it’s still difficult to feel good about yourself when you compare your own life to the highlight reels of others. While a little bit of upward comparison can be motivating, research has shown that in most cases, it just lowers your self-esteem.

So if you’re prone to such comparisons, the best gift you can give yourself is to log off for a while. If you can’t do that for some reason, then use of the mute function and unfollow features that don’t add any value to your life and curate yourself a feed that lifts you up instead of bringing you down.

Tip 7: Be grateful for the things you already have

You've probably heard this one before, but I'm still going to include this here.

Practicing gratitude can have a great effect on your mental health, as shown by numerous studies. How can you practice gratitude?

  • Thank your family for everything they've done for you
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Look back at your happy memories and be grateful for those memories
  • Think about and focus on the positive things you have going on in your life

I find that remembering good memories helps me maintain a happy mind. Thinking back about that time that I laughed my ass off about something silly brings a smile to my face. This is something I try to do daily, whenever I find a moment to stand still and think about my life.

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How Does Gratitude Make Us Happier? (With Actual Examples)

Being grateful is scientifically correlated to a higher feeling of happiness. This article shows how being grateful for something can directly have a positive influence on your happiness. So even when you are not completely in control of all your emotions all the time, showing gratitude can at least help you steer your happiness in the best direction possible. That’s the most important takeaway here.

Chapter 9: A plan for those unhappy days

Nobody is happy 100% of the time. Here's how to tackle those inevitable unhappy days.

Eternal happiness does not exist. We covered that much in the first chapter of this how to be happy guide already.

As much as a person can't be happy all the time, it's important to know that eternal sadness is also not something you should be afraid of. You know the saying: "after rain comes sunshine". This means that happiness will eventually be around the corner again.

But what if you're unhappy right now? What if you've been unhappy for a long time already? How can you work towards being happy again tomorrow? That's what this chapter is all about.

Sure, everybody experiences sadness or depression at some point, but we can influence how long that sadness will last.

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Know that everybody deals with unhappiness

Even the happiest person alive will at some point feel unhappy. It's because happiness and sadness are emotions that are constantly evolving and moving up and down in our lives. There is no happiness without a little sadness every once in a while.

Why's that?

Because happiness is influenced by countless factors. A lot of these factors are outside our influence of control. No matter how hard we try, our happy lives are at some point going to be affected by a negative factor.

Think about these examples:

  • The weather
  • The health of the people we love
  • Our job security
  • The moment you get a flat tire
  • Your flight is delayed with 3 hours
  • Getting struck by lightning

Okay, maybe that last example can be avoided, but you get the point, right? Our happiness can't always be shielded from these external factors. We can try to keep a positive mindset while disaster strikes, but that won't keep you happy all the time.

You're better off accepting that eternal happiness is a myth. You can't be happy all your life.

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How Long Can Happiness Last?

What sounds like a very simple and straightforward question, is actually really fun and interesting to answer! How long can happiness last? I have researched my happiness journal in order to find a data-driven answer to this question!

Write about the things that are keeping you from being happier

This first step might sound rather anti-climatic. You’ve come all this way to find this guide, and now you’re asked to write down your feelings?

Even though it might sound silly at first, writing down whatever is making you question what the hell is wrong with you will allow you to become more familiar with the issues you’re having. What do you even write about? Don’t think too much about it and just start writing!

Let me help you. If you are currently wondering why the hell you aren't happy, I simply want you to write that down! “I’m feeling unhappy right now”. That could be your first sentence. Now, ask yourself why. Why am I feeling unhappy right now?

“Because I feel unmotivated and don’t have any ambitions or goals”.

Or maybe it’s “because I feel overwhelmed and know that I'll fail at whatever I try to make it better”.

It could be anything. What I want you to do is to just start writing and keep going. Be critical and curious about the things you are feeling.

Keep asking “why” and soon enough you’ll have a clear idea of what issues are causing you to feel unhappy. Beware though, that asking yourself these questions can be very uncomfortable and confronting. With each new question of "why", you might start to peel off a layer that you've kept hidden for so long, that it may sting to honestly answer these questions.

But that's a good thing. This is the first step to diagnosing the real issues that you have. If you want to know how to be happier, then you must not be afraid to ask yourself these harsh questions as well.

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

The next step is to create an actionable plan for happiness. This plan needs to consist of small 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.

Accept that you're only human (and don't give up after a bad day)

So you had a bad day? 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

I'll repeat it again: eternal happiness doesn't exist. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of shit.

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. The truth is, happiness doesn't exist without sadness.

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

Consider seeing a therapist

This might not be the tip you are hoping to see here, I get that. You probably asked Google first ("how to be happier?"), hoping you'd find the answer here, prior to seeing a therapist. I know, seeing a therapist is still considered to be somewhat of a taboo.

But it’s dead-simple:

Therapy can help you in facing your demons and getting to the bottom of your issues. You should not feel too proud to go see a therapist. The negative stigma of seeing a therapist should not stop you from finding the help you need.

There’s no taboo on seeing a doctor when you are in physical pain, right? Then what's keeping you from going to therapy for something that you're emotionally struggling with?

Bottling up your feelings is the last thing that you want to do right now.

If you find a therapist that you can openly share your problems with and one that understands you, then just go for it. Here's a good link on how to find a therapist that fits you.

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The Many Ways Therapy Can Make You Happier (With Examples!)

It’s time to address the many ways in which therapy can make you happier! Therapy exists to help you live a more fulfilled, functional and happier life by helping you deal with your thoughts, emotions and the daily stresses of life. This article is about how you should not be afraid of the word “therapy” and might want to reconsider it!

What to do when your life sucks at the moment

I've published a lot of different articles already on the topic of finding happiness again.

The best methods are already included in this chapter, but if you're looking for more actionable tips, here is a selection of articles that could help you to become happier again.

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What The F*ck Is Wrong With Me? (No BS Advice & Examples)

This is a question that I’ve asked myself once or twice in my life now. What the hell is wrong with me? If you are questioning this right now, I want you to know that you’re not alone. The answer to your question is likely complicated but not as harsh as you may fear.

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I Am Not Happy With My Life – 11 Actionable Remedies

This post walks you through the steps you can take right away in order to start finding happiness again. This article will not contain advice such as “just cheer up”. Instead, this post focuses on advice that you can implement in your life right now, in order to start building towards a happier future.

Chapter 10: Tracking happiness

What gets measured gets managed. The same goes for happiness.

Did you know that I've been tracking my happiness for over 6 years already?

This means that I rate my happiness every single day. Why? Because I'm a firm believer of what gets measured gets managed.

Now, that doesn't mean that I can control 100% of my happiness. But I believe that I can understand 100% of my happiness. And by now, you should now that this knowledge can help us control our lives in a lot of ways.

This chapter is about tracking happiness. I want to show you the benefits that this simple method can have on your life if you start right now.

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Tracking my happiness shows me how to be happy

What does tracking happiness 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.

Allow me to explain this better!

Define your happiness every day

Back in chapter 1 of this guide, I talked about how your definition of happiness is just as unique as you are yourself.

If you'd ask me today what made me happy last week, my answer would consist out of the following things:

  • Spending time with my girlfriend on a nice date
  • Enjoying a hot cup of coffee on a Sunday morning
  • Trying to learn the 360-flip on a skateboard
  • Enjoying the weather outside on a long walk
  • Running a 5K right after work
  • etc

But if I ask you - or anybody else in the world - that same question, the answer would never be the same. In fact, the answer would vary so wildly that it would be impossible to keep track.

By tracking your happiness, you are essentially defining your happiness every single day.

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How Can Happiness Be Defined?

Here’s something different: Can happiness be defined? This seemingly easy question has a pretty complicated question: yes and no. The truth is that there is no universally agreed upon definition of happiness. Happiness changes from person to person and from moment to moment. But you can definitely find your own definition of happiness, and I want to help you find it!

Measuring happiness on a scale from 1 to 10

I track my happiness on the simplest scale out there: 1 to 10.

Why?

Because it's:

  • Intuitive and easy to explain to someone else.
  • Easy to calculate trends and statistics when using a numerical scale

But does it really matter?

Not really. I've met a lot of people over the years that started tracking their happiness but eventually moved on to a scale that they found better. The truth is, the best scale to track your happiness with is the scale that you end up using.

A lot of people have a very strong opinion on measuring something that's as subjective as happiness. Hell, a lot of people can't even agree on the exact definition of happiness. That's why I've chosen for the simplest scale out there.

It's impossible to measure happiness without being subject to biases, flawed decision-making or tracking delays. We are simply not robots. It's important to embrace the inaccuracy rather than to have it stop us from tracking at all.

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Happiness on a scale from 1 to 10 [What’s your scale?]

Ever since I started tracking my happiness, I have seen a lot of different scales being used. My method of tracking happiness uses a scale from 1 to 10. Over the years, I have received a lot of questions and comments about this happiness scale. There are many reports, platforms, surveys and apps that track happiness on a different scale! This article discusses why the Tracking Happiness method is based on a happiness scale from 1 to 10.

Determining positive and negative happiness factors

Once I've determined my happiness rating on my scale, I move on to the next part: the happiness factors.

Now, you must be wondering: what is a happiness factor???

The answer to this question is really simple. A happiness factor can be anything that has a significant influence on your happiness.

Allow me to explain:

If I go to work and I have a terrible day and it stresses me out, then my work is a happiness factor. A happiness factor is something that happens to you that significantly influences your happiness on a given day. This could be an activity (like work, or running), an event (like a party or Christmas) or a feeling (like feeling inspired or anxious).

This means there is a virtually endless list of factors that could influence your happiness. And this list obviously differs for every person out there!

If you want to know more about these happiness factors, the article below covers the top 10 biggest happiness factors of my life!

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Top 10 Biggest Factors Responsible For Happiness (Actual Data)

Happiness factors are a big part of my happiness tracking method. That’s why I wanted to share a little analysis with you here about the factors that are responsible for my happiness. This article covers 2,019 days of happiness factors and shows you how you can do the same thing for yourself!

Track your happiness every day and you'll quickly learn how to be happy

Tracking happiness only takes me 2 minutes a day (I'm not kidding!)

Yet, the amount of stuff that I've learned about myself as a result of tracking my happiness has been incredible.

That's why I publicly share my happiness journals here on this website, together with the things that I learn about myself on a daily basis.

Why do I do this?

Because I simply want to inspire you to try this yourself as well. What's stopping you?

  • It's free.
  • It doesn't take that long.
  • You're guaranteed to learn a lot about yourself (which - as we know by now - will be of enormous help on your way to becoming happier).

If you need no more convincing, you can get my free Tracking Happiness template if sign up below. This will also get this entire guide to your e-mail!

How To Be Happy - The Biggest (Free) Course

If you're short on time, I can send you this entire guide straight to your inbox in bite-sized emails. What does this mean?

  • You'll receive one chapter every 3 days in your e-mail.
  • Totally free - no strings attached
  • Receive my custom Tracking Happiness template for free
  • I'll send you the most important updates regarding Tracking Happiness

Chapter 11: Case studies

Actual case studies of others who have followed this guide on how to be happy.

Everybody likes a success story.

Now that we've reached the final chapter of this gigantic guide, it's finally time to show actual case studies of people who have actually followed parts of this guide on how to be happy.

Over the years, I've been lucky enough to meet people from all sorts of backgrounds and talked with them about happiness. What did we have in common? We all wanted to understand 100% of our happiness and get happier in the process.

Here's what you can learn from these people.

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Justin shares his experience with Tracking Happiness

A little while ago, I got to know Justin. We started talking when he e-mailed me with some questions about how to track your happiness.

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 what he had to say:

I’ve had the pleasure of using Hugo’s happiness tracker for a couple of months now. The happiness tracker changed my life.

I’ve talked about this process to a few friends and family. I hope others can see how even minor entries can lead to huge changes. Start slowly by tracking your weekends or your Mondays. I've found that when you try to document every day, it’ll be difficult to carve out time with the list of other responsibilities you might have.

If you have any questions, I know Hugo is always helpful and responds right away to emails. If I can ever be of any help or simply want me to listen to your story, please feel free to reach out.

If you want to read more about Justin's inspiring story, here's his full case study:

Justin Tracking Happiness
Justin Shares His Experiences With Tracking Happiness!

I’m extremely happy to share this article with you. Here’s the inspiring story of how Justin gained control over his life by tracking his happiness. He’s been able to create sustainable habits that allow him to be the best version of himself!

Sanjay shares his experience with Tracking Happiness

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.

This is what Sanjay had to say:

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.

If you want to read more about Sanjay's story, here's his full case study:

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What You Can Learn From Tracking Your Happiness! (First Community Post!)

This is the first community post here on Tracking Happiness. Joining us here is Sanjay, and he is about to share what he has learned from tracking his happiness for the past half year. It began with a simple routine of recording my happiness levels every day. He didn’t think too much of it at the time, but soon enough his life started changing. This first community post shows exactly how he improved his life!

Professional happiness analyst Alejandro shares his experience

Here's another example that I'm very happy to have witnessed.

As this website has slowly grown over time, it also started getting more exposure. Up untill one day, I received a comment from Alejandro Cencerrado, who turned out to be a happiness expert at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.

It turned out that he is just as excited about tracking happiness as I am! Here's why:

I have been tracking my own happiness for 13 years (more specifically, at the time I am writing this, I have been tracking it for 4,920 days).

If I have to give some advice based on my data, it's that feeling “blue” once in a while is an inherent part of life, and that the best thing you can do is just to accept it; you can not be happy forever (neither unhappy).

There were a lot of things that we talked about, which I summarized in this interview below:

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Interview With Happiness Expert Alejandro Cencerrado

A couple of weeks ago, I got in touch with Alex, an analyst at the Happiness Research Institute. Turns out Alex has tracked his happiness for the last 13 years! He lives and breathes like a data analyst, and happens to be passionate about happiness just like all of us! In this interview, he shares how he started, what he has learned from tracking his happiness and explains some of the work he does regarding happiness research!

Want to share your story about happiness?

I'm always looking for more stories!

If you feel like you have a good story to share, or if you want to show others what you've learned on your way to happiness, I'd be honored to talk to you.

Even if you just want to say hi or start a discussion, I'm all ears!

You can either send me an email at [email protected] or alternatively, sign up below for a more structured approach!

How To Be Happy - The Biggest (Free) Course

If you're short on time, I can send you this entire guide straight to your inbox in bite-sized emails. What does this mean?

  • You'll receive one chapter every 3 days in your e-mail.
  • Totally free - no strings attached
  • Receive my custom Tracking Happiness template for free
  • I'll send you the most important updates regarding Tracking Happiness

Now it's your turn

There you have it. Based on years of personal research, this is the ultimate guide on how to be happy. By following the steps inside these 11 chapters, I'm sure you will find new ways on how to understand your happiness and steer your life in a better direction!

Having said that, I now want to hear from you! What is missing from this guide? Have I missed steps that you think are just as crucial to be happy or not?

I'd love to hear what you think about it in the comments below!

Who runs Tracking Happiness?

My name is Hugo Huyer, and I'm a mental health coach that focuses on quantifying happiness. By quantifying something as abstract as our happiness, we're able to guide ourselves into a life in which happiness is fully understood.

I've tracked my happiness every day for 6 years in a row. And I'm now sharing 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.

hugo huyer tracking happiness

3 thoughts on “How To Be Happy: The Ultimate Guide To Happiness”

  1. It’s very easy and simple to tell anybody to be happy, but it’s not that easy for any human being, money cannot make you happy all the time, because it is a necessity for self care and it’s a real life obligation for life survival.

    Any society had it’s own problem with maintaining happiness and joy, in a way happiness is so elusive constantly, to stay happy you need your heart to leverage your brain for clarity to help your brain think clearly and positively daily, in nurturing, your mind body and spirit, it take a lot of practice of self help and self examination to be happy.

    Our parents taught us about staying true to ourselves to maintain our true characters but the truth is our minds do have it’s short circuits and fluctuations daily, it’s our self esteem that we need to monitor consistently to make sure our minds don’t trick us into doing things that has a negative impact on us mentally and physically daily.

    Our minds can trigger our mental and physical reaction in our interaction to world events or human interactions
    When things are not going right and everything is going wrong we start doubting our mental and physical actions like were not bodily capable of performing to our highest level to create successful outcomes or real desires in results in things that we accomplished and achieve in our daily activities, time is of the essence, time is money. take a time out, look at the problem at different angle and pin point your best strategy and action then proceed.

  2. Hi Hugo,

    This is an amazing resource!! I’ve struggled with a lot of problems the last couple of months, but started journaling a week ago. I already feel better now, and hope that this will only continue. I now believe that I can really control my emotions better.

    I thank you from India!

    • Hi Rajan,

      Thanks for the encouragement! People really underestimate the power of journaling, and even though it’s not for everyone, I’m happy that you find strength in it!

      Good luck,

      Hugo

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